Some people are adamant that
2016 will be the year of the smart home
, which is just an uppity way to say that
The Internet of Things: How It'll Change Your Life Next Year
The Internet of Things: How It'll Change Your Life Next Year Internet of Things has undergone its own Cambrian Explosion, and it promises to make your life much more convenient in the years to come. Here's why.
. A revolution is coming, and it’s going to be so much more than simple gimmick devices. home automation is on the verge of becoming mainstream
One of the driving forces behind home automation is improved energy efficiency. Even the most shrewd person’s home has leaks and inefficiencies that need to be plugged and fixed. Fortunately, there are devices out there that make it easy to do so.
Worried that this will be too expensive for you? Fear not, because the true cost of a smart home
is far cheaper than you think. In fact, there are many
How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost?
How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost? A smart home could change your life – freeing up time in your day and regulating your routine so you don't have to remember what needs to be done. But how expensive is it, really?
home automation devices that everyone can afford
, and many of them will feature in this article. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
6 Types of Home Automation You Can Actually Afford
6 Types of Home Automation You Can Actually Afford Are you ready to join the smart home revolution but worried that it's beyond your budget? Smart homes aren't that expensive, and there are plenty of components that the average homeowner can afford.
Note: In most cases, energy efficiency is an investment — short-term expenses for long-term returns. Some of these offer immediate savings, but others may take months or years to recoup. Keep that in mind! 1. Turn Off Plugged-In Devices Overnight
Think about all of the devices and appliances that are currently plugged into an outlet at your home. You probably don’t worry about them much because they’re switched off and therefore aren’t using any power, right? Well, not exactly.
Even when electronic devices are shut off, they still have something called
standby power. The truth is, when you turn a device off, you’re only turning off its primary function. Most devices actually have secondary functions that still run even when the primary function is off.
For example, some devices are slow to turn on if they start from a zero energy state, so these devices keep a small electrical current which allows for “instantly” turning on. Another example is when a device has a receiver that needs constant power in order to respond to things like remote controls.
Mr. Coffee Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo 10-Cup Optimal Brew Coffeemaker, BVMC-PSTX91WE
Mr. Coffee Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo 10-Cup Optimal Brew Coffeemaker, BVMC-PSTX91WE Schedule or adjust brew time and setup reminders so coffee is fresh and hot whenever you want it using the Free WeMo App from your smart device
Buy Now At Amazon $156.22
Regular household devices that consume standby power can include, but aren’t limited to, the following: televisions, computers, microwaves, media centers, cable boxes, modems, routers, coffee makers, slow cookers, rice cookers, chargers and charging stations, and anything with an always-on display (such as a digital clock).
Roughly speaking, every 1W that a device consumes in standby mode translates into 9 kWh per year. Standby power usage per device can range from 1W to 15W depending on the device’s age and features. As such, plugging this leak could save you between $50 and $100 per year.
Wemo Switch, Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Control Lights and Appliances From Your Phone, Works with Amazon Alexa
Wemo Switch, Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Control Lights and Appliances From Your Phone, Works with Amazon Alexa Wemo is home automation the easy way: Plug in a Wemo Switch, download the free app, and start controlling your lights and appliances from anywhere in the world, right from your phone. No hub or subscription required.
Buy Now At Amazon $29.99
The easiest way to do this would be to use
smart plugs (also known as smart outlets)
. Smart plugs can be turned on/off from your smartphone, but more importantly, they can be put on a timed schedule, allowing you to automatically shut off standby power draw on devices overnight.
Which Smart Plug Is the Best One for You?
Which Smart Plug Is the Best One for You? Even if you aren't into the whole smart home automation trend, you really should get yourself a few smart plugs. They're one of the easiest smart home products to use.
Belkin WeMo Switch is a great choice for a first timer. The Aeon Labs Energy Switch and the SmartThings Outlet are also worth considering if the WeMo Switch doesn’t seem like a good fit for you. 2. Turn Devices Off When You’re Away
Have you ever left home for work only to remember that you forgot to turn off your
TV, your lights, or even your air conditioner? Most of time, you can’t just rush home to turn them off manually, so you just have to suck it up and eat the costs of wasted energy.
This is an issue that could be solved with one or two smart home devices. As mentioned above, if your TV or air conditioner was connected to a smart plug, you could just shut the plug off with your smartphone and be done with it. But there are some other solutions that are more elegant.
