You know those times where you so badly want to make a difference, but then you do so much brainstorming on the subject that you get totally overwhelmed and end up doing nothing? Earth Day is one of those times. I see it as a great annual opportunity to take stock, to see if there are little things I can do to make a more energy efficient home. I start digging around the web, doing research and taking notes. Pretty soon I’m buried under the idea of big projects, huge lifestyle shifts, and lots of expenditure. Should we install solar panels on our roof? Should we get a home battery? Should we replace our hot water heater or oven range with something more energy efficient?
It all feels so big I end up doing nothing for another year, feeling guilty as Earth Day comes and goes.
This year, I’ve decided that I’m setting my goals much smaller — logistically and financially — and I’m not giving myself a hard time if I don’t hit all of them. This approach, I hope will inspire making at least a small dent in having a more energy efficient home, which is better than no change at all.
And it’s good timing too, since I’ve partnered with Nest this month to share some smart home tips. The Nest Learning Thermostat was one of the first smart home devices that charmed the mass public into considering the benefits of a smart home, and the benefits are pretty clear every time you get your energy bill. If you aren’t heating and cooling your home unnecessarily, you’re saving money and energy. No brainer.
So installing a smart thermostat is first on my list of small changes you can make to have a more energy efficient home, and the rest of these ideas are also things you can install yourself with a nominal investment that will help you be smarter about your home’s energy expenditure.
Earth, this year I won’t let you down.
Idea 1: Smart Thermostat
The 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat helps you save energy in the best way possible— without you having to do anything but install it. Once you do, it becomes part of the family, learning when you’re home and away and adjusting the temperature as needed, so you’re not unnecessarily heating and cooling your home when no one is around. It’s been proven by third-party researchers to save people, on average, about 10-12% on their heating bills and about 15% on their cooling bill.
Nest is the first smart thermostat to earn an Energy Star rating from the EPA— pretty high praise, and proof that it’s a reliable source of energy (and money) savings. It’s also smart enough to partner with your local energy company for what could be even greater savings on your energy bill. You could be eligible for instant rebates, or exclusive programs like Rush Hour Rewards (where your Nest thermostat helps you use less energy during peak hours by cooling your home ahead of the curve— and your energy company thanks you with cash back) and Seasonal Savings (where your Nest thermostat tweaks the temperature in your home by a degree or two in hot and cold months— you barely notice, and save over time).
PROMOTION: In honor of Earth Day, now until April 22, receive $50 off a Nest Thermostat when you purchase it with a Google Home, or receive $30 off a Nest Thermostat on its own.
Once you have the Nest Thermostat, it can guide a host of other products to save you even more energy at home. It shares information with other Works With Nest devices, making your smart home even smarter. And they’re all things you can install yourself, such as:
Idea 2: Smart LED Lightbulbs
Smart LED lightbulbs save you money in two ways: LED bulbs use 25-80% less energy than incandescents, according to Energy.gov, so upgrading them is a no-brainer. Add the smart functionality and you can remotely control them from your smartphone, which makes it easy to turn off the lights, even when you’re not home, which can save even more energy. Choose a Nest-compatible brand like Lifx or Philips Hue, and your lights will automatically shut off when your Nest tells them you’ve left home. Best of all, installing them is as easy as, well… screwing in a light bulb (insert joke here).
Idea 3: Smart Ceiling Fan
The smarts in a smart ceiling fan go well beyond being able to turn it on with an app on your phone (although, that’s always a crowd-pleaser). It can work with your thermostat to save you money by sharing the climate control responsibilities. For example, a Nest Thermostat can work in partnership with the Haiku connected fan to allow you to increase your thermostat’s set point and still feel just as cool during the summer. During the winter months, the fan moves slowly to push the warm air down, reducing the burden on your heater to keep things toasty.
Idea 4: Smart Vents
Every home I’ve ever lived in, no matter how big or small, has that room that is always freezing, no matter how toasty the rest of the house is. I saw Keen Smart Vents at CES a couple years ago, and I thought it was genius. They act as extra sensors in rooms that are over-conditioned (like my bedroom) or never used (like my guest room), and then talk to the thermostat to redirect airflow when needed. In other words, if the room is too cold, they’ll shut automatically so cold air doesn’t continue to blast. They’re nearly ready to ship, so you should pre-order now to get in on the first batch.
Any little plans to make your home more energy efficient? Let me know in the comments.