Save on your electricity bill with smart plugs, power strips and LED bulbs

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For all the conveniences that modern technology brings to the home – Wi-Fi washing machines, powerful gaming systems and huge smart TVs – one downside is paying to power everything.

In fact, home utility costs continue to climb in many parts of the country, with electricity prices in 2021 rising at the fastest rate since 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). – already hitting Americans facing soaring inflation, leading to higher costs for many goods and services.

Not only does the average household have dozens of consumer electronics plugged into power outlets at all times, most consume electricity when not in use. “Vampire power” — also known as “phantom power” or “standby power” — can account for up to 10% of a household’s electric bill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It can really add up.

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Major appliances are often the main electricity “vampires” that still suck electricity when you’re not using them, but there are other common culprits like TVs, sound systems, set-top boxes, consoles video games, security cameras, printers, pool pumps and desktop computers. computers.

The good news is that there are several ways to lower your electricity bills.

Not to mention solar solutions – which is an entirely different approach and which we’ll get to in this space shortly – here are simple ways to reduce energy consumption (and therefore costs) at home.

Unplug when not in use

Although inconvenient, the easiest thing to do is to simply unplug the gadgets from the wall when you’re not using them or when your devices have finished charging.

After all, your smartphone battery is probably fully charged after, say, 45 minutes, so why are you leaving it plugged in overnight, for 7 hours or more?

Manually unplugging devices is the cheapest way to deal with ‘vampires’, but does require you to stay on top of things. If you have a spare bedroom in the house, for example, unplug a TV, lamp, fan, heater, or anything else you don’t need more than a few times a year.

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Be aware that a television can be unplugged, but a cable box, with a DVR/TiVo that archives your shows for you, will of course have to remain plugged in. And from the “duh” department, you need a lot of appliances plugged in all the time, like refrigerators and chest freezers, but look for the Energy Star logo (see below).

Video game consoles can also be unplugged when not in use, but there is a small tradeoff: many consoles, when still plugged into the wall and connected to the Internet, download game updates ( and operating system) when you’re not using it, so you don’t have to wait for the download when you want to play. Just be aware that it costs electricity.

Computers too can update overnight, but be sure to put your monitor to sleep after a few minutes of activity, which will help reduce power consumption.

Smart plugs, strips

Eye Systems offers a handful of solutions for

Smart plugs can give you better control over all your devices.

For example, the Eve Energy Smart Plug & Power Meter ($39.95 for a single, $109.85 for a set of three, or $179.75 for a 5-pack) can turn devices on and off by pressing l Eve app, set schedules and timers or you can use your voice to ask Siri to do it (taking advantage of Apple’s HomeKit platform). Eve Energy connects directly to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, as well as the more responsive Thread technology (no bridge required).

Belkin also offers a Wemo smart plug with thread, starting at $24.99.

For example, set your dishwasher to run only during off-peak hours to save money on electricity costs. Check your utility company’s rates based on peak, off-peak, and peak times, which change often throughout the year.

Similarly, the Eve Energy Strip ($99.95) lets you individually control three outlets with the app or Siri, connected to your Wi-Fi (without the need for a bridge). You can track total power consumption and see projected costs.

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To protect your computer and other electronic devices, there are overvoltage protection, overcurrent protection and overvoltage protection.

Some smart power strips can also shut off electricity to a few of its outlets – ideal when you’re going on vacation, for example – while other outlets on the power bar maintain the connection to the power source. power when off (like a DVR).

Another option is the Sense Home Energy Monitor (from $299 for non-solar homes) which installs into your home’s electrical panel and provides insight into your energy usage and home activity in real time. , through iOS Android and web apps.

Energy Star products

Be sure to purchase consumer electronics bearing the Energy Star logo (cyan blue and white) as they have been tested and verified to be more energy efficient. You should see that familiar sticker on the box and the product itself. If in doubt, ask a seller or write to the manufacturer on their website.

An Energy Star certified product does not mean that it does not consume more energy when switched off, but that it will be more environmentally friendly in order to earn the seal of approval. The EPA says Energy Star certification ensures that products are tested to meet strict efficiency standards and certified by an independent third party.

Switch to LED lights, smart thermometers

LED bulbs consume almost 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to replace your incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs with LED lights, as they sip rather than gulp electricity.

Sure, they cost more — so maybe wait for a sale or seasonal discounts — but you’ll save money in the long run. A 60 watt equivalent, for example, might only be 7.5 watts for comparable lumens with an LED light – not to mention they can last much longer, saving you even more energy. money. Energy Star certified bulbs are often rated up to 15,000 hours.

There are also Wi-Fi-enabled smart LED bulbs, which could save you even more, thanks to the ability to set schedules and timers, remotely access your lights (like turning off the lights via an app) or , when coupled with room sensors. , make the lights turn off automatically when someone leaves the room. The smart LEDs also allow you to use your voice to control them (via Amazon Alexa or Google) or you can change between millions of colors or preset scenes.

Smart thermostats, like this $60 Amazon smart thermostat, and smart lighting options give you more control over your home.  Set timers, schedules, add motion sensors or use an app or your voice to control everything and set routines.

Speaking of smart speakers, automation through Alexa Routines makes it easier to conserve energy. You can create a Routine in the Alexa app that groups actions together, so you don’t have to remember (or even ask Alexa) for them individually. For example, a routine called “Snore Your Lights Off” uses sound detection, so you can have your bedroom smart speaker detect the sound of snoring for a set period of time and turn off the smart lights, which saves energy when you don’t. need that.

You can also create a routine that you trigger when you go out by saying “Alexa, I’m leaving,” which then turns off your lights, lowers the temperature on your thermostat, turns off a TV, and more.

Speaking of smart thermometers, they let you easily adjust heating and cooling settings on a phone, tablet, or laptop, but they can also learn your schedule and automatically optimize the temperature in your home.

Products like the Amazon smart thermostat (from $48), ecobee smart thermostat (from $149), or Google Nest thermostat (from $129) learn your habits and adjust to automatically regulate the temperature your house (whether you are home or not) and could lower the temperature of the house when everyone is sleeping at night.

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