If you’re looking to save money every month, your family’s home electric bill is a good place to start. Smart, green tech updates will save a lot of electricity — and money — over the course of a year. Even small changes add up quick.
From home heating to lighting, I’ve compiled a list of four simple tech upgrades for your home that will save you a combined $225 or more per year on your utility bills. Most can be installed yourself with a little bit of handyman knowhow. And, once they’re installed, these devices are smart enough to take care of racking up the savings.
Nest Learning Thermostat Gen 3
Average savings: $130 – $145 per year*
One of the most powerful ways to save money on your home heating bills in the winter and electricity bills in the summer is to install a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermometer Gen 3. It takes indoor and outdoor humidity and temperature into account when cooling or heating your house, making temperature settings feel more consistent from season to season. You can even have the Nest track your smartphone’s location, automatically turning the AC or furnace off when you’re away and turning them on when you return. And, of course, you can always control settings manually on the thermostat itself or via the included Nest app.
The Nest Learning Thermometer Gen 3 is currently available for purchase through amazon.com for $249. Be sure to check with your local utility to see if any special rebates are available to lower the price even further.
Lutron Occupancy-sensing Light Switch
Average savings: $10 per year per switch*
Does it seem like there’s one room of the house where the lights are always on, even though no one ever seems to be in there? Fight back against wasteful lighting with the Lutron Maestro occupancy sensor switch. It’s a replacement for a standard light switch that senses when people enter and leave a room (from up to 30 feet away), turning the lights on and off as needed. Advanced XCT technology helps the switch know when you’re moving around a room, so you won’t get accidentally left in the dark. Smarter yet, if the Maestro sensor detects enough natural light, the switch stays off. I like it for guest bathrooms, utility rooms and other places people typically stumble around looking for the light switch.
You can find the Lutron MS-OPS2-WH Maestro 250 Watt Occupancy Sensor Switch in a wide range of designer colors at amazon.com starting at $22. A version with a dimmer is also available starting at $35.
Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector with Remote
Average savings: $75 per year*
Your home entertainment center is likely hiding a large number of energy vampires – devices like video game consoles that can suck up large amounts of electricity even when they’re not in use. The Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector fights back against this problem in a unique way by offering a remote switch that can turn up to six connected devices 100% off from 60 feet away. Just as importantly, this strip also offers two always-on slots for anything that truly does needs power 24/7. The Conserve Switch has 1,000 joules of surge protection and is backed with a limited one-year warranty and $100,000 connected equipment warranty.
You can find the Belkin Switch Surge Protector with Remote for sale at amazon.com for $34.
Cree 3-Way LED Lightbulb
Average Savings: $9.88 per year per bulb*
If you’re still using energy-wasting incandescent bulbs, the time is right to consider trying LED home lighting technology. This three-way bulb from Cree puts out up to 1,650 lumens of soft warm white light (2700K). The color is better than with older CFL bulbs, and the energy savings are better too. And unlike older LED bulbs, these Cree bulbs have a base that’s similar to incandescent bulbs.
You can find the Cree 3-Way LED Lightbulb for sale on amazon.com for $15 each or a regular 60-watt replacement for $9 on amazon.com. They are pricey, but consider that each one will save you approximately $10 per year on your electric bills over the cost of an incandescent.
*Savings estimate for the Nest based on average energy usage over two years by Nest customers. Estimate for the Belkin Conserve based on a TV, DVD Player, VCR, game console, subwoofer and compact stereo on but not active for 19 hours per day at $0.117 per kilowatt hour. Estimate for the Cree LED lightbulb based on use as a substitute for a 100W incandescent. Estimate for the Lutron Occupancy-sensing Light Switch based on 1,000 wasted hours per year of 100W light.
[Image credits: Nest, Lutron, Belkin, Cree]
Updated 1/18/2017 with new product picks