Home & Office

How to save energy and money with home automation

Smart devices can even help keep your house clean.
Written by Reviews.com Staff, Contributor

Smart devices are growing in popularity because of their convenience. The ability to monitor your home while away is a draw for a lot of people, especially because of the ways smart home tech can grant you peace of mind while on vacation. Smart devices can even help keep your house clean! However, home automation can also be good for your wallet when it comes to energy conservation.

Smart Thermostat

Google Nest claims that it pays for itself in under two years. Let's unpack how. Smart thermostats work by learning your habits and patterns of behavior (like when you're home versus when you're not) and then remembering those preferences to regulate your home's temperature. Let's say you normally wake up at 6 a.m., and at that time, you'd like the house to be at 72 degrees. You leave the house for work at 8 a.m., and it stays empty until 5 or 6 p.m., so the heat could be turned down (or the air conditioner could be turned up a few degrees). Some smart thermostats are equipped with a motion sensor and will adjust once they don't detect human motion for a few hours, and with others, you can set temperature preferences using an app.

In addition to remote access via app, many smart thermostats are also voice-controlled if you want to operate them hands-free while you're at home or wish to establish a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa routine (Like when you wake up, your voice assistant can give you the traffic, weather, and turn your thermostat up/down). The small adjustments made by this smart device add up to hundreds of dollars of savings. 

Smart Plugs

Grandfather, your favorite small appliances into your smart home ecosystem by using smart plugs. Smart plugs work via an app, allowing you to control whatever device you have plugged into them. While this does technically mean you now have the power to turn the lamp off without leaving your couch, that's not their true perk. Smart plugs help you save money because they enable you to turn your lights on or off from work and because they keep appliances that are constantly plugged in but not running (such as TVs or computers) from draining energy and running up your bill. It's not recommended that you plug heaters or large appliances into a smart plug, but as long as you wish to automate something with minimal energy draw, like a fan or a lamp, you should be good to go.

As an additional bonus, most smart plugs also have sensors built in that will shut them off if the outlet becomes overloaded, which has the potential to spare you from a house fire. This feature makes seasonal items like Christmas lights easier to control and can help prevent break-ins by making your home look occupied when you're away.

Smart Lights

Smart lights are light bulbs that can be controlled from an app or smart hub. You can remotely dictate the brightness, color, hue (perfect for parties), and of course, whether they are on or off. Smart lights help you lower your electric bill by reducing what lights are on in your home, how long they are on, and how brightly they burn. The government estimates that these lights can save you up to $75 a year. 

Water Sensors

Smart water sensors alert you when there is a water leak (and some will alert you to freezing as well) by monitoring your water main and the floor of your basement (or lowest level of the house). You can also add sensors to your water heater, toilets, and sinks -- anywhere you're afraid of plausible water damage. Some of these sensors even have the ability to shut off your water if a leak is detected and can also monitor the level of humidity in your basement or utility closet. These sensors can signal you through a tone if you are at home or send an alert to your smartphone and other devices through your home's Wi-Fi signal if you are away.

In addition to saving you money by detecting leaks that may have otherwise added up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs, your homeowner's insurance may offer you a discount if your home security system features things like a smart water sensor that prevents such disasters. This one-time investment may end up saving you thousands of dollars in repairs due to water damage without it.

The bottom line

Smart devices give you peace of mind while away from your home and bring you convenience while chipping away at your electric bills. You don't need a smart hub to get started.

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