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14 smart home devices to save you money 2019

Improve your efficiency and lower your bills with these smart products

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Many smart home devices exist to make your life easier, automating processes around the house and giving you app or even voice control.

But many can also be used to lower your energy bills and save you money. Smart thermostats help deliver just the right amount of heating, while smart plugs can be switched off when the device they're attached to doesn't need to be on standby mode, and a smart home security system can work out cheaper than a professional installation.



Smart lighting with long-lasting and energy-efficient LED bulbs are also included here, along with flood and leak detectors.

Here is a selection of smart home products that can save you money:

Smart thermostat

The most obvious money-saving gadget for your smart home is the connected thermostat. These devices, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, or options from Honeywell and Ecobee, learn how you heat and cool your home, then take control in a bid to save you money. Some come with a relatively high initial cost (and installation fee) but their cost savings are claimed to be over 20 percent, so you will likely be financially better off in the long term.

Nest

Photo of a Nest Learning Thermostat on the wall

The Learning Thermostat claims to lower your heating bills by $131 to $145 per year

Nest

One of the most popular smart thermostats comes from Google-owned Nest. The company's $249 Learning Thermostat does exactly that - you install it and control it manually for the first few days, and once it has learn your heating and cooling preferences it takes control in a bid to lower your energy usage, and save you money.

The Nest connects to a wide range of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, comes in four colors to suit your decor, and can be operated remotely via a smartphone and tablet app. Geofencing means the thermostat will lower the heating when you leave the house, and switch off the hot water when you are on holiday.

Available on Best Buy

Because Nest thermostats have an internet connection, they can adjust your heating and cooling based on the local weather forecast - so the heating won't come on during an unseasonably warm day, saving you money. In total, Nest believes US customers can save between $131 and $145 per year on their heating bill, meaning the Nest could pay for itself in two years.

New for 2018, Nest's Temperature Sensor lets the thermostat know the temperature of each room, rather than the Nest only knowing the temperature of its location, which is often the hallway. Sensors cost $39 each, or a set of three costs $99.

Note: The Nest can be controlled with voice commands issued to the Google Assistant, but support for IFTTT (and likely Alexa too) will be terminated by Google on August 31, 2019. The company said on May 7 it will be closing its Works with Nest platform, ending interactions between all Nest devices and systems like IFTTT. Automation will instead be handled by Google's own new Works with Google Assistant program.

Ecobee 4

Photo of the Ecobee 4 smart thermostat

The Ecobee 4 is currently reduced from $249 to $199

Ecobee

The Ecobee 4 smart thermostat works in a similar way to the Nest products mentioned above, but in addition to managing your climate, the Ecobee has Alexa integrated.

This means you can speak to your thermostat in the same way you'd talk to an Amazon Echo or Sonos One smart speaker. You can ask it to play music, set timers and alarms, switch on smart lights, and add things to your to-do list. Basically, everything you already use Alexa for, plus you can of course use her to control your heating.

Available on Amazon

Ecobee's other big feature is its ability to know when each room of your home is occupied. One sensor comes in the box, but a further 31 can be added. The sensors tell the thermostat the temperature of each room, and if they are occupied - so only the rooms people are in will be heated. If no one is home, the temperature in every room will automatically be lowered.

Ecobee claims its system can reduce your annual heating and cooling costs by 23 percent.

Honeywell Evohome Wi-Fi

The Evohome Wi-Fi controller

Honeywell

The Evohome by Honeywell is a wireless control panel which can be used to manage your home climate. When left to automatic, the thermostat can individually adjust the temperature of up to 12 rooms, helping to only use energy to heat the rooms you are using.

Honeywell says the system can reduce your energy bills by up to 40 percent, and there's a smartphone app to take remote control - handy if you want to heat the house on your way home from an early finish at work. There is also support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT (If This, Then That).

Smart garden sprinkler and irrigation system

Smart sprinkler systems save you money by only using the water your garden needs, when they need it. They do this by knowing what soil type is in each area of your plot, and what plants grow there. Smart sprinklers also keep an eye on the weather forecast, so will hold back on the watering when rain is falling.

Read More:

Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller

Photo of Netro smart sprinkler controller and smartphone with their app Netro

This smart sprinkler system by Netro can control six zones across your garden, knows the water requirements for over 1,000 species of plant, and is compatible with Alexa so you can control it by speaking to the Amazon assistant.

