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What smart gadgets can help you save on energy around the home?

Posted: 16 March 2020 3:30 pm
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Here are 12 energy-saving smart gadgets for your home that will help you save time and money.

Almost any device these days can be found in a “smart” version – that is, able to be controlled, commanded and programmed by voice commands or phone apps using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You might not be aware of them, but there are tons of smart devices for your home that can not only make life more convenient but also improve your energy and time efficiency.

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We’ve gone through and picked out the top gadgets for the different areas of your house:

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Top gadgets for any part of the house


1. Virtual home assistant

Price: Around $100-$300 (plus any smart devices to go with it)
Provides: Convenience, device interconnection

These are devices designed to help you automate and control devices in your home, ranging from lights and music to appliances. They usually come in the form of a speaker or hub with a virtual assistant installed, like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.

They’re incredibly versatile, allowing you to hook up and control almost any other smart device via voice commands. With a couple of speakers, you can cover your whole house and adjust things as you wish, anytime, allowing you to tune the energy efficiency of your house.

Be aware that each assistant has its own "personality" and will operate in its own particular ways. If it loses Internet connection, it will generally stop functioning.

BEST SMART SPEAKERS: From Google Home to Amazon Alexa

2. Smart plug

Price: $40 and up
Provides: Convenience, programmability

A smart plug is a way to turn any device into a smart device. You simply plug your device into the smart plug which goes straight into the wall socket, enabling it to be controlled by a home assistant or voice commands. This can let you set schedules for your basic electronics or control their power use to save energy.

3. Smart thermostat

Price: More energy-efficient models cost around $250
Provides: Temperature control, automatic efficiency

Heating and air conditioning are two of the most energy-hungry functions in your whole house. Having a smart thermostat that lets you adjust them on the fly can save you tons of wasted energy. Apart from monitoring your home’s temperature and adjusting automatically, many come with geofencing: switching into away mode when you get too far from the house and switching back on when you return.

GOOGLE NEST THERMOSTAT: Price, specs and features compared

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Top gadgets in the kitchen


4. Smart fridge

Price: About $500-$800 more than a comparable non-smart fridge
Provides: Convenience

Smart fridges usually look and act the same as a regular fridge – apart from the screen built into one of the doors – but they have a whole host of extra hidden functions. These range from alerting you if the fridge door has been left open to checking whether you’re out of milk while shopping to making notes and calendar entries.

BUYING GUIDE: How to find the best fridge for your home

5. Smart coffee machine

Price: $150 and up
Provides: Convenience, a great cup of coffee

This one mostly speaks for itself. Regardless of whether you prefer drip coffee or pods, there’s a coffee maker out there you can program from your phone to have the perfect cup ready for when you wake up or duck in for your afternoon fix. Some of the fancier ones have other unusual functions, such as scanning for unroasted beans and roasting them on the spot before grinding them. Now that’s efficient!

COMPARED: How to get the best pod coffee

6. Smart crockpot

Price: $180 and up
Provides: Convenience

Crockpots – also known as slow cookers or pressure cookers – are a popular, economical way to prepare a meal. The most obvious draw of smart-ifying your crockpot is that you can prepare your food in advance and then set it to start cooking during your commute home so a hot meal is ready upon arrival. Some models come with an app that has lists of recipes where all you have to do is dump the ingredients in beforehand and set it cooking whenever you want.

SLOW COOKERS: How to choose the perfect model

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Top gadgets for the lounge room and bedroom


7. Smart lights

Price: Individual bulbs run from about $10-$40. A control hub costs $70 and up
Provides: Convenience, programmability

Have you ever lain in bed and dreaded the moment you have to get up and turn off the lights so you can go to sleep? If so, a smart light can solve your problem. Using voice commands, you can turn them on, turn them off, change the brightness or even set the mood with a particular shade if you’ve got a set of different coloured bulbs.

Individual bulbs are usually networked together using a hub that plugs into your router. Individual lights can be programmed to turn off when you leave or enter the room, saving electricity.

PHILIPS HUE LIGHTS: Everything you need to know

8. Robot vacuum

Price: $250 and up
Provides: Convenience, hygiene

Robot vacuums that clean your floor aren’t exactly new, but ones that you can program and remotely control are. These little friends will save you a few hours of vacuuming work and make sure your bedroom and living room are clean and tidy all the time.

ROBOT VACUUMS: How to find the right model for your floors

9. Smart bed

Price: $1,500 and up
Provides: Convenience, comfort

It’s hard to imagine how a bed can be smart, but they exist. Smart beds collect information about how well you’re sleeping and can communicate with a smartphone to provide biometrics that might improve your sleep. Others have convenient features like speakers or TVs built into them.

They’re a strange pick, but you might be interested in trying one out.

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Top gadgets for the bathroom


10. Smart toothbrush

Price: $90-$250
Provides: Convenience, hygiene

Smart toothbrushes are designed to improve your dental hygiene and brushing habits by monitoring your brushing habits. They’ll record where you’re brushing for how long at what pressure and give you recommendations to improve your brushing habits. By pairing them with an app on your phone, you can get smarter about the health of your teeth.

11. Smart showerhead

Price: Variable
Provides: Monitoring, automatic efficiency

If there’s a downside to showers, it’s how much water they consume and how much electricity they use to heat that water. Water-efficient showerheads are one way to reduce your use, but even better is a smart showerhead. These can be programmed to adjust hot water to a specific temperature or control water flow manually or automatically to fit your preferences. You can even monitor how much water your shower uses and adjust your habits accordingly.

These are relatively new to the market, and you may have some trouble getting one in Australia.

12. Smart faucet

Price: Variable
Provides: Monitoring, automatic efficiency

Just like a smart showerhead, a smart faucet promises the same control on water flow and temperature. Monitor your use and reduce it. Unfortunately, just like smart showerheads, these are still new to the market and you may have trouble finding one in Australia.

GUIDE: What are the components of a smart home?

Disclaimer: This is general advice only. Consider the product information (including its terms and conditions) and your own circumstances before you make any decision about the topics or products discussed. Compare your options and get advice if you are uncertain. Hive Empire Pty Ltd ACL 385509; CAR 432664.

Pictures: Getty Images

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