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Take control of your home with smart technology

August 15, 2023 | Eric BenSalah | energy efficiency, energy savings, how does that work, tips
energy efficiency

Advancements in technology have improved the physical comfort and accessibility of our homes and lives. And improved technology has made some big differences in terms of energy efficiency.

With smart technology, we can control our thermostat, our lights and other electronic equipment using our cellphones or just our voices.

Whether you simply want your thermostat to adjust when you’re on your way home from vacation, or you want the convenience of controlling a variety of electronics throughout your home using just your phone, simple tools can help you do that.

Those same tools can help you reduce your energy consumption and thereby save money.

Below are some tools you can use to take control of your home.

Smart outlets, plugs and lights

Smart outlets and plugs serve the same type of function. The main difference is that one is hardwired in (outlet) and one is plugged in (plug). Using a smart outlet or plug enables you to control the power to the devices plugged into the outlet or plug with your phone or hub device. Most smart plugs will have a corresponding app for your phone to control your devices, program turn on/off times, etc. In many cases, you can control all your smart devices from the app or by using voice commands through a hub.

Being able to program your outlet/plug to turn on/off at certain times or to turn off multiple lights/devices all at once enables you to easily take control of your energy usage. The idea here is to combine energy efficiency with conservation; this ability is a huge convenience factor for customers.

Smart lights operate in a very similar manner to smart outlets/plugs, but with a few added features. They still have the programming capabilities, but they tend to also come with dimming and hue changing features that can add to the comfort of the home visually and while still reducing energy usage.

Smart power strips

Smart power strips operate similarly to smart plugs and outlets. But with a smart power strip, you can plug several devices into one central hub, while still being able to control those devices individually. In other words, you can have three items all plugged into a smart outlet, but turn off power to just one or two of them. In many cases, depending on the brand and application (for your phone), you can even program the individual plugs on the outlet to a schedule.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats have various functions, the main function being improving the comfort in your home. Many smart thermostats can learn your home’s patterns – for example, when the home is unoccupied or what the household’s patterns are in general. You can control and program smart thermostats, like all other smart devices, from your phone or smart hub, as well.

The major convenience factor for smart thermostats is being able to control your HVAC system from your phone. This adds comfort to your daily life by precooling or preheating your home before you return from work or other time away from your home, raising or lowering the thermostat if you aren’t there or if you forget, to reduce your energy usage.

You’re in control with smart technology

While smart outlets, plugs and lights do not directly reduce your energy usage (unless you’re switching out an incandescent or CFL bulbs for LEDs), they provide you the opportunity to be in more in control of their use, which can lead to reduced energy consumption.

To take that function and ability one step further, consider plugging a power strip into a smart outlet/plug, especially if it controls numerous lights or devices you do not need on all the time. That way you have a convenient way to turn off multiple electronics.

A smart thermostat can save you energy and money not just through its normal function, but also through how you take advantage of its various abilities.

Right out of the box, however, a smart thermostat is not designed to save you money. In a way, you have to teach it to learn your patterns (when residents of the home come and go, etc.) before it can start doing what it is designed to do.

Ultimately, smart thermostats can help you reduce your energy usage and potential future issues by giving you access to information about the health of your system and your home as well as letting you control your system from anywhere.

For more information on using smart technology in your home, check out this webinar.

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About Eric BenSalah

Eric BenSalah is an Energy Advisor for OPPD. After spending time in the field doing HVAC work, he joined OPPD’s Contact Center in 2012, assisting customers with energy efficiency and heating and cooling-related inquiries. Over the last three years, Eric revamped the Energy Efficiency webpages at and launched the new Energy Education Program. In his free time, Eric continues to play drums (for 30 years now) and is an avid reader of philosophy, astronomy, history and all things strange.

View all posts by Eric BenSalah >

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