The Internet of Things (IOT) is not just a buzz word or “millennial thing” anymore. Smart home technology and the IOT is now mainstream. It’s time to put it to work to save money around your home. In this article, we explain what the IOT is. We also highlight three key ways to save money with smart thermostats, smart hubs, and smart lighting.
What is the Internet of Things (IOT)?
According to the all knowing Wikipedia, the Internet of Things refers to a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items with sensors that gather, store and analyze data. And since they’re all linked to the Internet, they can upload that data for further processing, download updated software and often be controlled from afar. The end result should be efficiency improvement, economic benefits and reduced human exertion.
In people speak? The IOT is all about devices that make your life easier and help your home be more efficient.
Some examples include:
- Smart Home Hubs & Controllers — like Amazon Echo or Google Home that allow you to control multiple smart devices with a simple command.
- Smart Home Surveillance Cameras — like Ring, Skycall, Nest, that let you monitor and view your home remotely.
- Smart Locks and Home Security Systems — like SimpliSafe, Scout, iSmartAlarm, allowing you to cost effectively secure and monitor your home.
- Smart Thermostat — like Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, Emerson Sensi, that automatically adjust based on your behavior, weather and your home.
- Smart Lightbulbs & Switches — like Ecobee Switch+ or Lutron Caseta, a smart light switch can allow you to control your lights from your smart phone.
How Do I Use IOT to make a Smart Home?
The biggest opportunity for home savings is to focus on lowering your electricity consumption. And since approximately 60% of your electricity usage comes from heating and cooling, a smart thermostat is the best place to start.
Past generations of programmable thermostats were able to maintain a cooling schedule that you set manually, or managed with an app or from your computer. But that assumes the thermostat is being used correctly. Studies have revealed that 72% of programmable thermostat owners admit to not knowing how to set their thermostat. That pretty much eliminates the benefit.
A connected smart thermostat can optimize your home (Ecobee), or learn your behavior and automatically react (Nest). No programming required, just answer some simple questions on set-up.
How Does a Smart Thermostat Save Me Money?
Here are some examples of how a smart thermostat can save you money.
Your Ecobee thermostat knows the temperature and humidity outside your home, from an external data network. It also knows how long your house takes to reach a setpoint (the goal temperature you’ve set on your thermostat) based on the current temperature and humidity in your home, and the outside temperature. You’ve answered a survey on what time you come home from work every day.
The thermostat goes to work pre-cooling your home prior to your arrival. It runs your AC in the most efficient way possible, to save you money.
Now isn’t that better than sweating when you get home? No more anxiously gazing at the thermostat, wondering why it isn’t cooling faster. (And no, it won’t get cooler faster if you lower the temperature even more.)
Your Nest thermostat learns your routines and uses subtle cues to help you save energy. Nest also offers “demand response” programs that could further save energy — and your money — by automatically using less power at times of peak demand on the grid.
#Trending…Take Full Smart Home Control
Things we only dreamed about in The Jetsons have come to life with smart home hubs and controllers. “Alexa, turn on the lights.” “Hey Google, pay my electricity bill.” “Siri, make it cooler in here.”
In addition to voice control, these smart hubs can all be controlled remotely, via your smart phone. And, you can link multiple devices to them for one centralized command and control site, simplifying how you manage your smart home. You can also program home hubs to run “routines” around your home, a set of pre-programmed actions that will activate at a pre-set time, or when you say a particular phrase.
For example, if you set up a bedtime routine, you can just say, “Alexa, time for bed.” Alexa would turn down the temperature to make it cool at night (so you can take advantage of a free nights electricity plan!), lock all the doors, and turn off the lights.
Recognizing the value of home automation, some Texas Retail Energy Providers even include a free Amazon Echo device when you sign up for an electricity plan!
Nothing welcomes you home like a house that’s lit up. When you smarten up your lighting, you can control when the lights come on throughout your home. There are two options for smart lighting — smart light bulbs, and smart switches.
Smart LED light bulbs offer features that let you schedule or remotely control their operation. Some bulbs use geofencing, which operates with the GPS on your smartphone to know your exact location and turn on or off when you reach a certain point. There are bulbs that change color to supply great mood lighting or bulbs that can even sync up with a movie you’re watching to add extra special effects.
Newer on the market are Smart Switches. Instead of automating a single lamp, you’ll automate the on/off switch itself (or control it via your smartphone.)
You can also connect certain smart light bulbs to an Amazon Echo or other similar personal assistants and control them with your voice. Some smart bulbs can be integrated with your security system, thermostats, and other smart home devices. This lets them operate in conjunction with each other.
Smart lighting solutions are readily available and easy to find at places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Amazon.com.
Smart Technology — Here to Stay
Whether you start small with lighting, go for the big money saver with a smart thermostat, or automate your life with a home hub, smart home technology is not just for early adopters anymore. It’s mainstream technology that can save you time and money around your home.