A smart home is about more than just convenience and security. Sure, these are the central pillars home automation is founded on, but a truly smart home is an energy-efficient home. Maybe you live somewhere that AC use is a year-round necessity. Perhaps you suffer scorching summers when it seems like your electricity bill spirals out of all control.
It doesn't have to be that way.
Today, we have six workable ways you can keep your home cooler without needing to spend a fortune for the privilege.
Before we break down those approaches to eco-friendly climate control, some general guidance of slashing your electricity bills.
A Sensible Strategy for Lower Electricity Bills
Before you think about anything else, is your air conditioner properly maintained?
If not, it’s never too late to start!
AC Maintenance 101
As a guide, replace your filters every 1 to 2 months when you’re running the AC continually. This alone could see you lower your power bills by around 5%. Don’t neglect this and force old, dirty filters to work hard accomplishing nothing. Swap them out frequently and notice an immediate benefit.
Here are some more easy ways to keep your AC unit optimized.
- If you have a window AC, check the seal between the frame and the air conditioner. If this is compromised, leaks can cause energy wastage
- Do you live somewhere particularly humid? If so, consider adding in a dehumidifying heat pipe to your system so it doesn’t need to work so hard
- Head outside and clean around the outdoor condenser coils. You should cut back any surrounding foliage so there are at least 2 feet of clearance around the coils
- Check the fins on those coils outside. Make sure none are bent and impeding airflow
- Use a stiff wire to check the drain channels. The AC unit won’t be able to operate effectively or reduce humidity reliable if these are clogged
When you look at it, there’s really not that much to do to keep your air conditioner running at its best. There’s no excuse not to stay on top of maintenance. Your system will last longer, you’ll feel more comfortable, and you’ll reduce your electricity bills into the bargain.
How else can you keep energy costs down, then?
General Guidance For A Lower Electricity Bill
OK, you have your AC unit in peak condition and all filters ready for action.
How else can you stay cool without paying the earth?
- Use a smart thermostat – more on that below – and set the temperature to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home and need to cool down. Manipulate the temperature accordingly while you’re away. Take advantage of the cost-cutting aside from automating climate control while also making your life easier and more comfortable.
- Block out any unwanted sunlight with window treatments. Also, make sure you keep windows closed when it’s too hot to avoid radiated heat from the outside coming in.
- Take full advantage of ceiling fans as an alternative to AC
- Find and fix any leaks since this will dramatically improve the energy-efficiency of your home
- Try to limit the number of appliances you use since these all kick up a significant amount of heat
- Unplug all appliances not in use to reduce the heat generated
- Think seriously about adding some shade outdoors. If you have excess solar heat making its way indoors, block it out with some foliage
So, with those basics sketched in, we’ll walk you through six actionable ways to stay cool year-round using smart home devices.
6 Ways To Keep Your Home Cool and Electricity Bill Low
- Smart Thermostat
- WiFi Fan and Air Purifier
- Portable Wheeled Air Conditioner
- Smart Blinds
- A Smartened Up Skylight
1) Install a Smart Thermostat as a Foundation
The best way to lay a solid foundation for an energy-efficient home is to install a smart WiFi thermostat.
While you might struggle to achieve the 20% savings propagated by manufacturers, optimizing climate control obviously helps to cut costs. We’d suggest savings of 10-15% through judicious use of a WiFi thermostat are reasonable.
The mighty ecobee thermostat is now into its fourth iteration and comes with Alexa baked in. This allows you to enjoy taking charge hands-free without needing to buy an Amazon Echo device. If you prefer Google Assistant, you’re in luck there, too. However, if you prefer Apple HomePod, you will need to have one to get it to work with the ecobee4.
Compatibility extends beyond digital assistants to IFTTT, SmartThings and a huge spread of devices from all the main players.
Another outstanding feature of ecobee is the way you can build in-room sensors to put paid to those hot and cold spots you can find with regular climate control.
When you’re looking to save energy, it helps to see how and where you’re using it. Enjoy comprehensive free energy reports so you can pinpoint any problem areas and bring your costs down further based on accurate data.
Staying in control of the temperature even when you’re not at home allows you to almost completely eliminate energy wastage. You never need to heat or cool unoccupied rooms and there’s no chance of forgetting to turn the AC off and leaving it running all day when you’re out.
Since you can make such incremental changes in temperature, you can easily experiment with raising the temperature just a few degrees so you can save money without feeling uncomfortable.
ecobee4 is hardwired so make sure you’re okay with the cost and work involved in the installation before committing to purchase.
2) WiFi Fan and Air Purifier
While an air conditioner is often essential, it’s certainly not always crucial to use one.
Consider a robust fan as an alternative to an AC when possible.
As you’d expect from the highly innovative Dyson, this striking fan is loaded with tech and also gives you a heater and air purifier onboard for powerful triple duty.
