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 If you have an old and outdated system, there are limits on the effectiveness of a smart thermostat.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).
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Sense produces smart home energy monitors that allow users to track, in real-time, their energy usage throughout the home and even through specific appliances. The Sense home energy monitors are some of the most popular on the market today. Learn why in our review below.
Sense stepped into the home energy monitor industry just a few years ago. The Boston-area company began using machine learning in order to provide real-time looks at electrical usage. This also came in the wake of a discovery that always-on devices accounted for nearly 23% of all home electricity usage.
Sense developed its tech with a team from some of the biggest names in voice recognition. The team consisted of engineers from Amazon, Vlingo, Phillips, SpeechWorks, ScanSoft, and Nuance.
What came of that was the Sense home energy monitor. This Wi-Fi-enabled sensor has the capability of displaying real-time energy use data right to users' smart phones thanks to a small box that attached to the home's electrical box.
Sense offers sophisticated energy monitoring
Compared to others in the industry, Sense is top of the line. Its diverse range of features, easy-to-use smart phone application, and even a solar energy option for improved savings, is the reason for the higher price tag.
Despite the relatively high price, consumers have rated it quite well. Utility companies have verified that it is 99.5% accurate and it can even track usage of individual appliances for improved accuracy and tracking.
It has shown that it records 1 million data points per second, which is a rate that is not only larger but faster than most other competitors. Combined with other energy-efficient products like smart thermostats and smart lights, the Sense energy monitor could help you reduce your energy consumption considerably. For those looking to get a better sense about their power usage, Sense may just be the best the market has to offer.
Types of Sense home energy monitors
Sense works by connecting a monitor to your home's breaker panel. It then takes the voltage and current measurements of your electricity consumption. It does this over 1 million times every second to produce high-resolution data. The monitor then transmits the data through a Wi-Fi antenna to your app or desktop.
Furthermore, Sense is capable of individual device detection. This allows you to get a sense of how much energy your home uses, and which appliances and electrical devices use the most energy when running.
There are two Sense home energy monitors: the standard Sense unit and the Sense Solar. The latter is meant to provide the services to those who run off of solar power, providing greater clarification and understanding of solar energy usage.
The Sense energy monitor provides real-time, 24/7 data that is accessible through iOS, Android, and desktop apps. That means being able to check energy usage patterns whenever it suits you. Even better, schedules and alerts can be set at the user's discretion to create a truly customize data system.
Why buy: The Sense home energy monitor allows for optimal energy tracking convenience. Users can get live updates on their power consumption from their smart phone whenever and wherever they like.
How it works
The Sense home energy monitor works simply enough. It attaches to your home's circuit breaker, measuring energy usage right down to individual appliances and devices for a better understanding of where your home's electrical usage is. Sense recommends that you have a licensed electrician do the installation.
There are also customer safety monitors that can be set with audible notifications. Keep track of critical devices like well pumps, sump pumps, HVAC systems, water heaters, or flat irons without having to constantly monitor them yourself. Most importantly, the components have been ETL/Intertek certified. That certification ensures that it is safe for operation within an electrical panel.
The Sense features compatibility with many smart home devices. Pairing up the Sense with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Phillips Hue, IFTTT, smart thermostats, and smart plugs can help you optimize your home's energy efficiency.
Like the Sense, the Sense Solar can track usage data in real-time. It can also track your appliances and devices on an individual basis to give you a more comprehensive window into your home's energy consumption.
Why buy: The Sense Solar can detect the exact amount of energy that the solar panels on your home are generating 24/7. This feature quickly gives you a better idea of which appliances are drawing power (and how much) at any given time as well as the effectiveness of your solar panels.
How it works
The Sense Solar home energy monitor is much the same as the original version, though this one tracks solar energy usage. It connects to your home's breaker panel like the Sense, just with an additional wire to connect to the solar inverter in your home's main electrical box.
The Sense Solar uses the same simple interface for its smart phone function that the regular Sense does. Users can chart energy usage over time, even creating profiles of monthly, weekly, or daily usage, whatever works best for the user.
It is recommended that only electricians handle the installation process.
The Sense app
Perhaps the biggest selling point for both Sense and Sense Solar is the mobile app. The Sense app is used to connect to their smart home energy monitors and provides the ability to monitor volts and current one million times per second.
The real-time, 24/7 data is available in a number of interfaces that allows for customized profiles. Users can set monitoring reports that display overall usage as well as individualized device performance.
With a large, easy to identify interface, users are able to generate reports that fit their usage needs. Moreover, they can see real-time data to monitor devices as they run.
If that weren't enough, users can also set goals, view trends, and even set audible alerts whenever energy levels are too high. The Sense app lets you take control of your home's energy usage and electricity bill.
Sense pros and cons
Both the Sense and Sense Solar have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here is a breakdown for both versions.
For starters, the Sense app is super user-friendly. Even the most technologically-challenged can pick up the app and navigate its interface with little to no trouble.
Moreover, the app shows a ton of historical data. If you want to look at specific trends going back to installation date, you can call those up easily. Daily, weekly, and monthly reports are available to provide a better understanding of data usage over time so you can identify patterns and problem spots.
Finally, it provides individual device tracking. If you want to get truly granular and see which devices take the most energy to run, that is easily available through the app.
At $299.99, the cost isn't cheap. Furthermore, professional installation is highly recommended. That is an additional cost on top of the already steep price for the unit itself. Those installation fees take an already costly unit up a notch.
There is also the issue that it does not have cost calculations. While it can track energy usage in real-time, it doesn't tell you what that translates to in terms of actual money. Knowing what your energy is costing you will take a little extra sleuthing.
Sense Solar pros
The Sense Solar energy monitor is one of the best at tracking solar production in real-time. Some similar solar devices only offer updates in 15 minute increments whereas the Sense Solar can track up to the second.
Moreover, it tracks electrical production and consumption as well, so you know if your appliances are drawing more energy than the solar panels are putting out. Not to mention the user-friendly app that makes it possible to create various profiles for tracking and consuming data.
Sense Solar cons
Even more expensive than the standard Sense at $349.99, the Sense Solar monitor is definitely an investment. This particular home energy monitor is designed to help homeowners get the most out of their own solar panels. If you just want to identify ways to reduce energy usage, there are definitely cheaper options.
The other negative is that it has trouble finding always-on appliances. That's not to say it can't find them, it just takes some time and patience. It also may detect the same device multiple times, creating confusion.
Both the Sense and Sense Solar energy monitors deliver real-time data on electrical consumption that can be customized however the user wants. Aside from needing a professional installation, users can access and customize data easily through the app, creating profiles displaying information that can help you save money on your electric bill.
Though it is one of the most expensive options on the market, there are few that can deliver real-time data customization and app convenience the way the Sense does. With a 99.5% accuracy in readings, it is hard to top the convenience and accuracy that Sense provides.
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).
Making the switch to solar energy can help you lower or even eliminate your monthly electric bills while reducing your carbon footprint. However, before installing a clean energy system in your home, you must first answer an important question: "How many solar panels do I need?"
