5 Ways Technology Can Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
For many Americans, energy efficiency is an important consideration when it comes to buying or renovating a home. An energy-efficient home offers not only a greener, more sustainable lifestyle —it also maximizes ease, comfort, and cash savings.
The US Department of Energy estimates that the average household can save up to nearly $1,200 per year with some simple energy-efficient improvements. To get started, hire a professional energy auditor to assess your home’s energy use and identify possible upgrades to improve efficiency and reduce your monthly bill—or perform a do-it-yourself inspection focusing on some of the most common ways your home could be wasting energy.
Newer, thicker insulation and better weatherstripping are a few of the low-tech solutions homeowners often implement after an energy audit. At the same time, advances in technology now offer simple and empowering solutions to the problem of energy waste. From inexpensive gadgets to complete home automation, tech plays a significant role in greener living. Here are some of the top ways tech can make your home more energy efficient.
Find the Perfect Temperature with a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are key when it comes to energy efficiency, comfort, and convenience. Turning your regular thermostat down a few degrees may save you a few dollars, but an automated device capable of learning your preferences provides energy savings upwards of 30 percent. Many smart thermostats discover patterns in your preferences and habits and adjust your home’s temperature accordingly—and most can also be controlled right from your smartphone, whether you’re in bed or at work.
Smart learning thermostats are also good for your wallet. Data suggests that the Nest thermostat, for example, can save users up to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills.
Set the Tone with Smart LED Lightbulbs
Imagine replacing your light bulbs every few years instead of every few months; not feeling added heat from your bulbs in an already hot room at the height of summer; and controlling the tone, color, and brightness of your lights right from your phone. Smart LED light bulbs are longer-lasting and more efficient than standard lightbulbs and can be programmed into 16 million colors via Bluetooth or WiFi.
Homeowners can start small—replacing singular bulbs—or invest in an expanded smart lighting system. LED bulbs brighten dimmer spaces and lower energy bills while providing twice the standard output. Plus, replacing five of your most frequently used light fixtures with Energy Star-rated bulbs can save $75 annually on your electricity bill.
Cut Charging Waste with Smart Outlets and Power Adapters
Did you know that when you leave your iPhone plugged in overnight, it charges in just a few hours but continues to use energy? How many times have you left your home and wondered whether you accidentally left a light or curling iron on? Smart outlets, while not particularly exciting, allow you to switch power on and off from afar and better understand which of your plugged-in devices are the biggest energy hogs. Some even behave like smart thermostats by learning your habits and recommending ways to reduce waste. Smart outlets are an affordable step for those interested in exploring energy-efficient home tech.
Conserve Water with a High-IQ Bathroom
Low-flow showers and toilets certainly save water, but a new wave of futuristic bath appliances is taking conservation to the next level. One smart shower on the market uses sensors to adjust water pressure as you move away from the shower-head — to shave or rinse, for example — while another employs LED lights to alert you when you’ve hit a pre-programmed level of water usage.
Pricey smart toilets have a lot of bells and whistles, but they may consume up to 20 percent less water than a standard model by monitoring and adjusting water flow rates. This upgrade may be beyond the average home improvement budget, but it offers a glimpse into the future of water conservation opportunities.
Harness Clean, Sustainable Energy with Solar
Solar installations in the United States are on the rise, and this renewable energy source is one long-term investment worth making. In addition to being clean and sustainable, solar reduces emissions and pollution over the course of an array’s lifetime. Solar heaters are more efficient and less costly than those that run on fuel and generally require less maintenance — better for the environment and your wallet.
While there is a significant upfront cost for solar installation — which varies widely depending on geographic location, labor rates, and available subsidies — residents of some cities are seeing positive returns in as few as six years. If you are planning to stay in your current home for a while, consider going solar. This investment may even encourage you to live greener throughout your day-to-day routine.
Homes and residential buildings account for 21 percent of the total energy used in the United States. With an investment in a few high-tech upgrades — smart home gadgets, Energy Star appliances, and solar power, for example — homeowners can save both energy and money in the long-term while also contributing to a greener, more sustainable world.