• Melanie Evans

Reduce Utility Costs with Smart and Sustainable In-Home Technology



Using utilities has a lot of financial and environmental costs. We often don't realize how much we're consuming until the utility bill arrives, and we're all guilty of it. We scratch our heads, thinking to ourselves, "wow, there's no way I used 897 kilowatt-hours this month." (A typical North American household consumes that much per month and 10,766 kWh per year.)


One question that every would be buyer has when viewing a Waterloo region home for sale is how much will basic utilities cost them. It’s a smart question, as that is a part of the ‘total cost’ of owning the home they need to consider. But the fact is that it’s something every homeowner should think about.


Fortunately, there are a number of in-home tech products that can help you save money on your home’s utility bills while also helping the environment.


How Much Electricity Do You Consume in Your Home?


Your utility bill is calculated each month based on how many kilowatt-hours you use.


So, how far does a kilowatt-hour get you?


A kilowatt-hour, which is a unit of electrical energy equal to 1,000 watts of power consumed for one hour, could power ten 100-watt incandescent lightbulbs for an hour.


One kwh costs about $0.12 (so, despite your mother's advice to turn off the lights to save money, leaving the lights on isn't as expensive as it appears). Check out this table, which shows how much energy common household appliances use in a typical month:


Appliance average kWh per hour used each month and average cost



So, do you have to put on a sweater or take a cold shower as a result? Certainly not. By utilizing the latest in-home technology, you can save hundreds of kWh each month if you know what you're doing.


Heating and Air Conditioning


Smart Thermostat: No matter what climate you live in, consider investing in a smart thermostat like the Nest to save money on heating and cooling. The majority of them are compatible with Google Home, Echo, and other in-home automated assistants, and they work by maintaining consistent temperature settings. Some have sensors to monitor hot and cold spots in your home, and you can program them to control the temperatures while you're at work, on vacation, or sleeping, so you're not wasting energy on climate control you don't require.


Motorized Shades:


These days, many motorized shades allow you to program specific times for them to open or close. Regardless of whether you are at home or not, this is usually done through an app on your phone. By keeping the sun out when it's hot outside or opting to let the light warm up your space, you'll save money. Honeycomb shades are designed specifically for insulation, but any shade or drape with the proper spacing will help you save money on heating.


Savings on average: $131 to $145 per year


Smart Lights




Smart lights, such as Philips Hue and LIFX, can save you money by allowing you to program, detect motion, and control your lights remotely while you're away from home, but that's not all. Smart lights are LEDs, which are less expensive to operate; an LED only costs a few pennies to run, whereas old incandescent lights cost about 11 times more.


Savings range from $80 to $120 per year on average.


All That Entertainment Stuff


Because video game consoles and some other appliances consume energy even when they aren't in use, a conservation-themed surge protector, such as the Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector, allows you to turn them off with a remote. When your plugged-in devices are in standby mode, other types, such as ThinkEco, reduce consumption.


Savings: $60 to $80 per year on average


Laundry


Although energy-efficient washers are pretty much all you'll find when you shop, know that certified ENERGY STAR products can help you save money and water, so if you pay a water bill, you'll get even more bang for your buck. You can save even more money by washing your clothes in warm (not hot) or cold water. An ENERGY STAR washing machine, on average, uses 25% less energy than its non-eco-friendly counterparts.


Savings range from $75 to $125 per year on average.


How Much Water Does Your Household Use?


While estimates vary based on location, the average Canadian household uses about 90 gallons of water every day. Most of that water goes right down the toilet – literally. Toilet flushing and showers are the two biggest culprits when it comes to wasting water, and dishwashers, washing machines and outdoor watering are right behind them. Check out this chart to figure out how much water the average Canadian household uses each year and how much it costs (tap water costs about $0.004 per gallon).




Other than cutting down on water consumption by investing in ENERGY STAR appliances, doing fewer loads of laundry and taking shorter showers, there are a few devices you can add to your home to drastically reduce your water consumption.


Showers and Faucets

  • High-efficiency faucet aerator: Installing a high-efficiency faucet aerator in your shower and on your taps can cut your water consumption in half. Because they add air, you won’t suffer a loss in pressure.

  • Smart home water meter: You can also opt for a smart home water meter, which shows you how you’re using water around the house, as well as how much you’re using. You’ll be able to keep tabs on how much goes to laundry, lawn irrigation and other applications in your home, and you can create a “signature” for each appliance to get a better understanding of where you can cut back and prevent your budget from drying up.

Average Savings: About $100 per year


Toilets

  • Smart toilets: First, they can help you save water, and second, they can eliminate toilet paper waste – so that means you’re helping the environment in two ways. Toilets labeled with WaterSense labels can reduce water usage by 20-60% and save around 13,000 gallons of water per year.

Average Savings: About $100 per year


Smart Home Security

  • Smart Home Security System: Having a smart home security system in place can save you money on homeowners insurance. Think of it like having airbags in the car – your insurer knows that you’re taking measures to mitigate risk, which means your rates are likely to go down.

The latest-and-greatest security systems monitor your home’s electricity and wiring, and record activity that goes on inside and outside your house. Sometimes you can even get a claims-free credit, which offers you a discount if you haven’t made a claim in the past.


Average Savings: Up to 20% of your normal bill

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