How to Lower Your Utility Bills with Smart Tech

Tyler Abbott
Staff Writer, Mobile & Wireless
Read More
September 19, 2022
4 min read

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A few months ago, I bought solar panels for my home, and now I literally don’t pay an electric bill anymore. Relax, this isn’t an article (strictly) about solar energy because there’s more to the equation to keep your utility bill low.

Smart devices give you more control to run things as efficiently as possible. You can set schedules for air conditioners and sprinklers, as well as turn off those devices remotely if you don’t need to run them.

Solar panels

You’ve probably already had somebody try to sell you solar panels before. I’m pretty sure local solar-panel sales people camped outside our neighborhood, waiting for someone to move in so they could knock on the door. I’m not trying to sell you anything, but I just want to nerd out a bit about how much I’m saving on my utility bill.

This is how much energy I used in my house in the month of July:

energy produced screenshot

Listen, I’m no scientist, but 530.8 feels like a big number, so let’s compare that to the usage reported on my utility bill.

utility bill screenshot

My solar panels produced more energy than we used in my house. My local utility company still finds a way to charge me money every month, but I can confidently run all my smart tech at my home without worrying about racking up a huge electric bill. If you like to keep your thermostat low during the summer, solar panels basically give you a blank check to make it autumn weather inside your house all year long.

Don’t stop there with solar
Bullhorn

You can also get solar-powered security cameras (we loved the Reolink Argus 3) and solar-powered power stations, which are especially helpful for digital nomads. As a rule of thumb: anything solar-powered should help lower your utility bill.

Smart thermostat

Almost half of the cost of your utility bill comes from your cooling and heating system. A smart thermostat helps you set schedules and optimize your air conditioning to reduce costs. You can also control your system from your phone, so you can turn off your system altogether if the day ends up being more mild than expected. Now a days, there are tons of smart thermostats to choose from, but we narrowed it down to our four favorite options:

Compare best smart thermostats
Product
Price
HVAC compatibility
Sensors
Details
Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
$248.50
Gas
Oil
Electric
Conventional
Heat pump
Boilers
Dual fuel systems
Temperature
Humidity
Occupancy
Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)
$239.00
Gas
Electric
Forced air
Heat pump
Radiant
Oil
Hot water
Solar
Geothermal
Temperature
Humidity
Occupancy
Ambient light
Honeywell T5+ Smart Thermostat
$149.99
Gas
Oil
Forced air
Heat pumps
Hot water
Temperature
Mysa Smart Thermostat
$139.00
Electric baseboard
Fan-forced
Self-contained hydronic baseboard
In-ceiling radiant heaters
Temperature
Humidity

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 12/17/2021 11:15 MST).

All of these smart thermostats come equipped with features like temperature sensors, smart-home integration, and zoning options so you can keep it warmer in grandma’s room and cooler in your room.

I use an Ecobee SmartThermostat in my home, and features like vacation mode have made my life easier. I’m not sure if it’s a feature or an annoyance, but my thermostat also tells me when it would be more efficient to run the air conditioning. Like most folks in August, I start to feel a little warm in the afternoon, and when I turn up my air conditioning, my Ecobee tells me that I could save money by waiting until the evening to run my air conditioning. I usually ignore the suggestion, but it’s good to know when money gets tight.

Smart light bulbs

Similar to smart thermostats, smart light bulbs give you the ability to control your energy usage from outside of the house. If only these things existed in the 90’s when my Dad would stress about turning off lights before we left the house. It may seem excessive to worry about light bulbs, considering they cost about nickel an hour to power, but with enough hours and enough light bulbs, you end up padding your utility bill more than necessary.

You can easily get decision paralysis when it comes to smart light bulbs, so here’s an overview of our favorite options:

Best smart light bulb comparison
Model
Price
Protocols
Lifespan
Learn more
Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit*

$179.99

Zigbee, Bluetooth

25,000 hrs.

Yeelight Smart LED Color Bulb

$35.99

Wi-Fi

25,000 hrs.

Wyze Bulb

$12.29

Wi-Fi

20,000 hrs.

LIFX Mini White

$23.55

Wi-Fi

22.8 yrs.

Sengled Smart Wi-Fi Bulb

$14.99

Wi-Fi

20,000 hrs.

Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb

$32.99

Wi-Fi

20,000 hrs.

TP-Link Kasa Filament Bulb

$16.99

Wi-Fi

Unlisted

Nanoleaf Canvas Smart Light Panels

$199.99

Wi-Fi

25,000 hrs.

Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip

$146.98

Zigbee

25,000 hrs.

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 10/13/2020 03:43 PST).

If you really want to bring your house to the 21st century, the Phillips Hue starter kit gives you the most options. You can connect your lightbulbs via Bluetooth, or you can opt for a Zigbee connection that gives you a much longer range than Bluetooth.

Smart outlets

You’re probably noticing a trend by now: turning off your devices from your phone can save you tons of cash on your utility bill. Smart outlets can turn any random device into a remote device when you plug it in.

For example, I built a souped-up PC during the pandemic that can suck up power. Since I use a smart outlet, I can remotely power off and power on my PC from my phone. Not to get too nerdy, but since I remote into my computer to play games on my phone, the ability to turn on and off my computer from anywhere makes a big difference.

Whatever energy-sucking device you have in your house can easily get turned off remotely with a smart plug. You can find smart plugs just about anywhere, but four options in particular stand out for being budget-friendly with easy smart-home integration:

Best smart plugs comparison
Product
List price
Smart home automation
Learn more

Wemo Smart Plug

$31.99

Amazon Alexa,Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit

Wyze Smart Home Plug

$11.28

Amazon Alexa,Google Assistant,IFTTT

TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug

$38.99

Amazon Alexa,Google Assistant,IFTTT

D-Link Smart Outdoor Plug

$25.23

Amazon Alexa,Google Assistant,IFTTT

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 08/22/22 11:53 MST). 

Smart sprinklers

If you look at your latest utility bill, you might feel surprised to see how much of the cost comes from water usage. (I was paying upwards of $80/month for my water.) Smart sprinklers let you easily set schedules from your phone and alter schedules when the weather changes. If you see some storm clouds rolling in, you can pause your sprinkler schedule and let mother nature take care of the lawn.

Smart sprinklers, like the Rachio 3 on Amazon, can tell you exactly how much water your lawn gets, and they’ll even shut the sprinkler off if there’s a leak somewhere in the hose.

Recap

Lowering your utility bill all comes down to one word: control. Smart devices give you more control and the ability to run things much more efficiently. You can turn off all the lightbulbs in your home by tapping a button on your phone, or you can turn off the air conditioner when you’re off on vacation. All of these little actions help a ton to lower your utility bill payment.

Tyler Abbott
Written by
Tyler Abbott
Tyler has been obsessed with watching sports as efficiently as possible since the creation of the DVR. He is always on the lookout for the best tech in TV and wireless so he can watch all the sports and still have enough time to hang out with his baby. He has written about streaming, wireless, and TV for over three years. He hopes the Lakers will eventually get better.

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