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Smart-home devices make life more convenient, more secure, and even a little more fun, but when used right they excel at making your home more energy and resource efficient, too.
Without much fuss or money, you can install any one of these devices and quickly experience the benefits. And if you install a few, not only can they work together, but your savings can compound, as well.
The efficiency and savings come from smart devices’ ability to do things automatically, such as adjusting the thermostat at night or turning off the lights when you’re not home. The following collection draws from the top picks in our various guides to smart-home devices. Our guides are great resources for a deeper understanding of how these devices work, how to use them, and how to take advantage of the features you might enjoy the most.
Plug-in smart outlet
How it saves: Plug-in smart outlets (or smart plugs) let you easily tighten the reins on otherwise inefficient or simply forgotten devices in your home—the desk light in a basement workshop, the table fan that runs 24/7, the white noise machine, and so on. Plug just about any on/off device into a smart switch, and you can schedule when it operates, use an app to turn it on and off remotely, pair it with other devices such as a thermostat or motion detector to act as a trigger, or activate it through voice commands to a smart speaker.
Where to start: The TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim EP25 is dead simple to use, and it’s compatible with all the major smart-home apps and platforms (Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google, and more). What makes this model even more useful than some other switches is that it has built-in energy tracking, which tells you how much energy any device plugged into it uses over time—so if you suspect that a particular device is an energy hog, you can check by plugging the device into the Kasa switch and letting it track the energy use for a few days. The EP25 is meant only for indoor use, so if you have outdoor lighting or other devices you want to automate or control, we recommend the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug EP40, which is weatherproof and includes two outlets that can be independently controlled.
Smart dimmer switches and motion detectors
How it saves: Dimming a single light bulb doesn’t save much energy or cash on its own. Install smart dimmer switches throughout your home, however, and you can put a dent in your lighting bill. Smart switches allow you to dim banks of fixtures or bulbs all at once to reduce energy use. You can group them together throughout your home to work simultaneously, and you can put them on automated schedules or trigger them to activate whenever you leave home.