Weekend Digest: Ultimate guide to lowering your energy bills with smart gadgets
Lowering your power bill and boosting sustainability may seem like a challenge, but it isn't as difficult as you may think. Today, we explore different ways that smart technology—like lighting and appliances—help you save both energy and money.
There are plenty of reasons to take an interest in adopting smart gadgets. They can improve your home or office life and assist in a myriad of different tasks. One way they can help is by lowering your energy bill. As literally almost everything is more expensive these days, finding areas to reduce costs is no laughing matter. We can all afford to save a few dollars, especially with the holiday season quickly approaching.
Of course, there’s another reason to reduce energy use as well. Yes, you guessed it! It helps the environment. While not everyone cares about reducing carbon emissions, we can all agree that any improvements that come as a side effect of a choice we make for ourselves are still good. We like win-wins around here, and that’s exactly what energy-saving smart gadgets are.
In this Weekend Digest, we’ll explore some of the different ways you can use smart devices to help cut that pesky energy bill down to size. From smart thermostats and smart lighting to smart appliances, we’ll take a look at what you can add or replace in your home or office.
Not only will these devices help with energy usage, but they’ll likely come with other benefits as well. Many of these energy-conscious products also come with tons of extra features that enhance the overall experience. So, no matter what you add to your home (especially if you’re just beginning your smart home journey), you’re going to love everything that comes with it.
Are you ready to dive into the different ways smart tech can lower your energy bills? Let’s explore this super-handy technology together!
Smart thermostats help optimize temperature
One of the biggest contributors to global energy use is air conditioning. Fate loves irony, so it’s almost not surprising that at a time when we seek to reduce power consumption, we’ve also experienced record-breaking heatwaves.
What does that do except cause us to crank up our air conditioning higher and for longer periods? The reaction to the problem doesn’t exactly result in a constructive solution. Of course, there’s a middle ground, as with most things in life.
Smart thermostats offer a constructive solution to both reducing power usage and lowering your energy bills. How do they do it? By using routines and intelligent learning to optimize your heater and AC. For example, some thermostats can use your phone’s location services to tell when you are away from home, adjusting the temperature accordingly.
Of course, you don’t want to come back to a stuffy house or apartment. That’s why the thermostat uses your location services to detect your commute home, so it can lower the temperature again before you arrive. Some thermostats even intelligently learn from the way you use them, allowing them to make accurate adjustments at the right time—just by learning your schedule.
Here are a few smart thermostats you can buy
There are quite a few smart thermostats on the market right now, and more are on the way. Choosing one comes down to your budget and the features you want. In fact, some electric companies even offer free or discounted devices if you enroll in special plans that let them automatically adjust community thermostat temperatures during severe heat waves (preventing possible brown-outs). I’m not personally a fan of handing over the control of my thermostat to strangers, but someone may appreciate the deal.
So what are a few smart thermostats you can buy? Google’s Nest Thermostat ($129.99) is easily one of the first worth recommending. It’s been in the game long enough to have gone through some trial and error. It works really well and has become wildly popular for a reason. Alternatively, there’s the ecobee3 lite, available for $149.99. Amazon has even thrown its hat into the race with the new Amazon Smart Thermostat. You can preorder it for $59.99.
Smart lighting is efficient and just plain fun
Anyone who grew up with their father likely understands the jokes about being berated for leaving a light on in another room. While we never understand as kids, we do as we get older. That’s when our first, ineffable power bill comes around. Whoops, did I say ineffable? I meant horrific. Particularly if you live in a place where electricity seems to share the same market value as a gold-plated Mercedes.
Not unlike smart thermostats, smart lighting can also be quite efficient in a similar way. Using programmable routines and location services, you can set your smart bulbs to turn on and off at just the right time. When you leave home, you can be sure they’ll turn off—only to turn back on once you arrive again. No more worrying that you’ll come home at night to a dark room where a guy sitting in a chair in the corner is waiting for you to turn the lights on (I’m not paranoid, you’re paranoid).
All jokes aside, smart lighting really is quite useful. In addition to being more efficient through routines, smart lights can also help by being dimmable. When light can only be used at either 0% or 100%, it doesn’t leave much room to reduce power consumption. However, when you can set them to 50% while you watch a movie, that’s a few hours of light that isn’t maxing out its energy usage. Many smart bulbs are designed to be more energy-friendly, too, which adds to their effectiveness. Lastly, smart lighting comes in so many shapes and colors that it’s just plain fun.
What kind of smart lighting should I try?
