How to Make Your Smart Home Less Stupid

Saving money on energy usage is a consideration for consumers that choose to begin adopting smart home technology. Although solar power is becoming a more viable option for consumers, the steep initial investment is leading people to look for other ways to cut down on energy costs.

Paradoxically, there are some pretty stupid ways that your “smart home” could be costing you money.

Here are some tips for early adopters of smart home tech to reduce their energy bills:

Reset devices that have learned bad behavior

Why Is My Smart Home So Fucking Dumb?

If you want to know how frustrating and wasteful smart tech can be for new users, look at reviews for any smart gadget. You will inevitably encounter complaints from users who are perplexed by their automated devices, which perform seemingly random behavior. Lights turning on and off at unusual hours of the night. Air conditioners that seem to run on their own schedule. This can be a wasteful use of energy. What is going on here?

A good number of these complaints are due to confusion about devices that have “learned” erratic behavior. When a product uses “learning algorithms” to anticipate your behavior, it may pick up on the wrong cues. Unless your routine is the same every day down to the minute, the algorithms will take time to learn what to expect. If you deviate from your typical schedule drastically, you can throw the “learning process” out of whack. The device could also be working under the assumption that you are in another time zone, causing any planned actions to occur hours before or after you intended.

To correct erratic behavior in your smart home setup, some experts recommended that you reset your devices to factory default and set them up again. Some smart tech enthusiasts report having to do a complete reset of all devices around five times a year. If you’re not sure about how to reset your devices, be sure to refer to any documentation provided with your equipment and check the manufacturer’s website.

Overlook and maintain device usage

How to Build a Smart Home With Your Own Dumb Stuff

As many tech enthusiasts know, picking up one of the latest and most trendy smart home appliances can be pricey. When unregulated, smart devices can inadvertently cost you a lot of money in the long run as well. For example: smart air conditioners can regulate themselves to reduce energy consumption, but old school problems such as air ventilation leaks and poor insulation will complicate matters.

If your air conditioner is plagued with maintenance issues, your smart air conditioner will compensate with more power to keep things cool. If your problems gets worse, the air conditioner will push harder to keep temperatures optimal — reducing your equipment’s life expectancy and increasing energy costs in the process.

Smart technology can make air conditioning more cost efficient and reduce its substantial impact on the environment, but it can’t patch negligent maintenance.

Be mindful of “energy vampires”

Unplug for Dollars: Stop ‘Vampire Power’ Waste

Another source of energy waste in smart homes is energy wasted by appliances or devices in “standby mode”. Many household items continue to use energy while not in use. Should this be a concern for homeowners?

Absolutely. Americans spend almost $20 billion on energy used by idle devices/appliances every year. That averages out to about $160 per household, or two years worth of Netflix. For most devices and appliances, the simple solution to this problem is to unplug items when they are not in use. Obviously, this will eliminate any standby mode energy waste.

However, unplugging smart devices may seem to defeat the purpose of buying them in the first place. Waking up in the morning and remotely brewing a cup of coffee with your smartphone from your bed is a tempting proposition, but it might become less convenient when you have to get up to plug the coffee pot in.

This Tiny Gadget Tells You Exactly How Much Power Your House and Gadgets Use

The answer? You can keep your smart devices plugged into smart plugs. Smart plugs are devices that plug into ordinary outlets. Any appliance that you insert into a smart plug can be turned on or off remotely with an app. Furthermore, many models have built-in energy monitoring: you can track energy usage from each plug over time. This is a great way of learning how much energy your appliances are using. You can learn about a variety of available smart plugs here.

While automation can help make your home more energy efficient, it isn’t the ultimate answer for having a green home — and it certainly isn’t a suitable replacement for regular maintenance. However, smart technology combined with smart use is an ideal approach for achieving an energy efficient house.

Thanks for reading. What experiences do you have with smart technology? Please leave any comments below. I will respond to any questions or concerns.

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About the Author

Cody Hill

Cody Hill

Cody Hill is a freelance blogger with an avid interest in emerging technology and video games. In his spare time, he enjoys filling his Steam account with games he will never play.