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Smart Home Automation

5 Smart Home Products that Save You Money

By Dane George Rise Energy Efficiency Expert
Jun 19, 2017

Smart Tech is hot right now. What began with ‘smartphones’ has now led to the ‘smart home’. In a smart home, you can find smart appliances such as lights, thermostats, home entertainment systems, and many more.

But what does ‘smart’ mean? The answer might be different depending on the device, but usually, it means they are wirelessly connected so you can remotely control or program them with an app on your mobile device or computer.

Considering smart appliances and wondering what to look for to save energy and money? Explore smart lighting, thermostats, and more here.

Philips Hue Smart Lighting
Image Courtesy of Philips

Smart Lighting

Smart lights and smart dimmers are usually LED lights or switches that can be programmed to turn on/off or dim based on a schedule that you control. Some of them can be linked to an occupancy sensor so that the lights in a room will automatically turn off when no one is around. Others have voice command features, so you can control them by saying keywords like ‘goodbye’ or ‘good night’ while you are in the room.

The lights communicate with a ‘hub’ or a ‘bridge’, which is a Wi-Fi connected device that acts as a wireless router connecting all your lights to an internet server, that you can access remotely through your phone, tablet, or computer. Many lights can be controlled by one hub, so you can control the lighting in individual rooms separately.

You can use this technology to save energy and money by ensuring that the lights are off when you are away or when there is sufficient daylight. Or you can play some wild pranks on your family members with your remote lighting app – maybe embarrass your teenager by creating a flashing disco ambiance when they bring a date home!

Nest Smart Thermostat
Image Courtesy of Nest

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are a step up from the standard programmable thermostats that adjust heating and cooling temperatures based on a schedule that you program. With smart thermostats, you can more easily and remotely adjust the schedules. Some apps can track your smart phone’s location and adjust temperatures based on where you are in your house or whether you are at home or away. This function can also be used to engage home heating or cooling on your way home, so it will be at the temperature you like when you arrive.

Another cool feature of smart thermostats is that some of them will attempt to learn your regular patterns, and adjust the temperatures accordingly, so you don’t have to.

These types of functionality are becoming more appropriate in today’s world where daily schedules are variable. If you are in and out of your house several times a day, smart thermostats can adjust the temperature of your home in real-time, making sure that you are always comfortable, but also saving energy by only heating or cooling when necessary.

GE Smart Meter
Image Courtesy of GE

Smart Meters

Smart meters are electric power meters that differ from a traditional power meter on your house because that they can track and record your electricity consumption every 10 or 15 minutes. Most of them can communicate with the power provider’s network so they don’t need to visit your house to read the meter every month, saving on utility costs. You can usually get access to the data from your smart meter, so you can have a much better idea of how much electricity you are using at what times. If you and your family have immediate feedback about your own consumption, then you are much better equipped to use less of it!

Smart meters are often installed by the electric utility, and in some jurisdictions, there has been a government mandate for installation on all homes. Once installed, there are many interesting energy monitoring devices and apps that will analyze the data and give you daily, weekly or monthly updates about how you are using electricity. If your region has smart meters or is getting them soon, check out the Green Button Data initiative. It’s an industry-led effort to make energy data access consistent and convenient. If your utility follows the Green Button data protocol, you should be able to use any compatible third-party app to view and manage your energy usage.

LG Smart Appliances
Image Courtesy of LG

Smart Appliances

Many household appliances are also becoming smart. Some examples are driverless vacuum cleaners that can travel around cleaning your house on their own without falling downstairs, or ovens that will send an alert to your phone when your baking is ready. Have you ever wondered whether you turned off the stove when you left the house? With a smart stove, you can check it after you’ve left, and turn it off remotely with your phone from wherever you are.

These features can enhance convenience and safety, and some of them can help conserve energy or at least use it in a better way. For example, smart dishwashers and clothes dryers can be programmed to delay cycles during energy ‘rush hours’ when everyone else is using energy (e.g. supper time). Depending on the electricity pricing structure where you live, you can save money if your electricity rates are cheaper at a different hour. This can also help lower your footprint by reducing the use of inefficient and polluting ‘peaker’ fossil fuel power plants to generate electricity during peak hours.

belkin smart powerbar
Image Courtesy of Belkin

Smart Power Bars

Smart power bars are outlet strips designed to conserve energy. They typically have a couple of plugs that are ‘always on’ another group of plugs on a sensor that will turn off power to those plugs when the devices plugged in there are off. This helps eliminate phantom power consumption, which is the power that electronics consume when on standby or turned off.

For a home entertainment system with several components such as a television, speakers, cable box, and DVD player, total phantom power can be substantial, and a smart power bar can save a significant amount over time.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-05-14T19:37:49+0000
Dane George

Article by:

Dane George

Dane George holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and a Masters of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Dalhousie University. He has three years of experience working with residential contractors with a focus on energy efficient renovations, and has worked with the Clean Foundation as a Certified Energy Advisor conducting energy audits of homes. Most recently, his graduate research involved analyzing electricity consumption patterns. Dane has also prepared and delivered workshops on home energy sustainability, and is currently teaching Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.