There is a growing number of new smart home products that claim to save energy in your home, but do these products actually reduce your electric bill? They do—if you choose wisely. Smart home products can provide energy efficiency, convenience and automation—even if no one is home. As with any home upgrade, you will need to weigh the cost of the product against the expected energy savings over the first few months or years. Here are a few products worth looking at.
According to the Department of Energy, water heating comprises 18 percent of energy usage in a residence, while heating and cooling accounts for nearly 50 percent. Programmable thermostats can fine-tune the control of your home’s water and air temperature, reducing the amount of electricity needed. Newer home automation systems allow the temperature of a smart home to be programmed from smartphones. Some of these also have sensors that turn electrical devices off as soon as the house is empty.
Automated Window Protection
Studies show that 40 percent of unwanted heat is let in by windows during the summer. Automation systems that tilt blinds to block sunlight are useful in blocking this heat. There is also a tinting product for windows that face the sun. At the push of a button, the tint can be activated to screen out the UVA and UVB rays that bring in the most heat, but still allow light in. On hot days, less heat coming in from the windows means less electricity needed for cooling.
Another big use of electricity in your home is lighting, to the tune of about 25 percent of your electric bill. Occupancy sensors that use ultrasonic or infrared technology to turn lights on and off depending if someone is in the room are a must in a smart home. These motion-control sensors eliminate human error of leaving lights on accidentally. Another type of technology turns on lights based on the brightness of the room. There are also dimming kits available that include adjustable light bulbs and remote controls. These kits provide a simple way to save electricity; the bulbs screw into any light outlet and don’t need to be connected to a larger hub. There are also WiFi-enabled light bulbs that can be controlled remotely to provide varying amounts of brightness based on the time of day and other factors.
Some things—personal electronics and microwaves come to mind—still draw electricity when in standby mode or when plugged in but not in use. This phantom energy accounts for about 8 percent of electricity used in a home. If unplugging an item is not feasible, you can invest in a surge protector that senses and reduces these idle currents.
Basic smart home upgrades, such as motion-control lighting sensors, continue to be useful in conserving energy, but technologically advanced upgrades, including built-in systems that monitor all energy usage by connected devices, are paving the way for future energy-conservation efforts. By choosing carefully from this wide spectrum of smart home devices, you can find a good balance between capital outlay and energy savings that show up as well-earned saving