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Powering your home is expensive, especially if you’re spending more time in it than you did before. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, average residential electric bills in the U.S increased by an average of $5, or 4.3% in 2021. This was the second largest increase in the past decade, the largest was 4.7% between 2020 and 2021. With inflation still high and gas prices still up, Americans everywhere are looking for ways to curb their energy bill and save at home. One of the best ways to do it? Smart home devices.
Many smart home gadgets — be they smart thermostats, smart plugs, light bulbs or smart speakers — are rigged with settings and features that can help reduce your energy usage, and lower your monthly bill at the same time. This makes them a more convenient and energy-saving solution.
Read More: The Best Smart WiFi Thermostats
These features might include a low-energy ambient mode when they’re not in use, an energy-conscious temperature range or a timed on/off schedule so your devices don’t suck away power while you’re away. No matter what, if you’re looking to cut back, for eco or budgetary reasons, investing in smarter gadgets is a great way to get there.
There are plenty of ways to save by making your home a little smarter, so we decided to create a guide complete with steps you can take, and the best devices to invest in. We’ve also consulted an expert from Amazon’s Smart Home division who offers guidance on their latest product innovations, and what’s possible when it comes to saving money on energy.
How to Save Money With Smart Home Devices
One of the biggest advantages of technological innovation is that it tends to make things more efficient. When it comes to your home, the more efficient something is the more it saves you energy, money and time. Saving money with smart home devices is as simple as installing them correctly, employing the right features and then forgetting they exist while they work. Seriously, the less you use them, the better in most cases.
Below we’ve outlined the four biggest ways smart home devices can help you save energy — through automating your home’s temperature, controlling light usage, avoiding the dreaded ambient device power drain and conserving water too. Yes, devices can do all of this, all it takes is a bit of an investment on the front end.
Here’s how to save energy using smart home devices in 2022.
1. Automate Your Home’s Temperature
When it comes to saving money with smart home devices, a smart thermostat should be your first purchase. Heating and cooling amount for a significant portion of the average monthly home energy bill, and accounted for as much a 16% of the entire residential energy sector in 2021 according to the Energy Information Administration.
Smart thermostats make it easy to regulate the temperature of your home within an energy-efficient range based on your internal environment, as well as the temperature outside. Some of the hottest days can also be some of the most energy-demanding, and smart thermostats can help by adjusting your home’s temperature in slow, energy-conscious ways that slowly build a comfortable environment over time.
One of the most expensive ways you can change the temperature of your home is by cranking up or down the temperature as soon as you step in the door. These devices help curb that impulse, and are designed to save you money.
Amazon Smart Thermostat
The Director of Smart Home at Amazon, Marja Koopmans, spoke with SPY about the best ways to save energy using smart home devices for this piece. She noted that “the best energy-saving smart home devices are the ones customers can program and then forget about – devices that run in the background and know when to power down or reduce usage, without customers having to do anything.” The Amazon Smart Thermostat is designed to do just that.
According to Koopmans, it’s an “ENERGY STAR-certified thermostat that works with Alexa to give customers a simple way to keep their home comfortable and energy-efficient. Customers can control the Amazon Smart Thermostat using a compatible Alexa-enabled device, or even have Alexa do the programming for them with Hunches. When Alexa has a hunch that you’re away from home or have gone to bed for the night, the temperature will adjust to help you save energy.”
“The device also comes with energy-saving temperature thresholds recommended while setting up a schedule, to help you choose the best temperatures straight out of the box. You can also monitor and better understand your energy usage while using your Amazon Smart Thermostat and other smart home devices with the Energy Dashboard available in the Alexa app.”
Google Nest Thermostat
Google’s Nest Thermostat is another excellent device for saving money on your energy bill, and also comes with an ENERGY STAR certification backed by a hand full of energy-efficient features. This includes turning itself down when you’re away and finding and suggesting tweaks you can make to your temperature schedule to help you save money within the app. It also comes with HVAC monitoring and automatic alerts if your system doesn’t seem right, or something needs fixing.
ecobee SmartThermostat With Voice Control
We ranked the ecobee smart thermostat as one of our favorite smart thermostats of 2022 because of its slim design and SmartSensor that helps prioritize comfort for your most important rooms. It’s compatible with Siri and Alexa, and automatically pauses heating and cooling when a door is open to reduce energy waste.
2. Set a Timer for Lights and Appliances
Ambient energy drain from unnecessary lights, as well as idle electronics and appliances make up a combined significant percentage of your monthly energy bill, as much as 46% according to a model cited by EnergyStar.gov in April of 2013. Think about how many electronics you have plugged in throughout your home at any given time. Sure, some things are getting a much-needed charge, but other things are sitting there, in the background, almost literally draining money from your pocket. Thankfully, smart devices can help you eliminate this vampiric effect.
Both smart lights and smart plugs come with energy-saving features. Gone are the days when realizing you’d left the upstairs hall light on before your trip meant you were out of luck. Now, you can turn your lights on/off from your smartphone, and even program a timed schedule. Smart plugs allow you to do this with lights as well as any appliance or electronic in your home, so you can cut those energy vampires off at the source.
