Using smart tools in your home adds convenience, security and comfort, but they also can make your home more energy efficient, leading to lower monthly electric bills.
Depending on how tech-savvy you are, many of these devices can be set up easily and quickly for immediate use and benefits. Here are some tips and seven smart devices that can help you achieve intelligent energy savings.
1. Add a home assistant as a hub for all your smart devices.
If you’re just getting started with smart home technology, begin by adding a smart home assistant with a speaker to pair them with your smart devices to control them.
“Smart home hubs or assistants serve as the command center for all your smart devices, such as your thermostat, TV, garage door, doorbell and other devices,” said Edith Garcia, Senior Program Manager for TEP’s Residential Energy Efficiency program.
By pairing your devices with a hub and using voice command, you can manage your smart devices. They also serve as your personal assistant. You can ask a question, get weather forecasts, schedule reminders or have them play your favorite music.
Some of the more popular smart home hubs are offered by Amazon, Google and Apple but other brands are available. Before you choose a hub, make sure it will be compatible with any smart devices you might like to add. Look for models with features that are most important to you.
2. Use smart plugs to control your smart devices.
“Smart plugs are one of the most affordable and easiest to use ways to control appliances and electronics,” Garcia said. “They allow you to turn wired appliances on and off with a tap of your phone app or voice command to your home hub.”
Using the device’s app on your smart phone allows you to schedule when lights, coffee makers, clothes irons and other electronics turn on and off at certain times, so you don’t waste energy. Smart plugs also keep your home safe from fire hazards. If you forget to turn off heat-generating appliances, turn them off remotely using the app on your smart phone or tablet.
Set up is easy. Just plug in the smart device to the outlet, plug in the appliance and then connect to your Wi-Fi network and link the plug to your phone app.
3. Install Advanced Power Strips (APS) to prevent phantom energy draw.
Relatively inexpensive and simple to install, these smart power management devices allow you to turn on and off all of the electronics plugged into the device at once with the flip of the power switch.
An APS saves energy by preventing phantom energy draw when electronics are in standby mode and continue to draw energy. While the amount of energy saved is small, using an APS can result in annual savings of up to $200. Some smarter “Tier II” APS devices even allow you to program a schedule for when it powers up the electronics plugged into it.
4. Install smart blinds or window shades to optimize natural lighting.
While motorized blinds and window shades are an investment, installing these in your home can add convenience and security and help you save energy.
Using a voice command with your hub or a smart app on your phone, you can open and close your smart blinds or set a schedule for them to open and close automatically to manage heating and cooling costs.
“For example, you can program the shades to open automatically in the morning to let in natural light and then close midday to prevent radiant heat from the sun to heat up your home,” Garcia noted. “Some models with sensors automatically adjust to the position of the sun throughout the day for even greater convenience and energy savings.”
5. Use smart LED bulbs to enhance the ambience in your home.
LED bulbs are one of the best energy-saving technologies introduced over the past decade. These bulbs use 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Using smart LED bulbs can take indoor and outdoor lighting to the next level.
Smart color-changing LED bulbs also allow you to change the color of light emitted to fit the room, mood or occasion using an app and your smart phone. The price of these has dropped considerably over the past few years and many now cost less than $5 a bulb.
LEDs also last 25 times longer than standard bulbs, meaning you’ll need to rarely replace them. Because they emit 90 percent less heat than standard bulbs, they’ll also help keep your home cooler in the summer.
6. Install a smart thermostat to help you save energy.
Smart thermostats can help you manage your overall energy usage and costs by learning your routines and preferences and adjusting automatically. They allow you to adjust the temperature in your home using an app and your smart phone. Some models automatically adjust the temperature when you’re away in case you forget to do that before you leave home.
Garcia noted that because cooling and heating costs can account for the majority of a home’s energy use, installing a smart thermostat can reduce annual energy usage and costs by up to 15 percent.
“There are many models of smart thermostats on the market today and most are available at very affordable prices for a short payback period for the investment,” she said. “TEP offers a wide range of thermostats in our online Marketplace as well as a rebate on qualified models. We also offer additional discounts from manufacturers that we pass on to customers.”
7. Use smart switches to automate your lighting.
Simpler smart switches use movement, occupancy or light sensors to dim lights or turn them on and off. Indoors, these switches turn on lights when they sense occupancy in a room and then turn off when it’s empty. They also can be used outdoors to turn on lights at dusk and off at dawn or turn on at night when movement is detected to deter intruders.
Smart devices can help homeowners reduce their overall energy usage and costs and can be customized to fit your needs.
“Smart devices can be effective tools for helping you save energy while adding convenience, safety and security,” Garcia concluded. “The great thing is that you can start small with a hub and one or two devices and add more as you become more comfortable with the technology. Some of these smart devices are very affordable but can result in meaningful energy savings over time.”