By Noah Henry • April 24, 2014
We all lead busy lives. We come home from work, usually exhausted, and the last thing we want is to do chores. There’s been a big wave recently suggesting the money-saving benefits and self-reliance involved with do-it-yourself projects. Of course, DIY projects tend to save money. But do they save time? Therein lies the rub.
From experience, not too many people actually enjoy doing that extra work. I’d say only a small percentage of people have the time and resources to make magic out of baking soda, emulsify lotions into luxury cosmetics, and pillage the neighborhood beehive for honey. If this is your mindset, there are plenty of decidedly anti-DIY products out there; these gadgets are the antithesis to do-it-yourself projects, or, if you will, products for lazy people. If you simply don’t have the energy for work outside of work—and would potentially like to see some savings in the long run—here are four household gadgets that save you time and money:
iRobot Braava 380T
It’s your own personal robot maid. The Braava 380T works entirely autonomously, allowing you to forego those dreaded daily cleanings. It employs its NorthStar Navigation System to keep track of where it’s been and where it needs to go, as well as smart censors to avoid problem areas, such as stairs. It dry mops up to 1,000 square feet and damp mops up to 350 square feet. If you have a larger surface area in your home, you can purchase NorthStar Navigation Cubes with capabilities to cover 2,000 square feet. Eliminating dust and dirt and grime from every hard surface, including walls, the Braava 380T is the current most cutting-edge cleaning product on the market.
It’s currently listed at $299.99 on the iRobot site, but you can get it for 10% off right now. Considering the time you’d spend scrubbing floors or the money you’d spend enlisting the help of a maid, the Braava 380T is the smarter cost-cutting alternative for the long-term.
Nest Programmable Thermostat
The average person spends $2,000 per year paying energy bills and nearly half comes from heating and cooling. Programmable thermostats are not a new thing, but recent developments have been essential to shaving costs and maximizing energy efficiency. One such model is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is available at Home Depot and Sears for under $300. According to Nest, thermostats are responsible for controlling 10 percent of U.S. energy consumption. Of the 250 million programmable thermostats in the country, only 10 percent are programmed to save energy.
The Nest Learning Thermostat can lower your bills by up to 20 percent, remembering your preferred temperatures, turning off when you’re away and utilizing cloud computing to detect weather forecasts to adjust accordingly. It recognizes your schedule only after a few days of use and begins working on its own to accommodate your presence. When you’re away, it automatically goes into energy-saving mode. In some cases, people have noticed their natural gas bills dropping over $500 a year after installation. Controllable by smartphone, tablet and laptop, old thermostats (from the 90’s) blunt, antiquated models by comparison.
Think of all the devices you have in your home: a toaster, a DVD player, a cell phone charger—there may be dozens more. Did you know every device you have consumes a tiny bit of electricity, even when it's not in use? This is called “vampire energy.” The EPA estimates that “phantom power usage” costs about $10 billion annually. And with every home owning 40 appliances on average, this vampire becomes more significant.
Enter the SmartStrip LCG4. Ten outlets work as one, and they autoswitch your devices on or off depending on which device you plug into the control outlet. If you plug in your main device—say, a PC—into the control outlet, shutting the PC down will cause all other devices to shut down, too. It completely saves you from phantom power usage. The SmartStrip LCG4 is available at Newegg, Sears, Walmart and Amazon. The lowest price online is $33.99 at Sears.
Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Even John Lennon wouldn’t be able to imagine something this good. The Harmony 650 renders the need for multiple remotes obsolete. It has the capacity to control up to eight devices, and is compatible with more than 225,000 across more than 5,000 brands. If saving space and time is a priority, this remote is simple to activate, use and control. You can tap on its LCD display to either “Watch TV” or “Watch ROKU” or “Watch LG Blu-ray”—whichever device you need hooked up. Activation is simple, and I’d say revolutionary: you plug the Harmony 650 into your computer, go to the Logitech website, and add each device you have; it then installs the codes you need, all in less than 10 minutes. Obviously, having only one remote will save you the costs of paying for future remotes. You can find the Harmony 650 at Logitech, Best Buy and Amazon. The lowest price available right now is at Amazon for $64.99.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!