One thing to know about buying smart lighting is that your options are plentiful. Remember fives seconds ago when I said they come in many shapes and colors? That’s the simple way of putting it. The reality is that there are tons of styles and brands to choose from. For example, regular-shaped bubs are about what you’d expect. And, at the other end of the spectrum, tube lighting lets you create unique designs that can even sync with music.
Practically speaking, you can’t go wrong with Philips Hue when it comes to smart lights. Once you purchase the Hue Bridge device (available separately or in a kit) you can add as many Hue smart bulbs as you want. Then, you can control them through the app or by voice using an integrated virtual assistant like Alexa.
Hue products, while of excellent and long-lasting quality, can still be a bit pricey to initially set up. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives. Wyze bulbs are an affordable choice (that work similarly). Samsung’s SmartThings bulbs are another option.
I always tell friends and fam: Don’t get sticker shock when you shop for smart bulbs. Personally, I use Hue lighting and, yes, it wasn’t cheap to set things up. Several years later, however, I have yet to replace the bulbs. Whichever you choose, check the energy rating to be sure you’re getting a light that helps reduce consumption and, after lowering energy bills, saves you money.
Smart appliances are more energy conscious
Not unlike when Dad used to get upset over leaving the lights on, here’s another childhood scenario you might relate to. Who else had a mother that seemingly emerged out of thin air to scold you for staring into the open refrigerator for too long? Had the near-heart attacks those moments gave me ever succeeded, I wouldn’t be around to run the electricity bill any higher, that’s for sure.
Once again, as an adult it’s understandable. Energy bills typically aren’t cheap, and, ethically, we should strive to conserve regardless. Yet, when we’ve already covered smart lighting and smart temperature management, what else is there to help drive consumption down?
Enter the smart appliance. Fridges, stoves, washers, and dryers, now come in energy-efficient designs that can help to smartly reduce their impact (while lowering energy bills, of course).
Because smart appliances can vary dramatically, the ways in which they achieve their power-saving goals also vary. For example, some washers and dryers have sensors that run cycles without using more water and power than necessary. Meanwhile, there are fridges that better maintain their internal temperatures while incorporating windows that allow you to see inside without opening the door. Not every energy-saving design concept is a good one, but others are perfectly sensible.
Check out a few of these smart appliances
Looking for smart appliances to buy can make your head spin about as much as any rinse cycle. Don’t worry though, we’ll give you some ideas to get you started. Whatever you’re in the market for, there’s probably a smart version that’s worth your time and attention. It’s also a major step in lowering energy bills.
How about refrigerators? The Samsung Family Hub (2021) is a smart refrigerator that uses a triple cooling system to more efficiently maintain a consistent balance of humidity and temperature. This helps reduce larger fluctuations where the unit has to draw more power to keep things cool. It’s also ENERGY STAR certified and comes with a digital display to control not only your smart home but also your . . . drumroll please. . . smart lighting!
Speaking of Samsung appliances, the Samsung 8800 Series Smart Dial Front Load Washing Machines are a great pick for an efficient laundry option. They feature intelligent water and detergent measuring with cycle scheduling for greater routine management (via an app). Once more, they’re ENERGY STAR certified. If you don’t do a lot of laundry, we get it. It might not be a useful gadget for you. However, for those with multiple household members, an efficient washer and dryer setup can be worth its weight in gold.
Consider that smart living is smart saving, too
Whether you’re environmentally conscious and want to save the environment or simply want to cut down on your bills, embracing smart products can help. While not all smart products are environmentally friendly, it’s worth finding ones that are. Smart gadgets can make life more productive, fun, and exciting. They also help regulate things in the background so you don’t have to.
There are all kinds of interesting products—not just the ones we discussed. In fact, many can be creatively combined to form powerfully energy-efficient combos. For example, using a smart thermostat with an energy-conserving air conditioning system stacks the benefits. A device like the Hydraloop water recycler will work perfectly with a smart washing machine. Many eligible homes and offices can boost the effectiveness by installing solar technology as well.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to what’s currently available for consumers who want to reduce their energy usage and energy bills. As we all know, new technology advances every day. With time and engineering, we’ll continue to see products improve their energy-saving capabilities. Hopefully with that evolution comes greater sustainability at prices we can all afford without breaking the bank.
If you’re interested in finding more gadgets that can help in the effort toward energy efficiency and protecting the environment, be sure to browse Gadget Flow for some wonderfully sustainable products. There’s a plethora of devices and tech available, including brand new Kickstarter campaigns looking for support. For sustainable product listings, check here. You can also explore additional smart home items by visiting our Smart Home category.
Do you know any energy-saving tips or sustainable products that should be on Gadget Flow? Let us know in the comments!