Do Smart Homes Use More Electricity? Here Are the Facts

With more and more people looking to automate their homes and save some money on their energy bills, smart home technology is becoming increasingly popular. However, many people are skeptical about whether or not these devices actually decrease the electricity use in a home!

Smart homes can use more electricity, but it depends on which devices you are using. Some devices like smart blinds and smart speakers can increase the amount of electricity a home uses. Devices such as smart thermostats and smart plug strips are viable ways to reduce electricity usage. 

Below, we’ll discuss what devices you should be investing in for your smart home and which ones you should avoid if you’re looking to lower your energy usage.

Smart Home Devices That May Increase Energy Use

Not all smart home devices are created equally. While some do their part to decrease a home’s energy usage over time, there are some devices that can actually increase the amount of energy a home uses. They may do this by:

  • Constantly adjusting themselves due to different triggers.
  • Adding an energy-consuming device where one isn’t necessary.
  • Continuously running different sensors to maintain “smart” capabilities.

Some smart devices are designed entirely around convenience instead of energy saving. This can be beneficial if you want to help your disabled loved one live on their own a bit easier, or if you just want to make your life at home more tech-savvy.

However, this convenience comes at a cost! Here are some of the devices to avoid investing in if your primary goal is to lower your home’s carbon footprint. 

Smart Speakers

While smart speakers are mainly used for entertainment purposes or to control other smart devices within your home, even wireless speakers will need to be plugged in at some point to charge.

Although wireless speakers may use a negligible amount of energy to charge, anything that needs to be plugged in continuously will end up using a good amount of electricity. 

Smart Camera Systems

Smart camera systems, including the very popular Ring doorbell, are meant to increase security in and around your home. While they can be invaluable for these purposes, they won’t do your home any favors in terms of energy consumption.

Smart Blinds

Smart blinds allow you to let in or block out sunlight with a simple voice command or through an app on your smartphone. They can be very advantageous for disabled people, but again, will draw more power and can increase your energy bills. 

While none of these devices will cause a massive increase in energy usage, it’s something to keep in mind if you are trying to cut costs wherever necessary. 

Smart Home Devices That Do Conserve Energy

The good news is some smart home devices actually do conserve the amount of electricity you’re using in your home. While the amount you’ll be able to conserve with energy-efficient smart devices varies based on the specific device and how you use it, most of them are designed to run using the lowest amount of energy possible.

Because of this, owners of smart homes have reported energy savings of up to 40% annually! 

Some smart home devices are worth investing in if you’re looking for an eco-friendly option. Here are some of the devices that are worth checking out:

Smart Thermostats

While traditional thermostats typically only use one sensor to measure the temperature in a room, most smart thermostats use multiple sensors to get a more accurate reading.

When you combine a smart thermostat with an up-to-date, efficient heating and cooling system, you can adjust your home’s temperature using a very low amount of energy.

Another way that smart thermostats save you money is by keeping track of which rooms you use and how often you use them. Some thermostats will only heat the rooms you frequently use, so you won’t be wasting any money by cooling that guest room or office space you never use!

Typically, traditional thermostats will only let you set the temperature for weekdays/weekends or days/nights. Smart thermostats, on the other hand, allow you to set an unlimited amount of temperature changes. You can set them to:

  • Turn on right before you wake-up.
  • Turn off once you leave for work.
  • Turn on while you drive back home.
  • Turn off after you go to bed.

Since you can control the thermostat from your smartphone as well, you can also make impromptu changes as needed.

If you have solar panels installed in your home, you can even set some devices to use only solar energy! These devices often send you regular energy reports so you can monitor and adjust your progress as you go. All of these features combined offer homeowners a reduction in energy costs of approximately 10-15%.

Smart Lights

Sensor-controlled smart lights are another smart home device worth investing in. These lights often include “occupancy sensors,” which sense when someone enters a room and adjusts the amount of light accordingly.

Many also include “daylight sensors” that can sense the amount of natural light coming in through the windows and adjust the brightness level based on this.

As you may already know, smart lights can also be controlled from your smartphone, just like smart thermostats. We’ve all been in the situation where we leave for a weekend trip and feel a sense of panic as we try to remember – “Did I turn off all the lights?” With smart lights, you’ll never have to worry about wasting energy while you’re away again.

Just how much can smart lights save you? It could be a significant amount! One case study that shows promising results is at King’s College in London.

When this university switched to sensor-controlled lighting indoors, they were able to cut their lighting energy use by nearly 90% and save about $8,000 U.S. dollars per year.

Smart Power Strips

If you don’t have a large budget to invest in smart home technology, a smart power strip is an excellent place to start. These can, essentially, turn anything that’s plugged into them into a smart device!

Since each plug is compatible with smart device technology, you can turn whatever you have plugged in on or off through your smartphone or smart speaker. 

In addition to the convenience that comes with smart power strips, these devices also offer energy-saving benefits. Many people don’t realize that, even if a device is off, it still draws “standby power” if it’s plugged in. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, standby power can account for up to 10% of annual residential electricity usage. 

Smart power strips, however, block any energy transfer to devices while in standby mode. If the device itself is not turned on, no energy will be used. 

Why A Smart Home Is Ultimately Worthwhile

In general, a smart home is defined as a home with a system of intelligent, automated devices that you can control remotely, set up with your smartphone, and set to turn on or off on a schedule. 

Many smart devices will also let you monitor your energy usage over time through automatic reports. Smart home devices offer a variety of benefits to homeowners, including:

  • Scheduled on and off times for your devices.
  • Remote access to your devices even when you’re not home.
  • Increased security through alarms, cameras, and smart lights.
  • Easy entertainment with things like voice-activated smart speakers.

When done right, a smart home offers energy-saving benefits, convenience, and security. They can give you peace of mind when you’re not at home or if you leave your teenagers home alone for a weekend. Just make sure you invest in the right devices, so your energy bill doesn’t skyrocket!

Home Streamliner’s Take

Although many homeowners are considering investing in smart home devices worry that they will increase their energy usage, many of the popular devices will actually decrease energy usage.

Just make sure to do your research before making any purchases and, with the right devices, you might be surprised at how much money you save on an annual basis!

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This blog aims to share my research and first-hand knowledge in a helpful way. My goal is for you to be able to save time and find happiness in a streamlined home.