Set Your Budget Using Smart Home Technology

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As the saying goes, you have to spend money to save money (or something like that). Those looking to stay on a budget (tons of good tips at the MoneyVisual finance blog), however, may be surprised to learn that investing in smart home technology can provide long-term savings. Smart home tech has progressed beyond ease of automation, and renters can now use these connected devices to optimize their energy savings and cut down that pesky utility bill. Our friends over at Esurance share some great tips below.

Home Energy Monitoring

Before you invest in smart home tech, it may be wise to install an energy monitoring system, which will give you a snapshot of your home’s energy consumption and even provide an estimate of your utility bill. Home energy monitoring systems arm you with hard data about your energy usage habits, and the data can be accessed on your smartphone or tablet with just a click of your finger.

Energy monitoring systems use sensors attached to your circuit breaker panel to give you accurate breakdowns of usage times, patterns and amounts. You can then use that data to review your home’s energy usage. Additionally, you can monitor the efficiency of your appliances and individual electrical outlets.

Keep in mind you may need landlord approval to install a monitoring system. If you’re lucky, your landlord might already have one installed. If so, ask if they’d be willing to share your data with you.

Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are a great way to dip your toes into the wonders of smart home technology. While they can be programmed to turn lights on and off at set times, their remote capabilities are where they really shine. What if you could turn on your slow cooker from work, or turn on an outdoor light just in time for you to arrive home? How about using a smart plug to turn on your bedroom light in the morning instead of setting an alarm?

The possibilities are endless, but one thing is definite — smart plugs could allow you to optimize your energy usage and better budget your savings. And the best part? Most of the time, you don’t need landlord approval to install them. They require no hardwiring and simply plug into your existing outlets. How’s that for convenience?

Smart Lighting

Not only is smart lighting energy efficient, but it can also serve as a security safeguard when you’re away from home. Instead of burning energy by leaving a light on while you’re traveling, smart bulbs allow you to easily program a time for lights to come on (and go off) in your home. You can also activate them at any time from your smartphone. The ability to program your lights on a set schedule, coordinating with the hours you’re at home and the available daylight outside adds up to long-term energy savings.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are controlled through an app on your smartphone or tablet, making changing settings as quick and easy as a simple tap of your finger. Because smart thermostats are controlled remotely, you can easily change your heating and cooling settings based upon the weather (or your schedule), allowing you to rack up savings by keeping your home cooler or warmer depending on the season.

And integrating smart home technology allows you to have even greater control over your utility expenditures. A study by Nest Labs shows that smart thermostats save users 15 percent on cooling and between 10 and 12 percent on heating each year. For even greater savings, take a look at your smart thermostat’s usage reports to find the best times to adjust the temperature of your abode.

Unless you buy a device that requires hardwiring, you don’t need landlord approval to equip your place with a smart thermostat. Plus, you can take it with you when you leave!

Smart Home Security

Video doorbell footage has gone viral, with people catching would-be thieves off-guard. Whether you install a video doorbell or a motion-activated security camera, new technology allows you to vet visitors — whether expected or unwanted — from an app on your phone. The nice thing is that there are smart home security options to fit budgets of all shapes and sizes, so you don’t have to break the bank to feel safe in your apartment.

In the digital age, being smart about your finances is as easy as taking advantage of the technology that surrounds you. If you’re just getting familiar with all the smart home products on the market, begin with a home energy monitoring system to get a snapshot of your energy usage, and let the results direct which smart home tech you ultimately purchase. Your wallet will thank you for it — and so will your new, smarter home!