There are plenty of handy little gadgets and gizmos that can help you to save energy around your home. Whether it’s replacing something that typically guzzles a lot of power already, or helping you keep your favorite home devices under control, they can make it a lot easier to rein in your energy bills.
Of course, some of them are more effective than others, so I’ve taken a look at the best that you can buy.
Ideally, you would install solar panels to power most of your devices at home, but when that’s not possible then this miniature power bank is a solid option as an introduction to solar power. Simply place it somewhere in your home where there’s a lot of light and it’ll charge up.
You can then use this to power your other devices at home. It’s not powerful enough for laptops, but it will give your smartphone, tablet, or wireless headphones a boost.
While you may still need to plug them into the mains every now and then, this will cut down on how much power you need to draw from your home in order to keep your other tech working.
Suggested read: Do Power Banks Come Charged?
2. Smart Plugs
A smart plug is a device that you use as an intermediary step between your other electricals and the outlet on the wall. Plug the smart plug into the outlet, and then your other electrical into the smart plug. Then, you can control it remotely, either using an app on your smartphone or by using your voice.
If you’ve got devices that you often leave switched on, either because the outlet is a little bit hidden or because you just aren’t great at remembering to go switch it off, then a smart plug makes it easy. You can do it from anywhere, and even set routines to turn the plug on and off automatically.
Smart plugs do draw some power – usually 1-2 watts – but if you’re pairing them with other devices that would normally use a lot more if left on, then you can save a lot.
Leaving lights or the TV on in your home when you’re not spending time in that room is just throwing away money. Invest in a smart motion sensor and you don’t even have to remember to turn anything off yourself. These motion sensors can be paired up with all kinds of tech in your home, and you can program how you want them to work.
Have it set so that every time you leave a room the lights switch off, or just have it set at your front door to turn everything off all at once when you’re leaving. Whatever you choose, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to switch everything off manually ever again.
A smart thermostat gives you total control of your heating. You can set the temperature from your phone or tablet, or just ask your smart speaker to change it – making it much easier to regulate how much you’re using it.
Not only that, but smart thermostats will learn your routine and only heat the house when they need to, so you don’t lose out on any comfort but you do have bills. Plus, your energy supplier may offer you a rebate if you have one installed – a nice little bonus.
If your home has radiators, they’re giving out heat in multiple directions, including back into the wall and up – potentially to where you may have a window. By simply adding these reflector panels behind the radiator, you’re bouncing the wasted heat back into your home, which can drastically reduce your heating bill.
They’re easy to install and they’re designed to hide completely behind the radiator so that they aren’t visible. If you use radiators to heat your home most of the time, cut down on how much energy you need to use and get these hidden panels installed.
While it’s now illegal to sell incandescent lightbulbs in many states, some homes may still be using them, or their replacement halogen. While halogen bulbs are a lot more efficient and long-lasting than incandescent, LED surpasses them both drastically.
An LED bulb will only draw around 6 watts to provide the same light as an old 60-watt bulb would have done, and they’ll last for 10,000 hours of use. Replacing all of your lightbulbs in your home with LEDs might be a costly one-off expense but you’ll soon recoup that cost with the energy you save.
If you want to save money drying your clothes, then replacing your old dryer with a heat pump model is the way to go. It reuses the heat generated within the drying cycle, pumping it around the system to remove water without having to constantly re-heat the air.
The drawback to a heat pump dryer is that it is much slower than a traditional electric or gas model. But even on a cycle that lasts a few hours, it will use less energy than a normal one would in a fraction of the time. If energy costs are your priority, then make sure your next dryer is a heat pump one.
Wool dryer balls are surprisingly clever, despite their simple design. Adding these into a dryer along with your clothes will shorten the drying time, since they help to stop clothes from getting creased up and compacted. The extra air flow through your fabrics means they’ll dry faster.
The knock-on effect is that you won’t need to run the dryer for quite as long, and so you’ll save money. It’s definitely worth adding some dryer balls to your load if you want to cut down on energy costs.
9. Laundry Pod
The Laundry Pod is probably a step too far for some people, but if you really want to take energy saving seriously then this gadget is pretty cool. It’s essentially a portable washing machine you can use at home or while camping, and it uses zero electricity. Instead, you control it manually.
