Saving money with smart devices: a beginner's guide

Here you’ll find a little guidance on how to save electricity at home by using smart devices.

Saving money with smart devices: a beginner's guide
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There’s all sorts of magical stuff a smart home can do, but let’s talk about what really matters to most of us: saving energy – and money – where we can. There are plenty of energy saving products out there – from power factor savers to water leak detectors – that can really help you save on the old electric bill. Here, we’re going to focus on three: smart thermostats, smart lights and smart plugs.

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How does smart heating save money?

With winter drawing in, let’s start with an old chestnut: making sure your home is warm without wasting energy. 

Setting your heating to turn on and off at certain times definitely helps. But life’s unpredictable. You might not know your plans for the day. And then there’s weekends you’re away. Holidays. Can you be bothered to change your heating programme every time? 

With a smart thermostat all those problems are taken away, as you can turn your heating on or off from your phone. Turn it off once you’ve left. Turn it up on your way home. Some smart thermostats even have a geolocation function, so if you leave home and forget to turn off your heating, they’ll ping you a notification to let you know. 

Just remember we’re not talking smart meters here, we’re talking smart thermostats. They don’t measure the saving, they help the saving: to a tune of about £130 per year

In case you’re worrying, you don’t have to change your heating system either. You just need to buy a smart thermostat and get an engineer to set it up so it links with your boiler (most thermostats, including Hive Active Heating, come with professional installation built into the price).

How can I save electricity using smart lights?

First up, let’s look at LEDs vs. your old-school incandescent light bulbs. A 60 Watt-equivalent LED bulb uses 75% – 80% less energy than a 60 Watt incandescent bulb. So you end up spending way less to power it. And they last much longer. Nowadays, energy-saving LED light bulbs are a no brainer. 

However… if you’re replacing your bulbs, there’s a lot to be said for going the extra step and opting for smart bulbs instead of just energy-saving ones. 

That’s because, just like your smart heating, you can control smart bulbs from your phone, which opens up a whole new way to save electricity and money. 

For example, if you have kids who aren’t good at turning lights off (i.e. if you have kids…), you can just do it from wherever you are. So you know the lights are always off when they’re supposed to be and you’re never wasting electricity. 

Or maybe you like a light or two on when you’re away on hols? With smart lights, that doesn’t mean leaving them on the whole time. Programme them to automatically turn on (at night) and off (during the day) so it looks like someone’s there. You can turn them on and off yourself from your sunbed. With some smart bulbs, you can even get them to turn on and off in a random pattern to look even more convincing.

What about energy saving plugs?

The smart plug really is a clever little device because it makes all sorts of electronic gadgets more energy efficient. Take your TV for example. If your kids are in the habit of turning the TV ‘off’ with the remote, you can double-check it’s ‘off-off’ from your smartphone or tablet. 

As you might expect, the Energy Savings Trust are rather good on this sort of thing. They reckon the average household spends between £50 and £86 every year on electricity for devices in stand-by mode. Smart plugs help keep that money in your pocket. 

It’s not just TVs. There are lots of things in our homes that we forget to turn off like lamps, fans and speakers. And they just guzzle our electricity without us realizing it. But smart plugs turn them into energy saving products because you can control them from anywhere. 

They don’t just save money; they can save you anxiety too. Worried the iron or straighteners have been left on? Don’t be: just turn them off from your smartphone. 

And remember that saving energy means reducing your carbon footprint, so you’re doing your bit for the environment too.

Saving on insurance costs

Smart thermostats, smart bulbs and smart plugs are definitely the big wins when it comes to how to save electricity at home, and hopefully you have a clearer idea of how all these energy efficient products can help. 

Of course, that’s before you get into things like smart cameras that reduce the risk of burglary and can help lower insurance costs. Or smart sensors that stop little leaks becoming big (and expensive) problems. 

And if you’re still on the fence about smart homes, one more thing about money. When you spend over a certain amount with Hive, you can spread the cost of your products. So getting started is much more affordable than you might think.

Final electricity saving tips…

  • Save on your heating bills by never having to heat an empty home with a smart thermostat.
  • Make sure your home isn’t lit when it doesn’t need to be – so you can save on electricity bills – with smart lighting.
  • Use smart plugs to turn things on or off from anywhere – so you never waste energy.

There’s lots more to know and learn about the smart home. Check out our other guides for a more in-depth look at some popular products and features…

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