When you think of broadband providers, you probably think of the internet as just another one of your utilities. But broadband is a very special kind of utility - one that can save you money on all the other necessary services that you pay for to keep your home safe, warm, and comfortable.
Internet-enabled efficiency is the hot new buzzword in eco circles, but it's about more than just going green. A reliable broadband connection can change your household budget for the better as you help clean up the planet without lifting a finger. How does that work? Automation is the key!
Our always-on connections are good for more than just browsing Amazon. As broadband providers give us ever more reliable internet, they are not only helping people make more informed choices about how they use energy, but also fueling the growth of the evolving smart home industry. Once upon a time, smart homes were the stuff of science fiction. Nowadays, you don't have to think much about your appliances and utilities because connected devices are doing it for you.
Fact: Changing Your Habits Is Hard
If you can't remember to turn off the lights when you leave the house and reset the thermostat as the seasons change, you're not alone. Habits are hard to change even when we know that there are big, concrete benefits. In fact, people are notoriously bad at making these small changes because they feel like a bigger pain in the butt than they really are.
But there's good news! Whether your goal is to reduce your utility bills or to consume less of the world's energy, there are devices that use your broadband provider's connection to monitor your energy use and adjust everything from lighting and heat to how much power your appliances are using so you can live a more efficient life. Should you keep trying to get into the habit of turning off the lights when you leave a room? Absolutely! But until you master it, there's an app that can turn off the lights for you.
Technology Is Getting Better
It wasn't that long ago that smart homes were the domain of the geeks of the world who were more interested in being early adopters of technology than in it being truly useful. Since then, innovations in smart home technology, the development of multi-purpose devices, and the emergence of more reliability among broadband providers has led to widespread adoption of the kinds of tech that can save energy in both households and among entire populations. Energy use in the United States is dropping and will likely continue to drop thanks in part to appliances that adjust themselves for maximum efficiency and thermostats that know not to crank the AC when no one is home.
Curious to know more about how a great broadband internet provider can help you live a greener life with smaller bills? Read on to learn about six ways having a reliable connection can help you save on utilities and use less energy, too.
Do Your Research Online
This is the simplest way to save on utilities using your broadband provider's connection. Just like BroadbandSearch makes it easier to compare providers by showing you what ISPs are offering, there are sites that let you compare natural gas rates, how electric companies stack up in terms of their environmental impact, and the usefulness of the various apps and devices that claim to help people save money on their utilities.
By checking out your options and reading consumer reviews, you can avoid making costly mistakes when it comes to your utilities and find out more about the devices that can maximize the energy efficiency of your household.
Track Your Usage
Most of us are used to checking our email multiple times each day. Or looking at our bank balances a few times per week. But how often do you check your energy usage? For a lot of people, the answer is never. That made sense way back when because the only way to look at how much energy you were using was to wait for your bill to show up in the mail. Now energy companies, municipalities, and private companies are devising new and interesting ways to track how much power your family consumes. It is usually as easy as opening up an app!
Why is tracking your energy usage an important part of reducing your monthly bills? Because if you don't have an understanding of your consumption, you don't have a jumping off point for creating a strategy of reduction. It's not just about acknowledging that you're using more energy than you need. Devices like Sense paired with your broadband provider's always-on connection can tell you not only how much power you're drawing, but also which appliances are using energy (and when) so you can make subtle adjustments that don't impact your quality of life but make a big difference when it comes to your power bills.
And Track Your Neighbors' Usage
Obviously you can't install a Sense in every home on your street, but you can look up whether you are using your utilities more or less efficiently than your neighbors. We should all care about how we use shared utilities because we love the earth, but research has shown that people are more likely to consume energy thoughtfully when tracking is gamified - which is possible now because so much data is being collected.
Want to best your neighbors when it comes to going green? Then check out your energy provider's website; they may have a program where customers who opt in can receive email updates about how their power consumption compares to that of their neighbors. This is one circumstance in which trying to keep up with the Joneses can have positive consequences for both you and the planet!
