Even as appliances get more complicated, many are also gaining in energy efficiency. Your home probably “spends” most of its electricity on heat and air conditioning, and after that, large appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, and water heaters tend to suck up the most power. When you have the opportunity to replace an aging appliance, check for the smart energy options available today, and you’ll often save money over the life of the appliance as well as make less of an impact on the world around you!
Home Energy Management Systems are emerging as an opportunity for homeowners to better monitor and manage their energy consumption. The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, a nonprofit focused on smart energy usage, compiled a list of smart home devices and energy management systems that can help you monitor your energy usage. Some of the products they list will be very familiar to smarthome aficionados — like Amazon’s Echo and Tap devices, Apple’s Homekit, Belkin, Insteon, and SmartThings smarthome products, and many other devices focused mostly on energy usage. If your smarthome devices are monitoring your lights and home temperature for efficient usage, you’re probably already saving!
Some smart appliances today use special meters that also time-shift their work to off-peak energy hours. In some parts of the country, you’ll save money if your refrigerator defrosts at night instead of mid-day, and everywhere, you’ll lower the demand on the grid during peak hours.
One smart device turns any tank water heater into a more energy efficient appliance. Aquanta ($149) is expected to ship later this summer, and it attaches to your water heater. It learns when you use hot water, and has it ready for you then—and it turns your hot water heater off when you don’t need it, avoiding wasting energy to keep water hot for hours while you’re away from home. Unexpectedly need hot water at 3 p.m.? Use the Aquanta app to manually control your hot water heater and you’ll be ready.
Some smart appliances focus on more than just energy efficiency, though. While the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator ($5,599.99 and up) earns an Energy Star rating, you’ll probably be more impressed with its ability to play your Pandora tunes, manage your grocery list, and show the family calendar on its touchscreen.
Another way you can save with some smart appliance purchases is a tax break. Check out the list of appliances that qualify for a U.S. federal tax credit in 2015 and 2016 if you just bought or you’re thinking of a major purchase like a heat pump, air conditioner, insulation, water heater, and others. Your state may also offer incentive programs, and your utility may, as well. Check with both before you buy!
Whether you have any smart appliances or not, you can save by making smart choices. Remember these tips:
- A full refrigerator is more efficient—but not packed so full that air can’t circulate.
- Let food cool for a little while before putting in the fridge.
- Turn your thermostats down or up when you’re not home, so you’re not heating or cooling a house no one is in.
- Try setting your thermostats 1 degree warmer or cooler than you normally would. That feel OK? Go one more degree until you can’t go any farther.
- Unplug electrical appliances when they aren’t in use.