The amount of water distributed in each zone is adjusted based on the plants you have living there, along with the weather forecast and historical climate statistics. Being connected to the Wi-Fi means you can control the system remotely - while away on vacation, for example - from your smartphone (iOS or Android).

Netro claims the system is simple enough to be installed in just 15 minutes, making this a good option for garden amateurs; no professional tools or skills required. The company also claims using the system could save you up to 50 percent on your water bill.

Available on Amazon - $99 for 6 Zones

Rachio 3

Photo of Rachio 3 on the outside of the house.Rachio 3

The Rachio 3 uses exactly the right amount of water to keep your garden healthy

Rachio

The third-generation Rachio smart watering system can control water in up to 16 zones across your garden.

Rachio claims this system can pinpoint the weather to within a 36-foot radius of your home. Keeping such a close eye on the local weather means the Rachio will adjust its scheduled watering based on the forecast. That way, your garden won't be flooded, while your plants and lawn get the exact amount of water they need.

For an extra $50, the Rachio 3 can be bought with the company's water flow meter, which attaches to your pipe and alerts you to changes in flow, which could be a sign of a wallet-draining leak.

Available on Amazon for $229.99 - 8 Zone

Orbit B-hyve Smart WI-Fi Sprinkler Timer

Photo of the Orbit b-hyve smart irrigation system Orbit

Similar to the Rachio, the Orbit B-hyve is a smart garden watering system with Alexa integration, a scheduling system and a smartphone app for telling the device about your plants and soil type.

The Orbit app takes into account your soil and plant types, sprinkler type and quantity, sun exposure and shade. Notifications to your smartphone let you know when watering has finished, when it has been delayed by rain, and temperatures fall below freezing.

As with the Rachio, this system takes local weather forecasts into account and will delay watering if rain is headed to your location in the coming hours.

Read the GearBrain review here

12 Station Available on Amazon - $102

Leak detectors and water shut off systems

A smart water leak detector will serve two purposes in your home: alert you to a potentially damaging flood, and let you know if the pressure in your system suggests there is a leak somewhere, costing you money.

At their simplest, flood detectors sit on the floor and alert you when they get wet. More expensive systems constantly monitor the flow of your water system, alerting you to changes in pressure and letting you shut off the supply if a leak is detected.

Fibaro Flood Sensor

Photo of Fibaro Flood sensor

This sensor sits on the floor and alerts you when it gets wet

Fibaro

The Fibaro Flood Sensor can be placed on the floor close to wherever you think a leak may occur. This could be next to the washing machine, under the kitchen sink, or behind the toilet. As well as detecting moisture, the buoyant sensor measures ambient temperature, and will alert you if it has been moved or tampered with.

With the ability to connect to smart home systems like Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Google Assistant and Samsung SmartThings, you can configure the Fibaro Flood Sensor to adjust the heating based on the ambient temperature, or cut off the power to certain appliances (via smart plugs) if a leak is detected.

Available on Amazon (Apple HomeKit and Z-Wave models)

Read More:

Phyn Plus Smart Water Assistant

Product photo of the Phyn water assistant

Phyn is a company owned by Belkin

Phyn

At $850, the Phyn sure is an expensive device which you may never need to actually use. But the one day you do need it, the Phyn could save you from thousands of dollars of flood repairs. Requiring professional installation, the Phyn detects leaks in your plumbing by constantly monitoring the pressure of your water system (240 times per second).

Upon detecting a leak, the Phy can be configured to alert you via SMS and the companion smartphone app, then automatically shut off your property's water supply to prevent further damage and water loss.

Smart refrigerator

A smart refrigerator can be used to prevent food waste and lower you grocery bills. This is because they have cameras installed so you can see what's inside via your smartphone - so when you're at the store you don't buy something already in the fridge at home, and risk throwing out any waste.

Samsung Family Hub

Photo of a Samsung Family Hub smart fridge

The Famnily Hub smart fridge range by Samsung helps you save on food waste

Samsung

The Family Hub has a camera inside which snaps a photo of the contents every time you close the door. This can be views on your smartphone while grocery shopping, so you know exactly what you need to buy and what's already at home.

