Smart Thermostats

Alabama Power Builds Award-Winning Smart Neighborhoods Throughout the State

By Tanya Svoboda
July 2020

This year’s showcase home in the Parade of Homes in Mobile had it all – beauty and brains. The featured house was a “smart home”, located in the Alabama Power Smart Neighborhood in Saraland, that was up to 50% more energy efficient than a typical home. According to the Alabama Newscenter, the house also included a Chorus SmartSecure smart home technology package.

Alabama Power spokesperson, Beth Thomas, told the Alabama Newscenter “An Alabama Power Smart Home is designed to make your life more comfortable, convenient and connected.” These homes achieve that through a variety of smart and energy-efficient features including:

  • Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot
  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart door locks, outlets, and switches
  • Security cameras, motion detectors, and window sensors
  • Improved insulation
  • High-efficiency heat pump and water heater
  • Energy Star appliances

The showcase home featured in the Parade of Home is just one of many eco-friendly advances in home building we’re seeing come out of the state.

Hoover, Alabama’s First Smart Neighborhood Blazed the Trail for Saraland and Birmingham

In 2018, Alabama Power unveiled their first Smart Neighborhood at Reynold’s Landing in Hoover. Saraland’s design was built using best practices from the 62 homes that make up that neighborhood. Among the cutting-edge technology used in the Hoover was the microgrid, which was the first community-scale microgrid in the Southeast.

“The microgrid is cutting-edge technology that will offer valuable insights and operational experience into how it benefits our customers,” said John Hudson, senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Alabama Power.

In Birmingham, Hoover’s revelations are being used by the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD), the city of Birmingham, and Alabama Power to create state-of-the-art smart homes in 99 neighborhoods. The Alabama Newscenter notes, “The new Smart Neighborhood builds will incorporate energy efficiency and home automation upgrades during the construction phase of housing units to help make energy use more affordable for low-income families and seniors.”

Smart Neighborhood Builder Program Keeps the Progress Going

The Smart Neighborhood Builder Program was created by Alabama Power. Through collaborations with homebuilders, the program promotes the production of energy-efficient homes. Homebuilders including Holland Homes, Harris Doyles Homes, and Curtis White Companies have already committed to the program.

Between the three homebuilders, 127 smart homes will be built using Vivint Smart Home technologies for voice-activated security along with smart locks, lights, and cameras. Additionally, the homes will include:

  • Google Home smart speakers for voice control
  • Nest Learning thermostats
  • Advanced energy-efficient features

Buyers Want Smart Home Upgrades

While buyers may not expect smart home upgrades in old homes, Alarms.org reports 81 percent of buyers indicated they’d be more apt to buy a home if smart products were already installed. So, if you’re looking to get in on the smart home movement but are unable to buy a new construction home in one of the Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhoods, you can make smaller-scale upgrades to your current home that will benefit you now, and if you plan to sell.

The article, Hey Alexa, How Smart Does My Home Need to Be? suggests retrofitting your home with these smart solutions:

  • Smart Locks: Valarie Depa, a broker with @Properties notes that smart locks are “appealing to more and more home buyers. As we’ve moved to a much more digital society, people like to carry less (think Apple Pay vs credit cards) and keys are just another example. They also offer homebuyers with school-aged children peace of mind that keys won’t be lost and that their child will always have access to their home.”
  • Smart Thermostats: Smart thermostats such as the Nest or Ecobee are relatively inexpensive but can be tricky to integrate. If you’re looking to sell your home, making this upgrade before listing may pay off. Depa stated, “I find home buyers are happy that they don’t have to be the ones to install. In older homes, this can be a more complicated installation process, so it being done at the time of purchase is a big plus.”
  • Safety Features: Products like Leeo Alarms and Roost give you live alerts so you can make it home to stop a detected water leak before it causes expensive damage. These products provide potential homebuyers with a much-valued peace of mind.
  • Smart Outlets: Smart outlets allow you to control whatever is plugged into it remotely and, in some cases, through voice control. Depa also encourages homeowners to add outlets with USB ports. It’s an inexpensive fix and provides a nice return on investment.

Smart and energy-efficient homes continue to appeal to homebuyers and, as companies like Alabama Power innovate and expand, more and more homebuyers will have access to these amazing homes.


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