Sure, having a smart home that's tricked out with the latest, state-of-the-art devices and systems is undeniably cool. But smart home technology also has plenty of practical benefits. Among them: It can make your home more energy efficient, which translates into lower energy bills. It's about time technology gave us back some money, yo.
So, how do you use smart home devices to cut down on energy costs? Start with a smart thermostat, like this one from Nest. It has sensors and essentially "learns" when you're home and when you're not, so it won't be heating or cooling the house unnecessarily when you're not there. Or, let's say you go on vacation and forget to turn off the AC, you can simply shut it off using your smartphone from wherever you are— no more cooling an empty house.
A learning thermostat can also coach you toward a lower energy bill by suggesting small changes that can add up to big bucks. Seeing your energy consumption on an app can help you make adjustments as you go, and cut down on use even further.
An automated shade is a great compliment to a smart thermostat because it also helps to regulate the temperature even when you're not at home. In fact, I think this Lutron smart shade is one of the most energy efficient things I've installed in my house so far. There's a huge window in my kitchen that lets in gorgeous light in the morning. But in the early afternoon, the sun hits it in such a way that the whole room becomes baking hot and stuffy. Now, I can program the shade to lower at just the right moment, before the room gets uncomfortable and the AC has to kick into high gear. Then, when the sun goes down, back up it goes. It's the little things!
Yet another way to cut down on energy costs using smart technology is making sure all the lights are off when not in use. Of course, you could go room by room, turning them off as you go. But I like using these Lutron motion-sensing light switches: They automatically turn on when someone enters a room and shut off when no one is around. It saves on energy and adds a classy touch to a room. Plus no more nagging my kids to turn off lights— ok, I still nag my kids, but at least the energy bill doesn't suffer.
Yes, there's a certain wow-factor inherent in using smart home technology. But knowing how our home uses energy — and using that information to use energy more efficiently and cut down on costs — is undeniably cool. (Cool— see what I did there?)