Can Smart Home Devices Cut Energy Costs?
Find out how a few smart devices and decisions can make your home more energy efficient.
Nearly 75% of homes in the U.S. have at least one internet-connected device that provides entertainment, such as a gaming console or a media streaming stick, and most of us have far more: Wi-Fi households average 8 connectable devices per family.
Trust the Technology
Too often, we try to outwit the very technology that’s been designed to streamline our energy costs. Spend a few minutes now learning how to run your smart devices efficiently in the future, and enjoy the savings over time.
Follow the Leader
Air conditioning and heating account for almost 48% of most home’s energy costs. It’s the area you’re most likely to see the greatest impact if you can work with your smart thermostat rather than against it. The greatest error with smart thermostats is failing to “set it and forget it”. Walking in the door from work and turning temperatures way up or down in an attempt to change temperatures faster actually uses more energy and causes an air handler to work less efficiently. Even worse, it doesn’t actually cool or heat your home any faster; it’s just more expensive. A smart thermostat can avoid heating and cooling an empty home, resume a comfortable temperature consistently, and save about $20 per month on utility bills. Nest reports their customers save more than 10% on their heating bills and 15% on their air conditioning, while ecobee boasts potential savings each year up to 23%.
Expect to pay $100 to $300 for a smart thermostat depending on its features. New models come with Alexa built in as well as internal programs that learn your family’s habits and apply consistent temperatures day after day. Leading manufacturers are constantly devising ways to make your home feel comfortable without constantly running the system. Follow their recommendations and turn back your thermostat 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day to see significant savings.
|Let in sunlight for passive heating on cold days.|
Fight the Phantom
The lure of easy entertainment is undeniable, but it’s just as easy to ignore the “phantom load” or “vampire power” that occurs when electronics are in sleep or standby mode. Even though they are powered down, electronics that are still turned on cost homeowners about $100 to $200 each year. A few dollars each month per family may not sound like much, but that adds up to millions of dollars worth of wasted energy across the country. Energy Star TVs, cell phones and tablets left plugged in overnight will only add a few cents to your monthly bill, but older TVs and stereo equipment waste more than $50 a year, so unplug them when they are not in use.
Paying for Overtime
Studies show Americans are spending less time at the office but actually working more hours at home. Office equipment still uses 25-50 watts when idle or in sleep mode overnight. If you turn off a desktop computer, a printer, and a laptop each night, you’ll save about $5 per month in energy costs. When it’s time to take a break, let your office electronics rest, too. Invest in a smart plug or power strip that cycles on and off automatically with your schedule. Smart single plugs run about $15 to $25, and smart surge protectors cost between $40-$50. Some models come with power tracking apps to show you how much you’re saving each month.
Download the Wink app and add skills to your digital assistant that cut down on power usage in the blink of an eye. Wink works with Google Home and Alexa, as well as most energy-wise brands, such as Philips and Nest, to voice-activate “away mode”, which can lower your thermostat, turn off your lights, and power down appliances connected to smart sockets or strips. It can also lock your doors and alert you about sudden activities going on at home. It’s a single step that connects your smart devices and can save you worry, money and time.
A few small changes can make a big difference when it comes to your power bill. Browse our home automation collection to see the bulbs, plugs, and power strips that can simplify your approach to a smart home that saves energy.