Sustainable, Smart, and Cost Efficient? Here’s Your Guide to Smart Home Technology
Utilities can be taxing on both the environment and your wallet. Sometimes we even waste utilities when we don’t need to, which usually comes as quite a shock when the bill comes in. We scratch our heads and think, “wow, there’s no way I used 897 kilowatt-hours of electricity this month.” (The average U.S. household uses that much each month and 10,766 kWh per year.)
Fortunately, there are several in-home tech products that will save you money on your utility bills and help the environment at the same time.
How Much Electricity Do You Use Around the House?
Each month, your utility bill is calculated based on how many kilowatt-hours are consumed.
So just how far does one kilowatt-hour go?
A kilowatt-hour, which is a measure of electrical energy equivalent to a power consumption of 1,000 watts for one hour, could power ten incandescent 100-watt lightbulbs for an hour. One kwh costs about $0.12 (so leaving the lights on, despite what your mother said about turning them off to save money, isn’t as expensive as it seems). Check out this table, which lists common household appliances and how much energy they use in an average month:
Appliance average kWh used each month and average cost
|Appliance||Appliance Average kWh used each month||Average cost each month|
|One LED Lightbulb||1.2 kWh||$0.14|
|Big-screen TV||2.5 kWh||$0.30|
|Wireless modem and router||7.5 kWh||$0.90|
|Gaming System||8.3 kWh||$1.00|
|One 60-watt Incandescent Lightbulb||18.3 kWh||$2.20|
|Desktop Computer||25.0 kWh||$3.00|
|Washer and Dryer||69.44 kWh||$8.33|
|Water Heater||416.7 kWh||$50.00|
|Heating and cooling||640.5 kWh||$76.86|
So does that mean you have to put on a sweater or take a cold shower? Not necessarily. If you know what you’re doing, you can save hundreds of kWh each month by utilizing the latest in-home technology.
Heating and Cooling
- Smart Thermostat: One of the most common smart home additions, smart thermostats are arguably the best way to save the most money. As most of your utility bills are heating and cooling, installing and using a smart thermostat can have a huge impact on your bills. Additionally, most are compatible with smart home assistants like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or other automated assistants. Smart thermostats work by keeping temperature settings consistent. Some have sensors to keep tabs on hot and cold spots in your house, and you can program them to adjust temperatures in your home while you’re gone at work, on vacation, or sleeping, so you’re not wasting energy on climate control you don’t need.
- Motorized Shades: Another great way to money, motorized shades are often overlooked in the heating and cooling department. These shades allow you to set specific times when they should open or close. Almost all the settings can be done from an app and will work whether you’re home or not. Some of the even smarter ones can auto adjust to the temperature outside to maximize your savings. You will end up saving money by keeping the sun out when it’s hot in the day or choosing to let the light warm up your space. You can also opt for honeycomb shades, which are designed especially for insulation, but any shade or drape with the right spacing will help slash your heating costs.
Average Savings: Between $131 and $145 per year
- Smart Lights: Smart lights, like Philips Hue and LIFX, can save you cash through programming, motion detection and remote access to your lights when you’re away from home (for security during vacation purposes), but that’s not all there is to it. Smart lights are LEDs, which cost significantly less to operate than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Average Savings: Between $80 and $120 per year
Games, TVs and Other Appliances
- Surge Protectors: Certain small appliances such as video game consoles are known as drain devices. This means that even when someone isn’t using it, the device is still using energy. This is where conservation based surge protectors like the Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector come in! These surge protectors allow you switch things off with a remote, which prevents drain devices from wasting energy. Other types, like ThinkEco, cut down consumption when your plugged-in devices are in standby mode.
Average Savings: Between $60 and $80 per year
- Energy-efficient washers:Though there aren’t smart washers per se, energy-efficient washers are a smart way to save. Certified ENERGY STAR products can help you save on both electricity and water, so you get even more bang for your buck when you pay your utility bill water bill. Typically, an ENERGY STAR washing machine uses 25 percent less electricity than its non-eco-friendly counterparts do. Another tip to save money while washing clothes is to waste them with warm (not hot) or cold water.
Average Savings: Between $75 and $125 per year
How Much Water Does Your Household Use?
While estimates vary based on location, the average U.S. household uses about 90 gallons of water every day. Unfortunately, most of that water is wasted through toilet flushing and showers. Dishwashers, washing machines and outdoor watering also waste a large amount of water. We’ve created a chart that shows how much water common household items use and how much it costs.
|Appliance||Average Gallons Used Each Time||Average Cost Per Use|
|Shower (10 Minutes) with ordinary shower head||50 gallons||$0.20|
|Shower (10 Minutes) with water-saving showerhead||20 gallons||$0.08|
|Dishwasher (non-ENERGY STAR)||16 gallons||$0.06|
|Dishwasher (ENERGY STAR)||6 gallons||$0.02|
|Toilet Flush (Regular)||3 gallons||$0.01|
|Toilet Flush (low-flow)||1.6 gallons||Less than $.01|
|Outdoor watering (30 minutes)||60 gallons||$0.24|
Other than cutting down on water consumption by investing in ENERGY STAR appliances, doing fewer loads of laundry and taking shorter showers, there are a few devices you can add to your home to drastically reduce your water consumption.
Showers and Faucets
- High-efficiency faucet aerator: Aerators are a great way to save money on water. They work by adding air to your water. This means you can keep your water pressure while cutting your water usage in half!
- Smart home water meter: While they don’t give you direct savings, smart home water meters can be a great investment. By showing you how much water you use and where it goes, you can adjust your water usage in certain areas and save money.
Average Savings: About $100 per year
- Smart toilets:Smart toilets are beneficial in two ways: they save water and they can help eliminate toilet paper waste. The EPA states that toilets labeled with WaterSense labels can reduce water usage by 20-60% and save around 13,000 gallons of water per year.
Average Savings: About $100 per year
Smart Home Security
- Smart Home Security System: A smart home security system is another way to save money, albeit indirectly. While the products themselves don’t save you money, having them can help decrease your insurance bill. Think of it like having airbags in the car – your insurer knows that you’re taking measures to mitigate risk, which means your rates are likely to go down. The latest-and-greatest security systems monitor your home’s electricity and wiring, and record activity that goes on inside and outside your house. Sometimes you can even get a claims-free credit, which offers you a discount if you haven’t made a claim in the past.
Average Savings: Up to 20% of your normal bill
Original article from Redfin