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It happens every winter. Like clockwork, we open our monthly energy bills only to gasp at the rates. “Sure, it’s been cold,” we say, “But have we really used that much power?” The answer is yes—colder months mean more heat, more indoor time, earlier evenings with more lights on and an all-around higher electric bill.
There are ways to curtail all that spending, though—or at least alleviate it. We're not talking about spending thousands of dollars to install solar panels or wind turbines on your roof, either. Here are 16 convenient products (many of which are smart home finds) that will help you lower your energy bill this winter, from the Google Nest smart thermostat to a powerful space heater.
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1. Sharper Image Personal Space Heater
While it gets colder in the winter, that doesn’t mean that you need to boost the heat in your entire home. If you’re relatively stationary—say, in a home office for eight hours a day—you could keep your overall house temperature relatively low and instead opt for a portable heater where you really need it. This one from Sharper Image is a favorite of QVC shoppers, who love its modern design and cool exterior. One buyer wrote in their review that it’s “small, but mighty.”
2. Bell + Howell TriBurst LED Socket Lights
A bright set of bulbs that’s perfect for lighting up any dim ancillary space—like garages, attics and basements—these fit into any standard light socket. Using 24 high-intensity LED bulbs, the lights cast as much light as three well-placed bulbs while using just a fraction of the energy. They last longer, too—the product description points out “a good quality LED bulb can last three to five times longer than a CFL and 30 times longer than an incandescent bulb.” Now that’s energy smart.
3. iRobot Roomba j7+
Our pick for the best robot vacuum, the iRobot Roomba j7+ is both an energy saver and a time saver. Our experts love that it's so programmable and flexible, making it an indispensable tool for cleaning. Its smart home settings allow you to schedule it to run when energy is cheapest and it only uses power when it's connected to its base and in need of charge. Per iRobot, “even if left plugged in all day, Roomba consumes less energy than the typical upright vacuum cleaner.” The j7+ also has the best room-modeling software that Roomba offers, meaning it’ll learn to clean your rooms quicker and more efficiently than even you can.
4. Wyze Smart Plug
A great smart plug is worth its weight in gold. Start your appliances remotely when you want, rather than leaving the Crock-Pot running all day, or set your lights to turn down at bedtime. Depending on the plug, you can even monitor your energy use, which could encourage you to try to best the previous month’s numbers. Our pick for the best smart plug is the Wyze Smart Plug, which our experts say “maintains a strong and stable connection to help control your devices whether you’re sitting on the couch or the other side of the world." Plus, it's super easy to set up.
5. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit
Control the intensity of your light with a touch of your finger, and monitor the lights you left on around the house from wherever you are with a smart bulb. Our reviewers love the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit, because it allows for easy setup, has an intuitive app and offers a ton of smart lighting features. “The bulbs support home automations like automatically turning on when you’re near your house or setting your lights to a slow dim as you drift off to sleep at night," our experts said in testing. "And with a battery-powered Philips Hue motion sensor, you can set your lights to trigger when motion is detected.”
6. Google Nest Learning Thermostat
In the winter months, a neglected thermostat can be one of your energy bill’s biggest enemies. If you leave for work without dialing the temperature down, you’ll end up paying for eight hours of warm air that you weren’t even enjoying. Take control of your household heat needs with a smart thermostat. Our experts' pick is the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, which uses motion sensors and your phone’s location to determine what the ideal temperature for your house. We also like that it's compatible with most utility companies' energy-saving plans and rebates.
7. Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit
Interested in converting to smart bulbs but a little put off by the initial investment? Consider opting for a smart dimmer switch instead, which our reviewers say is an especially attractive choice for multi-bulb light fixtures. Reviewed’s favorite in-wall smart dimmer switch is the Lutron Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Starter Kit, which our reviewers said you can set up in minutes and conveniently works with all three major smart home systems: Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home.”
