Home Entertainment


Don’t Obsess. Automate.

October 21, 2008 By Adrienne Maxwell

Click the images below for bigger versions:
HAI Omnistat2 RC-2000
Lutron Skylark EcoDim
Lutron GRAFIK Eye QS
NuVo Essentia E6GS
Crestron Green interface
Crestron Green interface 2

A smarter home can be a greener home.

As energy costs rise, do you find yourself feeling a little green-obsessed? Has your family tired of your constant needling about the lights, thermostat, and electronics usage?

Maybe it’s time to let your home do the obsessing for you.

A smart home can give you more control over your entertainment systems and reliably do the little things we may be too busy to do ourselves.

In addition to being a convenient way to control your A/V equipment, smart home technology can be the most practical way to reduce your energy consumption.
You can certainly go big in this arena by hiring an automation and control expert to unite your home’s various systems—lighting, temperature, window treatments, security, and A/V distribution—into one master control system, with programs specifically created to save energy. But you can also start small, with easy do-it-yourself solutions.

HAI Omnistat2 RC-2000

Swap out that old thermostat for a programmable model like HAI’s Omnistat2 RC-2000 ($338.30), which can learn your home’s heating and cooling patterns and adjust itself for increased efficiency. It can also display your monthly energy usage and costs. Replace light switches with dimmers and keep them set below maximum, and better manage your lights by adding indoor occupancy sensors from a company like Leviton to bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways.

The sheer number of options in this realm can be overwhelming. There are many good automation products and control systems available that can help you save energy; this month, we’re calling special attention to three custom-oriented companies that are aggressively pushing the green cause, in their products and marketing.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lighting accounts for about 20 percent of a home’s electricity bill. In most cases, our lighting systems are probably providing more light than we actually need. That’s where a dimmer comes in handy. Lutron’s new Skylark eco-dim dimmer ($26.50) earns its name because it ships in an eco mode that’s designed to cut energy usage by at least 15 percent (by limiting maximum light level) and extend lamp life.

To better illustrate (illuminate?) the potential savings, Lutron has added a “Save Energy” link to its Website’s home page, which launches an interactive program that allows you to see how much energy you can save with various Lutron dimmers, in various room environments. Should you desire a more comprehensive lighting control system, Lutron’s Grafik Eye QS offers three to six zones of lighting and shade control, and the interface provides real-time feedback regarding energy savings.

Lutron GRAFIK Eye QS

In the world of multiroom audio and control, NuVo Technologies has received attention for its Essentia E6G six-zone/six-source audio system, the first multiroom audio system to earn Energy Star certification. That means the E6G consumes less than 1 watt of power in standby mode. Its digital amplifier and control pads use energy only when needed and shut down when they aren’t in use.

To further reduce power consumption, the control pad features an OLED display, which doesn’t require the constant backlight of an LCD. NuVo’s goal is to earn Energy Star certification for many of its upcoming products, and the company has implemented a new packaging policy that forbids the use of non-biodegradable material. These actions recently earned NuVo the 2008 CEA TechHome Mark of Excellence Award for Best Environmentally Friendly Product, Service or Corporate Policy.

NuVo Essentia E6GS

It’s impossible to talk home automation and not mention Crestron, and the company has definitely been thinking green in 2008. Earlier this year, Crestron joined the U.S. Green Building Council, which hands out the coveted LEED ratings for green building design.

The company recently launched its GREEN LIGHT environmental control system: With a new green control module at its heart, the system allows installers to intelligently program lighting, temperature, and shade/drape systems to maximize energy conservation and cost savings. Via a touch panel like the TPMC-15L, users can get real-time feedback about energy and cost savings through the new green interface.

Crestron has also released a white paper entitled “Intelligent Efficiency: Crestron Makes Life Greener,” available at, to provide tips and case studies for dealers looking to improve energy efficiency in their installations. It’s nice to see such a major automation player being so proactive in the green category, and it bodes well for the future of the entire industry.  

Crestron Green interface

 Crestron Green interface







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