MAY 23, 2024

How a smart home can reduce your electricity bills

Electricity prices are through the roof, and that means that it’s very smart (and environmentally sound) to reduce your power usage as much as possible, if only to save your hip pocket nerve from additional stress.

Adding smart features to your home, or having them built into a new construction might not seem like the best way to do that, because the underlying gadgets all need power, right?

While it’s not untrue that a smart home system does require power to run, it’s entirely possible to lower your power bills, in some cases substantially through transforming your home into a smart home, or building from scratch with smart home automation in mind.

But where do you start, and what should you look for? While every house and home is a little different, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot, or take a lot of time with fancy wiring or tricky configuration interfaces to start on a smart home journey that can save power and money from the very first time you start using it.

Smart Lights: Easy to install, easy to use to save power

One of the simplest ways to make your home “smart” in a way that can easily save power is to switch out your existing light bulbs for smart light bulbs.

There are a number of brands to pick from, with bulb pricing ranging anywhere from $10 for a very simple bulb up to $60 for a more complex and feature rich light globe.

They all tend to work from a central smartphone app for setup and configuration, and most will also happily talk to services such as Apple’s HomeKit/Siri or Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa if you’ve already got a smart speaker in your home.

So, how does changing a light bulb save you power if you’re having to spend on the bulb and accessories to get it up and running? It’s because you can set specific smart schedules for those lights, as well as easily control them with your voice if you also integrate a smart speaker into the system.

That means you can set your lights only to come on at dusk, or switch them off remotely if you’re away from home, or dim them to lower their power usage as your needs may vary.

We’ve probably all been in that scenario where you get up in the morning only to realise that a light or two in the house was left on overnight accidentally. That’s totally wasted power and money, right there.

A smart light bulb system can be checked and switched off from your bed before you sleep, turning off all the house lights without having to do more than raise your finger to your smartphone screen. With a smart speaker in play, you can simply ask it to switch off all the lights before heading to bed, confident that you’re not wasting power.

Smart Plugs can make other gadgets efficient

It’s not just lighting where you can conserve power and the contents of your wallet. Any device that needs power can be connected to a simple smart plug, working on the same essential basis as a smart light.

That doesn’t just add convenience to your daily routines, but also a large measure of power saving. You probably don’t microwave all that much at 3am, but your microwave is sitting there with a vampire drain of power, ready to go. It simply doesn’t know that it’s not required.

While you could try to reach around to its plug to switch it off, it’s even simpler – and more forget-proof – to set a smart switch to power it down for those hours you don’t need it. Again, with most smart switches you can also set schedules to enable services, so you can ensure devices are ready with power when you get home, or that they’re not chewing through power needlessly when you’re away.

Some smart plugs can take it even further, providing you with a summary of actual power usage from the gadgets they’re connected to. The benefit here is that you can quickly learn where your worst performing devices are, and assess how vital they are, or whether you could make a bigger long term financial saving replacing them with a more energy efficient model.

Smart Meters can tell you a lot about your power usage

A smart meter measures the power usage of your home, dynamically reporting and recording your usage at regular intervals, typically every half hour or so. It’s a big change from the traditional meter model where you’d get a service person turn up every once in a while to read a rotary dial before sending you a paper bill.

That’s undeniably a benefit for power providers – unless you were one of those meter readers – but it’s also a smart way that you can manage your energy spend. The precise requirements for smart meter rollouts does vary by state and age of property, but in many locales it’s feasible (and quite desirable) to use your smart meter to carefully check your power usage and critically your power plan.

Some providers offer direct wholesale rates or discounts for power usage at specific times, and you’ll only know that with a smart meter, because they can’t logically measure it from a traditional meter type.

In some states and territories the rollout of smart meters is well advanced, but what can you do if you’re in a property with an old-style manual meter? Contact your power provider and ask what their plans for smart meters currently are. Many providers will upgrade you to a smart meter free of charge, but it’s worth checking if there are associated costs or plan changes to take into consideration when switching up to a smart meter.

Stay cool while not burning out your wallet

One of the most energy intensive things we do in our homes is manage the temperature, whether it’s a chilly winter’s eve or a blazing summer day.

For simple heaters and the like, you could use a smart plug to activate and deactivate as and when needed. If your home has air conditioning, however, you can step up the smarts even further.

Many new air conditioners come with integrated wi-fi for smart operation, allowing you to (for example) start up the aircon just before you get home, so you’re still at a good temperature without having to either wait for it to spin up or waste power running it when nobody’s home.

What if you’ve got an existing system in good working order that doesn’t have those kinds of internet smarts?

You’re in luck, because smart systems like the Tado Smart AC Control V3+ can easily switch any “dumb” AC into a smart one, allowing for remote control, temperature sensing, room control and even sensing when a window might be open so you’re not wasting power for heating or cooling that’s flying straight out of your home.

Need help getting your smart home setup? Geeks2U’s Smart Home Setup Service will get your smart home up and running, ensuring everything is set up correctly and working as intended. Give us a call today to discuss your smart home!

1300 769 448

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Photo of Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more.