Common problems like leaky windows, drafty doors and power-hogging appliances can waste energy in your home and lead to unnecessarily-high utility bills. Thankfully, there are a slew of gadgets on the market that can identify energy drainers and lead to significant savings when it comes to heating and cooling your home.
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The amount of energy products promise to save varies, but every little bit adds up to protect your wallet and keep your home cool this summer.
Experts say having thermostats that can’t be programmed is a surefire way to waste money as forgetting to lower the heat or air conditioning while not home quickly runs up your bill.
According to Energy Star, the process of heating and cooling accounts for nearly 50% of energy use in a home. The program also estimates homeowners can save around $180 a year by properly programming their thermostats and maintaining those settings.
Prices of programmable thermostats run the gambit: they can be as little as $25 to more than $400 for high-tech models. Thermostats are available in seven day models that allow you to set air times each day, 5-2 models that use the same schedule every weekday and another for weekends, and the 5-1-1 models that keep the same schedule during the week and different schedules on each day of the weekend.
Ecobee’s smart thermostat is garnering a lot of interest because it has built in Wi-Fi that enables you to monitor and manage your thermostat online or from your iPhone, iPad or Android-based smartphone.
Ecobee claims customers save 26% on their energy consumption or about $500 a year using its programmable thermostat. Prothermostats.com sells the smart thermostat for $369.
Ever wonder how much energy your TV requires, or how much energy an unused but plugged-in toaster wastes? Energy monitors show how much electricity you are consuming, and can break down consumption into different time periods, including daily or per billing cycle.
According to a 2010 study by the Electric Power Research Institute, home energy monitors result in behavioral changes that reduce electricity consumption by 20%.
Energy monitors that keep tabs on the energy usage of an entire house typically cost anywhere from $100 to $350, while single outlet monitors for one device cost as little as $25.
Electricity monitor Kill A Watt EZ plugs into your wall socket and then you plug an appliance into it and the LCD screen displays the kilowatt-hour consumption. The device costs around $50.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive system that shows a home’s entire energy consumption, check out the The Energy Detective or TED. The price of the device ranges from $200 to $450, and comes equipped with two components: one that you install in your breaker panel to transmit data over your existing power line, and another that picks up the signal and provides you with information. The device provides real-time kW/hr readings along with load profiles for up to five appliances.
Air Leak Detectors
Cold air leaking out of windows, doors, electric outlets and even lighting fixtures will not only make your living space uncomfortable and drafty, but also cost you money in energy usage.
It’s easy to identify leaky doors and windows, it may not be so easy to find other air leaks in your home—but that’s where air leak detectors come in. These handheld devices use infrared thermometers to spot hidden leaks. Fixing these leaks is an easy way to save energy, thus lowering your monthly bill.
Black & Decker sells the Thermal Leak Detector for around $29, and is easy to use: Aim the handheld device at walls around your home and the LED will change color at hot and cold spots. The company claims the device can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling energy costs once you fix the hidden leaks.