To accurately calculate the ideal number of solar panels for your home, you'll need a professional assessment. However, you can estimate the size and cost of the system based on your electricity bills, energy needs and available roof space. This article will tell you how.
If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Factors That Influence How Many Solar Panels You Need
To determine how many solar panels are needed to power a house, several factors must be considered. For example, if there are two identical homes powered by solar energy in California and New York, with exactly the same energy usage, the California home will need fewer solar panels because the state gets more sunshine.
The following are some of the most important factors to consider when figuring out many solar panels you need:
Size of Your Home and Available Roof Space
Larger homes tend to consume more electricity, and they generally need more solar panels. However, they also have the extra roof space necessary for larger solar panel installations. There may be exceptions to this rule — for example, a 2,000-square-foot home with new Energy Star appliances may consume less power than a 1,200-square-foot home with older, less-efficient devices.
When it comes to installation, solar panels can be placed on many types of surfaces. However, your roof conditions may limit the number of solar panels your home can handle.
For example, if you have a chimney, rooftop air conditioning unit or skylight, you'll have to place panels around these fixtures. Similarly, roof areas that are covered by shadows are not suitable for panels. Also, most top solar companies will not work on asbestos roofs due to the potential health risks for installers.
Amount of Direct Sunlight in Your Area
Where there is more sunlight available, there is more energy that can be converted into electricity. The yearly output of each solar panel is higher in states like Arizona or New Mexico, which get a larger amount of sunlight than less sunny regions like New England.
The World Bank has created solar radiation maps for over 200 countries and regions, including the U.S. The map below can give you an idea of the sunshine available in your location. Keep in mind that homes in sunnier regions will generally need fewer solar panels.
© 2020 The World Bank, Source: Global Solar Atlas 2.0, Solar resource data: Solargis.
Number of Residents and Amount of Energy You Use
Households with more members normally use a higher amount of electricity, and this also means they need more solar panels to increase energy production.
Electricity usage is a very important factor, as it determines how much power must be generated by your solar panel system. If your home uses 12,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year and you want to go 100% solar, your system must be capable of generating that amount of power.
Type of Solar Panel and Efficiency Rating
High-efficiency panels can deliver more watts per square foot, which means you need to purchase fewer of them to reach your electricity generation target. There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. In general, monocrystalline panels are the most efficient solar panels, followed closely by polycrystalline panels. Thin-film panels are the least efficient.
How to Estimate the Number of Solar Panels You Need
So, based on these factors, how many solar panels power a home? To roughly determine how many solar panels you need without a professional assessment, you'll need to figure out two basic things: how much energy you use and how much energy your panels will produce.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American home uses 10,649 kWh of energy per year. However, this varies depending on the state. For example:
- Louisiana homes have the highest average consumption, at 14,787 kWh per year.
- Hawaii homes have the lowest average consumption, at 6,298 kWh per year.
To more closely estimate how much energy you use annually, add up the kWh reported on your last 12 power bills. These numbers will fluctuate based on factors like the size of your home, the number of residents, your electricity consumption habits and the energy efficiency rating of your home devices.
Solar Panel Specific Yield
After you determine how many kWh of electricity your home uses annually, you'll want to figure out how many kWh are produced by each of your solar panels during a year. This will depend on the specific type of solar panel, roof conditions and local peak sunlight hours.
In the solar power industry, a common metric used to estimate system capacity is "specific yield" or "specific production." This can be defined as the annual kWh of energy produced for each kilowatt of solar capacity installed. Specific yield has much to do with the amount of sunlight available in your location.
You can get a better idea of the specific yield that can be achieved in your location by checking reliable sources like the World Bank solar maps or the solar radiation database from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
To estimate how many kW are needed to run a house, you can divide your annual kWh consumption by the specific yield per kilowatt of solar capacity. For example, if your home needs 15,000 kWh of energy per year, and solar panels have a specific yield of 1,500 kW/kW in your location, you will need a system size of around 10 kilowatts.
Paradise Energy Solutions has also come up with a general formula to roughly ballpark the solar panel system size you need. You can simply divide your annual kWh by 1,200 and you will get the kilowatts of solar capacity needed. So, if the energy consumption reported on your last 12 power bills adds up to 24,000 kWh, you'll need a 20 kW system (24,000 / 1,200 = 20).
So, How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
Once you know the system size you need, you can check your panel wattage to figure how many panels to purchase for your solar array. Multiply your system size by 1,000 to obtain watts, then divide this by the individual wattage of each solar panel.
Most of the best solar panels on the market have an output of around 330W to 360W each. The output of less efficient panels can be as low as 250W.
So, if you need a 10-kW solar installation and you're buying solar panels that have an output of 340W, you'll need 30 panels. Your formula will look like this: 10,000W / 340W = 29.4 panels.
If you use lower-efficiency 250-watt solar panels, you'll need 40 of them (10,000W / 250W = 40) panels.
Keep in mind that, although the cost of solar panels is lower if you choose a lower-efficiency model over a pricier high-efficiency one, the total amount you pay for your solar energy system may come out to be the same or higher because you'll have to buy more panels.
How Much Roof Space Do You Need for a Home Solar System?
After you estimate how many solar panels power a house, the next step is calculating the roof area needed for their installation. The exact dimensions may change slightly depending on the manufacturer, but a typical solar panel for residential use measures 65 inches by 39 inches, or 17.6 square feet. You will need 528 square feet of roof space to install 30 panels, and 704 square feet to install 40.
In addition to having the required space for solar panels, you'll also need a roof structure that supports their weight. A home solar panel weighs around 20 kilograms (44 pounds), which means that 30 of them will add around 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds) to your roof.
You will notice that some solar panels are described as residential, while others are described as commercial. Residential panels have 60 individual solar cells, while commercial panels have 72 cells, but both types will work in any building. Here are a few key differences:
- Commercial solar panels produce around 20% more energy, thanks to their extra cells.
- Commercial panels are also more expensive, as well as 20% larger and heavier.
- Residential 60-cell solar panels are easier to handle in home installations, which saves on labor, and their smaller size helps when roof dimensions are limited.
Some of the latest solar panel designs have half-cells with a higher efficiency, which means they have 120 cells instead of 60 (or 144 instead of 72). However, this doesn't change the dimensions of the panels.
Conclusion: Are Solar Panels Worth it for Your Home?
Solar panels produce no carbon emissions while operating. However, the EIA estimates fossil fuels still produce around 60% of the electricity delivered by U.S. power grids.
Although the initial investment in solar panels is steep, renewable energy systems make sense financially for many homeowners. According to the Department of Energy, they have a typical payback period of about 10 years, while their rated service life is up to 30 years. After recovering your initial investment, you will have a source of clean and free electricity for about two decades.
Plus, even if you have a large home or find you need more solar panels than you initially thought you would, keep in mind that there are both federal and local tax credits, rebates and other incentives to help you save on your solar power system.
