A number of trends are converging to make 2021 a year of big changes to our home energy use. With an increased focus on climate change, the widespread popularity of smart home technology, and falling prices for clean energy options, the pace of adoption of new energy technologies for homes is increasing rapidly.
Here are the top six home energy trends that will have the biggest impact on most people in 2021.
1. Smart homes will get energy smarts
2021 will be the year smart homes have energy intelligence built into them to help combat climate change. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Zigbee are collaborating on interoperability standards that connect smart devices. The next step is energy awareness. Today, your home might have smart LED bulbs or smart thermostats that help you reduce your energy usage. In 2021, smart homes will get smarter about how much electricity the entire home is using. For example, you’ll be able to get feedback that helps you reduce energy waste and adjust home energy use to match the grid conditions.
2. Growth in clean energy
There will be continued momentum toward solar adoption. With prices for solar dropping and solar mandates from states like California, there will be more incentives for homeowners to go solar. Solar will be part of a complete solution for clean energy homes, encompassing battery storage, energy efficiency upgrades, and even electric vehicles. Utilities will continue to roll out programs that support solar adoptions, and FERC’s July 2020 decision on net metering will keep those policies in place for consumers in solar-friendly states.
3. Better resiliency for electric power
After California’s summer wildfires and rolling blackouts, and with more people working from home concerned about power outages, there will be more pressure on utilities to make the grid more resilient. Start thinking now about whether you need a back-up generator to ride out blackouts or battery backup for your solar system to supply electricity during peak demands. At the same time, we will expect utilities to do a better job anticipating peak demand and avoiding rolling blackouts.
4. Reducing carbon with energy efficiency
Already, many states and utilities have stepped up with aggressive carbon reduction mandates tied to climate change goals. This will continue in 2021, accelerated by leadership from the Biden administration. Utilities will be focused on reaching aggressive carbon reduction goals, which will translate into new energy efficiency programs and rebates for consumers.
5. Electrifying everything in the home
2021 will see a commitment to electrifying everything. According to Rewiring America, “Nearly 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from what’s in our households and garages. If we electrify everything in our houses, we go a long way to confronting climate change.” It’s time to seriously consider electrifying everything in our homes and accept that burning oil or gas is an antiquated way to use energy. Going electric will gain serious traction this year as governments and utilities offer more incentives to use heat pumps for heating and cooling. Expect more incentives for EV adoption, too.
6. Shifting time of day for energy loads
People will be able to take actions that reduce the carbon intensity of their electricity use, depending on the time of day. More utilities will transition to time-of-use (TOU) rates to encourage consumers to schedule power use when clean energy is abundant. To make it easier, smart home energy systems will guide residents to shift the time of day when they use more energy; for example, when they run their dishwasher, do laundry, or charge their EV. Those changes will make a real difference in utility bills, and consumers can reduce the carbon footprints of their homes without compromising their comfort.
About the Author
Mike Phillips is the CEO and co-founder of Sense, an innovator in home energy. Prior to Sense, he was the founder and CTO of SpeechWorks and Vlingo, where he was among the first to commercialize speech recognition technology. Sense’s mission is to reduce global carbon emissions by making homes smarter and more efficient.