Department of Energy reveals next-generation smart home

If a home whose temperature is automatically controlled entirely by a thermostat is considered to be "smart," then what adjective should be assigned to homes that coordinate all aspects of their energy use with a local power grid to ensure that consumers are achieving full home energy efficiency?

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working on what can only be described as a "genius" home, which will coordinate all aspects of a home's energy use so that maximum efficiency is achieved. Simple, common problems caused by residents of a home, whose costs quickly mount, would no longer exist.

"The technology … will enable those home-energy puzzle pieces to fall into place – helping people turn the lights off when nobody is at home, helping people adjust their thermostat when they are not at home, helping people understand that energy is expensive at a particular time of day, so they can avoid running an energy-intensive appliance until power is less expensive – all of that helps save energy and costs across the board," NREL's Dane Christensen told industry news source Phys Org.

While homes featuring this technology are still several years away, other energy-efficient homes are popping up across the country. Just this weekend, the Homebuilders Association of Tuscaloosa unveiled a model home constructed in the aftermath of deadly tornadoes that swept through the Alabama region in April 2011.

The home, which could be replicated throughout the area, comes equipped with energy-efficient heating and insulation, efficient appliances, a heat pump and a gas water heater system. The best part? The utility bill is estimated to be $100 per month.

But, homeowners in Maryland and Virginia do not need to build a state-of-the-art home to generate energy savings. By working with a certified Washington, D.C. home inspector, you can quickly learn some tips for lowering your energy bill through cost-effective additions.