Solutions for Self-Reliance

Can a Home be Smart AND Resilient? Yes, but…


Here’s a big trend that may help us become more resilient.    It’s simply automation for your house.

The reason we need automation is that we control nearly every feature in our homes by hand.

While that works, we could do better.

What do I mean by better?   Here’s an example.

I heat my home during the winter with regionally produced wood pellets.

I love wood heat.  It’s not only an inexpensive way to heat my home — it costs me about $150 per 1,000 square feet to heat it every New England winter — the experience is much better.   It actually feels warmer.

The reason I chose to put a pellet stove in my home and not a traditional stove that burns cord wood, is simple.  It’s easier to use.

Most of that comes from the simple automation that is built into the stove.   Unlike a standard wood stove, my pellet stove allows me to set the temperature I want to maintain using a standard thermostat.

The stove takes care of the rest.  Further, the stove can shut itself down in less than 30 seconds.  Nice (and safe).

So, even though this system does need to be plugged in to work (I have a back up generator that eliminates that risk), the ease of use experienced day in and day out is well worth it.

That gets me to today’s concept: the smart home.

There’s a company called Nest that has built a smart thermostat.  What makes it interesting is that it learns from how you use it.  Over time, it anticipates your needs (like turning down the temperature at 10 pm every night) and does it automatically.

Further, since it is Internet aware and wireless, you can control if from anywhere (i.e. from your smart phone).

Now, although this tech looks pretty simple, I suspect this device and others like it are the start of a big market for home automation. Essentially, smart systems connected to sensors around your home that makes running a home at peak efficiency, easier than ever.

Nest, with it’s Apple computer like approach to design, is certainly going to try to become a leader in this market.


Of course, the interesting part of this development to me, isn’t the new companies spawned by the opportunity or how much easier it will be to live as a couch potato.

Instead, it’s the thousands of innovative DIY and open source hardware efforts that push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Or, the use of automation to make it easier for our homes and local providers to be more productive (food, energy, water, and products).  

When that occurs, every improvement will make it easier to become resilient.

Easier to produce so much high quality food, energy, water, and products locally that we’ll be able to limit our global purchases to the few things we can’t produce locally.

Think Resiliently!




PS:  If you are interested in producing wood and biomass pellets locally, check out the Resilient Strategies October 2012 report for more on that topic.

PPS:  You don’t compete with the global on its terms or using its rules.  Stack the deck.  Beat it by rewriting the rules to optimize your strengths.

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