How smart technologies impact sustainability


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How smart technologies impact sustainability

Woman with tablet controlling smart home devices

According to Ericsson, there will be around 29 billion smart devices worldwide by the end of 2022. Although estimates of the exact number of connected devices in the world vary, industry experts agree that more people are adopting them every day. In the US alone, there will be around 51 million homes using smart devices in 2021, according to a report by Berg Insight.

While most of these devices are marketed as ways to make homes more comfortable and save money on utilities and other costs, some are also compatible with reducing energy use and pollution. IoT Secure has gathered interesting facts and statistics about the impact of smart technologies on sustainability efforts from industry experts and news.

The potential economic value of IoT devices was at least $740 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow dramatically by 2030, according to a November 2021 report by McKinsey. Manufacturing is one of the largest industries in the world, marked by cutting-edge technology since the beginning of industrialization. One way smart devices and technology can support manufacturing and other industries is by helping to eliminate waste created by human habits. Plus, fine-tuned computer sensors can shut down machines more efficiently—and much faster—when there’s danger.



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Save energy and money with smart lights

Manual adjustment of smart light with app

LED bulbs now use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. When you add smart lights that can turn on the lights before you get home from work, you can save even more energy. This can mean your lights are on almost 50% less time throughout the day – a huge difference. Smart lights can also turn on and off based on sunrise and sunset, making your day more evenly lit without having to fiddle with switches. Unlike incandescent bulbs and fluorescent bulbs or tubes, which can have a high lifetime cost to switch on and off, LED bulbs don’t waste life this way.



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Help reduce water loss

Water usage management app

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 1 trillion gallons of water is lost each year due to household leaks. What seem like small problems—a toilet that keeps running or a slow drip under the kitchen sink—can add up to huge losses. Using technology that can automatically alert users to the presence of a leak can help reduce this loss by fixing problems more quickly. You can start searching your house for leaks by working methodically and adjusting the pipes. A smart leak detector can then make sure everything stays ship-shape.



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Reduce household heating and cooling energy consumption

Button for manual adjustment of digital air conditioner

Air conditioning accounts for about 12 percent of a home’s energy use, while forced-air heat can account for as much as 29 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Programmable thermostats are already a big improvement, allowing users to set a timer to start the air conditioner before they leave work, for example.

Smart thermostats like Nest go a step further with algorithms that study how heat and cooling actually move in your home and adjust accordingly. Nest reported in 2015 that its “learning thermostat” saved users about 15% on cooling and about 10% to 12% on heating. This means approximately 2% total energy savings in the home for cooling and 3.5% for heating.



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Limit chemical leaching and greenhouse gas emissions on farms

Agronomist using technology in growing corn

Agriculture has long been about efficiency, especially for small farmers trying to turn tight profit margins into acceptable income. While exact numbers are hard to come by, organizations like PNAS say smart sensors can monitor farms to allow more targeted application of water and chemicals like pesticides. And this makes intuitive sense because computers are much better than humans at knowing, for example, exactly when to turn the fertilizer flow on and off.

Modern farm equipment can be programmed with complete maps of where and what to apply, maintaining precise movements and applying products where needed. Human operators—less certain and willing to err on the side of caution—probably overapply products through multiple precautionary behaviors.



juliet_dreamhunter // Shutterstock

Capture methane gas leaks faster

Gas leak detector

While carbon dioxide gets more attention on the international stage, methane is the second most common greenhouse gas and can be more harmful pound for pound. There are natural sources of methane such as livestock that can be somewhat reduced over time with dietary changes, for example.

But others are man-made because methane is the most common component of “natural gas” used in stoves and heating. Natural gas pipelines that zigzag around the world are prone to leaks. One system already implemented in Italy uses smart methane detection with vehicle-based sensors to detect leaks that need fixing.

This story originally appeared on IoT Secure and was created and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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