In the average home, 45% of energy is spent on heating and cooling. Another 25% is spent on lighting, 17% on appliances — including 8% on refrigeration alone — and 13% on water heating. Electricity prices have risen about 30% nationally over the last 10 years. If you’re worried about increasing energy costs, energy-efficient technology and smart home automation can help.
Here are some purposeful planning methods to help you reduce your smart home’s impact on the environment and save money on your utility bills in the process.
HEATING AND COOLING: 45%
Heating and cooling your home takes up the largest chunk of energy, so if you want to save energy, start here.
A smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee can save you up to $150 a year on your utility bills and could pay for itself within two years. With connected apps, you can adjust the temperature in your home from anywhere — so you can turn down the AC from work or while you’re on vacation. These smart thermostats will also learn your habits and automatically adjust to turn the heat down when you go to bed, turn it up in the morning, and turn itself off when you leave for work.
Automated blinds and shades like those from MySmartBlinds or Somfy can be set to open or close at certain times of day or based on light or heat levels. Adjust your blinds to let sunlight and heat in during the cold winter months, or keep it out during the hot summer.
Lighting alone makes up a significant chunk of your utility bill. Using home automation to regulate your lights’ energy use will be one of the most effective ways to cut down on your utility bills and energy use.
Automated lighting systems like Philips Hue and WeMo allow you to adjust the lighting in your home, no matter where you are, with a web-enabled device or from a control panel in your home. These systems allow you to program your lights to turn on when you arrive home from work and turn off when you go to bed, and will even send you alerts if lights were accidentally left on. You can also reduce the brightness levels of individual lights, thus further reducing the energy used when the light is on.
While not strictly home automation, using energy-efficient bulbs is an important way to help reduce your energy consumption. In fact, energy-efficient CFLs and LEDs last up to 25 times longer and use up to 75% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs.
Eliminate the issue of lights left on all day or night when nobody is home or everyone is asleep by using motion sensors like those from Insteon and Lutron to turn lights off when rooms are unoccupied for a certain period of time. When used in low-traffic areas especially, these kinds of sensors can help cut lighting costs in your home.
The average American has 24 different appliances in their home. Each of those appliances uses a significant amount of energy, and home automation can help you reduce that energy consumption.
Smart appliances can be controlled from your phone to turn on and off or go into energy-saving mode when not in use. The LG HomeChat, for example, allows you to communicate with your smart refrigerator or oven to troubleshoot issues and operate at lower energy rates, and the Whirlpool washing machine with smart technology helps you track and reduce your energy use.
Energy vampires — devices that use power when plugged in even when they’re turned off — can add up to 10% to your utility bill. Rather than unplugging every device when not in use, make any appliance a smart appliance by plugging it into a smart outlet. These outlets, like those from Belkin or ConnectSense, allow you to turn appliances and devices on and off, conserve energy, and track energy use.
Cut off the entire supply of energy to an appliance by using power strips. Smart strips like those from Aeotec and OnPlug help you monitor your energy use and reduce it by turning off the power supply completely when your appliances are off.
WATER HEATING: 13%
While your water heater is only one item in a household of many, it uses a significant amount of energy. Simple solutions like insulating your heater can help, but home automation can take your energy savings even further.
Programmable Water Heater
Schedule your water heater to lower the temperature when you know you won’t be using hot water and to turn it back up in time for your shower or laundry day. Rheem’s Wi-Fi module allows you to schedule when your heater heats your water, and set it to vacation mode when you’re out of town.
Energy efficiency revolves around controlling usage habits and lowering your carbon footprint. Now you can run a smart home to save energy and the planet all at the same time.
Written by Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her career to informing the public. Through her work as an editor and writer in newsrooms like KSL and Deseret News, as well as her work on SafeWise, she’s covered topics that help people stay safe and make well-informed decisions. Learn more