Manage Your Energy Costs with Home Automation

by Bryn HuntpalmerJune 9, 2016

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It’s almost summer, so you’re probably starting to think about the beach you’ll be laying your towel down on this season. Soon, you’ll be surrounded by jewel-colored waves and warm sun, with no email to check and no phone calls to take for at least a few days. Unfortunately, the coming warm weather also means a real hike in your energy costs, making those sun-toasted beaches seem farther and farther away.

Unpredictable fluctuations in temperature can really drive up energy costs in the spring and summer. Since your thermostat is a temperature regulator, it has to work harder every time you turn that dial up or down. Meanwhile, if you do manage to make it to your dream destination this summer but a cold front comes in while you’re away, it can affect your energy costs when you return. Suddenly that high setting of 80 degrees won’t be quite the energy smart move it was before you left.

Home automation tools, especially smart thermostats, are here to save you from these kinds of unexpected shifts in home energy consumption. Let’s take a look at some of the most useful devices.
Image of smart house home automation device illustration with app icons

Smart Thermostats

King of the smart devices, connected and “learning” smart thermostats can save you oodles of money. How much? The Department of Energy estimates that a programmable thermostat, when used correctly, could save as much as $180 a year—that could extend your vacation by a whole night! However, when popular brand Nest analyzed its internal findings, based on tracked data from participants in its MyEnergy program, it found that that number was more like $131 to $145 a year. Still, that’s a good chunk of change—and you’ll likely see more dramatic savings if you live in an area with high highs or low lows. Plus, smart thermostats get points for simplicity. Instead of having to remember to turn your manual thermostat up and down, smart thermostats automate the process, and can provide suggestions for even more savings. That gives you plenty of time to spend shopping for a new bathing suit instead.

Automated Lighting

Lights on, lights off—it’s kind of a pain to remember to turn the lights off in every room when you leave. Meanwhile, it’s equally annoying to stumble around in the dark when you get home at night. And if you think those left-on lights don’t add up on your utility bills, you’re mistaken—lighting costs make up a whopping 20% of home energy costs. Automated lights with smart motion sensors can tell when a room is occupied, or dim spaces when you leave. They also let you program and control lights from afar—so you can come back home to a well-lit house ready to welcome you in.

Home Hubs

If you’re perpetually forgetful, one of the best benefits of home automation technology is the ability to tell if a device is left on. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had the sudden, surging fear that I might have left the house with the stove still going. The dust is still settling around these home hub systems, but the best of these devices integrate several controls into one—so you can manage your garage door as easily as you can program your TV recording. They help homeowners save tons of money by powering down appliances and devices when they’re not in use, leaving you lots of extra cash. Maybe it’s time to upgrade to first class?


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About The Author
Bryn Huntpalmer
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.

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