8 Gadgets that Help You Save Energy
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Reducing the amount of energy your household consumes can save money and the environment. The obvious targets are heating and cooling, but it's also important to monitor your gadgets and electronics gear.
I've gathered eight devices that will help you determine where you're losing money, keep your consumption of energy down, and ensure you keep spending under control.
Save money on heating & cooling
Thermal leak detector
You'll see big savings on your monthly energy bill when you stop heat and air conditioning from leaking out of your house. A thermal leak detector, like the Black& Decker TLD100 can show you where your home's leaks are. Once the device has read the ambient temperature, you can start checking around windows, door frames and other places air could be escaping. The light will change to red for warmer spots and blue for cooler spots. You can set the temperature tolerances to one, five or 10 degrees.
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat (5th Gen) is smart enough to know when you're away, not only from its built-in sensors but also with SmartSensors that you can place around your home. So if the kids go downstairs to the playroom, you can be assured that they will be comfortable. But, when a room isn't in use and the temperature drops or rises outside of your comfort zone, you won't have to waste energy when no one is there. Amazon Alexa is built into the thermostat, so you can listen Spotify, check the weather and change the temperature from the comfort of your bed (no other Alexa product required). Ecobee's new eco+ software adjusts your thermostat based on your household schedule and indoor humidity levels, and it will suggest a new schedule if your activity is out of alignment with the schedule you set. Thermostat can take advantage of off-peak energy pricing to pre-heat or cool your home, too. Ecobee estimates a savings of 23% when using eco+.
Even small changes to your thermostat settings can impact your monthly energy bill. For instance, each degree above 68° F can add three percent to the amount of energy needed for heating, according to the Edison Electric Institute.
Price: on sale for $199.99 (usually $249.99) for one thermostat and one SmartSensor
Smart blinds and shades
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 45% when completely closed and lowered on a sunny window. So automate those savings by making your existing window treatments smart with Tilt's Blinds Automation Kit and Roller Shades Automation Kit. The Blinds Automation Kit works with most brands of 2 and 2.5-inch horizontal blinds. The Roller Shades Automation Kit works with most 1-1/8 to 2-inch diameter tubes for cellular/honeycomb, Roman, woven wood, or pleated shades. Once installed, you can program your blinds and shades to close, open and tilt when you want them to. And a sun-tracking feature ensures your preferences change as the days grow longer (or shorter). The blinds and shades draw the power they need from an included solar panel.
Price: $199.00 (blinds kit), $259.00 (roller shade kit)
Reduce energy use
Curling irons, space heaters, coffee makers: they're all easy to accidentally leave on when you're rushing out the door. So to ensure they're turned off, you can plug them into a Belkin Wemo WiFi Smart Plug. Remotely check in on an appliance or electronic device and turn it off (or on), set a schedule and monitor and control energy usage.
It works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, so you can turn things off remotely. If your device is on a switch, like your lights, try the Wemo WiFi Smart Light Switch. It works with your existing wall plates.
Price: Wemo WiFi Smart Plug: $24.99, Wemo WiFi Smart Light Switch: $29.99
Smart Surge Protector
When you're TV is off, you don't need your streaming media player or game system turned on. The Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip fights back against this problem in a unique way by offering independent control from anywhere of up to six connected devices. It also includes 3 USB-A ports (5-volt 2.4 amp). You can use the Kasa app or Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip also monitors energy consumption for each connected device.
Price: $79.99, currently on sale for $46.99
Occupancy-sensing light switch
Have a light someone's always forgetting to turn off? Install a motion-sensing light switch that will automatically shut off when the room is empty, like the Lutron Maestro LED+ Dimmer. It has a 150-degree motion detector with an angle of up to 30 feet. You can set the sensitivity and the time or operate it manually. The light will go back on at whatever dimming level you set it at last. For use with up to 600 watts of incandescent or halogen bulbs, up to 150 watts of compact fluorescent or dimmable LED bulbs.
Occupancy-sensing light bulb
For basement stairs, garages and other areas where you have overhead lights, you can simply screw in an occupancy-sensing light bulb. The GE LED+ Motion light bulb has a 90-degree viewing angle and a 26-foot range. You can use it with any existing indoor or outdoor light fixture and it stay on for five minutes after it last senses motion. The bulb is an A21 bulb, which is slightly longer than the usual A19 bulb (2.625 inches versus 2.375), so you'll want to make sure it will fit. The bulb is a 75-watt replacement (uses 11 watts), producing 1100 lumens.
Price: $20.99 for two bulbs
Smart light bulb
With smart light bulbs, you can program the lights to turn on when you're pulling into your driveway or only when it gets dark outside. You can also make sure all of the lights are off when you go to bed without having to go around and check. The Philips Smart LED with WiZ Connected bulbs work with standard light fixtures and can be adjusted for color and brightness, as well as programmed to turn on and off at particular times or synced with smart home devices, like motion sensors and thermostats. All of the smarts are managed through the WiZ app and you can use Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant for voice control. The bulbs are 60-watt equivalents (11 watts) and product 810 lumens.
Price: $99.99 for 4 bulbs
Updated on 4/22/2022 with new picks
[Image credits: hands changing light bulb via BigStockPhoto, Black & Decker, Ecobee, Belkin, SmarterHome, Lutron, GE, Philips]