Alexa, help me save money on my utility bills.

By Sage Singleton
December 18, 2019
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From telling jokes and checking the weather to turning on the lights and setting the house alarm, Alexa (or your smart home devices of choice) can do a lot of cool things. But can she save you money on your monthly utility bills? Maybe with a little help. Virtual assistants like Alexa (of the Amazon Echo line) or Google Nest Home devices have become a fixture of people’s homes, and adding compatible smart home gadgets makes them even more effective.

While smart home products call for an initial investment, they can actually save you money on utilities in the long run. “Home automation can save you an average of 10 percent on your power bill every year," says Rebecca Edwards, lead safety and tech reporter for SafeWise. "That might not seem like much at first, but over time, 10 percent makes a big difference,”

So, even though Alexa herself can’t save you money, some connected devices can. Utilities, like rent, are monthly costs most people can’t avoid. When you’re paying for cooling and heat, electric and water, why not save a little money where you can? “The more smart devices you have working together, the more money you can save on energy bills,” Edwards says.

These smart home products can, over time, help cut your costs and add a little extra money to your pocket—practice good smart home safety and you’ll be a total smart home convert before you know it.

4 money-saving smart home devices

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats, like the popular Google Nest or Ecobee, can be controlled through any internet-connected device (think phone, tablet, or home automation hub). Because these devices are connected to wifi, you have control of them anywhere you go. For example, you can decrease the temperature of your home from the office if you left in a rush and didn’t turn it down for the day.

These thermostats learn your patterns and preferences and can automatically adjust the temperature in your apartment or home accordingly. “Smart thermostats make sure you’re not cranking the heat or air when nobody’s home,” Edwards says. They can even change the temperature in your home based on the weather outdoors.

Both the Google Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee are $249 upfront, but Google Nest reports that customers have saved between $131 and $145 per year on their heating and cooling expenses. In less than two years, you’ve paid for the smart thermostat and will continue to save money on your energy bill year over year; learning how to lower your heating bill has never been easier.

Smart ceiling fans

Smart ceiling fans can work in tandem with smart thermostats to move air around to make a room feel either warmer or cooler without relying on an HVAC system, saving you money on your monthly bills in the process. Like other connected devices, smart ceiling fans can be controlled on an app through any device that’s connected to the internet. So, you can turn the fan on and off or adjust the speed through your phone.

Brands such as Haiku integrate with smart thermostats or assistants such as Google Nest, Amazon Alexa, Ecobee, and Google Assistant, so the combination of the two systems can reduce overall energy consumption and cost. However, the smart ceiling fans are significantly more expensive than smart thermostats. (A Haiku starts at $1,244.) Places such as Home Depot have smart fans for prices in the low hundreds, though, if the Haiku isn’t in your budget. Most smart ceiling fans also include smart light bulbs, another cost-saving home automation product.

Smart light bulbs

Move over, clap-on clap-off: Smart light bulbs are the way of the future. Swap out your existing bulbs for smart bulbs and you’ll be able to control all of the lights in your home with your phone. If you’re watching a movie and want to set the mood, dim the lights from the app. If you’re coming home late and don’t want to walk into a dark home, you can simply hop on the app and turn the lights on. In addition to these perks, smart lighting can also save you money.

Smart light bulbs vary in cost, ranging from $5.71 for a single bulb to $158 for a full kit. While swapping out all the lights in your house could be expensive initially, you can potentially save between 7 and 27 percent on your lighting energy use, according to a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Smart outlets

One way to start small with automating your home is to try smart plugs first. Smart outlets turn anything plugged into them into a smart product: Plug your lamp or your slow cooker into a smart outlet, and you’ve got yourself a smart device.

“Smart plugs can keep everything that’s plugged in from passively draining energy,” Edwards says.

In addition to saving money and energy, smart outlets or plugs allow you to control them through an app, like any other smart home product. So, if you’re running late and can’t remember if you unplugged the curling iron or not, don’t sweat it. You simply need to get on the app and turn the smart plug off.

All of these money-saving smart home products can be integrated with a smart home assistant and controlled through most internet connected devices. As you begin creating your connected home, the four products listed above are a good way to get started, especially if you’re trying to decrease energy usage. While they do require an upfront payment, you’ll start to see your monthly expenses decrease and can start saving money for years to come.