One Smart Click and You’re Scamming Your Way to Lower Monthly Bills

published Mar 13, 2019
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
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

In the age of smart home devices, setting your thermostat and dimming the lights have never been easier. But these purchases have more long-term payoff than convenience alone. A one-time buy like a smart thermostat or home security system may feel pricy upfront, but by potentially lowering other monthly payments, they could pay for themselves over time—and have you feeling like a genius.

While some purchases reduce your monthly bills by simply limiting usage—for example, a smart thermostat will likely lower your energy bill—safety-focused products could positively impact your home insurance premiums. “Insurance carriers reward renters and homeowners who practice good risk management by reducing their premiums,” says Viriginia Hamil, an insurance analyst with Fit Small Business.

But keep in mind that insurers aren’t looking for a quick fix in adjusting your premium—they want to see a demonstrated history of low risk. “Carriers typically consider your claims history when calculating premiums, so managing risk and reducing claims can also help policyholders save in the long run,” Hamil says.

Curious what you can do to save money at home, from lowering your water or energy bill to saving on your insurance premium? These one-time purchases won’t just improve your home—they could also improve your budget:

Security systems

Mitigating risk in your household—like preventing break-ins or theft with a security system—is one of the biggest ways to reduce your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance payments.

Take a Nest Secure security system, for example: A basic kit costs $400, but it could also earn you a 10 percent discount on your insurance premium. Since homeowners’ insurance can cost up to $1,000 annually, you could save $100 a year, which means the system would pay for itself within a few years—not to mention make your home safer.

Video doorbells

The premise here is the same: When you reduce the risk of a forced entry, your insurer will probably be up for giving you a discount on your premium, since their risk will also be lower. But before you drop $100 or more on a video doorbell, keep in mind that insurance discounts can vary widely. “It’s really a matter of speaking to the home insurance adjuster when they come to check your home. Ask them what you can do to lower premiums,” says John Holloway, co-founder of, a digital insurance brokerage helping customers to choose the right policies.

A safe

If you’re insuring any valuable items, like jewelry or family heirlooms, installing a safe could save you a hefty sum. (In some cases, insurance companies will actually require safes.) But not all safes are created equal, so make sure you talk to your insurance company about what level of asset protection will lower your premium.

Smart thermostats

By automatically and intuitively adjusting your home’s temperature, a smart thermostat could lower your energy bill considerably. Both in-house and independently conducted studies cited in Nest’s Energy Savings white paper showed the Nest Learning Thermostat reduced heat bills by around 10 percent and cut down electric bills for air conditioning by about 15 percent.

The thermostat costs around $200, but some states offer rebates—for example, if you’re in New York City, Con Edison will rebate up to $135 for purchasing a smart thermostat and enrolling in the Rush Hour Rewards program.

Low-flow showerheads

Most standard showerheads deliver up to 8 gallons of water a minute, but low-flow options average about 2.5 gallons, which both conserves water and saves money. Savings vary based on water temperature and frequency of showers, but with reduced (and colder!) showers, you could save around $100 a year, which is definitely worth the buy. Prices can range from $10 to $100 for a showerhead, but if you’re a fan of high pressure showers, just make sure to purchase a higher quality option.

A modem or router

Check your statements: You might be paying a fee of $5 to $10 each month in order to rent a modem or router from your internet service provider. Instead of renting, look into buying your own devices. You can get a decent modem for $100 or less—and cancel those $10 fees instantly.

Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers can help lower your homeowner’s insurance premiums by
allowing you to personally reduce extensive damage in the event of a fire. “One big thing to note here is that you’ll need to make sure your extinguisher doesn’t expire, so these will need to be replaced on a regular basis,” says Fabio Faschi, property and casualty lead at Policygenius.

Smart smoke detector

Smart smoke detectors improve on old technology by adding connected safety features like phone alerts and self-testing, which help to reduce the risk of damage in the event of a fire. You may be able to get a discount on your premiums just by telling your insurance provider about your device, but companies like Nest are one step ahead: If you sign up for Safety Rewards, your Nest Protect device will keep your insurance provider updated on your smoke alarm’s battery and connection status in exchange for a discount of up to 5 percent off your premiums.

Storm damage protection

Since hail-proof roofing, water sensors, and sump pumps all play a role in protecting your home from potential storm damage, they could also save you money. For example, in the event of a flood or burst pipe due to freezing weather, a water sensor will alert you of potential major water damage. “Many of these sensors can even be tied to an app that will send you an automatic alert to a possible problem no matter where you are,” Faschi says. “The more advanced of these sensors can even automatically shut-off your water valve systems to prevent additional damage if there is an issue.”