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How Are Smart Thermostats Making Homes Greener? – ReadWrite



How Are Smart Thermostats Making Homes Greener? - ReadWrite

When people look at green home options to make their abodes more sustainable, they often explore smart thermostat options. They’re accessible, reasonably priced, and can usually help households save money.

According to one source, they can reduce heating bills by up to 12% and cooling expenses by as much as 15%, although the figures vary. That’s one reason why smart thermostats are particularly appealing to cost-conscious consumers.

However, they’re also extremely convenient. A person might be relaxing on the couch and realize they want to change the temperature in their home. A smart thermostat lets them do that without getting up. Instead, they can use an app to adjust the settings. Similarly, having these types of temperature controls allows homeowners to specify the exact temperature they want.

A smart thermostat could also be helpful for people with disabilities. Most of the leading brands have accompanying voice assistant skills. Then, a person could say a command to alter the thermostat rather than using an app or making manual adjustments.

Cutting Emissions and Wasted Heat

Many people want to have a green home, but they’re unsure where to start. Installing a smart thermostat could be a great starting point.

A study in the United Kingdom market by Heating Wise indicated that smart thermostats could reduce household emissions and excessive energy use. They concluded that part of the energy savings come from how smart thermostats keep temperatures consistent in a home. They eliminate the need for the heating system to continually run throughout the day.

Additionally, the study found that having a smart thermostat helps people avoid heating empty homes, which wastes unnecessary energy. Some smart thermostats even have occupancy sensors, so they can detect if people are home or in particular rooms.

Many homes in the United Kingdom use natural gas for heating. However, the study showed that when people have smart thermostats, those devices can help minimize the so-called fugitive greenhouse gases caused by leaks and irregular natural gas emissions. Those reportedly account for approximately 4% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

A person may find that one of the reasons they get good results from a smart thermostat is that it helps them break bad habits they didn’t realize they had. Perhaps that individual frequently leaves the house for hours and doesn’t think about whether the heat’s left on while they’re away. Having a smart thermostat can help them only heat or cool the residence when they’re home. That’s better for the planet and will reduce bills.

Appealing to People Looking for New Places to Live

People consider a wide range of aspects before moving to new places. They often research things like hospitals, schools, crime rates, cultural offerings, and job markets before taking the plunge. However, many individuals are also thinking about the impact that homes have on the environment.

According to one survey about millennials’ home preferences, 83% of respondents felt concerned about the impact of home construction on the environment. However, only 16% of those polled said they’d be willing to pay more for eco-friendly residences. Fortunately, having a smart thermostat is a practical way to promote sustainability without making major investments in green technology. The advertisements for many newly built apartment complexes often mention smart tech as a selling point.

Florida’s iApartments is a Tampa-based company specializing in adding smart thermostats and other connected technologies to multifamily housing complexes. More specifically, people from the business work with property owners  to determine the most appropriate additions for the residences. The company provided data showing that only 2% of apartment buildings have smart home technology. That suggests there’s plenty of room for growth.

However, another study found that Florida is among the U.S. states with the most homes for sale that feature smart technology. Researchers analyzed Zillow listings to gauge the popularity of such amenities. Florida had 2,242 listings mentioning smart home technology. Conversely, there were only eight in Alaska.

However, smart home technology appeals to young renters, too. Research indicated that 62% of the Gen Z segment surveyed considered it a factor in deciding where to live. It’s important to clarify that having a smart thermostat does not necessarily equal having a green home. However, it’s a good starting gadget that can encourage people to start making their homes more sustainable.

Reducing Resource Usage

Reducing resource dependence is a significant part of living in a green home. It’s not feasible for most people to live off the grid or take other massive steps to cut their usage. However, installing a smart thermostat is a much more accessible option that most people find they’re willing to do.

At the utility provider level, decision-makers support investments in renewable energy sources. Solar power is one of the most popular options. It has had an annual growth rate of more than 42% since 2000. Efforts are even underway to turn roadways into solar power generators.

However, smart thermostats can help people reduce how much electricity they use, even if the power sources are non-renewable. One study investigated the benefits of using a smart thermostat with zone-based occupancy sensors to minimize electricity usage. In such cases, a household could keep certain parts of the home warmer or cooler to maximize comfort without wasting energy.

More specifically, the investigation concluded that the setup enabled energy savings of 37.9%, equalling 496 kilowatt-hours during the study period. Researchers also calculated the estimated annual kilowatt-hours saved as 5,208 kilowatt-hours, or 43.6% better than before having the smart thermostat.

Some smart thermostats learn households’ energy habits. The gadgets then recommend an energy-efficient temperature setting based on those trends. That way, people can save energy without guesswork.

Increasing Energy Usage Consciousness

Many people can probably recall having their parents remind them to turn off the lights before leaving a room. However, without that ongoing feedback, it’s often difficult for adults to get in the habit of doing things to curb their energy usage.

