It’s that time of year again, the time when the heat index reaches unbearable heights, your air conditioner hums all day long and your energy bill skyrockets. You may think there’s only so much you can do about that last one. After all, you don’t want to sit around your home and profusely sweat, but you also don’t wither away in the great outdoors.
Fortunately, there’s a way to tamp down those costs and get those energy savings: smart home technology.
Home automation actually has a history that dates back to 1975, when a Scottish company introduced X10, a protocol that could control various household appliances. It wasn’t until the proliferation of the Internet, though, that smart home devices also began to grow popular. In 2015, just over one-third of those surveyed by The Harris Poll said they have at least one smart home device, most being wireless speaker systems.
And, as of late, they have gained traction because they’re convenient and energy efficient.
For some, the biggest downside is that this technology can easily add up. But, while smart home devices will be an investment on the front end, they can wind up saving you money over their lifespan.
So how do they work? Connect the devices to your Kinetic Internet, and you’ll be able to control them remotely with your smartphone or smart speaker.
That means if you’ve forgotten to turn something on or off, you can do so remotely. And, many smart devices include monitoring that allows users to take a look back at their own usage and adjust accordingly.
Starting to see how smart home tech will bring you energy savings?
As always, our Kinetic by Windstream team is here to help, and we’re bringing you these five ways to save energy at your home. And, yes, they’re all smart home related.
1. Smart Thermostats
Heating and cooling make up about half of your entire energy consumption at home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 2016, the average monthly electricity consumption for the average American household was 897 kilowatt-hours, and those households shelled out an average of $122.59 a month for their electrical bills, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
It’s pretty easy to see that if you’re looking to make the biggest splash in energy savings, heating and cooling will do the trick. Check out Nest Learning thermostats, which are Energy-Star certified. Nest thermostats will learn what temperature you prefer at what times and will automatically adjust to fit your schedule. If your schedule gets off kilter, you can adjust temperatures from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Other Energy-Star certified thermostats can also detect when no one is home and can automatically adjust temperatures.
2. Smart Water Treatments
The third biggest consumer of your home energy is water heating. What comes to mind first, of course, is your regular water usage, whether that’s your laundry loads or that warm shower. Believe it or not, there are now smart water heaters that can, among other things, detect leaks early and have built-in features, such as energy saver and high-demand modes that allow for hot water when needed while using less energy overall. Other energy-saving smart home devices to consider include sprinkler systems, pool pumps and pool heaters.
3. Smart Lighting
The U.S. Department of Energy says the average household dedicates 5 percent of its energy budget to lighting. Try Philips Hue lights, which you can control through your smartphone, tablet or laptop, along with voice apps, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, should you need to turn off your lights remotely. You can also gain energy savings by dimming these lights without any other installation or setting them on a timer. The lights are also color-customizable as one Fortune editor programmed her Hue lights to turn red when she received a text from her boss. Other Hue lighting products can mimic the daytime or nighttime and have motion-sensor capabilities.
4. Smart Plugs
Smart plugs, like this one from Belkin, fit right into the outlet in your home’s walls. Plug your appliances, beauty products or even your lights into this smart device to control them from wherever you are. If you desperately need a cup of coffee by the time you get home from work, connect your coffee maker with the smart plug and — provided you have the ground beans and water already in there — it’ll be waiting for you. Or, if your daughter has left her hair straightener on in the rush to get her to school, turn it off from work. Some of these devices can also be paired with Nest Home-Away controls and voice apps.
5. Smart Appliances
Refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners, oh my! Many of these appliances already have touch-screens. Some come equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities, so there’s no need to buy more parts. Take, for example, smart refrigerators. Capabilities differ by product and brand, but some now allow you to create a grocery list on the appliance and have that uploaded to the same list accessible by your smartphone. Other fridges include a camera so you can see what you already have and what you might have missed. They’re now able to connect to your television shows or music for the ultimate cooking experience.
The Smart Home market is only going to grow, according to forecasts, and with the convenience of it all — and the possibility of cutting costs by saving energy — it’s to be expected.
Remember that smart home devices typically require a connection to your home Wi-Fi system. So, as you’re adding more of this home automation, you’ll want an Internet connection well-equipped to handle the extra work. That’s where Kinetic Gig comes into play. With unlimited Internet and speeds up to one gig, you won’t have to sacrifice any of your entertainment interests because of your newfound obsession over smart home devices!