How to make your home "smarter" and save energy
Many people are turning to smart technologies to save energy. Use this guide to get started.
In today’s world we have the power to control almost everything from our smartphones – from our entertainment to a home security system. Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, are making these kinds of tasks even simpler. A “smart home” can start with any wi-fi enabled device or appliance you can control with your smartphone or automate to perform a task. But can a smart home save you energy?
Do you ever leave lights on when you leave a room? Forget to turn off your TV when you’re not using it? Leave your house and wish your heat would automatically set back a few degrees? All these things can result in wasted energy and higher costs. Smart home devices have the potential to save energy and money by automating common household tasks. But how and when you use them will make a big difference in whether you save energy.
Smart lights have a lot going for them, on top of being long lasting energy-efficient LEDs. You can control them with your phone or voice, they can be scheduled to turn on and off automatically at certain times and under certain conditions. They also come with more color options than just white for your home. Some smart lights come with built in sensors which turn lights on only when someone is present in a room and keep them off otherwise. If you choose smart lighting that has earned the ENERGY STAR®, it’s using less energy when it’s on and in standby.
ENERGY STAR smart thermostats are Wi-Fi-connected devices that learn your behavior to automatically adjust heating and cooling temperature settings in your home. In addition to programming your temperature preferences remotely from your smartphone, the smart thermostat learns based on your habits and the weather. It can also provide energy usage data that you can easily manage.
You can pair your smart thermostat with smart window shades to better control your home’s heating and cooling needs. In the winter, smart shades can be set to open during the day and close at night, helping keep heat in your home. In the summer, they can close during the heat of the day, decreasing the need for cooling.
Certain smart appliances, like refrigerators, dryers, cook tops and ovens, or washing machines, may have the potential to save electricity and money. But because they are connected to the internet, they may draw on more power even on Standby Mode. That’s why it’s important to look for the ENERGY STAR label on any smart appliance you’re looking to buy. That will ensure you’re buying the most efficient version of that appliance and that the standby mode is as efficient as possible.
You can also make your appliances, lights, and other devices smart by plugging them in to a smart plug or outlet. These tools can help turn any device into a smart device. When you plug a device into a smart plug or power strip, you can monitor its energy usage, turn it off remotely, or even benefit from motion sensors to turn devices off when you’ve stopped using them.
A home energy monitor can help you see how your home is using energy, and whether your smart home investments are saving you money.
Home energy monitors tell you exactly how much electricity devices in your home are using. You can compare your total usage to time periods or turn off devices and see how much electricity you’re saving in real time. Some home energy monitors, like Sense, will identify specific appliances and devices over time, telling you when they’re on and how much energy they’re using.
As it monitors your electricity use, you can see what your biggest energy hogs are, or monitor unusual behavior (like a device turning on in the middle of the day or night). You can use that information to make strategic changes to reduce your electric use and save money. If you have smart devices in your home, your home energy monitor will help determine if they’re working properly and saving you electricity.