A handy feature of many smart thermostats is a graph or dashboard showing how someone’s energy usage changes over time. Some models also give people helpful recommendations for sparking positive trends.

Fannie Mae conducted a two-year study of people with very-low, low, and moderate incomes who had received mortgages. Some of the participants received smart thermostats since the goal of the investigation was to see what changes, if any, those gadgets caused in people’s behaviors.

One of the questions posed to people who installed smart thermostats was whether doing so made them more aware of their energy usage. Approximately one-quarter of the respondents reported that they were previously only aware of it occasionally, but the smart thermostat made them always pay attention to their energy consumption.

The research also showed that nearly 70% of those polled changed their habits to save more energy. It’s often hard to know which behaviors will have the biggest impact on energy savings without data. Fortunately, smart thermostats often provide the details needed to help people make actionable and beneficial shifts in how they live.

Offering a Potential Decarbonization Strategy

Government leaders worldwide have released ambitious decarbonization plans, and they have various ideas about how to reach the proposed goals. Smart thermostats alone won’t enable approaching the milestones, but a study suggests they could help.

It examined how the gadgets could contribute to the European Union’s goal of getting a 55% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. The research took data from more than 1 million smart thermostats in European homes. The results indicated they caused an average of 22% in energy savings per residence.

The study also indicated that, if all homes in Europe had smart thermostats, the gadgets would collectively cause a 4.75% reduction in total carbon emissions. Another takeaway from the research was that this approach would cost €40 billion, or 6.67% of the budget for the European Green Deal to help reach the climate targets. However, it would cost substantially more to get comparable emissions reductions through other infrastructure improvements.

The next most economical change was to install heat pumps, but that would cost €432 billion. The researchers confirmed that smart thermostats were unique among all the options studied in that they provided people with consistent money-saving returns while reducing their carbon footprints.

Of course, there would need to be a significant and coordinated effort to encourage all property owners in the European Union to switch to smart thermostats. Offering discounts or similar perks could be enough to convince some people who are still on the fence.

Making Smart Thermostats More Attractive to Europeans

A different study surveyed people from five European nations to determine which factors would make them more willing to switch to smart thermostats. One of the study observations showed that public or private subsidies would compel people to adopt them. However, another finding was that people have privacy concerns, including how their data gets processed and what happens to it.

The researchers admitted that the data privacy fear was an irrational barrier to adoption, given how readily people download smartphone apps that collect and use data about them. Nonetheless, they suggested that manufacturers increase transparency about why their smart thermostats collect data.

Another finding was that smart thermostat credibility rises among the public when energy experts and purchasing advisors recommend using them. That suggests the previous trust in an entity about other matters could influence people to buy smart thermostats, too.

These conclusions are reminders that even when an individual is eager to live in a green home, some hesitations may remain. When decision-makers know more about those, it’s easier to dispel those obstacles and provide helpful clarifications.

Showing the Possible Payoffs of Other Energy-Saving Methods

Researchers also learned that studying smart thermostat data could help homeowners see how much money they could save by upgrading their insulation. They created a graph to track how well a house held heat and the rate at which it cooled down when the heat was off.

They used data from a smart thermostat’s accompanying sensors in particular rooms of the home. The information associated with how quickly a house cools with the heat off and how substantially it warms up with the heater running allows calculating a metric for the home’s acceptable heat loss rate. Cooling down too quickly due to colder outdoor temperatures could indicate there’s insufficient insulation or weak seals on windows and doors.

The research team clarified that people would get the most valuable results if they compared the data from their homes with how well those residences should hold heat based on things like their sizes and the local climate. Homeowners could also use the data to learn how quickly a home will cool based on every one-degree difference between its interior and outside temperature.

Bringing Energy-Efficient Enhancements to Older Homes

The results of a German study focusing on older residences indicated that smart thermostat usage could bring gains in those cases, too. The team explored the effects of smart thermostats in single-family homes of approximately 1,367 square feet built between 1949 and 1978. The data indicated that if those abodes got energy savings of  5.7%, they would recoup the thermostat investment within a decade.

The payback timeframe was similar for 688-square-foot apartments built in the same period. However, those units could achieve energy savings of 7.7%.

The research also showed other circumstances that helped people in older homes maximize their energy savings. More specifically, in poorly insulated residences, the energy-saving potential was higher than in locations with better insulation.

Additionally, anyone away from home for large parts of the day could get the best energy savings. They can lower the temperature when leaving and set up an automation to raise it when they return home.

A Smart Thermostat Is a Practical Part of a Green Home

There’s no guaranteed path to a greener lifestyle. However, these examples show why a smart thermostat could be a fantastic starting point for business leaders and eco-conscious homeowners.

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technical and industrial journalist. She regularly covers stories about how technology is changing the industrial sector.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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