During the coronavirus pandemic of the last two years, we’ve spent more time at home than we’ve ever spent before. Switching to a hybrid or entirely remote work schedule saves money on petrol and reduces travel time, but it also means higher home bills. Your utilities could increase or even treble depending on how much time you spend at the workplace or out of the house.
While you’re working remotely, chances are your lights will be on for most of the day, your family will be online, and your air conditioner will be on. All of this adds up to increased costs. An additional energy use might cost an ordinary household up to $5 per day, or around $100 per month.
We do, however, have some options. There are many products on the market that can help you save money on your utilities, whether it’s a smart light bulb, a smartThermostat, or a water-saving, low-flow smart sprinkler. Furthermore, if you utilize these devices in addition to turning off lights when you leave a room, setting your thermostat to the correct temperature, spending less time in the shower, and disconnecting appliances, you will begin to see significant savings on your monthly costs.
Here are a few gadgets we recommend you try.
Amazon Smart Thermostat
Not only is this thermostat a great deal, but it’s also our personal favorite smartThermostats. The Amazon Smart Thermostat is the cheapest smart thermostat CNET has tested, but it still comes with a slew of features, including a touchscreen interface, a stylish design, and Energy Star certification, which means you’ll save an average of $50 on your annual energy bill.
And, of course, it works with Alexa voice commands and the Alexa app. To utilize voice commands, you’ll need an Alexa-enabled smart speaker or smart display, but since this is an Amazon-branded gadget, you don’t need to enable an Alexa skill. You can read the whole of our Amazon Smart Thermostat review here.
Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd gen)
The third generation of Google Nest smartThermostats is now available. The Nest Learning Thermostat’s third generation has a larger display, higher clarity, and a far-field sensor for reading time and temperature from a distance.
For voice control and smart-home connectivity, this thermostat works with Google Assistant and Alexa. A battery-powered temperature sensor (available separately) can also be purchased to identify the climate in your most regularly used rooms. Read our review of the Nest Learning Thermostat Third Generation.
Ecobee smartThermostat with Voice Control
Ecobee, like Google Nest, has been steadily improving its smartThermostats. The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control, which is the most recent model, comes with one temperature sensor.
Although the price is considerable, Ecobee has added features such as a nicer-looking glass finish, a 5GHz connection, improved Alexa integration with digital microphones, improved speaker quality, and a new temperature sensor.
If you like Alexa, then this is the smartThermostats for you, as Amazon’s smart assistant is embedded right in. Read our evaluation of the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control.
LED bulbs, smart or not, are significantly more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. LED lights are a wonderful place to start if you want to save money on your power bill. If you’re ready to make the switch to smart bulbs, there are lots of affordable options available now.
Make use of a schedule to ensure that the appropriate lights are turned on and off throughout the day. If you don’t need a schedule, you can still utilize Alexa and Google Assistant integrations to switch off that kitchen light you forgot about from your phone or smart speaker, no matter where you are in the house or where there is an internet connection.
Yes, the Wyze bulb is the cheapest smart bulb on the market, and it’s also one of the greatest smart lights. For $32, you can get a four-pack and enjoy the glow of dirt-cheap smart lighting throughout your home.
Plus, these bulbs include a slew of great features, like the connection with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, a wide range of white-light color temperature adjustments, and unrivaled brightness. Look at our Wyze Bulb review.
Philips Hue Starter Kit
Philips Hue bulbs and bridges continue to set the bar for dependable, scalable smart lighting. A beginning kit with two white lights and the needed Hue bridge costs $70 (a $100 four-bulb and bridge package are also available). You may add bulbs for as little as $15 each from there.
You can use the Hue app to manage these bulbs from a distance, make schedules, create scenarios, and more. For a deeper dive into Philips Hue’s wide array of smart lights, read our entire guide.
Smart plugs, like smart lights, may turn on and off on a schedule, monitor energy usage, and create scenarios. A smart plug will turn on any device or small appliance that would ordinarily be plugged into a power socket. If you’re more concerned with energy conservation than with automation, look for a plug that includes energy monitoring.
Eufy Smart Plug Mini
Many smart plugs don’t provide accurate energy tracking. The Eufy Smart Plug Mini provides daily and monthly energy consumption information for whichever device it’s connected to. A companion app also offers scheduling, timing, and personalization options.
The app is straightforward to set up and use, and it has all the features you’d need to control a device or small appliance. To get started, you won’t need a hub or bridge; all you’ll need is a strong 2.4GHz wireless connection. You won’t get the extra side USB charger that some plugs come with, and it won’t operate with HomeKit.
This smart plug isn’t CNET’s favorite, but it has excellent energy-saving settings. We propose the smaller TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini to anyone who doesn’t need to know about energy use. Check out our review of the Eufy Smart Plug Mini.
Wyze Plug Outdoor
Wyze’s $12 outdoor smart plug has a lot of great capabilities, especially given the price. The Wyze Plug Outdoor, like many smart plugs, is weather-resistant, allows you to control your connected devices from anywhere, and has Alexa and Google Assistant capability. But it’s the Wyze Plug Outdoors’s energy monitoring feature that sets it apart from other plugs on the market.
The Wyze Plug Outdoor tracks your past energy usage in the Wyze app and monitors the energy used to power the connected device. It will also send you notifications if the consumption exceeds specific thresholds.
Consider adding a compatible motion sensor to your smart lights if you already have them or are getting ready to put them up. A good motion sensor, such as the ones listed below, can turn on or off lights. When someone goes by in the middle of the night, you’ll be able to turn on a hallway or bathroom light or turn off all the lights in the living room if no motion is detected.
Hue Indoor Motion Sensor
The Philips Hue Motion Sensor connects to the Hue smart lighting system via the Hue app for iOS and Android. Hue has put a daylight sensor in this sensor, which is a lovely touch. That means the device can identify when there’s still enough sunshine to light a room and turn off lights that aren’t needed.
The motion sensor is powered by two AAA batteries and can be used with up to a dozen Philips Hue Bridges. Mount in a variety of ways, including with the provided option magnet. Read our review of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor.
SmartThings Motion Sensor
SmartThings isn’t right for everyone. To gain the full benefits, you’ll have to invest in it. That means you’ll need a $70 hub, a $25 motion sensor, and any compatible lamps or devices to switch on or off.
The motion sensor is mounted on a ball joint, allowing you to adjust the angle to your liking. It can turn lights on or off based on motion or lack thereof, just like the Hue sensor. You can have a very good setup going by using all SmartThings all the time. For voice control, the device works with Google Assistant and Alexa.