If you want the air in your home clean as well as cool, the HEPA-rated filter on the purifier eliminates even the tiniest airborne pathogens down to 0.3 microns. If anyone in your house suffers from allergies or asthma, they’ll breathe much easier with the air scoured.
You can then take advantage of Projection where the clean, purified air is sent throughout your home and cools you down without irritating you.
You can opt to purify the air without the fan engaged and, when the temperature drops, the Dyson becomes a space heater. In terms of both heating and cooling, this unit is extremely energy-efficient.
If you’re looking to cut down on the costs of running an air conditioner, supplementing it with a serviceable fan is a wise bet. Ramp things up and invest in the Dyson and you’ll get much more than just a fan for your money.
3) Portable Air Conditioner
Maybe you’re renting and you don’t have a permanent AC unit.
Perhaps you just need some occasional extra cooling when you have friends over for a few beers in the basement.
A portable air conditioner can be an energy-efficient alternative to the expense and running costs of a whole-house solution.
This wheeled Honeywell unit occupies a pretty small form factor and works well in spaces up to 250 square feet. There’s a larger model available, too.
By only cooling the rooms you use rather than the whole house, you can achieve real savings on your power bill while still remaining icy cool. Weighing under 50 pounds and coming with a handy set of wheels, you can easily shunt the Honeywell around the house without straining yourself.
Simple digital controls might not give this unit the smarts you’d hope for but, if energy saving is your primary goal, you can’t lose.
Robust and washable dual-stage filtration keeps your eye clean as well as cool. All you need to do is wash these under cold water and you can keep running costs as low as energy costs.
Even when running at full clip, the Honeywell runs quietly. It’s rated at just 50 decibels, roughly comparable with the sound of a normal conversation.
If you want to take some of the heavy lifting away from your main air conditioning system or you want an alternative to permanent AC, the Honeywell is the ideal solution. Plus, you can never go wrong with Honeywell home automation.
4) Smart Blinds
Smart blinds are a convenient addition to any home and by intelligent use of blinds, you can prevent unwanted heat from penetrating your home.
If you’re attached your existing blinds but you want to upgrade their intelligence, this bundle is tailor-made. You’ll be able to turn regular 2 to 2 ½-inch blinds into smart blinds on the spot.
Onboard temperature sensors mean the blinds can automatically detect when the room is getting too hot and the blinds will close. This is a small but valuable way to save energy on an ongoing basis.
Solar charging is another neat touch that saves your power bills and harnesses the free, natural energy of the sun instead.
All you need is the app and a Bluetooth connection and you can start enjoying remote control of your blinds. You can also use either Alexa or Google Assistant, but you’ll need the MySmartBlinds bridge along with the requisite smart speaker for voice control.
Scheduling and automating your blinds is a cinch in-app and you can enjoy the added security benefit of making your home appear occupied even when you’re on vacation.
5) A Smartened Up Skylight
Skylights are a great way to get plenty of natural air and light into your home.
By introducing more natural air at the right times, you can start reducing your electricity bill costs while enjoying superior air quality indoors.
If you’re concerned about the hassle of opening and closing skylights, try this combo.
Velux are industry legends and this skylight is a first-class way to improve air circulation in your home.
Lightweight aluminum cladding and a low-slung profile allow this skylight to seat neatly in place without obstructing your roofline.
Installation hardware all comes bundled, but you won’t get any blinds and there’s no flashing included either.
What if you don’t fancy the lifting aspect?
Ideal for automatically lifting your skylight, you can take charge from a remote or a physical switch and you won’t need to worry about opening and closing a cumbersome skylight.
This device makes a smart investment if you have elderly relatives who appreciate the advantages of skylights but are not up to the opening and closing.
Treat yourself to the skylight and opener and you can enjoy fresher air indoors while spending less on your electricity bill with artificial cooling.
If you live somewhere with high humidity levels, you’re going to sweat more.
While loose clothing might work up to a point, why not consider using a dehumidifier to bring moisture in the air to a more manageable level?
This compact and highly efficient unit from Keystone can wick away up to 70 points of moisture from the air a day.
Control is straightforward using the LED and this unit works well for larger spaces up to 4500 square feet.
You can streamline operation with a 24-hour timer.
Weighing just 40 pounds and coming with a nifty set of wheels, this is the ideal portable dehumidification solution at a price you’ll love. You're sure to save a few bucks on your electricity bill too!
Well, we hope you’ve found some useful pointers here today. With the best smart thermostat as a starting point and a little creativity, you can easily stay cool without spending a fortune.
Bookmark our blog and keep coming back. We update our content daily throughout the week and we’ll keep you up to date with all the latest smart home news.
If you’re tempted by any of the cost-cutting products we showcase today, we have an extra treat for you.