Philips Hue A19 LED Color Smart Bulb
These Philips Hue smart bulbs come with an app so you can customize your routines and control them from afar. This set also comes with a Hue Hub which enables you to control up to 50 bulbs in your house at once. The bulbs come equipped with tons of color options so you can set the mood and tone of any room, and the LED design is more energy-efficient than fluorescent bulbs.
Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor
This motion sensor from Philips can be installed alongside their smart light bulbs and Hue Hub, and can add motion activation capabilities to their already energy-efficient lighting system. It has a light sensor designed to detect when a room is empty and automatically turn off the lights, saving your money and energy. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and can be connected to Nest as well.
Wyze 800 Lumen Smart Bulb 4-Pack
These Wyze light bulbs were another top pick of ours for the best smart bulbs of 2022, and they also come equipped with an app designed for building out your own schedule. Each 9.5-watt LED bulb comes equipped with 800 lumens of light that can be dimmed or brightened in the Wyze app. You can set schedules and even add multiple bulbs to a group to control them all at once.
Kasa Smart Plug 4-Pack
These smart plugs from Kasa are one of our favorite options in the category because they’re super affordable and come compatible with Alexa, Echo, Google Home and others, with no hub required for use. You can turn electronics on and off from anywhere, and since you’re controlling them from the plug itself there’s no worry about ambient power usage. All these need is a 2.4GHz WiFi connection, or higher, to install, and you can set a schedule or turn them off remotely with the flip of a switch.
Koopmans also added that Routines enables Alexa users to “turn off their smart lights, plugs, switches and other devices when they go to bed. Customers can easily monitor and manage their smart home energy usage via the Alexa energy dashboard in the Alexa app.”
For outdoor security lights and systems, employing ones with a motion sensor is a great way to save energy, and deter predators and pests more effectively. Motion-activated security cameras are designed to turn on when they sense movement, rather than sitting idly on all the time capturing footage that isn’t useful or protective. Here are two great smart devices for home security that are energy-efficient.
Ring Smart Motion-Sensor Security Lights
These Ring smart security lights are compatible with the Echo 4th Generation smart speaker, Echo Show 10 and Ring Bridge, so you can connect this light with other Ring Smart Lights, Ring doorbells or security cameras. It’s designed to shine 2,000 lumens of light on driveways, backyards or side yards when motion is detected, either from pests or people. Please note you’ll need to connect a Ring Bridge system in order to use smart features within the Ring app, like customized schedules, settings and syncing with other devices.
Blink Outdoor Security Camera
This outdoor security camera from Blink isn’t turned on and off via motion activation, but it does last for two years on two AA batteries, so it doesn’t contribute to your monthly energy bill. It does send motion detection alerts to your phone and requires no professional installation.
3. Reduce Ambient Power Usage
As we mentioned in the previous point, ambient power usage quietly cranks up energy usage and energy bills for many U.S. households. Leaving your devices plugged in all the time is a great way to make sure they’re always charged, but there’s no use in paying for energy you don’t need and aren’t using. Devices like flat screen TVs, monitors, coffee makers and even speakers can leak energy from your supply quietly in the background.
Smart plugs and power strips can monitor how much energy your devices are using, and automatically turn off the power when they’re not in use. The two products below are what we recommend.
Wyze’s smart plugs also sync with an app and enable scheduling throughout the day, so you can turn devices on and off depending on when you need them. You can group various devices and lights together so they’re turned on and off at the same time, and even set a “Vacation Mode” to make it look like you’re in town.
Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip
If you need to plug in more than two devices, this large power strip from Kasa comes equipped with more outlets and the same smart power features. It has six independently-controlled outlets as well as three USB ports. The whole thing has surge protection as well as energy monitoring, which you can check in the Kasa smart app. You can control the devices plugged into it from anywhere, and use voice controls to turn it on and off. It’s also currently discounted 41% on Amazon.
4. Conserve Water
Water usage goes hand in hand with energy usage, and there are a few smart devices worth checking out specifically designed to monitor it. Smart sprinklers are a great alternative for watering your lawn and saving resources and money during the spring and summer months, and there are even smart devices designed to help detect when you have a leaky pipe or faucet, so you can avoid paying for water you’re not using.
Read More: The Best Smart Sprinklers
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
This smart sprinkler system from Rachio is designed to automatically save you money, and water, through multiple skip functions that reduce unnecessary waterings. It’s equipped with Rain Skip, Wind Skip, Freeze Skip, Saturation Skip and even Seasonal Shift, so you’re not watering during the wet season. You can control your sprinklers from anywhere via their app, and create a smart schedule based on the unique needs of your lawn.
Moen Smart Water Monitor & Leak Detector
This water security system from Moen monitors your home for leaks and plumbing issues with a single smart valve, so there’s no need to install additional sensors. It’s installed on your home’s main water line and keeps track of everything for you. You can also see your live water use, flow rates, pressure and temperature in the Flo by Moen app. You’ll also get alerts for catastrophic updates, like a burst pipe or if you leave the water running.