A smart home is also a green home.
While convenience and security are the most obvious smart home benefits, the technology can also help slash energy costs. That’s welcome news as we head in to the home-heating season; average household expenditures will be up between 8 and 18 percent this winter, depending on heating fuel type, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Here are three “smart” hacks to keep those costs in check.
1. Switch to LED Bulbs
The latest LEDs can last twenty years or longer, plus their light-quality is so much better than CFLs, the previous choice in energy-efficient lighting. Take the savings a step further by pairing them with automated controls, which let you program when the lights turn on and off (No more shouting at your kids to turn out the light!).
You can also create whole-house scenes, for example a “sleep mode” where most of your home’s lights turn off, except for a handful that stay on a low setting for safety.
Pricing: Standard 60-watt replacements range from $4 to $20 per bulb. Smart controls start around $25.
HomeAdvisor Pro Tip: Many LEDs work with dimmer switches and motions sensors for added savings and control. Check the bulb box to make sure they’re dimmer compatible.
2. Plug in a Smart Switch
These clever devices allow you to control anything that’s plugged into them remotely through an app on your smartphone or tablet. The smartest will also collect energy use data, so that you can determine how much that space heater (or window AC, come summer) is costing you. There’s a home security angle too—say, turning the lights on and off when you’re away on vacation.
Pricing: Most smart switches range from $30 to $60.
HomeAdvisor Pro Tip: Some smart switches work with digital assistants like Amazon Alexa, allowing you to turn on electronics with the sound of your voice.
3. Install a Smart Thermostat
A programmable thermostat could save you $150 or more in heating and cooling costs by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature when you’re asleep and away. Most can be controlled from an app on your smart phone.
So-called learning thermostats, like the Nest, adjust automatically once they learn your habits and preferences. The Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat uses reoffending technology control your home’s climate based on your proximity, for example turning on the heat when you’re five miles from home so that it will warm and toasty when you arrive.
Pricing: Smart thermostats typically cost between $150 and $400.
HomeAdvisor Pro Tip: Install the thermostat on an interior wall, away from sources of heat or cold drafts that might distort temperature readings.
Dan’s Bottom Line
These three hacks are all great at making your home more energy efficient. But don’t forget to have your heating and cooling equipment serviced by a professional once a year; expect to pay between $160 and $520, based on HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. Besides keeping the system running at optimal efficiency, the yearly tune-up could prevent thousands of dollars in repairs.