Tuesday 25 October 2016

Five smart home gadgets that will slash your energy bills this winter

Published 06/12/2015 | 02:30

Energy bills are coming down – but you could save even more by thinking smart, using the likes of shower smart meters
Energy bills are coming down – but you could save even more by thinking smart, using the likes of shower smart meters
Energy bills are coming down – but you could save even more by thinking smart, using the likes of shower smart meters

Smart energy gadgets could save you a lot more on your heating and electricity bills than the price cuts just announced by Electric Ireland and SSE Airtricity will. These price reductions will kick in this January. The cuts aren't huge - but as January is one of the coldest times of the year in Ireland (and so one of the most expensive months in which to heat your home), they are welcome.

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However, the following five smart energy gadgets that could save you even more money.

Owl electricity monitor: €48

It costs 12 times as much in electricity charges to boil a kettle as it does to have a couple of lights on in your home - and the fridge plugged in. This is what I discovered since my husband bought an 'Owl' electricity monitor earlier this month.

This monitor - which is sitting on top of our fridge - tells me exactly how much I'm paying for electricity at different times of the day. Last night, when the kids had (finally) gone to bed -and only a few lights were turned on around the house, the gadget told me that we were paying about 4c an hour for our electricity. When I boiled the kettle this morning, it read 51c an hour. So gone are the days when I boil the kettle five times before I get around to making myself a cup of tea.

For this reason, a basic electricity monitor is worth buying because it makes you realise how and when you're wasting money on electricity - and this will hopefully prompt you to stop doing so. The Owl monitor is made by the British company 2 Save Energy, but you can buy it in Ireland for about €48 from Thermtec Energy.

heating remote controls: Up to €399

You can save up to €120 a year on heating bills with a smart energy device, according to the suppliers of such gadgets. The latest products include Hive (available from Bord Gais Energy) and Nest (available from Electric Ireland and the Nest store). Nest and Hive learn your habits and automatically adjust the temperature in your home to suit. They can also be controlled from your smartphone. They're intuitive - and will prompt you to turn off your heating if you forgot to do so. As well as stopping you from wasting energy, these devices can ensure your house is warm enough - no matter what the weather is like. Nest will know to turn the temperature in your home down when it is warmer outside, for example.

Nest is connected to the internet through your Wi-Fi so it knows what the weather is going to be like - and adjusts the heating settings in your home accordingly. It can also shut down heating when you're out if it doesn't detect any movement in the house. The device costs €249 from the Nest store. Electric Ireland also has an offer where new customers can get Nest for free (including installation) or existing customers can get it for €99 - as long as they sign up to a two-year contract with Electric Ireland.

Bord Gais charges €299 (including installation) for Hive. Climote also allows you to control your heating when you're away from home but it doesn't have the intuitive features that Hive and Nest have. It costs €399 on climote.ie.

Standby power saver lead: €27

The AV Automatic Standby Shutdown lead - made by British company Energenie - recognises when you've turned off your TV, DVD and so on - and will cut the power to those appliances so they don't use power while in standby mode. Paying electricity charges for having appliances on standby is clearly a big waste of money so this is a worthy device. It can be bought from Energenie for €27 (stg£18.99).

Solar-powered wireless keyboard: €95

Wireless keyboards have become more popular in recent years but they can push up your energy bills as you have to charge them - or change the batteries. Logitech's wireless solar keyboard K750 is powered by light, so your keyboard stays powered and ready. It's €94.99 from Logitech.

Shower smart meter: €60-€65

Most households use more energy to heat the water in their home than they do for cooking, lighting and having a fridge or other electronic devices. So save money on your showers and you'll chop your energy bills.

The Amphiro shower smart meter has a screen that gives you a reading of the amount of water you are using when you shower - and rates the energy efficiency of your shower. At the bottom of the screen, a polar bear stands on ice. The longer you spend in the shower the more the ice will melt from under the bear. You can buy it from the Swiss manufacturer for €60 (amphiro.com) - or for €64.95 from purchase.ie.

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