Consider the fact that many smart devices
can be triggered by your smartphone’s GPS location
. This triggering can often work both ways, too: your devices can know when you’ve left your home
How to Use GPS Location to Make Your House Welcome You Home
How to Use GPS Location to Make Your House Welcome You Home Setting up your GPS technologies to welcome you home is a great way to save time on lots of things, from turning on the air conditioning to starting dinner.
and when you’ve arrived at home. Wouldn’t it be great if all of the lights in your house automatically turned off the moment you left
9 Smartphone IFTTT Tricks to Make Your Life 100x Easier
9 Smartphone IFTTT Tricks to Make Your Life 100x Easier IFTTT lets you automate aspects of your life without requiring any technical knowledge whatsoever. Here are some quick IFTTT smartphone tricks that can ease the stresses of everyday life.
Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor
Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor Trigger lights to automatically turn on when you enter a room or turn off when there's no motion for a specified length of time.
Buy Now At Amazon $32.99
If GPS-tracking is something you’d rather avoid, you could opt for something like a motion sensor instead, which would detect your physical arrival at home and react accordingly. Note that this route may require
investing in a smart hub
that’s compatible with said motion sensor.
Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You?
Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? For a while, people thought of the idea as nothing more than a gimmick, but recent product releases have shown that smart home automation is starting to live up to its promises.
Two solid options for beginners are the
SmartThings Motion Sensor and the Aeon Labs Multi-Wave Sensor.
As an aside, you could also tie this in with home security. With the right devices, you could set up
wireless home surveillance cameras
that automatically start capturing footage when you leave home and stop when you come back. No need to waste energy recording 24/7 during those times you’re already at home.
6 Creative Uses for Wireless Surveillance Cameras in Your Home
6 Creative Uses for Wireless Surveillance Cameras in Your Home Security cameras are useful for more than just surveillance. With a dash of creativity and elbow grease, you can kick your quality of life up a notch with these atypical ideas for your security cameras.
3. Measure Energy Used by Devices
In personal finance, there’s one core principle that acts as the foundation of all things related to money: if you want to fix your money problems, the first thing you have to do is figure out where all of your money is going. (This is especially true
when struggling to get out of debt
How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt
How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients.
The same principle applies to energy efficiency: if you want to cut back on energy consumption and really make a difference, the most important thing you can do is measure and track which devices and appliances are using the most energy. You’ve never actually measured your energy usage, have you? Most people haven’t.
Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Use Monitor, F7C005Q
Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Use Monitor, F7C005Q See how much different devices cost to use on a yearly or monthly basis
Buy Now At Amazon $23.92
Belkin Insight Energy Use Monitor plugs right into any outlet, allowing you to plug devices into the monitor’s outlet instead of the actual wall outlet. The monitor will then track energy usage and predict what those devices will cost you over time.
Enerwave ZW15RM Z-wave Wireless Lighting Control Duplex Tamper Resistant Wall Receptacle With Smart Meter Energy Monitor, 120VAC, 15Amp, Free Screwless Wall Plate, NEUTRAL WIRING REQUIRED, White
Enerwave ZW15RM Z-wave Wireless Lighting Control Duplex Tamper Resistant Wall Receptacle With Smart Meter Energy Monitor, 120VAC, 15Amp, Free Screwless Wall Plate, NEUTRAL WIRING REQUIRED, White Replaces standard switch to enable wireless ON/OFF operations on lights, fans and small appliances
Buy Now At Amazon
Another option is the
Enerwave Smart Meter Energy Monitor, which replaces the wall outlet altogether. Not only does it monitor energy usage, but it can also be turned on/off remotely. It’s also more compact than the Belkin, which is aesthetically nicer to the eyes.
By using one of these, you can physically measure
how much energy is being used by your computer
or whatever other oft-used devices you may have, such as space heaters, air conditioners, toaster ovens, etc.
How Much Power Is Your PC Using?
How Much Power Is Your PC Using? Computer power consumption can be estimated. Most of the components inside a PC have specific minimum and maximum power draw figures and, because quality control is so tight, it’s rare of a part to break...
Once you know which devices are consuming the most energy, you can then decide what to do about it. For instance, maybe you’ll realize that your incandescent bulbs are costing you too much and finally upgrade to LED bulbs (
a change that comes with many security benefits
4 Ways a Smart LED Bulb Can Keep Your Home Safe & Secure
4 Ways a Smart LED Bulb Can Keep Your Home Safe & Secure Did you know that a few LED bulbs could be the difference between a home robbery and peace of mind? Sounds weird, but it's true.
4. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances
Let’s say you’ve determined that a certain device or appliance is being an energy hog. You’ve done your best to eliminate standby power waste, and you’re only using it when you need to, but it’s still sucking electricity like crazy. What then?
In that case, it’s time to upgrade to something more modern.
The first thing to know is that there are
several eco labels for electronics that you should know
. If a device or appliance has one of these labels, then you know it meets the energy standards of those labels, and these are important because it’s the only
5 Eco Labels For Electronics You Should Know
5 Eco Labels For Electronics You Should Know Eco labels can help you identify greener and more energy efficient devices. They enable you -- the consumer -- to take sustainability concerns into account when buying new electronics. But what do the various labels...
reliable way to gauge energy efficiency
prior to purchase.
