By Noah Henry • October 25, 2013
It’s becoming easier to embrace a greener lifestyle thanks to innovations in smart household technology. From app-controlled thermostats to energy-conservative power strips, tech companies are expediently bringing methods for home sustainability to the mainstream.
It’s about time. According to a study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the U.S. wastes 58 percent of the total energy it produces. This means, unfortunately and rather absurdly, we are only 42 percent energy efficient as a country. Introducing green household technology is a big step in reversing this sobering statistic.
Here are a few ways you can minimize the amount of energy you waste, while saving money in the process:
Invest in a 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) are blunt, antiquated models by comparison.
Invest in SMART APPLIANCES. Though expensive by comparison to older models, smart appliances such as water heaters, refrigerators, and washing machines make up for initial expenses by operating at a much lower cost. Samsung, LG and Whirlpool have been leaders in smart household technology, manufacturing energy-star appliances that make units produced 10 years ago run like stone-age apparatuses.
Whirlpool’s 80 Gallon Hybrid Electric Heat Pump requires less than half the operating costs of traditional water heaters. Considering water heaters suck up 20 percent of energy in each home, this could save you roughly $200 per year. Refrigerators, the third most energy-draining appliance in the household, have seen considerable developments over the years. A refrigerator made in 1980 was 146 percent less efficient than one made in 2001. LG’s Linear Compressor Motor refrigerator, pictured above, will skim 20 percent off your monthly bill.
According to the Water Sense, the average U.S. uses 400 gallons of water every day. Energy-Star certified washing machines, like the Samsung Capacity Top Load Washer, let you load up to 2.6 laundry baskets into a single load, effectively lowering the amount of water you use.
Don’t get bit by the VAMPIRE. The EPA estimates vampire energy costs $10 billion annually. When you turn off your television, game console, or any kind of entertainment device, it automatically goes to “standby mode,” which continues to suck up energy. With every home using 40 appliances on average, it can be extremely useful to invite smart power strips to the family.
Smart power strips shut down every component attached to the surge protector when you turn off the “control” device. For example, the Belkin Conserve Smart Surge Protector—available at DELL—pulls the plug on every device in the vicinity after you turn off your TV. Newegg and Casa.com sell similar varieties.
Use LIGHT OCCUPANCY SENSORS. If you have kids, you’ll understand the importance of these. (They never listen when I tell them to turn off the light!) Electricity costs $0.10 per kilowatt hour, and the average household dedicates 11 percent to its lighting. A simple way to lower this cost is to ensure lights go on and off punctually, without ever forgetting.
The Health-Zenith Occupancy Sensor is one such model available at Tiger Direct, Lighting Direct and Walmart for less than $40. Having one of these in the household will save you exponentially over time.
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!