(calm music) – Remember the Jetsons? They had gadgets galore from holograms to a robotic maid, but they also probably had
an astronomical electric bill as well as a massive carbon footprint. That’s still an issue for
our own home of the future, but unlike the Jetsons, we’re actually using some
of that cutting edge tech to solve it. (light music) As homeowners of the future we’ll have more ability to
monitor our energy consumption. But before we get to that, let’s talk about where
that energy’s coming from, because the home of the
future will always need power. We built our home to generate
a lot of its own power from solar panels installed
on the carport roof. In fact, the solar panels
are the carport roof. – It’s an integral part of their house architecturally, and that
was part of the design of the house from the beginning. – [Grant] Stan Pipkin is the
owner of Lighthouse Solar here in Austin, which specializes in
integrated solar design. – [Stan] When Carter put up
panels on the white house (laughter) nobody liked ’em because they were big, they were bulky, they stood out. – But these are something
entirely different. – [Stan] This gives
architects something to go wild with. (upbeat music) – [Grant] If you look around Austin, this is very different
than most solar retrofits that have the panels tacked onto the roof. Our solar installation is deliberately and artfully designed, made to feel like a
natural, essential part of the house itself. – I think the whole industry understands, it’s silly to sorta slap
solar on top of the building. Why not make the building
electricity generating itself? – [Grant] This is Katharine Beisner, an expert in solar technology. – People are definitely trying
to make the solar panels better looking. It’s still by and large in residential, putting solar on top of a roof. Now a lot of them look
like just gorgeous black flat screen TVs and it’s very low-profile. And I suspect we’ll see
a lot of these products in the future. (upbeat music) – [Grant] Here’s how the
system actually works. – Each one of those squares
individually is a solar cell. They produce, collectively, DC power that flows to the inverter. And then it’s changed to AC power and that’s what the house can run on. – And any energy not used by the house flows into a lithium ion battery. So, let’s say a homeowner installs solar. Does that make them
impervious from a blackout? – So, unless you have a
system that can island away from the grid, or
basically a microgrid, your solar system will not
help you during a power outage. – So here in our home of the future, we have a battery. And so, we’re prepared for a blackout. – That’s right. So, this is a really special home, you have energy storage that’s
wired to your critical loads and if there’s a blackout, you can pull that energy
to power your home. (gentle music) – This array, it’ll produce
enough energy to power say, 60% of their needs on a given day. It varies by clouds, season, shade. – I think for the house of the future, we probably want that
to be more like, 100%. Is it possible to scale the array? – Absolutely. The nice thing about solar, it’s modular. So, they can live in the house
and then scale appropriately over the first year.
– Right. – And so now we’re
empowering them will tools to actually manage their house. – [Grant] Which brings us
to our energy monitoring. Our smart home integrator,
Pete Sandford of Smarter Homes, has given us the ability
to see a real time readout of the energy usage of our home. – We just jumped from
900 watts to 4700 watts. That jump is gonna tell me somebody just turned
on the air conditioning and it gives you the idea of, wow that’s how much energy I’m using. – Wow. We’ve put a lot of effort
into designing our solar array and our energy storage
system into the house to meet the majority of our needs. On the other hand, all
of our tech in this house is probably gonna consume a lot of energy. – You’d think so, but
a lot of these devices are Energy Star rated, and they’re considered low voltage items. Your real energy hogs
are gonna be you know, your non-LED lights, your air
conditioners, the hot water. So, here I’ve brought the
control pad for my home. – [Grant] Does that say 875 watts? – Yeah, when we started we were
between 14 and 16,000 watts. We worked really hard to get it that low. So let’s go in and turn
on some air conditioners, and then that way you
can kinda get an idea of the spike as well, so watch. Downstairs, we’ll go ahead
and drop that down to 70. Upstairs. And let’s go back and see
how that’s gonna affect our energy.
– Wow. – This is pretty instantaneous – Yeah.
– As far as our reading goes. It’s already jumped up to 7241. So at our house, we loved what we did, we saw our new bill. So we contacted Austin Energy and we got this data from them. So, this is before we automated. – [Grant] Okay. – And then, here’s after. And it looks dramatic just as it is, but if you look at the scale. These spikes are during our laundry times and our shower times. And it really enabled us to
program our air conditioners to where they weren’t
just kickin’ on all day. So, this is what you would do with solar. So, you know, we hear a
lot of solar companies say, oh this is gonna cover 60% of your usage, but how would they know? So, having something like this
when you’d be able to have the data.
– Right. – [Pete] To support the
value of having solar. – You know, seeing this
energy usage laid out right in front of you is a very eye-opening experience because normally you
just use your appliances and you don’t think how
much it’s costing you. But once you see this, the incentive is to game-ify it to see how much you can save. – Everybody, the kids, likes
to see that number low. It’s almost like it turns
into a mini-obsession. One of ’em was like,
“we’re down to 450 watts,” and I was like, that’s the
lowest we’ve ever been. You win. – It’s like a new high score. – Yeah, exactly. New low score.
– New low score. (laughs) (upbeat music) – I think that becoming more aware of our energy usage is the first step. Not only will homes of
the future be smarter about how they use energy, but they’ll make us more
aware of how our actions influence that usage. And even for those just passing by, the house acts a billboard
for a renewable future. Thanks so much for watching me explore the energy needs and abilities in this home of the future. Now I’m wondering, how
would you power yours? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll see you next
with a brand new episode.

The future of renewable energy is making it look cool
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