Home automation isn’t only about closing the garage door or securing your home. It can also be a way to help conserve energy. Once you install smart home devices in your home, they simplify your life and help you slash household bills.
If you’re looking for an easy way to save some money, be sure to take a look at home automation.
Apart from bringing added functionality and convenience to your home, it gives you more control over the things in your home that use energy.
Below are a few special ways home automation can help you save now and in the future.
1 – Save on Power with Smart Plugs & Power Strips
Did you know your household electronic items use electricity whether or not they are plugged in?
Certain appliances that suck power anytime they are plugged in are even known as ‘Energy Vampires’. These include devices such as TVs, laptop/mobile chargers, DVD players, video game consoles, etc.
Smart plugs and smart power strips can shut hungry electronics off. They automatically detect and cut off power to devices not in use or in standby mode. Most of them are equipped with a timer and the turning off the devices can be based on a programmed schedule.
The best thing is they are easy to set up. You only need to plug them into an outlet and then plug something into them. There is no need to install any additional wiring or mess with any tools.
At their most basic level, they simply turn things on and off, however, they have numerous benefits you may find helpful… For example,
- You can turn any existing appliance and electrical device into a smart object.
- They are great for entertainment systems and turning them off when you are not using them.
- Using the plug’s app, it is possible to turn things on and off remotely.
- Smart plugs also notify you when a device starts using an unusual amount of energy. This can be a great way to detect when a device has been turned on.
- The device shares easy-to-understand data; you can see how much energy you use each day.
If you are buying with the intention to save money, don’t buy it for anything small, like a mobile charger. Aim for something likely to require more energy, such as the surround system.
Before buying a smart plug or smart power strip, determine how many kilowatts a device is using. Next, multiply its usage by the cost of kilowatt-hours in your area.
This will give you a good figure and help you understand how many hours you can cut back with a smart plug and how much money you can save with ideal conditions.
2 – Control your Home’s Temperature with a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat is responsible for controlling your home’s heating & air conditioning.
Experts call it the next generation of temperature control.
Like a regular thermostat, it turns off automatically when the desired temperature is reached. Unlike a regular thermostat, however, it also has an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone. You can adjust your home temperature from any location. This can be especially handy when tying it into your home automation routines. As a family member leaves work, the thermostat could begin cooling making sure the temperature is ideal by the time they arrive.
In addition, a smart thermostat can learn your household’s patterns. By noticing patterns, the thermostat will learn and know when to adjust your temperatures. If you incorporate motion detectors, it can even know when a home is occupied or empty and adjust accordingly.
This adds a new level of convenience.
You don’t need to program it manually again and again. It just knows how warm or cool you want your home to be at different times throughout the day.
All this sounds great, but the cost is probably the biggest downside of this device. For instance, I currently use the Ecobee 4 which is priced at around $250 (Currently Amazon is running a promotion and these can be had for a steep discount). Although that is expensive, the extra upfront cash you spend should be recovered in the long run.
A study by Nest revealed that on average, it saves around 10 percent on heating and 15 percent on air conditioning costs. Some smart thermostat manufacturing companies, like Ecobee, claim that their product can save you up to 23% on energy bills. This saving depends on your existing situation and thermostat habits too. For instance, there are a few habits that suggest you might not see such drastic savings with a smart thermostat.
- Someone in your family is home all day, every day.
- You don’t leave home for extended periods.
- You have a home-based business.
- Everyone in your home doesn’t leave and come back home at the same time.
- If you have pets requiring cool temperatures, a smart thermostat can’t help much with energy-saving.
- Similarly, a new baby also needs coziness and comfort all the time.
- Your home isn’t built to be energy efficient.
All in all, in our opinion, a smart thermostat can save you a few bucks even if your habits don’t let you run an energy-efficient schedule.
Besides, you can still enjoy home automation features like voice control, temperature alerts, maintenance reminders, weekly & monthly energy reports, etc. My new Ecobee even includes Alexa and a speaker!
3 – Keep Lights off with Smart Lighting
Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance, believes smart lighting is the best way to begin saving energy. He explains that it saves money in two basic ways. First, it can automatically turn off when it’s not in use. This is especially helpful in areas where the lights are frequently left on, such as pantries or porch lights. Secondly, they use more energy-efficient designs than their older counterparts.
Take, for instance, motion-detecting lights.
If you have motion-detecting lights, you don’t need to flip the light switch over and over. These don’t have to come as motion detection lights either. Your normal bulbs can be made to work with motion sensors freeing you from being tied to built-in motion detecting options. Simply swap out your current light switch with a smart switch and set them to turn off after a 5-minute timer. These systems can help save more than 35 percent of your energy costs when compared to typical incandescent bulbs.
These lights are most ideal for areas like pantries or closets. Anywhere somebody might quickly come in and go then not return for some time. Even the lamp on your nightstand can be plugged into a smart plug and set to work on a timer.
Choosing to go with smart light bulbs can also be a great way to save you some money.
They have grown exponentially smart in recent years. Phillips Hue bulbs are currently known as the king of the smart bulb space but cheaper options such as Peteme bulbs can work just as well. You can control these with simple voice commands and use home connectivity to tie them into routines. When you leave for the office, every light in your house can be shut off saving you money on your next power bill.
Although these are more expensive than your traditional bulbs, they do use less energy and a last a lot longer. Also, a rough estimate by the experts shows that you pay $0.35 per month to operate smart bulbs. This is 70 to 90 percent less energy than traditional bulbs.
4. Use Smart Window Blinds to Avoid Overheating House
This might come as a surprise, but one of the best ways to save on your power bill is by using smart blinds. These blinds can drastically reduce your home cooling and heating cost. This can lead to large savings over time.
Regardless of where you live, with smart window blinds, you don’t need to open and close them manually. The ability to automatically respond to the environment allows the blinds to close while you are at work to try and help keep your house cool in the heat of summer.
It also opens them before you arrive so that you can enjoy a comfortable space without the expense of all-day air conditioning.
A professional study by the Energy House in Salford, England, discovered that using blinds at night can reduce 17% heat loss, particularly on cooler days. The blinds will keep cool air from seeping in on cold days and on warmer days, they keep cool air from escaping. Although this can be done manually, it is much easier to program this into your smart home. This way the blinds will respond based on outdoor temperatures, indoor temperature settings, bedtime/work hours, and work together with your thermostat.
Smart blinds are a new addition to the home automation system, and they are already becoming a staple due to their energy efficiency. For that reason, we find many smart and automated window shades in the market. If you looking to keep your existing blinds, you can use a conversion kit. Some of these kits even use solar panels to charge the motor, saving you money on batteries. To save the most money, opt for cellular shades.
Although it isn’t a “smart” product, you will save the most money by using cellular shades. These smart shades use cellular shape patterns that provide an insulating air barrier between your home and outside. Other window coverings exist, like U.V. Protection Shades and Light Diffusing shades, but they don’t provide exceptional insulation like cellular shades.
Overall, home automation is a great investment.
Although typically thought of as only a convenience, smart devices have the potential to save you some money as well. To determine if it is worth it for your situation, don’t just look at the upfront cost. Instead, compare that to what you will save in time, money, and convenience over time. A few small purchases can end up having a great impact and increase your home resale value at the same time!