Get a Solar Lease
You may not be able to afford to pay to install a roof full of solar panels out-of-pocket, but that's no longer a barrier to replacing dirty electricity with solar power. The reliable internet delivered by today's broadband providers is making it possible for consumers to take advantage of solar leases that make switching to solar a no brainer.
When you get a solar lease, panels are installed on your roof at no cost to you. From then on, the company that owns the panels installed will monitor their performance remotely via your internet connection so any issues can be dealt with quickly. You can also monitor their performance using an app so you can see in real time how much power is being generated. You'll still get a monthly bill, but what you pay for the lease will be a lot less than you were paying your electric company.
Remotely Manage Your Appliances and Devices
Heating and cooling probably take the biggest bite out of your monthly utility bills, but smart home technology can take some pressure off. The Consumer Technology Association reported that smart technology in homes can cut energy consumption by 10% - and that can add up to significant savings. Someday, fully integrated smart home systems will probably be the norm, but until then, you can cobble together a system yourself using different devices like smart outlets, smart bulbs, smart thermostats, and other products designed to either give you remote control over your home or automatically make data-driven decisions about when to be on and when to be off.
Here are some devices making it easier to live an energy efficient lifestyle:
On average, 12% of a household's utility bills go toward lighting, so it's worth saving where you can. You'll never leave another light burning in an empty room when you replace your current bulbs with a smart light system. Smart lights typically use less energy than other bulbs whether on or on standby, and they can be controlled with automatic timers you set, remotely via an app, and with motion detectors you install in your home. These LED bulbs do cost more than your average light bulb, but they last longer and can reduce your lighting costs by a lot!
The Nest made learning thermostats famous, but there are many other options on the market now. These connected thermostats can learn your habits and adjust the temperature of your home accordingly. Or, combined with your broadband provider's signal, use information from a weather app to determine that your usual settings won't be sufficient to combat the heat of the day. Plus, they can also be controlled remotely with apps, so if you're going on vacation and forget to set the thermostat accordingly, you can just do it en route. You can save $150 or more per year with this small piece of tech, so a smart thermostat will pay for itself relatively quickly.
Smart Power Strips
Many people aren't aware that a lot of appliances (like TVs) continue to draw power even when they appear to be shut down completely. Smart power strips can help you identify these energy vampires and switch them not just off but completely off by cutting the power to the outlets when they sense a device being powered down. If you're wondering if smart strips are worth it, consider this: energy vampires cost the average household $165 per year and smart strips cost about $35.
If you'd rather not have bulky power strips plugged into all of your outlets, you can upgrade to smart outlets that do more than just shut down energy draining appliances completely when not in use. These outlets can be controlled remotely using an app so you can turn devices and appliances on or off no matter where you are. Many are programmable, so you can set the outlet to start or stop delivering power at certain times of day. And some smart outlets can even be integrated into smart home systems or work with smart thermostats that will alert your outlets when no one is home, so they turn everything off without a human needing to do anything at all.
Energy efficient appliances are great but even better are those ENERGY STAR certified appliances that can be controlled remotely by you or can use your broadband provider's signal to track and analyze your habits and then adjust settings accordingly for maximum efficiency. This smart appliance industry is relatively new, but expect to see more and more innovation in kitchen and household appliances.
Set Them and Forget Them
As noted above, changing your habits when it comes to energy consumption can be tough, but networked gadgets and appliances can now do the thinking for you. Program your thermostat? These days it can program itself! Networked decision-making devices are making it easier to be green and to save money because they can access data about not only your household habits and your needs, but also average consumption habits across populations and outside factors like the weather.
Smart home technology is getting smarter every day and chances are good this tech will one day come standard with every house and apartment. But you can start saving money and living a greener life right now by integrating some or all of the technologies described above into your home. Make just a few changes and you will see the savings adds up!