Written By   Elle Decor

“Smart home” and “green home” are now nearly synonymous.

smart house

With the recent sale of “Real Housewife” Shannon Beador’s über-eco-friendly Orange County mansion, it’s clearer than ever that selling a home is about more than just a prime location and pretty paint colors. Being green is a major selling point, too.

Beador’s estate came with seriously impressive features like organic wallpaper, allergen-free floors, buried crystals and hospital grade air. Super neat, but not exactly mainstream. That got us wondering: What other fascinating green features may we be missing out on?

To find out, we researched the latest green home trends, and spoke with Sabine H. Schoenberg, host of “Sabine’s New House” and the designer behind what’s been dubbed the “smart house of the future” — an incredibly sustainable home that was just built in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Read on for the savvy technology that you probably never thought about, and snag some of that green living for yourself.

Energy Conservation

The sustainable smart house in Greenwich, Connecticut, designed by Sabine H. Schoenberg.

The Greenwich house has roots that are planted deep — 450 feet, to be exact. Two loops extend far into the ground as part of a geothermal system, extracting the constant heat of the earth to heat the space.

“We used a geothermal system for heating and cooling,” says Schoenberg. “It is controlled by a specialized computer that optimizes production and output control, only producing the energy needed for the home at just the right times.”

Geothermal pumps use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That equates to an energy bill that is about 40 percent of a conventionally-run house’s bill, says Sabine. Plus, since there are no outside condensing units, like an air conditioner, you don’t have to worry about air pollution.

For pinpointing the temperature of the indoor spaces, Schoenberg turned to smart thermostats, which learn a homeowner’s patterns (like when they’re home and when they’re away) and adjusts heating and cooling accordingly — typically within just two weeks.

“In terms of energy efficiency, smart thermostats are a must,” says Schoenberg. “They tailor temperature settings to homeowners’ individual comfort settings when they are actually at home and reduce energy consumption when they are away.”

There are two types of smart thermostats that can do this: A geosensing thermostat (like the Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat) that detects the presence of your phone, assuming it’s always on you. The other type is a motion-detecting thermostat like the Nest Thermostat, which you can actually program to serve as a motion detector, too.

Water Conservation

water conservation

Recent droughts across the United States have turned water conservation from a pleasant thought into a necessity. Even if the law isn’t cracking down on your water use, there are a few cutting edge, water-conserving features that can help you save money and do something nice for Mother Nature.

The Greenwich house, for example, has a smart irrigation system controlled by the Rachio smart irrigation controller ($250), which allows for tailored watering.

“Out are the old irrigation systems where you have to set up certain zones, times and lengths of watering, or rain sensors that only know when it’s already rained,” says Schoenberg. “The smart irrigation system fine-tunes its watering to the amount of light and soil condition at each of its 16 zones, and responds to the local weather forecast, even before it rains.”

irrigation system

This system guarantees savings of nearly 40 percent on water usage.

Inside, you can watch your water consumption by installing a smart showerhead, such as the Hydrao, which just debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year. The showerhead connects to an iPhone or iPad app so you can set alerts in intervals (think five gallons, seven gallons or 10 gallons).

smart showered

As you reach each interval, LED lights illuminate in various colors to remind you how much water you’ve used. The lights are operated by a tiny turbine that uses the running water to supply electricity. You can pre-register now for the showerhead to be the first to know when it hits the market.

Solar Power

Solar panels aren’t possible for everyone, based on budget, time and regional climate. There are little ways, however, to incorporate efficient solar power into your home.

Take GoSun Grill, a solar barbecue that debuted at CES this year. The grill can fry, bake or boil a meal for up to eight people sans fuel, using only energy from the sun. Solar panels in the grill transfer energy to heat pipes inside, and voilà! You have yourself an energy-efficient meal. The product is currently in production and will be available for $599 later this year.


About thenoelteam

As a Broker with RE/MAX Alliance, I work energetically for my clients whether they are a buyer or seller. I help you achieve your goal of owning a home or getting the best price for your home in the shortest time possible. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in communications and finance, I was licensed in 1977 and since then I have sold over 3600 properties amounting to over $1 billion in sales. I currently rank in the top 10 in home sales for Colorado. I offer the same quality of service and superior communication to all clients, ranging from starter homes to multi-million dollar estates, commercial and income properties, relocations and foreclosures My goal is to provide you with the best representation possible whether you are buying or selling. Over the years, one of the things that I've discovered is that there is a difference in the way individual Realtors do business. For me, I have always felt that honesty and personal integrity are the foundations upon which a successful business and career are built and sustained. I have an extensive background and knowledge base in real estate, including financing, which has enabled me to provide outstanding, quality advice and service not found with many agents today. My commitment to communication creates a positive relationship between my client and myself that results in a successful property sale or purchase. My passion for real estate, commitment to my clients and personal integrity has helped me to achieve success placing me in the top 1% of all brokers in nationwide. In my career, I have earned a number of awards and received considerable recognition for my success but the most significant recognition comes from the fact that over 75% of my business comes from past clients. My success is a true measure of my client satisfaction.
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