Honda’s Energy-Producing Smart Home

Energy efficiency and renewable resources are top of mind for many consumers and it seems that automobile companies like Tesla Motors and Honda are among those leading the way when it comes to development of energy-producing smart homes. The sustainable technology in the Honda Smart Home may be incorporated in future new homes in Los Altos Hills as well as other cities and towns in the Silicon Valley.

Set in the West Village on the University of California Davis campus is Honda’s ‘vision for zero carbon living’. The 1,944 square foot home runs completely on a combination of solar energy and batteries powered by the electricity the solar panels generate. The home’s efficient LED lighting as well as other features are controlled via an app on an iPad, allowing lights to turn on and off automatically and blinds to open and close as set times of the day. This mimicking of intensity, color and warmth of natural light helps the wellbeing of the home’s inhabitants. The home also uses three times less water and 75% less energy than a normal residential structure and doesn’t require either heating or air conditioning.

Researchers at UC Davis and Honda are collaborating to determine how various home devices work together and how they impact climate change. This includes the solar panels and various kitchen appliances. Honda’s energy management system monitors and manages the home’s energy production and consumption. Though best known for making automobiles, Honda has a wide-reaching interest in the development of technology that deals with climate change.

The Bennetts, a family of four, have been living in the smart home and providing real life data to Honda and Davis researchers. Mr. Bennett also drives over 30 miles round-trip during his daily commute, providing Honda with additional data on charging and driving electric vehicles, in this case Honda’s Fit e-car.

In 2020, all newly constructed homes in California will have to be ‘net zero compliant, meaning they will have to balance the amount of energy used with the amount of renewable energy they generate. And because Honda’s Smart Home plans are open-source, they may very well provide a viable option for these highly efficient future energy-producing residences.

The Honda Smart Home was named the Best Demonstration Home of the Year in 2014 by GreenBuilder. An experiment in efficiency, its architectural and technological advances could help homes in Los Altos Hills and throughout California become sustainable and zero net energy compliant.

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