8. Flo By Moen Smart Water Leak Detector
A smart water leak detector offers peace of mind: If you’re ever away from home and a pipe bursts, you’ll know within minutes, potentially saving thousands of dollars and a lifetime of headaches. It also offers energy savings by monitoring leaky washing machines, pipes and faucets, making it a great investment for anyone looking to streamline their energy consumption. Our experts’ pick for the best out there is the Flo by Moen Smart Water Leak Detector, which they say is “the most intelligent leak detector we’ve tested thanks to real-time alerts when a leak occurs.”
9. Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
If you live somewhere warmer and are running automated sprinklers all winter, consider picking up a smart sprinkler controller, which can intuitively sense when your grass needs watering. Our favorite, the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, offers a world of customization, making it a gardener’s dream. “When we let the Rachio 3 set the watering schedule, we chose the Flexible Daily schedule option, which uses public weather data to determine soil moisture depending on the questions you answered," our experts explained. "There are additional features like Weather Intelligence, which enables the ability to automatically skip a session if rain or excessive wind is underway; and Smart Cycle, which splits watering times into shorter, more frequent cycles to prevent runoff.” That’s some next level yard work.
10. Sense Energy Monitor
A favorite of Amazon users, the Sense Energy Monitor does just that: It tracks how much electricity you’re using at any given time and identifies patterns in your household so that you can be more efficient and cost-conscious. The system even supports your carrier’s time-of-use rate plans and can be set to alert you if a certain item—say, a flat iron—is left on when it shouldn’t be. Amazon users say it’s “very accurate,” and note that the device can more than pay for itself over time.
11. Blackout Curtains
Blackout curtains aren’t just for baby bedrooms and people who work night shifts. They’re also very energy conscious, with most blackout fabric offering a level of insulation against chilly winter windows. While there’s a whole world of great blackout curtain options out there, nearly 40,000 Amazon shoppers recommend Nicetown’s panels, which come in 14 sizes and 22 colors.
12. Motion Sensor LED Night Lights
Regular night lights are great if you’re scared of the dark or take frequent early morning trips to the bathroom, but they’re not especially energy efficient. Tweak your night light habit with these cordless motion sensor night lights, which stick anywhere and only turn on when they sense someone moving around. They’re great for closets, stairways and pantries. Amazon users call them “a great buy for the price,” saying they work well on stairs and offer a level of safety and security whenever the power is out, too.
13. Heartland Natural Energy Saving Dryer Vent Closure
Covering the dryer vent on the exterior of your house can not only keep cold air out, it can help keep warm air in. Heartland’s Natural Energy Saving Dryer Vent Closure is easy to install and it's effective at what it's designed to do—so much so that it can even help keep pesky critters from getting inside your home’s cozy confines. Amazon users call it a “must-have accessory,” with one noting that “this thing is amazing and completely took the cold away.”
14. SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls
Cleaning out your dryer's lint trap is important both for fire safety and to help your dryer run more efficiently. Another way to do the latter? With dryer balls. These wool ones are reusable and eco-friendly, and their spherical shape means clothes will be more spaced out, allowing for more air circulation and a quicker dry. SnugPad says the balls’ wool also absorbs moisture and helps remove wrinkles, and Amazon users say they’ve noticed their drying times getting anywhere from 10 to 20 percent shorter.
15. Twin Draft Guard
One of the simplest energy saving items that’s also one of the best, the Twin Draft Guard helps keep cold air from sneaking underneath your exterior doors. (It works for A/C in the summer, too) The easy-to-install guard slips onto the bottom of most doors and is compatible with all types of flooring, including carpet. It’s double-sided, and can also help keep noise, dust, dirt, and bugs from sneaking into your house. Amazon buyers seem to think it’s great, giving it an average 4 stars with over 7,000 user ratings.
16. Honeywell Xerxes Ceiling Fan
While ceiling fans can do a great job cooling down rooms in the summer, they also serve a meaningful purpose in the winter. Reverse the fan’s direction and the blades will push all that rising hot air back down into the room, making your house more energy-efficient. Honeywell’s Xerxes ceiling fan is especially striking, with its 62-inch blade span, handy remote and modern blades. More than 2,700 Amazon shoppers approve, saying that even at its lowest settings it's very powerful.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: How to lower your electric bill in winter: 16 things to reduce energy costs