To get a free, no-obligation quote and see how much a solar panel system would cost for your home, fill out the 30-second form below.
More and more homes are making energy efficiency a priority. Not only is it a responsible way to reduce your environmental impact, but it can equate to serious savings on energy bills every month. But what can be done to make your home more efficient? Alongside a home energy audit, a smart home energy monitor is an energy-saving tool that can make a big difference.
What is a smart home energy monitor?
A smart home energy monitor is a gadget that fits onto your home's electrical panel. The unit then monitors energy consumption throughout your home, showing you energy use patterns and even real-time data.
It gives you an accurate picture of the amount of energy that your home uses to help you break down your electric bill. A smart home energy monitor can even give you a baseline of electricity consumption when appliances are not in use, as well as data on how much energy individual appliances use. That can give you the type of specific data on your electricity usage needed to make the proper changes and upgrades within your home.
How does a smart home energy monitor work?
A smart home energy monitoring system is relatively simple. Start by attaching it to your home's breaker box. The device then works by not only monitoring the energy usage throughout the home, but by also identifying the unique energy signature of individual devices and appliances.
Depending on the type of monitor you choose, you can monitor energy levels when those appliances are on, how often they get used, what they cost per month to operate, and more. This gives you a comprehensive look into your electrical usage to help identify ways you can be more energy-efficient. Pairing a smart home energy monitor with other products like smart thermostats and smart plugs can help you take control of your home's day-to-day energy use.
Popular home energy monitor brands
Kitchen monitorMartinPrescott / Getty Images
Some of the most popular brands of home energy monitors include Sense, Eeydro, Efergy, Neurio, Smappee, and Emporia Energy. There are other brands out there too, but these are the biggest names. Below are more details on each one and the systems they offer.
The Sense Energy Monitor offers a simple way to keep track of your power usage. The brand offers both solar and standard variations that plug into just about any existing breaker panel with ease. The cool thing about this system is that it connects to a Sense app that provides real-time energy data whenever you want it.
The Sense will break down energy usage in ways that the average electric bill will not. This allows for a greater, more in-depth look at energy usage like never before. At $299.99, it is a bit on the pricey side, but it is one of the best options out there for detailed, real-time breakdowns of your home's power consumption and even includes goal-setting features and alerts.
The non-solar Eyedro sensors are a bit more cost effective, but there are limitations when compared to Sense. For one, connecting to your Wi-Fi is a lot more challenging as it will require ethernet connectivity or a wireless mesh setup. Additionally, it will not connect to any smart home devices or systems.
Still, Eyedro provides the same simple interface that shows a breakdown in energy output by device for real-time data and energy insights. You can set up daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly monitoring reports for a more controlled monitoring experience.
Efergy offers a wide selection of smart home energy monitors. These include online energy monitoring options that allow you track your energy use online and through an app, or systems that include a wireless home display. Efergy systems provide a cost-effective means of monitoring your home's electrical output.
Efergy sensors connect easily to any home electrical box for fast and easy installation that does not require an electrician. The sensor then transmits your energy data to a wireless display or Wi-Fi enabled hub.
The Efergy wireless displays offer a portable, compact interface to help you track your energy use. It can be placed anywhere in the home and uses its large memory to store data that can be observed monthly, weekly, or daily. It even has an audible alert that notifies in the event of excessive electrical usage.
The Neurio smart home energy monitor is another smart device that can monitor energy usage in real time. At $199.99, it is priced similarly to other top-of-the-line devices out there.
The Neurio W1 HEM home energy monitor provides 24/7 access and updates so that you can see the live impact of energy consumption in your home. It also features a simple installation process that takes only 15-20 minutes. The Neurio system could help you identify ways to save up to 20% of your energy use each month.
Smappee offers a top-of-the-line energy monitoring system on par with the Sense home energy monitor. The Smappee Infinity home energy monitor has some very impressive features that make it a great option. In addition to just monitoring your home's power meter, this system can also monitor your gas and water usage. It features smart control with dynamic load balancing.
The system features a modular design so you can add individual components to customize your system to your home. Plus, with the Smappee Switch and Smappee Output Module, you can control your appliances remotely and set up schedules to help lower energy use.
One of the most cost-efficient options, Emporia Energy monitoring systems can provide much of the same functionality and insights at a fraction of the price. The Gen 2 Emporia Vue Smart Home Energy Monitor delivers real-time data, alerts, goals, and more through a smart phone app available on iOS and Android devices. Available for $70 on Amazon, this is one of the most affordable whole-home systems out there.
The Emporia Vue app will even provide energy-saving recommendations to help homeowners reduce their energy usage and their carbon emissions each month. The company also offers a wireless Vue Utility Connect monitor, though this system is only available in certain states.
What to look for in a smart home energy monitor
Energy monitorMartinPrescott / Getty Images
There are a few crucial aspects when it comes to choosing the right smart home energy monitor. After all, you are trying to track the energy usage effectively and efficiently in your home. The better the tool, the more effectively that can happen, and the lower your electricity bill and energy consumption.
The most important factors to consider are appliance recognition, real-time cost tracking, mobile apps, solar energy capabilities, and the installation process.
Energy monitoring is great but if you don't know where the issues are it can be difficult to know where to make changes. With appliance recognition, you can track the energy usage in real-time of each individual appliance. This provides a better indication as to which appliances are lagging behind and may need replacing in the near or immediate future.
Real-time cost tracking
Each monitoring system will offer comprehensive tracking reports ranging from daily all the way up to yearly. But the best way to see the energy use impacts of your appliances and devices is through real-time cost tracking.
Understand in clear terms what each device costs to run and which ones may not be doing the most effective job. The great thing about this feature is you can start to see major spikes during the day, which can help you set better energy schedules. This is a highly-effective tool for reducing your energy usage through these monitors.
Access to our appliances and devices through our smart phones is crucial, and easier than ever. When using smart phone applications, users can monitor their home's energy usage live, make adjustments to settings, set alarms, and so much more. Those without apps work can still help you save energy, but don't provide the level of convenience and detail that you can get from those with mobile apps.
Solar energy capable
If you have upgraded your home with solar energy, be sure that you select smart home energy monitors that are capable of tracking how much energy your panels generate. This allows you to better understand the breakdown of your home's energy sources, specifically the ratio of solar vs. electric energy you are consuming.
Using a solar monitoring system can help you use less electricity to reduce your emissions and save you money.
Installation (professional or DIY)
Ease of installation matters as well. The more difficult the installation, the more likely it will require an electrician to do the job. While it is always better to have an electrician handle installation if you are not comfortable working with your electric panel, that is an additional cost. Keep that in mind when making your choice. Ease-of-installation is also important in case you ever want to add additional monitors, or features like smart plugs, to your system.
Benefits of Home Energy Monitoring
There are a few primary benefits to home energy monitoring. The chief among them is identifying areas or appliances that may be trouble spots so you can improve your home's energy efficiency.
This can help you save money on your bills and reduce your home's overall energy consumption. The right changes can equate to a few hundred dollars saved annually, and a smaller carbon footprint.
