Since beginning the latest phase of Care Technologist project, we have been increasingly aware of the current climate in which we are hoping to deliver technology-based care solutions. The idea of bringing more technology into the home at a time when the Cost-of-Living crisis and soaring prices in energy are at the forefront of our minds, can seem problematic at a glance. The Care Tech team have been reflecting on the assistive technology available, and how their use could impact everyday living from this perspective.
We wanted to share what we currently know about existing technology that can be used to assist in care, that can have a neutral or even positive impact on energy consumption.
On this note, we’re glad to say that many of the technology and devices we are using to improve wellbeing and care support have their energy saving and monitoring benefits. So while these gadgets can enhance your day-to-day living, they can also help to keep an eye on the bills.
Smart and timer plugs
We often recommend Smart and timer plugs as they benefit many living at home who are less likely to turn on and off their tech due to access or mobility issues. But these gadgets are also saving energy by giving the option to time your devices throughout the day and turning them off-off – not just on standby. You can do this either by voice activation or through the smart hub app which it connects to, via your phone. Using these plugs to control your lights, TV and other consoles can help save money as well as improve independence in your home.
Smart and sensor bulbs
Similar to the plug, these bulbs can be controlled using voice activation, your mobile and the Alexa app. Smart bulbs use LED source, rather than halogen, incandescent or fluorescent – all types of bulb that are being phased out due to their energy efficiency rating. LED lighting saves around 90% in electricity consumption and can last up to 50,000 hours – that’s nearly six years of constant run time.
Sensor control lighting can save up to 50% in energy reduction by operating only when activated by movement. We’ve found that these can help especially for people living at home who have low vision, and who move around at night.
Curtain and blind movers
This gadget allows users to open and draw curtains (there’s also a blinds alternative) using – you guessed it – voice activation, app via phone or timer. We regularly recommend this device as they are great for those living at home who are at risk of falls, reliant on a caregiver to open and close the curtains, or simply want a bit more independence in their day to day life. With the cold weather looming, these devices have the added benefit of enabling you to keep the heat in or the dark out with the click of a button or a voice command.
These connecting hubs can be placed across your home to share information, play music and connect with the devices listed above. The echo dot (pictured) enables lights, televisions, curtains and more to be controlled from whichever room you are in. Conveniences like this can keep energy costs low for those who may otherwise be reliant on caregivers or family members to pop round and turn on/off appliances. The cost of running these devices is minimal (we’re talking less than 50p a year) and many enter a ‘Low Power’ mode automatically when idle.
Tablets and other Smart devices
Devices such as the Echo Show or Fire Tablet are ideal replacements to computers and laptops, if you are using them for the same tools. Tablets use 70% less power than a laptop, so for casual internet browsers or those who just want to keep up to date with the weather and news on something larger than a phone, this can be a great alternative. Our Care Technologist Jenny did some number crunches on device use and found that those such as the Echo Show 8 use around £1.10 per year (based on current energy prices, October 2022).
For Smart technology such as smart bulbs, plugs and devices connected to a hub inside your home, there’s a mobile app that comes with it. Out and about, this can come in handy to keep energy costs down. Realise you’ve left the lights on? Don’t worry – you can switch them off from your pocket with the Alexa app.
We’re always looking for technology that can assist people to live well, independently, and fully. It’s even better when the tech can assist in keeping bills down. If you’re interested in learning more about the Care Technologist project, or want to let us know about gadgets we should be adding to this list, get in touch through our site page.