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  • (calm music)

  • - Remember the Jetsons?

  • They had gadgets galore

  • from holograms to a robotic maid,

  • but they also probably had an astronomical electric bill

  • as well as a massive carbon footprint.

  • That's still an issue for our own home of the future,

  • but unlike the Jetsons,

  • we're actually using some of that cutting edge tech

  • to solve it.

  • (light music)

  • As homeowners of the future

  • we'll have more ability to monitor our energy consumption.

  • But before we get to that,

  • let's talk about where that energy's coming from,

  • because the home of the future will always need power.

  • We built our home to generate a lot of its own power

  • from solar panels installed on the carport roof.

  • In fact, the solar panels are the carport roof.

  • - It's an integral part of their house

  • architecturally, and that was part of the design

  • of the house from the beginning.

  • - [Grant] Stan Pipkin is the owner of Lighthouse Solar

  • here in Austin,

  • which specializes in integrated solar design.

  • - [Stan] When Carter put up panels on the white house

  • (laughter)

  • nobody liked 'em because they were big,

  • they were bulky, they stood out.

  • - But these are something entirely different.

  • - [Stan] This gives architects something to

  • go wild with.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - [Grant] If you look around Austin,

  • this is very different than most solar retrofits

  • that have the panels tacked onto the roof.

  • Our solar installation is deliberately

  • and artfully designed,

  • made to feel like a natural, essential part

  • of the house itself.

  • - I think the whole industry understands,

  • it's silly to sorta slap solar on top of the building.

  • Why not make the building electricity generating itself?

  • - [Grant] This is Katharine Beisner,

  • an expert in solar technology.

  • - People are definitely trying to make the solar panels

  • better looking.

  • It's still by and large in residential,

  • putting solar on top of a roof.

  • Now a lot of them look like just gorgeous black

  • flat screen TVs and it's very low-profile.

  • And I suspect we'll see a lot of these products

  • in the future.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - [Grant] Here's how the system actually works.

  • - Each one of those squares individually is a solar cell.

  • They produce, collectively, DC power

  • that flows to the inverter.

  • And then it's changed to AC power

  • and that's what the house can run on.

  • - And any energy not used by the house

  • flows into a lithium ion battery.

  • So, let's say a homeowner installs solar.

  • Does that make them impervious from a blackout?

  • - So, unless you have a system that can island

  • away from the grid, or basically a microgrid,

  • your solar system will not help you during a power outage.

  • - So here in our home of the future,

  • we have a battery.

  • And so, we're prepared for a blackout.

  • - That's right.

  • So, this is a really special home,

  • you have energy storage that's wired to your critical loads

  • and if there's a blackout,

  • you can pull that energy to power your home.

  • (gentle music)

  • - This array, it'll produce enough energy to power

  • say, 60% of their needs on a given day.

  • It varies by clouds, season, shade.

  • - I think for the house of the future,

  • we probably want that to be more like, 100%.

  • Is it possible to scale the array?

  • - Absolutely.

  • The nice thing about solar, it's modular.

  • So, they can live in the house and then scale appropriately

  • over the first year. - Right.

  • - And so now we're empowering them will tools

  • to actually manage their house.

  • - [Grant] Which brings us to our energy monitoring.

  • Our smart home integrator, Pete Sandford of Smarter Homes,

  • has given us the ability to see a real time readout

  • of the energy usage of our home.

  • - We just jumped from 900 watts to 4700 watts.

  • That jump is gonna tell me

  • somebody just turned on the air conditioning

  • and it gives you the idea of,

  • wow that's how much energy I'm using.

  • - Wow.

  • We've put a lot of effort into designing our solar array

  • and our energy storage system into the house

  • to meet the majority of our needs.

  • On the other hand, all of our tech in this house

  • is probably gonna consume a lot of energy.

  • - You'd think so, but a lot of these devices

  • are Energy Star rated,

  • and they're considered low voltage items.

  • Your real energy hogs are gonna be you know,

  • your non-LED lights, your air conditioners, the hot water.

  • So, here I've brought the control pad for my home.

  • - [Grant] Does that say 875 watts?

  • - Yeah, when we started we were between 14 and 16,000 watts.

  • We worked really hard to get it that low.

  • So let's go in and turn on some air conditioners,

  • and then that way you can kinda get an idea of

  • the spike as well, so watch.

  • Downstairs, we'll go ahead and drop that down to 70.

  • Upstairs.

  • And let's go back and see how that's gonna affect

  • our energy. - Wow.

  • - This is pretty instantaneous

  • - Yeah. - As far as our reading goes.

  • It's already jumped up to 7241.

  • So at our house,

  • we loved what we did, we saw our new bill.

  • So we contacted Austin Energy

  • and we got this data from them.

  • So, this is before we automated.

  • - [Grant] Okay.

  • - And then, here's after.

  • And it looks dramatic just as it is,

  • but if you look at the scale.

  • These spikes are during our laundry times

  • and our shower times.

  • And it really enabled us to program our air conditioners

  • to where they weren't just kickin' on all day.

  • So, this is what you would do with solar.

  • So, you know, we hear a lot of solar companies say,

  • oh this is gonna cover 60% of your usage,

  • but how would they know?

  • So, having something like this when you'd be able to have

  • the data. - Right.

  • - [Pete] To support the value of having solar.

  • - You know, seeing this energy usage laid out

  • right in front of you

  • is a very eye-opening experience

  • because normally you just use your appliances

  • and you don't think how much it's costing you.

  • But once you see this,

  • the incentive is to game-ify it

  • to see how much you can save.

  • - Everybody, the kids, likes to see that number low.

  • It's almost like it turns into a mini-obsession.

  • One of 'em was like, "we're down to 450 watts,"

  • and I was like, that's the lowest we've ever been.

  • You win.

  • - It's like a new high score.

  • - Yeah, exactly.

  • New low score. - New low score.

  • (laughs)

  • (upbeat music)

  • - I think that becoming more aware

  • of our energy usage is the first step.

  • Not only will homes of the future be smarter

  • about how they use energy,

  • but they'll make us more aware of how our actions

  • influence that usage.

  • And even for those just passing by,

  • the house acts a billboard for a renewable future.

  • Thanks so much for watching me

  • explore the energy needs and abilities

  • in this home of the future.

  • Now I'm wondering, how would you power yours?

  • Let us know in the comments below

  • and we'll see you next with a brand new episode.

(calm music)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/06/30