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).
Energy efficiency is more important than ever. Getting a home energy audit can be crucial for identifying any potential air leaks and other issues that could be keeping your energy use (and energy bills) high. Learn how a home energy audit can help you with energy efficiency upgrades to reduce your energy consumption.
What is a home energy audit?
A home energy audit, also referred to as a home energy assessment, helps you get a better idea of the amount of energy that your home uses. This audit provides you with a summary of your energy costs, how to save energy, and what renewable, energy-saving upgrades or repairs can help.
Scheduling a home energy audit should be the first step you take before making any sort of energy-saving improvements to your home. Renewable energy systems and energy-efficient appliances are more and more popular with homeowners, thanks to their limited energy consumption and the rebates offered for installing them. But before you install solar panels or a smart thermostat, make sure you get a home energy audit.
Do-it-yourself home energy audit
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Once you know what to look for, a preliminary home energy audit can be performed on a DIY basis. It is important, however, to know not only where to look but also the signs of energy inefficiency and how to test for them. Here are some of the main areas of the home and types of energy waste that you should examine.
Start by checking your windows, doors, outlets, and fixtures. These are external items on the perimeter of the house and the barriers between the temperature in your home and the outside environment. Get close and feel for any air leaks, and look for any damaged or missing weatherstripping.
Air leaks can result in elevated heating and cooling bills. The leaks can make it more difficult for your HVAC system to regulate temperature, requiring it to work much harder and expend much more energy to keep your home at a desired setting.
Insulation is crucial to energy efficiency. The proper insulation can keep heat out in the summer while retaining it in the winter. When insulation is old or begins to wear down, it does not do its job as effectively, leading to elevated energy usage.
Take a look at the insulation in your attic. If it looks old, degraded, or worn down, it may be time to swap it out for something more current and efficient.
Like anything else, your ventilation system can become dirty and damaged over time. Preventative cleaning should be done each year to ensure that the system does not become clogged with dirt and debris.
Cracks or holes, meanwhile, allow air to escape instead of being distributed throughout the home. Look your vents and registers over thoroughly. Clean where necessary to ensure more thorough airflow, and for any that are damaged and need replacing.
Heating and cooling systems and thermostats
This is one of the most crucial aspects behind energy consumption. Inefficient and outdated heating and cooling systems can elevate heating and cooling costs substantially. While each of these factors comes into play, the HVAC system may be the most important one.
Old and outdated systems need to run more often to keep your home warm or cool. They also are typically less efficient at using the energy or fuel they consume. The more work required, the more energy used. That is why it is important the check the efficiency of your HVAC system and upgrade if necessary. Specifically, look for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) to help determine the efficiency of the system. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends looking for central air conditioners with a SEER of at least 15. New systems, specifically ones that are ENERGY STAR certified, are built to optimize energy usage and use less energy to achieve better results than older systems.
Additionally, upgrading to a smart thermostat can help you make your home more energy efficient. Read the EcoWatch review of the best smart thermostats for more details.
The lighting in your home can play a multi-faceted role in energy consumption. In addition to the energy it uses to provide light, there is also the heat given off during use. Older bulbs not only require more energy to burn, but they give off much more heat. Both of these contribute towards elevated energy consumption.
New bulbs require less energy to provide brighter light and reduce the amount of heat given off at the same time. All of this equates to energy savings over those old, cheap, outdated lightbulbs. Plus, energy efficient LED bulbs last a lot longer, meaning you won't have to replace them as often.
Even your appliances can result in energy inefficiency. Like the other items on this list, older models tend to use more energy for the same tasks that a newer appliance could perform with a lot less energy.
Outdated refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines can use far more cold and hot water than is necessary, while old dryers can raise your energy costs significantly. Knowing your current usage levels versus what efficient appliances can offer today is key.
Professional Home Energy Audit
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While DIY home energy audits are fairly effective and cost less, there are benefits to a professional energy audit. Professionals have a trained eye for the details to spot and are likely to find smaller issues that you may miss. They also do a more thorough inspection, covering the entirety of the home, and have access to specialized equipment. To schedule a professional audit, you can contact your local service provider or a certified HVAC specialist. Here are some of the steps you can expect from a professional assessment.
A professional energy audit will start with a room-by-room inspection. Each room has its own set of vents, windows, etc. that can present different energy consumption challenges. Simply checking one room or your home's central systems is not enough to identify potential issues in the home. This inspection will help your professional narrow down the list of possible problems.
Exterior window and door inspection
Windows and doors can be a prime culprit for air leaks and flow issues. A home energy audit will inspect each of these points to ensure that they are properly sealed and are not letting out any warmed or cooled air. Improperly sealed windows, for instance, could be dragging down your home's energy efficiency and can be remedied at a much lower cost than something like an HVAC system.
Blower door test
The blower door test helps to identify air leaks through the use of a special fan that depressurizes the house. The blower door test is performed both before and after the process of air sealing to ensure that the process is effective.
A professional has the tools that most DIYers do not. The thermographic scan is a perfect example. Thermography uses an infrared camera to detect certain heat patterns in the home. That means identifying areas where heat escapes as well as pockets where airflow is restricted.
Combustion appliance inspection
Those with natural gas appliances – water heaters, furnaces, stoves, etc. – require a check to ensure that there is no loss of gas during use. Not only can those gas leaks lead to elevated energy costs, but they can be potentially dangerous. Having those appliances inspected is a good idea for saving on costs and ensuring that your home is safe from carbon monoxide.
Analysis of past energy bills
Another helpful tool is looking closely at past energy bills. This is good for not only identifying base levels of energy consumption but can also give insight as to periods where energy usage may be higher. This gives your auditor a better idea of what usage looks like for the home on a month-to-month basis, and where any inefficiencies may be.
What are the benefits of a home energy audit?
There are two primary benefits of home energy audits: improved energy efficiency and lower energy bills. By performing the necessary upgrades, your home can reduce the amount of energy you use and save you money on your monthly energy bills.
Use less energy
Energy savings can vary on the changes made. According to the Department of Energy, a new HVAC system can save you anywhere from 20-40% on heating and cooling costs annually. Lightbulbs in particular can be quite efficient. New LED bulbs, depending on the type, can use anywhere from 25-80% less energy than standard incandescent lightbulbs.
Even if your overall energy consumption is reduced by 10% per month, the total amount of energy saved annually is nothing to scoff at. Newer appliances and systems can keep your home comfortable while reducing your footprint at the same time. Plus, many smart products allow you to control and monitor your home remotely with mobile apps.
Save more money
Energy-efficient windows can provide a savings of $101-$583 per year when replacing single-pane windows. A new heating and cooling system can save you hundreds of dollars. Lightbulbs will have a much more long-term impact, but shouldn't be overlooked.
No matter how you cut it, there are massive savings to be had both monthly and annually from a more energy-conscious home. Certain upgrades have larger impacts than others, but there is no doubt that upgrading to energy-efficient lightbulbs, HVAC systems, windows, etc. can play a major role in your finances and energy conservation.
