The Best Smart Home Devices for Saving Energy
Smart home gadgets and technology can help make homes more energy efficient than ever before. From thermostats and lightbulbs to plugs and sprinklers, there is almost no aspect of the home that can't be integrated with a smart home system. But which devices can help you save the most energy?
What is a smart home system?
A smart home system is built around home automation. Smart devices have the capability of connecting to a smart home hub like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant through your Wi-Fi network, Bluetooth, or Z-wave technology. You can then control and monitor these devices through a smartphone app, usually on iOS or Android devices, or through voice commands with a smart speaker.
One of the biggest uses of smart home functionality is in the smart home security system. Smart locks, video doorbells, wireless security cameras, and even garage doors can be managed through voice control or a mobile app.
Energy efficiency is another important factor in the choice of smart home devices. Through the use of a smart sprinkler, smart plug, smart lighting, or smart thermostat like the Google Nest or ecobee SmartThermostat, homeowners can see major improvements in their energy and water consumption.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. More and more devices are being integrated into smart home setups. Even appliances like stoves, dishwashers, and refrigerators are now connected to the internet.
What are the best smart home devices for saving energy?
As mentioned, one of the biggest advantages of smart home devices is in saving energy. One thing to consider before adding new devices or appliances is getting a home energy audit for an accurate picture of where your home is less energy-efficient. Once you know that, here are some of the best smart home devices to help you become more energy efficient.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Smart thermostats help regulate and automate your heating and cooling, cutting down on the total energy consumption and reducing those costs. Smart thermostats work by connecting to your current HVAC system. The vast majority of them feature a smart device app, meaning users can control all of the settings and features remotely.
On average, they can save you around 8% on heating and cooling costs, or $50 annually. The age of your current HVAC system, however, can affect this. If you have an old and outdated system, there are limits on the effectiveness of a smart thermostat.
Why buy: The Emerson Sensi smart thermostat was our pick for best overall smart thermostat. It can save you up to 23% on your energy usage, and you can find it at a very affordable price of $140 on Amazon. The Emerson thermostat is also compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings.
Why buy: Despite its relatively high price tag of $249, the ecobee SmartThermostat offers a ton of energy-saving features. The best part is that with it's new eco+ software, the SmartThermostat can help you save up to 23% on your annual energy costs. Plus it has built-in Amazon Alexa functionality so there's no need to purchase an Amazon Echo.
Why buy: The Nest Learning Thermostat is both Google Assistant- and Alexa-enabled. It can potentially save you as much as 10% to 12% on your heating bill and up to 15% on your cooling bill. This thermostat also has voice command for even greater convenience, and it automatically learns your heating and cooling preferences to optimize your energy usage.
Smart lightbulbs and smart lighting systems can connect to your home's smart system, so you can set schedules for when they are on and off. Combined with the greater efficiency of LED bulbs, it isn't out of the question to save between 25% and 80% on the energy used by your lights when you make the switch to smart lights.
Why buy: The Philips Hue lighting system offers everything from starter kits and light strips to table lamps and bulbs. Though they can be a bit pricey, there's a lot that comes with it. They can be paired easily through a rather intuitive app, offer integrations with third-party devices, and even display a wide array of colors.
Why buy: If you're looking for a far more cost effective option, look no further than the Wyze Bulb. These smart Wi-Fi light bulbs will last up to 25,000 hours, and you can get 4 for under $40. Though it doesn't have the color option that the Hue does, it can pair with voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa to make for a convenient smart bulb setup.
Why buy: These Sengled Smart LED bulbs are also an affordable smart light option to help automate your home's lighting. Compatible with SmartThings, IFTTT, Google Assistant, and Alexa, it integrates smoothly with just about any smart home setup. The outdoor bulbs are weatherproof and come with the motion sensor for optimal usage.
Like smart bulbs, smart plugs and smart power strips can help mitigate wasted energy use. They work with compatible devices to control when they are running – think lamps, fans, appliances, air purifiers, etc. Even better, they come with the capability of handling 4 to 8 devices at once, making it a comprehensive hub for your electronics.
Though the savings here are not quite as dramatic, it adds up when paired with other smart energy-efficient devices. Some of the best will come with mobile apps, providing remote functionality.
