Most drivers can easily quote the current price of gas, and how many miles per gallon their car averages. But, if you’re a homeowner, a more important number to know is the price of keeping your house powered up. That’s because your car’s not the place where most of your fuel funds are going.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. household used about 50 percent more energy in a year to power their homes than they would an average car. Household energy spending is split almost evenly, half on heating and cooling, half on appliances, electronics, lighting and water heating. So when it comes to optimizing your household budget, getting your family’s energy use in check offers a serious source of savings. And one of the best ways to control home energy costs is to take a deep dive into the newest smart home offerings.
Smart thermostats offer a number of ways to control the energy your house uses. If you’re thinking of shopping for an upgraded thermostat the first thing to know is this: a few fancy features do not a smart thermostat make. Programmable thermostats, for instance, can do things their predecessors could not; they let homeowners program for schedules and setbacks. Truly smart thermostats, however, take it a step further by building those schedules for you. A smart thermostat can learn your family’s routines, figure out what temperature you prefer at each time of day, and build a schedule accordingly. Your smart thermostat may notice times of the day, or days of the week, when you’re comfortable with a colder temperature. Then it will help you repeat that action every time that same time period comes along.
According to the Energy Star Program (managed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy) homeowners have a number of options when it comes to reducing energy costs through smart lighting. Energy Star suggests trying a smart home system that offers geo-fencing, a set of location-based controls that can intelligently sense when to shut off lights based on the location of your mobile phone. They also recommend taking advantage of smart lights equipped with sensors that light a room only when occupied. Smart lights can also allow a home’s lights to be controlled remotely through a mobile app.
If you’re hunting for the easiest way to get started with home automation technology, smart plugs may be your thing. Without swapping out the appliances and gadgets that you already own, a smart plug can make your home work harder. Simply insert a smart plug into an outlet in your home. Now any electrical item plugged in there will be able to “talk” to your smartphone. Features vary across smart plugs, but offerings include the ability to monitor each item’s energy use and turn the items on and off remotely. Can’t remember if you turned off the coffee maker before you left for work? Check the app. If it’s still on, you can switch it off without losing a minute of commuting time.
These are just a few ways that you can easily make your home more energy efficient through the use of smart technology. My guess is that by swapping one or two items, such as a thermostat, to allow your home to work toward saving more energy with minimal effort on your part, you’ll see that convenience can produce a worthwhile, tangible benefit.
U.S. Department of Energy