Abney and Abney Associates Green Solutions, 5 Green Home Trends of 2014

Energy costs are still rising and 2013 was the 4th hottest year on record. In this tempestuous climate, there are dozens of game-changing technologies waiting in the wings to transform home energy use. Check out these 5 cool green home energy trends that sparked our imagination in 2013 and are set to wow us with new moves for 2014.

1. Solar Batteries

Solar power has significant potential to transform home energy use, but there’s one big problem: the sun isn’t on at night. In the absence of high-performance, cost-effective solar battery storage to electrify the graveyard shift, the momentum of residential solar power has been limited. Solar battery technology has actually been around for years, but it’s been too expensive to gain much traction.

2. Micro-Windmills

Who says windmills have to come in the form of gigantic infrastructure? Tiny windmills can not only produce real energy, they could eventually power entire homes. That’s according to the scientists who are now developing ‘micro-windmills.’ In 2013, researchers at UT Arlington created functioning, cost-effective prototypes of this unique nanotechnology. About ten of their bite-size mills can fit on a single grain of rice, but the origami-inspired devices are remarkably effective at harnessing the air for cheap electricity.

3. Smart Thermostats

Collection and analysis of energy data is one of the major challenges for optimizing home efficiency. Builders, realtors, interior designers and occupants could all use realtime data to green their activities and make better decisions about energy use. To that end, the ‘smart thermostat’ market is now taking off. Smart thermostats can transmit accurate, up-to-date utility data about live energy use via your smartphone.

4. Open-Source Home Energy Management

One of the most underreported stories of 2013 was the German invention of a powerful, open-source energy management tool called OGEMA (Open Gateway Energy Management Alliance). The Java-based OGEMA platform is “basically an interface between the ‘smart grid’ and the ‘smart building’.”

5. Net-Zero Energy (NZE) Homes

With more technological exploration of live energy data, the average consumer is tiptoeing that much closer to the holy grail of residential energy use: the Net Zero Energy (NZE) home. In fact, the net-zero home is no longer science fiction, but an American reality—at least for a few homeowners.

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