For most families, every time we receive our monthly electric statement, we immediately wish we were doing more to garner a lower bill. At this point in time, we all know the “standard” ways to lower our bill. One of those ways is to unplug devices when they’re not in use. But let’s be 100% honest: that is much easier said than done.
Let’s list some of the things we could unplug around the house that we don’t use on a constant basis:
- Coffee maker
- Microwave oven
- Game consoles
- Cable or satellite boxes
- Computers and laptops
- Phone chargers
- Washing machine and dryer
- Other small kitchen appliances
- And many more not mentioned above
Now imagine having to walk around the house plugging and unplugging these devices on a regular basis. That might last for a few days but eventually it will just become annoying. Especially if the outlets are difficult to get to.
Enter smart plugs to the rescue!
If you’ve never heard of a smart plug, it is simply an outlet that you plug into your existing outlets. And at that point, you would plug your devices into it. So let’s walk through an imaginary scenario:
You take a smart plug (or smart power strip) and plug it into the wall. Then you plug your coffee maker into it. Or your toaster. Or microwave oven. Or you could plug a power strip into the smart plug and plug all your devices or appliances into it.
Got it so far? The cool thing about smart plugs is that you can use an app to control them from anywhere in the world. So when you’re done with the coffee maker or everything plugged into one power strip, you could use the app to turn off the smart plug — which, in turn, shuts off all the devices plugged in to it.
Now that is an easy way to control your plugged-in devices!
But there’s an even easier way than using an app. If you own an Amazon Echo, you can use the Alexa app to create “groups” of smart plugs and then give them names. For example, you could create a “kitchen” group. On your way out the door, you could simply say, “Alexa, turn off kitchen.” Alexa would respond by shutting off all of the outlets associated with the “kitchen” group.
The beauty of creating groups is that you can group entire rooms or the entire house. And you can turn off all the outlets with your voice. And when you’re not at home, you can turn off your outlets using an app on your phone.
Now there will be an initial expense of purchasing smart plug (just do a search for “smart plug” on Amazon). But once you get them set up all over your home and placed into groups on the Alexa app, then you will start to save energy by turning off all your devices when not in use.
There is one more advantage of smart plugs that we’d like to mention. Outlets can be configured to run on timers which can be really advantageous when charging devices. Let me walk you through a common scenario.
How many of you put your phone on the charger before going to bed? In reality, it only takes about a couple of hours for your phone to completely charge (assuming it was almost dead to begin with). But now you’re asleep, your phone is fully charged and the adapter will draw power all night long.
Some of the more advanced smart plugs (you will have to do your own research depending on your needs) can operate on timers or schedules. So you could set a smart plug on a two or three hour timer and it will shut off when finished. That solves your phone charging issue!
There are other advantages to smart plugs including those that don’t activate unless they detect a human in the room. They could also be used as security devices when the house is empty and you’re on vacation. For example, you could set certain plugs on a schedule to turn on in the evening and then turn off again at bedtime. This gives the appearance that someone is home.
The possibilities are endless with smart plugs. And combined with the Amazon Echo, you can truly save energy and lower your monthly electric bill.