Energy Saving Tips For Buying & Using Electronics
Energy Saving Tips For Buying & Using Electronics Electronics make up a significant portion of your household energy costs. Computers, printers, and WiFi routers alone account for around 25% of your electricity bill. While electronics are becoming more efficient, their increased use offsets...
When upgrading, you may even want to consider something smart instead of something traditional.
smart refrigerators are growing in popularity
and it’s not hard to see why. Compared to the usual fare, they have better controls for temperature and humidity for different compartments, they can improve shelf life of produce, are energy-efficient, and can even interact with your smartphone.
3 Best Smart Refrigerators You Can Buy Right Now
3 Best Smart Refrigerators You Can Buy Right Now There is currently a set of new smart fridge models, as manufacturers attempt to give their next generation of products a new appeal. There are some great products on the market.
Samsung 4-Door Smart Refrigerator is one of the better offerings available today. Not only does it do all of the above, but all of its lighting is done with LEDs and, overall, greatly surpasses ENERGY STAR requirements across the board.
Other smart appliance options
include washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
5 Amazing Home Appliances That'll Change Your Life
5 Amazing Home Appliances That'll Change Your Life There's no denying it, smart home appliances will save you time and money, enabling you to spend more time doing the things you love. Here are some of the best smart appliances available today.
5. Solar Panels Have Many Benefits
Solar panels are an obvious choice for anyone who wants to improve home efficiency. They may take a while to pay for themselves, but it’s undeniable that they do pay for themselves — especially once you factor in long-term increases in fossil fuel costs. In particular, solar is good for heating air and water
3 Alternative Energy Home Projects That Could Slash Your Electric Bill
3 Alternative Energy Home Projects That Could Slash Your Electric Bill Let’s take a look at how we can take on some simple alternative energy DIY projects and save tons of money.
Fortunately, there are
companies that can help you get started
. They’ll step you through the process and make sure you don’t make any catastrophic errors, such as ensuring your roof can withstand the weight of solar panels and calculating overall costs.
4 Companies That Will Help You Run Your House On Free Solar Energy
4 Companies That Will Help You Run Your House On Free Solar Energy With all the electronics that are running in your smart home, you need some juice to power it all. And there's nothing better than not worrying about climbing utility bills by using solar energy.
Solar energy still has some flaws to overcome
, but also comes with several
Is Solar Energy Sustainable? 4 Problems to Solve Before the Solar Revolution
Is Solar Energy Sustainable? 4 Problems to Solve Before the Solar Revolution
benefits you may not have even realized
. At this point, installing solar energy for your home is still a risk, but the severity of that risk is shrinking with every month that passes.
6 Advantages of Solar Panels You Probably Haven't Considered
6 Advantages of Solar Panels You Probably Haven't Considered Solar power is becoming increasingly common among middle class consumers, with more and more people realizing the advantages of solar panels.
If you want to try it out but without the huge commitment, you could wet your feet with these
solar-powered household gadgets
instead. Since they’re powered solely by the sun, you can still end up saving on your energy bill.
12 Awesome Solar Powered Gadgets That Every Home Should Be Using
12 Awesome Solar Powered Gadgets That Every Home Should Be Using Solar power provides cleaner, more sustainable electricity, but few people can afford solar panels, and few power providers invest in solar power generation. It's time to take solar power into your own hands.
6. Smart Thermostats Pay for Themselves
We can’t forget about smart thermostats. In fact, one might even argue that the smart home movement never would’ve taken off if it weren’t for the sudden boost in popularity of the
Nest Thermostat a few years back.
Unsurprisingly, the Nest Thermostat is still the most popular option of all the smart thermostats available today. That can be attributed to a couple of factors:
how easy it is to install one
How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings
How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings If you've ever considered getting started with home automation, purchasing a Nest thermostat is the perfect way to start. In just a week of using it, we cut our energy consumption in half.
how much energy it can save
5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home
5 Smart Hacks To Save Electricity In Your Smart Home he trick to saving electricity is in knowing where most of your energy is consumed.
all of its amazingly cool features
13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat
13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat You may be surprised just how many little tricks you can accomplish with your new Nest thermostat!
Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Alexa
Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, Works with Alexa Works with Alexa for voice control,Languages:English,French,Spanish,Dutch
Buy Now At Amazon $220.99
Of course, if you want to avoid the Nest for some reason, or if it’s simply not available to you, there are
several Nest alternatives worth exploring
Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives
Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives When it comes to controlling the temperature of your home, the Nest smart thermostat is king, but there are plenty of options out there. Here are 5 you should consider if you're looking to buy.
Ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat and the Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat are both well-regarded by consumers.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which one you get as long as you get one that works with your home’s climate control. A smart thermostat can
save 10-15% on heating and cooling costs, which means $100-$150 per year for the average home. These things pay for themselves in no time.
If you want to save even more money in the winter, wear layers and set the temperature as low as comfortable. Then help fend off the cold weather with some of these
warm household devices and gadgets
How to Beat the Winter Cold With These 8 Home Gadgets
How to Beat the Winter Cold With These 8 Home Gadgets If you're feeling extra cold this winter - or you just want to save on heating costs - there are lots of small gadgets and devices that may come in handy.
7. Don’t Forget About Smart Water Usage
Water usually doesn’t fall under the same heading as energy, but if you’re the kind of person who’s trying to cut back on energy usage (for whatever reason), then you probably want to cut back on water usage as well.
The good news is that there are smart devices for this, too.
For example, we recently covered
reasons why you might want smart faucets
in your kitchen and bathrooms. Long story short, smart faucets are easier to control, less prone to spreading germs, and more efficient with water — and that’s not even mentioning the coolness factor.
3 Reasons Why Your Next Faucet Should Be a Smart Faucet
3 Reasons Why Your Next Faucet Should Be a Smart Faucet People tend to think of smart faucets as gimmicky and gratuitous. Is there really enough room for improvement to justify an upgrade? I'm here to convince you: yes!
Delta Faucet 552TLF Tesla Single Handle Lavatory Faucet with Touch2O.xt Technology, Chrome
Delta Faucet 552TLF Tesla Single Handle Lavatory Faucet with Touch2O.xt Technology, Chrome Operates manually with the handle, with the tap touch2o functionality or by placing your hands within the 4 in. sensing field around the faucet
Buy Now At Amazon $315.00
Delta Faucet Tesla is good one to start with. It isn’t the cheapest, but it’s WaterSense certified and can be operated in three ways: a manual handle, touch-based tap-on/tap-off, and a 4-inch proximity sensor.
Water conservation is also important when it comes to
lawn maintenance and garden irrigation
5 Smart Devices To Help Manage Your Garden
5 Smart Devices To Help Manage Your Garden Turns out, a smart garden is completely possible, thanks to the devices we are going to take a look at today.
RainMachine Touch HD-12 Smart WiFi Irrigation Controller,2nd Generation,6.5-Inch
RainMachine Touch HD-12 Smart WiFi Irrigation Controller,2nd Generation,6.5-Inch Late 2015 model - Save water with daily weather adjustments. Use multiple weather data sources from NOAA, METNO or Wunderground to create a redundant and accurate weather network for your garden. Use Netatmo or other Personal Weather Station for hyper-local weather intelligence.
Buy Now At Amazon $450.00
RainMachine Forecast Sprinkler is an amazing device that pulls real-time weather data from the Internet and uses that information to adjust your home sprinkler system for optimal water usage (it’s WaterSense certified).
An alternative to the RainMachine is the
Rachio IRO Wi-Fi Lawn Sprinkler, which is one of the more impressive home automation gadgets
out there. It also pulls real-time weather data but comes in 8-zone and 16-zone variants depending on the size of your lawn. This WaterSense-certified device can save up to 30% on outdoor water costs.
9 Impressive Home Automation Gadgets Family & Friends Will Love
9 Impressive Home Automation Gadgets Family & Friends Will Love With the holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to snag one of these amazing smart home devices.
One last thing to note: installing a smart irrigation system can
actually increase the value of your home
. Not only does it offer short-term benefits, but you can also view it as a long-term investment.
Installing These Smart Devices Can Increase Your Home's Value
Installing These Smart Devices Can Increase Your Home's Value In this article, we take a look at which smart technology you should install that will let you add those extra few thousand dollars onto your asking price.
How Energy-Efficient Is Your Home?
All of the above may sound too good to be true. The truth is, yes, there are
things to consider before smartening your home
, but we’ve gotten to the point where the benefits are really starting to shine. It won’t be long before
I Lived in a Smart Home for 20 Years. Here's What You Should Know.
I Lived in a Smart Home for 20 Years. Here's What You Should Know. MakeUseOf spoke with one of our regular readers and commenters, Ben Stutt, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA, about his experiences living in a smart home.
every home becomes a smart home
If These 4 Things Happen, Every Home Will Be a Smart Home
If These 4 Things Happen, Every Home Will Be a Smart Home In just a few years, smart homes have entered the mainstream consciousness. For the first time in ages, smart homes have a real, mass-market promise. But there's still a long way to go.
Now you tell us: have you smartened up your home yet? If so, in what ways? If not, what would convince you? Share with us in the comments below!
Image Credit: Solar Panels by Diyana Dimitrova via Shutterstock