When adding new items to the fridge or freezer, you can tell the Family Hub what the item is and its expiry date. That way, you'll know what's still fresh, and prepare meals in a way to prevent food waste and higher grocery bills.

Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerators available at Best Buy

Smart lights

Smart lighting has quickly become a corner stone of the smart home. They are available from a wide range of companies and all use LED bulbs. These are far more energy efficient than older bulbs, as they waste far less energy producing heat.

Smart lighting can be set to any color, temperature and brightness; they come in a wide range of bulb types, including LED strips to fit under furniture or behind the television, and even weather-resistant outdoor lighting too.

Timers, motion detectors and geofencing features mean smart lights can lower your electricity bill by switching themselves off when you or your family forget.

Philips Hue

Photo of a lounge lit by Philips Hue smart lighting

Hue is arguably the most popular smart lighting systems

Philips

The simplest of Philips Hue light kits comes with bulbs and the hub, which connects to your router. Through the free Hue app you can set schedules for every Hue bulb or light strip you buy, making sure they all switch off at night, for example. The app also makes it easy to manually switch any or all lights off with a tap, and from anywhere in the world.

Add a $40 motion sensor to your Hue system and lights can be configured to switch on and off when movement is detected. Put a motion sensor in your child's bedroom, and the light will always switch off after they leave and inevitably forget to hit the switch themselves.

Similarly, geofencing can be setup with If This, Then That (IFFF). That way, you can set some or all lights to switch off when you leave the home. No more upstairs light being left on by accident.

Philips Hue Starter Kits available on Amazon for less than $100

Read the GearBrain review here

LIFX

Photo of three LIFX smart lighting bulbs

Some LIFX bulbs can be set to emit infrared light at night, helping your security cameras

LIFX

LIFX smart lights work in a similar way to Philips Hue, but are controlled directly over Wi-Fi rather than requiring their own hub. Although the company does not sell a motion sensor like Philips, an IFTTT applet like this one can be created to control the lights via a D-Link motion sensor.

Just as above, you can use this applet to have your LIFX lights switch off when you leave the room. IFTTT can also give these lights geofencing features.

Available on Amazon for less than $50

Wiz

Photo of three Wiz smart light bulbs

Wiz claims its LED bulbs use 80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs

Wiz

When we reviewed a set of Wiz smart lights in February 2018 we were impressed by the breadth of IFTTT applets available. This is key to energy-saving, as the applets can be configured to automatically switch the lights off when they aren't needed - like when you leave the house.

Because these bulbs are also LED, Wiz claims they offer an 80 percent energy saving over the traditional bulbs you might still be using. One particularly neat feature of Wiz is vacation mode, which switches your lights on and off at certain times of day to make it look like someone is home.

Available on Amazon for less than $90

Read the GearBrain review here

Smart plugs

Finally, smart plugs are quite possibly the simplest way to make your house smart - and save some money in the process. These can be used to switch off devices on a timer (every night, for example) or manually via a smartphone app, so you can make sure things are switched off wen you're away from home.

This means you can remotely make sure devices like irons and hair straighteners are switched off if you think you forgot before leaving home. For other devices you can set timers - for making sure lamps and plug-in heaters don't stay on all night, for example - or to stop your children leaving devices on standby when they could be switched off at the wall to save energy and money.

WeMo Mini Wi-Fi

Photo of Wemo Mini WiFi Smart Plug

These smart plugs talk directly to your router and smartphone - no need for a hub

WeMo

There's no need for a connected hub like those from Samsung SmartThings and Harmony to use the WeMo Mini. Instead, the plug talks directly to your router and smartphone — or to a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, or even your Nest thermostat.

Available on Amazon - $24.99

Read the GearBrain review here

TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug

Photo of a TP-Link Kasa smart plug and smartphone app

TP-Link has expanded its Kasa smart home system in the last year

TP-Link

As with the others here, no hub is required - however, TP-Link does produce its own hub, which can be used to control other smart home devices, like lights and switches. The plug has Alexa and Google Assistant control, plus options to group multiple devices together (like all of those in the same room) and create scenes with the Kasa app.

Available on Amazon

Read the GearBrain review here

Check out The GearBrain to see what other connected devices work with Google Home or Amazon Alexa enabled device.


How to Install Nest Smart Thermostat www.youtube.com


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