You just need to add around a gallon and a half of water, and then follow the instructions to go through a spinning, washing and draining cycle that’s actually more gentle on your clothes than a washer’s delicate cycle. It might not be something you used to completely replace your washer but for smaller loads, it may be a better option. Especially if you would also make use of it while on vacation.
If you don’t have blackout curtains installed in your home then I’d recommend making the switch. Proper blackout curtains are also thermal. This means that they’re thick enough to not only keep the light out at night, but they’ll also trap the heat in your room.
Make sure you open the curtains every day, even if you’re not in the room, to let the sun naturally warm the air inside your home. Then once the sun sets, close the curtains to trap the heat in without it escaping through the glass.
11. Pressure Cooker
Pressure cookers are known for making cooking easy. They now have a huge number of programs for you to choose from, and you just set it away and it will take care of dinner for you with very little fuss. But they’re also great for saving energy.
Because the steam is trapped within the pressure cooker, food will be cooked much faster. Some pressure cookers can use as much as 70% less energy than cooking food on a gas or electric stove. Less effort and less energy? A win all round.
Here’s exactly how much energy my pressure cooker uses:
What’s unusual is that my pressure cooker is a 9-in-1 cooker and it uses exactly the same energy whether grilling, pressure cooking or air frying.
Energy-efficient shower heads are really popular now. They’re easy enough to install to replace your existing shower head, and by using a combination of technologies including minerals and specially-designed valves they can deliver increased water pressure while actually using less water.
This way, you’re getting a more efficient clean whilst saving energy on heating the excess water. You still need to be controlled to make sure you don’t spend too long in there, but this will at least cut down on how much water you use.
13. Waterproof Timer
I love the simplicity of this. It’s just a waterproof digital clock with a timer function. But because it’s waterproof, you can take it into the shower with you, which will help you save time instead of getting distracted.
According to the CDC, most people shower for 8 minutes, and with 2.1 gallons per minute of waterflow, that’s a lot of (heated) water you’re wasting if your showers are running too long. Grab yourself this timer and set yourself the challenge of cutting down your time each day instead.
14. Smart Sprinkler
If you use a sprinkler at home that you’ve got set to a timer, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing it switch on when it’s rained recently. Now you’re wasting water and energy. So instead, pick up a smart sprinkler system.
They can track the water being used, as well as the weather report, and make live updates to the timing schedule you’ve programed. There are even soil sensors you can buy which pair with the smart sprinkler, telling it how moist the soil is and whether it is needed or not. Very clever, and a great way to cut down on unnecessary sprinkler use during the summer months.
This device will technically save you zero energy, unless you decide to use it in the right way. This is essentially a device which monitors how much electricity another device is using. Plug this into the outlet, and your devices into the front of this, and it will give you live readings on the amount of power being drawn.
It’s clever too, so you can program it with your electricity cost per kilowatt-hour and it’ll tell you the power being used in watts, kilowatt-hours and how much this is costing you.
Why is this energy saving? Well, it will tell you exactly how much your home electricals are costing you, making it much easier for you to get into the habit of switching things off when you aren’t using them. When the cost is staring you in the face, you’ll find it much easier to change your behavior!
Do Electricity Saving Devices Work?
Most energy saving devices do work, although a lot of them only work by reminding you of your role to turn off your electrical devices, or helping to do that automatically. It is still absolutely worth buying electricity saving devices if you want to cut down on your power use at home.
Some of the devices on this list that will compromise your experience. For example, a solar charging bank may not charge your phone as quickly as it would charge when plugged into an outlet.
Plus, the wins are often quite small – it’s only the heat pump dryer that will probably save you in the double-digits for electricity cost over the course of a year.
Add them all together though, and you will soon see the savings come together to make your effort worthwhile. It takes a bit of commitment, but you’ll thank yourself when you’ve got more money to spend on things you want to do.
I think each of the devices on this list would make a worthwhile addition to your home, if you’re looking to save energy. If I had to choose one, then I’d choose the energy meter. It’s the one that actually doesn’t save you energy, but I think there’s no replacement for learning just how much your tech is using up while you’ve got it switched on.
The rest are more active in cutting your electricity bills, but once you see exactly what you’re using – and exactly how much you could be saving – you’ll never go back.