How to use your home energy audit
So, what do you do with the findings of your home energy audit? The primary takeaway is what appliances or areas of the home need to be upgraded. Any leaks will need to be addressed and any worn out insulation, roofing, or siding replaced.
Another focus should be upgrading to ENERGY STAR certified appliances, installing renewable or high-efficiency HVAC systems or water heaters, smart light fixtures, smart thermostats, and more. The number of energy-efficient products available today is very extensive, making it easy to find affordable ways to reduce your energy consumption.
What to look for when upgrading your home
When making energy-efficient upgrades to the home, it is important to not use just any old replacement materials. Look for products and appliances that have the following certifications: ENERGY STAR, LEED Certified, Green Seal, Rainforest Alliance, or FSC-Certified. Each of these gives you the promise that you are getting the most energy-efficient and environmentally responsible materials available. When it comes to water usage, check for the EPA WaterSense seal.
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Honeywell is one of the most well-recognized names in the heating and cooling industry. They offer a range of different smart thermostat options, each providing its own set of functions and features with the Honeywell Home app. See how much energy you could save with their smart thermostats.
How we review smart thermostats
To review smart home thermostats, we evaluate each brand on the following areas:
- Mobile app - What kind of functionality does the brand's mobile app give you? Is it compatible with other smart devices or systems like Amazon Alexa?
- Energy savings - How much will you save on your monthly energy usage with the thermostat? We look for products and devices that carry the ENERGY STAR seal for the most-efficient products.
- Installation - How long does it take to install the thermostat? Is it DIY or does it require professional installation?
- Price - How much does the thermostat cost and how does that pricing compare with any potential savings on your energy bill?
- Learning capability - Does the Wi-Fi thermostat learn your routines and preferences automatically, or is it programmable?
- Warranty - Does the brand offer a warranty on the thermostat, and if so how long does the warranty last?
Honeywell smart thermostats
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission
The T10 Pro Smart Thermostat is one of the more popular offerings from Honeywell. It is a touch-screen smart home thermostat that helps provide energy savings and by working with their RedLINK Room Sensors to detect motion and focus heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and humidification in occupied rooms.
Why buy - The Honeywell T10 has been shown to reduce pockets of warm and cool air that can make for uneven air distribution. Installation is very easy so long as you have a "C" wire connection. For ease of use and consistent energy-saving functionality, the Honeywell T10 is an excellent option.
Price - Through Honeywell, the T10 Pro Smart Thermostat requires you to contact a pro for pricing. Through third-party retailers like Amazon, however, the thermostat is priced around $180. Compared to the Google Nest and ecobee SmartThermostat, this is a slightly cheaper option to provide energy savings for most modern HVAC systems. There are some third parties that offer installation, which can increase the total price to $239.00.
Warranty - All Honeywell products come with a manufacturer warranty of 24 months. The warranty can be determined by the product date code. The only exception to the 24-month period is the hardwire contacts with comes with a 5-year warranty. The warranty covers defects in workmanship under typical use.
How it works - The Honeywell T10 works with most modern HVAC systems to make energy usage more efficient during heating and cooling. This is achieved through programmable scheduling, which ensures that the HVAC system is running only when it needs to be. Traditional HVAC systems may have fans that run continuously, raising energy costs along the way. The T10 Pro works with Honeywell's RedLINK sensors and the Honeywell Home app to learn your routine so it can adjust energy use to be more efficient.
Mobile app - You can control Honeywell smart thermostat with the Honeywell Home app. The T10 Pro Smart Thermostat works with the app's geofencing capability to detect when you are out of the house to reduce energy usage. The app also allows you to remotely adjust the temperature and provides alerts about temperature changes or when it's time to change the filter. The T10 also features compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and IFTTT.
Energy savings - The Honeywell T10 thermostat is ENERGY STAR certified. That means it has met the stringent standards required by ENERGY STAR to ensuring that energy usage is reduced for greater energy-saving capabilities. This can vary based on home size and HVAC system.
Installation - Like most smart home thermostats, the Honeywell T10 can be installed by a professional or can be done as a simple do-it-yourself project. Those looking to perform a DIY installation can expect it to take around 30-45 minutes from start to finish.
There are a lot of similarities between the Honeywell T9 and T10 Pro, making it difficult to determine the true difference at first glance. There are a couple of important distinctions, however, between the two that make the difference. The T9 thermostat works with Honeywell Smart Room Sensors to help customize your energy usage for different rooms in your home.
Why buy - The differences between the T9 and T10 are minimal. The former comes with a C-wire adapter for easier installation while the latter does not. The T10, however, controls ventilation, humidification, and dehumidification whereas the T9 does not. For easier installation and a lower price, but more limited features, the T9 is your choice.
Price - The T9 is slightly most cost-effective than the T10. Ranging between $140 and $180 depending on where you buy it, it is slightly cheaper than the T10. For those looking to get the smart thermostat experience without paying more than $200, the T9 makes for an excellent option.
Warranty - All Honeywell products come with a manufacturer warranty of 24 months. See the details on the warranty in the T10 Pro review for more information.
How it works - Like the T10, the Honeywell T9 uses touch screen functionality, a Wi-Fi connection, and the brand's smart phone app to provide convenience and home energy-saving capabilities. Users can complete the initial setup and then create custom heating schedules that fit their needs, cutting down on energy usage along the way. You can also install Smart Room Sensors that will allow the thermostat to adjust temperatures based on your routine. Best of all, it is meant to fit most current HVAC systems for ease of installation.
Mobile app - Using the Honeywell app, which is compatible with a variety of Honeywell smart thermostats and devices, users can create custom heating and cooling schedules with just a few taps. It also allows you to check current temperatures, access the features and settings remotely, and more. Initial setup is done on the unit itself but it can be controlled remotely from that point on.
Energy savings - The Honeywell T9 is also ENERGY STAR certified. That means you can use the T9 thermostat to make more efficient use of your home's energy and see savings on your bill each month. Pair with Smart Room Sensors for optimal performance and efficiency.
Installation - Like the T10, the Honeywell T9 can be installed either by a professional or as a do-it-yourself project. There are some third-party retailers that will offer installation as part of the price. Those looking to perform the installation on their own can expect a 20-30 minute installation as the "C" wire comes with the unit.
Honeywell T5 Programmable
It may seem that all smart thermostats are created the same. There are, however, some more basic options meant to deliver energy-saving functionality at an affordable price. The Honeywell T5 programmable thermostat can help you use energy more wisely with its smart response learning feature that allows it to remember your temperature preferences so it can adjust automatically.
Why buy - Those looking for simplicity in their smart thermostat without breaking the bank will like the Honeywell T5. It offers learning capabilities and a large, bright display that makes it easy to program. Despite the lack of a smart phone app, users can create custom schedules in no time.
Price - The Honeywell T5 is much more cost-effective than the T9 and T10. Officially priced at just over $75, it can be purchased through third-party retailers for as little as $60. Compared to $150-$200 of some smart thermostats, it is one of the more cost-efficient options on the market.
