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How to Implement an Energy Management System in Older Homes

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Older San Francisco Home


Home energy management systems (EMS) are often associated with modern, newly-built homes packed with the latest smart technology. However, what many homeowners don’t realize is that older homes can also benefit substantially from EMS. If you live in an older home and think that energy management systems are beyond your reach, think again. With the correct approach, you can retrofit an older home to enjoy energy savings, increased comfort, and a reduced carbon footprint. This guide will delve into the how-tos of implementing an EMS in an older home.

Understanding the Needs of Older Homes

Before jumping into EMS installation, it’s crucial to understand the unique characteristics of older homes. They often have outdated insulation, inefficient heating and cooling systems, and less airtight structures. This means the potential for energy savings is considerable, but it also means that you need to take a strategic approach to optimize these benefits.

The Essentials of an Energy Management System

An EMS typically consists of:

  1. Sensors: Devices like smart thermostats, occupancy sensors, and weather sensors to monitor conditions.
  2. Controllers: Systems like smart home hubs that coordinate between various devices.
  3. Actuators: Devices like automated blinds, smart lighting, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that respond to the EMS commands.
  4. User Interface: This could be a smartphone app or a dedicated control panel that allows users to interact with the EMS.

Steps to Implement an EMS in Older Homes

Energy Audit

Before any retrofitting begins, conduct a thorough energy audit. This audit can identify the main energy wasters in your home and guide you on where to invest in energy-saving measures. It also sets a baseline against which you can measure your EMS’ effectiveness.

Insulation and Sealing

Begin with improving the thermal envelope of the home by upgrading insulation and sealing gaps that let air escape. By doing this first, you ensure that whatever energy is produced is utilized efficiently.

Upgrade Electrical Wiring

Older homes often have outdated wiring that may not be up to code and could pose a fire hazard. Make sure to consult an electrician to see if any upgrades are needed to support modern energy management devices.

Install Smart Sensors

Integrate sensors that can track temperature, humidity, light levels, and occupancy. These sensors feed information back to a central hub, providing real-time data for energy management. For instance, smart thermostats can adjust heating or cooling based on whether or not someone is in the room.

Choose the Right Controllers

Select a central hub compatible with the devices you’re installing. Compatibility ensures seamless communication and automation among devices.

Integrate Actuators

Install actuators like smart blinds and smart lighting systems that can be controlled based on the data collected by the sensors. For example, smart blinds could close automatically when the room reaches a certain temperature, reducing cooling costs in the summer.

Setup User Interface

Ensure that your EMS has an intuitive user interface so you can easily monitor and control your home’s energy usage. Apps are a popular choice due to the ubiquity of smartphones, but some people also opt for dedicated panels installed in the home.

Test and Calibrate

Once everything is installed, run multiple tests to ensure all devices are communicating correctly. It might take a few weeks of calibration to get everything working in harmony.

Monitor and Adjust

Regularly monitor the EMS to see how effective it is in saving energy. Make necessary adjustments to device settings to ensure you’re maximizing your energy and cost savings.

Financial Incentives and Rebates

Retrofitting an older home with an EMS can be a significant investment. However, many local and federal agencies offer rebates or tax credits for implementing energy-efficient measures. Check to see if you qualify for any financial incentives, as this can make your EMS project more financially feasible.


Implementing an energy management system in an older home is not just possible; it’s an excellent investment. With careful planning, you can turn your older home into a smart, energy-efficient space. Over time, the system will pay for itself in reduced energy costs and contribute to a more sustainable future. This project not only adds modern functionality to your older home but also ensures it continues to be a cozy, efficient sanctuary for many years to come.

This article is brought to you by Momentum Electrical Contractors

Specializing in installing hybrid systems that offer multiple forms of generation and smart grid management, Oakland-based Momentum Electrical Contractors are at the forefront of these transformational changes. Their expertise ensures that new residential projects not only meet but exceed the sustainability and resilience expectations of East Bay communities. For all your Oakland electrician needs, Momentum Electrical Contractors is happy to speak to you today!

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