Many American households are saving money each year by upgrading major household appliances to new, energy-efficient appliances, but what you may not know is that there are numerous smaller “gadgets” that can make a huge difference in your annual electricity spend. Smart home gadgets are a vital part of a 21st century home. These products exist to make your life easier, automating many home processes and giving you control via voice commands or a smartphone. Making your home a “smart home” helps your bank account and the environment. And, with potential rebates and incentives from companies and some government entities for more energy efficient practices potentially on the way from Congress, smarter homes may help your family be green, and save green.
A smart thermostat will deliver just the right amount of cooling or heating to the rooms you are actually using, rather than the entire house. Smart plugs can be switched off when the plugged-in device is fully charged – while a smart irrigation system knows when to turn off, significantly lowering your water bill. There are also smart light bulbs, leak detectors, and flood detectors that can equate to big savings. Even something as small as a solar-powered battery pack for your laptop can help lower the impact of “electricity vampires” like computers, all while taking a big chunk out of your utility bills.
Let’s take a look at some of the best money-saving gadgets on the market:
Smart Irrigation Systems use only the water your lawn needs. These systems actually know what type of soil you have and what plants grow there. They also actively monitor the weather, so they won’t turn on in the rain. Here are some of the very best.
Smart Thermostats “learn” how to cool and heat your home. These thermostats can help you save 20 percent or more on your heating and cooling bill (an average annual savings of around $150 per year). Top brands like Nest and Honeywell are priced around $200. Smart thermostats are operated via a smartphone or tablet and are advanced in knowing to turn off the hot water heater when you’re on vacation. Some even have sensors that understand the difference between people spending time in a room and people simply walking through a room to optimize the temperature accordingly. In some states and through some manufacturer programs you may soon also enjoy a rebate thanks to pending legislation which promotes energy efficiency.
Leak Detectors let you know if something is wrong in your home’s water system by monitoring the flow of water. They can also turn off the supply if a leak is detected. Certain systems can connect to various appliances via smart plus to monitor potential problems with refrigerators, washing machines, and hot water heaters.
Smart Plugs save money by switching off devices on a timer every night (or via a smartphone). Afraid you left the iron plugged in? Switch off the plug from anywhere in the world. These plugs can turn off lights, phone chargers, computers, or any other items easily. You can attach a smart plug to any regular wall outlet or replace those wall outlets with an in-wall smart plug for a sleeker, modern look. Here are some of the best available.
Smart Lighting is a simple, easy part of any smart home. Simply switching out old light bulbs for new fluorescent bulbs can save up to 80 percent on your electric bill. The new bulbs may cost a bit more than the older incandescent lights, but they last as much as 25 times longer and use electricity more efficiently. But smart lighting goes even further than this with timers, motion detectors, and geofencing features that lower your bill even further by turning off lights you forgot.
Several technologies exist to lump all of these gadgets into one central control system. Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Nest, or Assistant and Apple’s Siri can all be taught to run these smart systems at once (often paired with an energy-efficient or solar-powered home security lock and camera systems). Review some of the easiest ways to hook up your smart systems here and here.
More and more smart versions of household items are showing up on the market daily. Dig deeper, and you’ll find smart vacuums, smart doorbells, smart air purifiers, smart smoke alarms, and even smart toilet brushes. And, of course, don’t forget to check for state and federal rebate options on any smart gadgets you purchase.