Warranty - All Honeywell products come with a manufacturer warranty of 24 months. See the details on the warranty in the T10 Pro review for more information.
How it works - The Honeywell T5 has a basic backlit display that allows for setting the time, showing current temperatures, and even showing the temperature set point. The T5 also learns heating and cooling run times for proper scheduling.
Mobile app - The downside to the T5 is that it does not have remote access. There is no app functionality for the T5 and all programming and changes must be done at the console. Because it is more cost-effective than some of the other Honeywell thermostats, it is missing the ever-popular remote functionality.
Energy savings - Though the Honeywell T5 is not ENERGY STAR certified, there are energy-saving capabilities. Factoring in size of the home as well as the age of the HVAC system, you can still save up to 10% annually on your heating and cooling bill with a programmable thermostat.
Installation - The Honeywell T5 comes with standard mounting hardware and a quick install guide. Users can expect about 30 minutes of installation time for even the most novice of users.
Similar to the T10 in a lot of ways, the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat has a few distinct differences. This thermostat features a touchscreen with customizable full-color display and works with the Honeywell Home app, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.
Why buy - This is the Honeywell smart thermostat with all the bells and whistles. Users can set custom schedules, control settings, and do just about anything else through the smart phone app. It also features custom learning, picking up on heating and cooling schedules accordingly to maximize your energy efficiency.
Price - The Wi-Fi Smart Color is similar in price to the T10, officially listed at $170. You can find it through third-party retailers for around $130. Combined with installation packages from third-party retailers, users can expect a price tag of around $229.99 with installation included.
Warranty - Though most Honeywell products have a 24-month warranty, the Wi-Fi Smart Color thermostat only has a 12-month limited warranty. It is meant to cover against manufacturer defects and issues arising from regular usage.
How it works - The Wi-Fi Smart Color has a big, beautiful color touchscreen display. Users can program a variety of 7-day schedules, set time and temperature, and just about anything else from the bright panel. It works with your home's current HVAC system to properly manage heating and cooling schedules for greater energy savings, and its smart response technology lets it automatically adapt your energy use to your schedule.
Mobile app - The Wi-Fi Smart Color thermostat makes use of the Honeywell Home smart phone app. Users can program 7-day schedules, adjust current temperature settings, change modes, and control the fan all through the smart app interface.
Installation - As is the case with other Honeywell smart thermostats, both professional and DIY installation are available. With the quick install kit, users can conservatively expect 25-30 minutes of installation should they do it themselves.
Additional Honeywell smart home products
Both room sensors are meant to detect the temperature in individual rooms in the home. Because there can be pockets of air that are warmer or cooler than the rest of the home, the smart sensor works to detect them and mitigate the difference. They also offer occupancy detection to help direct your HVAC system's energy to the rooms that need it. The RedLINK sensor also offers humidity detection.
Honeywell thermostat energy rebates
Depending on your energy provider, there may be smart home energy rebates available. These rebates will cover some or all of the costs of Honeywell smart thermostat. For more information, check with your energy provider to see what, if any, rebates they offer.
ecobee's line of smart thermostats can help to provide energy savings for a variety of different HVAC systems. Their thermostats provide intelligent automation for your heating and cooling system, allowing you to reduce your energy usage while staying comfortable. Keep reading for a breakdown of the different ecobee smart thermostat options.
How we review smart thermostats
To review smart thermostats, we evaluate each one on the following categories and features:
- Mobile app - Can you control the device with a mobile app, and what kind of functionality does the app give you? Is it compatible with other smart home products?
- Energy savings - How much energy can the thermostat help you save? We look for products and devices that carry the ENERGY STAR seal for the most-efficient products.
- Installation - Is the thermostat meant for DIY installation or does it require professional installation?
- Price - How is the smart thermostat priced compared to other brands, and how does this compare to the amount of money you could save on your energy bill?
- Learning capability - Does the thermostat learn your heating and cooling preferences automatically, or do you have to program them?
- Warranty - Does the brand offer a warranty, and if so how long does the warranty cover your thermostat?
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission
ecobee smart thermostats
ecobee makes a line of small, efficient programmable thermostats meant to maximize energy-efficiency. These smart thermostats feature touch functionality, remote access, and a variety of options that allow for greater control over home heating and cooling. And similar to the Nest Learning Thermostat, Ecobee thermostats can learn your routines to better maximize your energy savings.
ecobee smart thermostat
The ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control provides maximum energy efficiency and ease-of-use compared to old thermostats. Voice commands makes it easier to program settings, control schedules, and change temperatures at a moment's notice all without having to leave your seat. Plus, the advanced eco+ system learns how to best heat and cool your home when energy costs are at their lowest while also reducing the strain on power grids.
Why buy - Being able to create custom schedules is a major selling point for smart thermostats, but being able to control all of those same things through voice functionality is an even bigger benefit. Plus, thanks to its eco+ system the ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control is the EcoWatch pick for best energy-saving smart thermostat.
Price - The ecobee SmartThermostat, technically the ecobee 5 of its line of products, is one of the more costly units on the market, priced at $250.
Warranty - ecobee products come with a three-year limited warranty from the date of purchase. The warranty protects against any defects in workmanship or materials that can occur under normal use. It does not, however, cover damage done through abnormal or excessive use. Details of the warranty will also depend on who you purchase the unit from.
How it works - There are a variety of ways that users can get greater energy-efficiency and savings. Users can program through the touch screen on the unit itself at any time. There is also a smart phone app that allows for programming and control remotely. Finally, the voice functionality provides programming without either of those things. Users can simply voice their commands to change temperature, set a schedule and more. It also includes an ecobee SmartSensor with occupancy detection to help control your energy use.
Mobile app - ecobee offers an app for controlling their smart thermostats. Users are able to gain all of the control and functionality that they normally would through the touch screen panel with the convenience of being able to make changes remotely. It is a higher level of control and convenience than ever before. While the thermostat comes with Amazon Alexa built in, it is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings.
Energy savings - The Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control is ENERGY STAR certified. That means it has been tested for optimal energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR ratings indicate that said product can offer additional energy savings than others on the market. Users can expect to save 23% annually on their energy bills by using the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control. This can vary slightly depending on the age of the current HVAC system as well as the size of the home.
Installation - Installation can either be performed by a third-party retailer or done in a do-it-yourself project. Those attempting a DIY installation will find an installation guide accompany the thermostat. Standard installation will generally take about 45 minutes, though that can vary depending on the experience and general handiness of the person involved.
Depending on budgets, going with a brand-new smart thermostat may not necessarily be an option. That is why having access to a refurbished smart thermostat can be a viable option. Plus, choosing a refurbished model is sustainable choice that saves e-waste and saves you money. Note, you may be able to find new ecobee4 models through third-party retailers.
Why buy - Each refurbished ecobee4 provides top-of-the-line smart thermostat functionality without paying the premium that comes with a brand new unit. Built-in Alexa functionality means you have voice control of your thermostat with your Amazon Echo or smart home for complete smart home functionality.
