Smart home tech can help save money on energy bills

·2 min read

As summer temperatures around the country soar, many consumers are seeing their energy bills spike. The average monthly energy bill in the U.S. was $121 in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Consumers can keep their homes cooler by using blackout curtains or blinds and keeping them closed during the sunniest part of the day. Turning up the temperature on air conditioners by 7°F to 10°F for at least eight hours a day can shave off as much as 10% from yearly energy costs, Energy.gov reports.

A home energy audit with a local professional who can make recommendations can also help make a house more energy efficient.

And a smart thermostat can automate temperature shifts and help to reduce energy bills. A smart thermostat uses WiFi to connect with an app on the owner's phone. Some models even know when the user's phone leaves the house and adjusts the heating or cooling accordingly.

"You can raise or lower the temperature when you're not home, so you're not using energy in the house when you're not going to be around to benefit from it," says Sara Rathner, a NerdWallet personal finance expert. "You can also control your heating and cooling systems from wherever you are, as long as you have your phone on you."Not all home heating and cooling systems are compatible with smart home thermostats, though. Most thermostats work best with forced air-type systems, so they won't work with radiant heating systems.

Prices for smart home thermostats start at about $100 and go up from there, while a more traditional manual thermostat can be purchased for under $30. Rathner suggests looking for seasonal savings like Black Friday deals. Some energy providers offer discounts or rebates on new smart thermostats, too. EnergyStar.gov has a rebate tool to help consumers find rebates in their state.

Other high-tech gadgets like smart plugs, lightbulbs, and power strips connected to a smart home assistant can also enable consumers to reduce unnecessary use of lights and cut power to appliances that continue to draw energy even when not in use.

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