Smart home devices are primarily marketed as adding convenience and luxury to your home. They allow you to interconnect your appliances with your smartphone and to monitor and control your utilities remotely. But do smart home devices actually save you money?
Smart devices like speakers and music players are obviously designed to allow you the convenience of playing whatever music you want, wherever you want it. But smart devices that monitor or adjust utilities like heating and water could also save you money on your bills.
Joel Lee over at MakeUseOf has crunched the numbers. He’s published a rundown of the most money-saving smart devices, and how long it will take for the devices to “pay for” themselves.
Smart thermostats are perhaps the most obvious devices for saving you money on utilities. Nest says that their thermostat will save you 13 percent on heating and cooling; ecobee3 claims an even more impressive 23 percent.
Comparing these numbers with U.S. Department of Energy statistics on average household utility costs, Lee calculated that a Nest thermostat will pay for itself in just over two years, while an ecobee3 will pay for itself in just one year.
Rachio is a smart sprinkler device that maintains your lawn watering schedule. It makes sure that the sprinklers turn off on rainy days, conserves water when it’s cold out, and optimizes the watering schedule for maximum absorption.
Rachio claims it can help you cut your spending on water for the lawn by 50 percent. Lee estimates a more conservative 30 percent, but even so, says that the device will pay for itself within 15 months.
Plus, he adds, a smart sprinkler system will also increase the overall value of your home, letting you set a higher price point should you decide to sell it.
Lee wasn’t particularly impressed by LED lightbulbs, pointing out that it will take almost the full lifecycle of the LED bulb to recoup the expense of buying them in the first place. The savings are a bit better, he says, if you compare them to the costs of running incandescent bulbs, and if you skip over the big brand names in favor of lesser known, but also less expensive LEDs.
Lastly, Lee recommends smart moisture sensors. These devices can warn you of leaks, roof damage, and other water damage long before you might notice the effects. If these sensors can give you a heads up on even one potential water-damage disaster, the device will clearly have paid for itself.
It appears that smart home devices could be worth the investment, although it’s important to note that these devices are notoriously insecure. While you may save money on your utilities, one bad hack could easily cancel out these money-saving benefits.