Price - The $185-$200 price tag, combined with the "refurbished" tag, may sound scary. But there are a lot of functions, features, and things included that could make this a potentially great buy for those hoping to find a quality smart thermostat while reducing waste and cost. If you do find a new model through a third-party retailer, you will pay more than for a refurbished model.
Warranty - When purchased directly through ecobee, the ecobee4 comes with a limited three-year warranty. Like other ecobee devices, that includes protection against manufacturer defects as well as issues that occur through regular use. As is the case with other warranties, it will not cover irregular or improper use, so check the details on the warranty before use.
How it works - The ecobee 4 includes a ton of smart features. Programmable schedules for heating and cooling, touch-screen and app functionality, and a smart-learning function that adapts to your heating and cooling needs. Even better, it comes built-in with Alexa for voice control functionality and compatibility with Amazon Alexa smart home units. Every refurbished thermostat undergoes a rigorous recertification process and must pass the same quality assurance tests that a brand new thermostat does.
Mobile app - ecobee offers a smart device app for ios and Android devices that gives you greater accessibility and control. In addition to Alexa and touch-screen functionality, the smart phone app allows for remote access at any time so long as it is a device on the same Wi-Fi network. That means convenient use whenever, wherever the user desires.
Energy savings - The ecobee4, even when refurbished, is ENERGY STAR certified. Users have experienced a whopping 23% energy savings on their heating and cooling bill through the use of the ecobee4, making this brand one of the best for smarter energy use at home.
Installation - As is the case with other ecobee smart thermostat models, you have the option for professional installation as well as do-it-yourself installation. There is an accompanying quick installation guide, allowing for proper installation within 45 minutes depending on the experience level of the user.
The ecobee3 lite brings a lot of the same features and functionality that the ecobee4 offers at a slightly more cost-effective price. When looking for advanced temperature control, voice functionality, and energy savings, the ecobee3 lite has you covered. This model does not include any SmartSensor occupancy sensors.
Why buy - The large, easy-to-use display, smart phone app functionality, and even Alexa voice control mean that users can control their heating and cooling from anywhere. Plus, ecobee's advanced eco+ system allows the 3rd gen system to heat and cool your home when energy prices are lowest and when it will cause the least amount of strain on electric grids.
Price - At $170, it is slightly less expensive than even a refurbished ecobee4, as well as some of Google Nest and Honeywell's smart thermostat options. With professional installation, expect all costs to be about $200, though it can vary based on the installer.
Warranty - The ecobee3 lite is covered by a three-year limited warranty from ecobee. During that period, it covers the device from manufacturer defects and workmanship under regular service and normal use. Any improper use or lack of maintenance can void the warranty, so be aware before using.
How it works - Users have a multitude of ways to use the ecobee3 lite to save on their energy costs. Working with most modern HVAC systems, the ecobee3 lite works to limit the amount of energy used when heating and cooling the home through its eco+ system. This means it will use energy when costs are cheapest and will avoid using energy when demand is high to prevent extra strain on grids. It also includes an AC Overcool feature that can use your air conditioner to help lower the humidity in your home if you don't have a dehumidifier.
Mobile app - ecobee's smart phone app lets users program settings, create schedules, and even adjust current temperatures in real time. Remote functionality means that users do not need to be within range of voice control nor do they have to use the control panel to implement heating and cooling changes.
Installation - Though there are professional installers who can do the job, the ecobee3 lite comes with a quick install guide. Depending on the experience and general handiness of the person involved, it can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes from beginning to end.
Additional ecobee smart home products
ecobee smart thermostat products are designed to work with the ecobee SmartSensor. These remote sensors works to detect temperatures in individual rooms, like your living room or bedroom, helping to eliminate pockets of air that are too warm or cold. These room sensors can help make your system even more energy efficient.
ecobee thermostat energy rebates
Your local energy provider may offer rebates for using energy efficient smart thermostats. Check with them to see if there are rebates offered that may cover some or all of the costs of an ecobee smart thermostat.
ecobee smart thermostat FAQs
What is ecobee eco+?
The ecobee eco+ software takes their smart thermostats to a new level beyond just geofencing. It can actually detect when you have left your home, adjusting the settings to limit energy usage when you are not around. When you come back, it restores your comfort settings to the pre-set schedule and even learns your routine and preferences to keep you comfortable automatically. It also helps reduce strains on the electric grid in your area by using energy when it is cheaper to heat and cool your home. ecobee smart thermostats can save around 23% on energy usage with the eco+ capable of saving even more thanks to this unique function.
Do ecobee thermostats come with Alexa?
Depending on the type of ecobee smart thermostat that you purchase, it may or may not come with Alexa functionality built-in. Alexa-compatible units allow for pairing with Amazon Echo smart home devices for voice control functionality. That means users can set programming and schedules through the console, app, or voice function.
Google and its line of Nest thermostats are designed to provide energy efficiency and ease of use. With the ability to control it from a smart phone, users can get the precise temperature that they want with just a few taps. Best of all, they are compatible with most HVAC systems, allowing for easy installation. Learn how a Nest smart home thermostat can help make your home more eco-friendly.
How We Review Smart Thermostats
When evaluating smart home thermostats, we look at the following categories and features:
- Mobile App - Can you control the device remotely through a mobile app, and what kind of functionality does the app give you? Is it compatible with other smart devices or systems?
- Energy Savings - How much energy can you save by installing this device in your home? We look for products and devices that carry the ENERGY STAR seal for the most-efficient products.
- Installation - What are the installation options for the device? Is it DIY or does it require professional installation?
- Price - How is the product priced compared to other brands and the amount of money you could save on your energy bill?
- Learning capability - Does the thermostat learn your preferences automatically, or do you have to program them yourself?
- Warranty - Does the brand offer a warranty on the product, and if so how long does the warranty cover your device?
The 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat is a smart thermostat that is compatible with most modern smart home applications and Wi-Fi networks. Compared to your old thermostat, the Nest Learning Thermostat can help you conserve energy while keeping your home comfortable.
Why Buy? - The Google Nest Learning thermostat provides exceptional energy-saving capability and is compatible with most modern HVAC systems. Users can get convenient, easy usage while seeing a reduction in their monthly energy bill. Plus, it allows you to choose the look you want at checkout with a number of different ring option, including stainless steel, brass, and copper finishes.
How it Works - The Nest Learning thermostat works by connecting to your HVAC system and optimizing your energy usage. It is meant to save energy by making the system more efficient, reducing the need to leave it running constantly. Best of all? It learns your habits, creating pre-sets that can match your preferred heating and cooling settings based on your schedule. It uses energy to keep you comfortable when you're there, and then reduces energy consumption when you're not.
Mobile App - One of the key features of any smart thermostat is the ability to control the temperature in your home from anywhere. The Learning Thermostat puts you in control with the Nest app, which you can download for ios or Android devices. The app provides you with HVAC monitoring through reports on your energy history that you can use to increase your efficiency. You can also connect your Nest thermostat to the Google Home app, which lets you control all of your smart home devices in one place.
