Whether you’re looking at going green or just looking to cut down on your utility bills, energy-saving devices for homes can make a real difference to your life. From small devices that you can simply plug in and go, to home changes that serve as long-term investments, there are plenty of options out there for anyone interested in energy efficiency. Of course, all those options can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming, so here’s a quick introduction to what constitutes an energy-efficient gadget and how you can make the most of one.
In this guide you'll find answers to questions including:
What are energy-efficient gadgets?
What power saving gadgets are there?
What are the most common gadgets to save electricity?
What are the benefits of energy-saving devices?
What other measures can I take to help support my energy-saving gadgets?
How can I tell how effective my energy-saving devices are?
Energy-saving gadgets are specially designed devices that are designed to reduce your electricity consumption through a variety of methods. Different gadgets work in a variety of ways, but there are two principal types:
These are designed to reduce the voltage supplied to appliances, but their efficacy is debatable, particularly in the home.
Power Factor Correction
This aims to minimise the energy being lost to a device’s operation rather than being channelled into what it’s supposed to be doing, typically heating or lighting the home.
Both options are all about making sure your energy is directed on what it’s supposed to be doing, rather than being lost through an inefficient design or mechanism.
These gadgets come in many different forms, from lightbulbs to plugs to smart-control devices. If you want to get the most out of your energy-saving devices, it helps to pair them with other measures, such as effective insulation, to ensure your power is being put to good use.
Gadgets to save electricity can be as simple as smart plugs and other smart home technology that allow you to remotely manage your energy – for example, switching off a gadget when it’s not in use – to simply buying an energy-efficient shower head to attach to your current model.
Energy saving devices don’t have to break the bank – in fact, you may already have several in your home. If you own any of the following, then you’re already helping to run your home in a more efficient way:
Energy saving lightbulbs
These come in two types: the older coiled-shaped compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and the new more efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs provide 80% energy savings, but one drawback is that they can take a while to reach full brightness. LEDs don’t have this problem and come with the additional advantage of using even less energy than CFLs (a further 10% saving over traditional bulbs).
Smart thermostats adapt to your heating habits to help you use energy more efficiency. It’s a small outlay that can make a big difference to how much energy you use – and potentially waste.
A+++ rated appliances
When you search for a new appliance, TV or household gadget, always pay attention to its energy efficiency certificate. Major appliances such as washing machines, fridges and dryers are required to display this information, but you’ll also find it on other gadgets including TVs and even kettles. If you make this a key criterion for all new products you bring into the home, you’ll see your consumption tumble and your bills reduce.
Energy-saving devices are a great way to save money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint without making big changes to your everyday life. They allow you to ‘carry on as normal’ while reducing the amount of power you’re using. Many power-saving gadgets are effectively invisible – in other words, your energy consumption is reduced without you noticing any appreciable difference. For example, LED lightbulbs are 90% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and are instantly bright the moment they’re switched on. They’re also available for dimmer switches too.
This drastic difference in energy efficiency can make a big difference to carbon emissions, with studies suggesting reducing consumption is more effective than switching to renewable energy.
Cutting down your electricity output can also have a serious impact on your utility bills, with the average person standing to save up to £37 per year just from switching their lightbulbs and £35 a year from using a cylinder jacket for their hot-water tanks.
Another popular option for saving on electricity is introducing energy-saving plugs to your home, which makes it greener and cheaper to power your essential devices. You can also invest in rechargeable batteries, which comes with the added bonus of helping to cut down on waste, and smart chargers, which are designed to prevent devices overheating.
To keep your heating under control, you could invest in a radiator booster or an automatic bleeder to make sure you’re getting the most out of your appliances. Radiator boosters help to spread heat around the room so you can better feel the benefit, while automatic bleeders make sure your radiators are working efficiently by regularly releasing any trapped air.
You don’t need to spend money to boost your computer’s energy efficiency. A pointless gadget called the Ecobutton plugs into your laptop or desktop PC’s USB port allowing you to put the computer to sleep simply by pressing it. But a smarter move is to investigate your computer’s energy saving settings within Windows or macOS where you can shut things down after a period of inactivity and – in the case of Windows – configure your power button to put your PC to sleep just by pressing it. In other words, the same function as Ecobutton without the cost.
If you’re looking for small changes you can make now, look into something like the Belkin Conserve Valet Energy Saving USB Charging Station. It can charge up to four devices at once, and switches off automatically once devices have been fully charged.
Alongside investing in power-saving gadgets, consider investing in changes to your home that can help boost your energy efficiency
Around 33% of heat is lost through the walls in non-insulated homes. You can help hold in the heat through cavity wall insulation, which in turn reduces the need for excess heating and so can help keep your bills down. It’s also important not to forget about roofs and windows when thinking about insulation, with loft insulation playing a vital part in keeping heat trapped indoors. Similarly, double-glazing can stop heat escaping through windows while simultaneously protecting you from noise pollution.
You can also make small changes to your home that are easy to put in place quickly. Draught excluders are a great way to stop the breeze from flowing in under doors, through gaps around windows or even through your letterbox.
The tech-savvy can also explore using smart controls for heating and electricity. These can be centrally based but look for an app for your phone you can use to control your power usage even when you’re not home. Enjoy maximum flexibility from adjusting heating times to suit your changing schedule to dimming lights you forgot to switch off before leaving home.
Energy-efficient appliances and gadgets on their own is just the start – it’s almost important to look at ways in which you can cut back your energy usage. Start making small behavioural changes like remembering to switch off lights in rooms you’re not using or turning your thermostat down by a degree or two – this can make a noticeable difference to both your bills and your carbon emissions.
You should see a difference in your utility bills once you switch over to energy-efficient devices, but you can also get real-time updates on your energy usage with your smart meter’s energy monitor. This might be a separate handheld portable device, or you may have installed a companion app on your phone or tablet. Either way, they can reveal how much energy individual devices in your home are using.
To get a clear picture of the difference your devices are making, you can test it out with your existing devices, then make the switch and compare the results. As well as showing you the actual energy usage, your monitor should translate that number into financial costs and carbon emissions, so you can understand the impact in real terms.
Last updated: 27 November 2020