Why buy: Though this Kasa Smart Plug Mini is meant to handle one or two devices at a time, it is perhaps the best on the market. It's highly affordable and can work with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant by connecting to your Wi-Fi network. It also features schedule customization, timers, and even away modes to maximize your energy savings.
Why buy: This WeMo Wi-Fi smart plug remains affordable while still offering Alexa, Google Assistant, and even Apple HomeKit compatibility. The WeMo app allows you to control and schedule the plug from anywhere, and the plug itself comes in a compact, space-saving design that also allows for voice control.
Why buy: In addition to a single plug, you can also install a smart outlet to connect multiple devices. The iDevices Wall Outlet is great for automating lights, lamps, switches, fans, and any other electronics. It is compatible with most smart home systems, and can give you independent voice control of both the top and bottom outlets.
With smart sprinkler systems, water waste is kept to a minimum thanks to scheduling functions and improved fixtures that use water more efficiently.
Generally speaking, most EPA WaterSense-certified smart-controlled sprinklers can save up to 15% of the water applied versus a standard sprinkler system. In some areas, this can be huge, as 70% of outdoor water use can come from outdoor sprinklers.
Why buy: One of the best smart sprinklers available on the market, the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller gives you wireless connectivity and 8-zone functionality, which makes it easier than ever to properly manage outdoor water usage. It is on the expensive side, but includes a feature that predicts weather changes to adjust your water use accordingly.
Why buy: A slightly more cost-effective option, the Orbit B-Hyve XR comes with great features, like an LED screen that shows live, real-time status updates. It uses WeatherSense technology to automatically adjust to the weather so you don't waste water. It also meets EPA WaterSense standards, and the B-Hyve app is available for free on iOS and Android devices.
Smart home energy monitors
There are now smart home energy monitors that attach directly to your home's electrical box. They work by monitoring your energy consumption in real-time and can show patterns of electrical usage over a day, week, or month.
Continuous monitoring, right down to the appliance level, can help you save on energy costs and acts as the baseline for energy conservation. These monitors can also show which appliances are falling behind in energy efficiency.
Why buy: This is a top-of-the-line energy monitor, and comes in both standard and solar variations. They plug into just about any existing electrical panel and then connect to a smart phone application that provides real-time data whenever you want it. Sense is a bit pricey, but comes with far more features and functionality than any of the others.
Why buy: This Efergy system provides a cost-effective means of monitoring your home's electrical usage. The device connects easily to any home electrical box for fast and easy installation that does not require an electrician. The downside to this particular system is that there is no smart phone application for live tracking, instead using a compact, portable display.
Why buy: Emporia's Vue monitoring system offers device detection that can show you the performance of individual appliances in your home. You can even set schedules for select appliances where applicable, providing a greater level of detail about your electric bill. With this system you can lower your energy costs and your emissions at the same time.
Other smart home products to consider
As comprehensive as this list is, it doesn't cover all of the smart devices out there. Home security systems, garage doors, and other appliances are now able to connect to your smart home system.
Refrigerators are becoming smarter, too. Not only can they cut down on energy usage, they can even create shopping lists based on the contents inside. Smart fridges have evolved to feature LED touch-screens and even web browsing.
Smart locks, doorbells, and security systems have made it easy to find peace-of-mind. Users can view cameras in real-time remotely and even use video doorbells to see who is at the door.
Smart TVs allow users to access their favorite apps, surf the web, and so much more, all through their remote. They also use much less energy than older models, and most are ENERGY STAR certified for efficiency.
Upgrade to a smart home to save energy
Upgrading your home to a smart setup has never been more beneficial. Whether you are looking to gain improved convenience and connectivity, cut down on energy costs, or both, smart home setups are the way to go. Combine any number of smart home devices to create the right setup for a more energy-efficient home.
Ryan Womeldorf is a freelance writer who covers technology and consumer goods, including smart home tech. He is a husband and father of two (five if you count his pups).
- New Clues Help Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
- California Faces a Future of Extreme Weather - EcoWatch ›
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
- 14 Countries Commit to Ocean Sustainability Initiative - EcoWatch ›
- These 11 Innovations Are Protecting Ocean Life - EcoWatch ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›