Energy Savings - Google Nest thermostats come ENERGY STAR certified. What does that mean? In addition to improved energy usage, you can be certain that it is highly-rated and meant to be one of the industry's best at conserving energy usage according to the Environmental Protection Agency. On average, the Google Nest can conservatively save 10-12% on heating as well as 15% on cooling. Given average energy costs, that can mean a savings of $130-$145 each year.
Installation - The good news is that the Google Nest Learning thermostat can be installed by a professional or you can install it yourself. The installation is relatively easy, taking an estimated 20-30 minutes to complete, and it even comes with the screwdriver and screws you'll need. These smart home thermostats are compatible with most heating and cooling systems, making it as simple as running a compatibility check and installing. For older homes, there may be compatibility issues so make sure to check before purchasing.
Price - The price, like anything, varies depending on where you get it. Through Google, the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat is $249.99. Through secondary retailers, it can be obtained for around $200. Purchasing directly through the manufacturer (Google) ensures the warranty is intact.
Warranty - Through Google itself, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat covers manufacturer defects or labor for up to 3 years. The length of the warranty depends on the model of Nest thermostat that is purchased, with the Nest Learning Thermostat being covered for 3 years. It is to be understood that the manufacturer may replace parts with other suitable replacements if there are no original parts available.
The Google Nest thermostat is a similar offering to the Learning Thermostat. It is meant to provide energy savings and convenience to home heating and cooling systems. The programmable thermostat installs easily and can even be accessed through a smart phone application.
Why Buy? - The Google Nest thermostat is very similar to the Nest Learning option. The good news is that it is a cheaper alternative that delivers similar energy savings, ENERGY STAR certification, and basic functionality. For those looking to save a little bit on a quality smart programmable thermostat, the Nest is a perfectly suitable alternative.
How it Works - Though there are a lot of similarities between the Nest and the Nest Learning thermostats, there are important distinctions. The Nest is "simpler" in a lot of ways. For one, it won't learn your behavior and set automatic schedules.
It also has a different display (the Learning Thermostat has Farsight technology that detects when you are in the room) and won't work with the Nest Temperature Sensor. The Nest also does not have the internal battery backup that the Learning does, making it susceptible to power outages. However, it does still allow you to control your thermostat remotely and to optimize your home's energy consumption for heating and cooling with home/away settings.
Mobile App - Like the the Nest Learning option, the Nest has its own app that users can install on smart devices. Basic functionality and even initial setup can be handled through the app, creating greater ease of use for your new Nest thermostat. The Nest uses the same Google Nest app that the Learning Thermostat does, making it easy to transition between the two.
Energy Savings - The Nest Thermostat offers similar energy savings as the Learning Thermostat option, roughly 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling per year.
Installation - Like the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest thermostat can be installed by a professional or done as a quick do-it-yourself project. Those wishing to install on their own can follow Google's installation guide, with estimated installation times ranging from 20-30 minutes.
Price - At $199.99, the Nest is slightly more affordable than the Nest Learning Thermostat. As is the case with the Learning Thermostat, it can be found for slightly less through trusted retailers. The difference will likely be the warranty offerings.
Warranty - Google offers limited warranties on all of their thermostat devices. The Nest warranty is covered for 1 year. It covers limited part replacement, including the manufacturer option to replace original parts with select compatible parts.
Additional Nest Products
The Nest and Nest Learning thermostats are not stand-alone products. There are accessories that can be integrated with these models to provide a better heating and cooling experience than they may offer on their own.
Nest Temperature Sensor
No matter what type of HVAC system that you have, it sometimes doesn't evenly heat or cool each room in your home. So, what do you do when there are rooms in your home that are a little warmer or colder than the others?
The Nest Temperature Sensor is meant to help with that. The Nest Temperature Sensor goes into individual rooms in the home and works in tandem with the Nest thermostat. By detecting the temperature in those rooms, your smart thermostat can better distribute heat or cold air, accordingly, providing a more even air distribution. That means no pockets where the temperature is noticeably different than the rest of the home. This also helps prevent your system from working extra hard, and using extra energy, to make up for those differences.
Nest Hub for Voice Control
You can pair the Google Nest thermostat with Google Assistant through the Nest Hub or Nest Mini, or most any smart speaker. You can also connect your Nest thermostat to Amazon Alexa to implement voice control into your smart thermostat experience. This lets you adjust the temperature without having to go to the thermostat yourself.
Additionally, Nest offers smart home products like the Nest Cams, motion sensors, video doorbells, and more that you can integrate into your smart home system.
Nest Thermostat Energy Rebates
The Google Nest line of thermostats are meant to provide energy savings and efficiency to users. In addition to making HVAC systems more efficient, they make temperature control far more convenient and easier.
Additionally, there are potential energy rebates to be had by using the Google Nest thermostat line. Your local energy provider may even potentially offer you a Nest thermostat, since it is ENERGY STAR certified, at no additional cost. Check with your local provider and see what programs and rewards that they may have available.
Smart Thermostat FAQs
What is a Smart Thermostat?
A smart thermostat is meant to give the user greater control over the temperature control in their home. Moreover, it is meant to provide energy savings by making smarter use of the HVAC system or heat pump, resulting in lower energy bills and usage.
Additionally, a smart thermostat is meant to provide greater ease of use. Traditional thermostats not only have a much more limited set of features and functionality, they must be programmed at the unit. Smart thermostats are often times compatible with smart phones and tablets, allowing the user to program features remotely.
What to Look for When Buying a Smart Thermostat
There are a few things worth considering when buying a smart thermostat. Energy savings are the most important; after all, it is one of the primary reasons for buying a smart thermostat in the first place.
Moreover, convenience and number of options are an important consideration. That means ease of smart phone app use, how quickly you can program the thermostat, and the individual room functionality that it provides.
How Much Energy Can a Smart Thermostat Save?
On average, the Google Nest thermostat and its various incarnations can expect to save anywhere from 10-15% on annual energy usage. For most average-sized homes, that equates to about $130-$145 saved on energy bills each year.
This number can vary based on a couple of factors. The size of home is important as larger homes will have greater energy needs. Secondly, it depends on the condition of your HVAC systems. Old and outdated systems may still be compatible with the Nest, but may have certain limitations on their efficiency to begin with.
What Other Smart Home Products Help Save Energy?
Smart thermostats are a great way to cut down on the energy needed to heat and cool the home. But what else can help save energy usage? Smart products typically involve some sort of scheduling system to ensure that they run only when needed.
Smart plugs can help you manage your home's appliances to optimize their energy consumption, and smart lighting can ensure that you are conserving energy when no one is home.
For those who frequently care for their gardens, a smart sprinkler system can be beneficial. Save on water, set watering schedules, and reduce the amount of water needed to keep the yard healthy. Similar to a smart thermostat, a smart sprinkler system can save 10-20% on water usage in a given year depending on the size of the property.
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