My Tiny Trick for Saving Hundreds on My Summer Electric Bill (It Keeps Me Cool!)

published Jul 9, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Alexis Buryk

When I moved into my new Upper East Side apartment with my partner, the old tenant offered to sell a few pieces of their old furniture — kitchen storage, a TV console, a lamp — but the major score was a free window AC unit that was already in the bedroom. The only caveat was that the on/off switch was broken, meaning I had to manually unplug and plug the cord into the outlet every time I needed some cool air.

This was especially cumbersome, as my dresser was in front of the most convenient outlet for the AC unit. So, attempting to be a little tech savvy, I ordered a $25 Amazon smart plug that I knew was compatible with my Echo Show 5 and would allow me to control the plug on my phone through the Alexa app. It also had a max electrical output of 15 amp circuits, which could handle my small unit. 

Setting Up the Smart Plug

As someone who has only used her Alexa to play music and set timers, there was a bit of a learning curve when setting up my new smart home device. But I found it was relatively easy to connect the plug to the Alexa app and my WiFi network, and I was absolutely giddy the first time I was able to turn off my air conditioner from my bed. I even changed the name from “smart plug” to “AC” and now have the joy of saying “Hey Alexa, turn on the AC” as an alternative way of controlling the unit. 

How the Plug Helps Me Save Money

Even in the summertime I don’t love to run the AC all day long. I hate being too cold and it’s expensive! Instead, my boyfriend and I usually run it occasionally throughout the day and an hour or two before bed until around midnight when he goes to bed (I’m already fast asleep). Our apartment is small enough that it usually maintains a cool temperature throughout most of the night and the next day, as long as we keep the blinds down to block out sunlight and heat.

But, as the higher temperatures rolled in, the midnight runtime wasn’t working anymore — we’d both wake up sweating in the middle of the morning. Still, neither of us wanted to be up any later to turn off the unit and we didn’t feel that running it until 7 a.m. when we woke up the next day would be worth it financially. 

That’s when I discovered the beauty of routines. Using the Alexa app, I created a time routine, so at a certain hour every day, Alexa turns the power off for the plug. The first night we set it for 2 a.m. and it went off without a hitch. 

It’s easy to tweak the time it turns off, so we can adjust it throughout the season depending on the weather. Usually, we keep it going until around 2:30 a.m., but during this recent heat wave we’ve been running it until 4:45 a.m., which is the sweet spot where we don’t wake up overheated. 

It makes me feel more in control of how much energy I’m using, and the $25 device has probably saved us hundreds by not running the AC unit throughout the entirety of the night during the late spring, summer, and early fall months. 

Not to mention, it makes coming home after some time away more comfortable, too. Recently, when coming back from a trip during a massive heatwave, I was able to use the smart plug to turn on the AC unit about 30 minutes before arriving home. I was so grateful to not walk into a sweltering room after climbing up flights of stairs with luggage. In all, the smart plug was only a small price to pay for more comfortable living — and a lower electric bill each month.