Your smart home can do more than just make your daily routine more convenient. As strange as it may seem, the couple hundred dollars you spend on a fancy connected gadget might actually save youin the long run.
From better heating and cooling to more efficient watering, these smart home products can help you cut down on your utility bills.
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Smart thermostats from popular brands such as Nest and Ecobee claim to save you between 10% and 20% on your heating and cooling bill. Both the third-gen Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4 cost $250. On top of being stylish and smart, they both work with Amazon's assistant Alexa and the comparable Google Assistant. You can control each of them with an app.
Better yet, they make it easier to efficiently maintain your home at a comfortable temperature. Nest's thermostat learns and adapts to your preferences over time. Ecobee's comes with a remote sensor so you can adjust the temperature based on a specific room.
LED bulbs are exponentially more efficient than old-school incandescents, whether they're smart or not. If you want to save big on your electric bill, LED bulbs are a great place to start. And as they become more common, prices for individual bulbs are going down. A couple of years ago, good smart bulbs could cost $60 or more each. Now you can readily find packs of two for $25.
Smart bulbs from Philips Hue, Lifx, GE and more can be controlled with an app or with voice commands through popular digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. You can change colors on several of them, but in terms of energy savings, being able to command all bulbs at once or remotely will help you avoid leaving lights on.
While everyone has a thermostat and a few lightbulbs they can upgrade, not everyone has an inground sprinkler system. But if you do, investing in a smart sprinkler is as much of a no brainer as the two categories above. The best ones, from brands such as Rachio and Orbit, monitor the weather automatically and adapt your watering schedule accordingly.
This alone can save you money as you won't accidentally water when it rains. And Rachio and Orbit's sprinklers are easy to control with an app and with voice commands. They can also help you set a schedule based on the conditions of your yard to save water while keeping your land healthy and green.
Unlike everything else on this list, you might purchase a leak detector and it might not ever save you a dollar. Good ones from brands such as D-Link and Roost are relatively affordable -- between $35 and $50 -- making them great investments. Because if you're in a situation where a leak detector could save you money, it could end up saving you a lot of money.
Basically, you put one near your water heater or sump pump, and you'll get a notification if they detect water. You'll then hopefully be able to take action quickly, and prevent whatever is leaking from causing further damage.
Automated shades and fans
A smart thermostat, isn't the only way to efficiently maintain the temperature in your home. There's also smart shades and smart fans, although both categories qualify more as luxury items. Lutron makes our favorite shades, with prices starting at $350 a piece. A company called Big Ass Fans makes great ceiling fans, but they cost more than $600.
Ikea should be debuting cheaper smart blinds soon. If you have the money, smart shades and smart fans can keep your place cool with automated schedules, smarts that work with your connected thermostat and voice commands. Plus, having the fan turn on and the blinds shut automatically when it's movie time will make you feel pretty powerful.