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 energy-efficient gadgets actually are and how you can make the most of them.
Energy-efficient gadgets are specially designed devices that help you get the most out of the power you use and help you cut back on what you don’t need.
Different energy-efficient gadgets work in different ways, but many operate by either reducing the voltage delivered to your appliances or by addressing what’s known as the power factor, where energy is being lost to operating equipment rather than utilised for functions such as heating or lighting. Both options are all about making sure your energy is going where you actually need it and not being caught up in inefficient designs or mechanisms.
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, that make sure 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 lets you remotely manage your energy, to simply buying an energy-efficient showerhead 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 are already helping to run your home in a more efficient way:
These are usually easy to identify by their coil shape, though as energy-saving lightbulbs are becoming more and more the norm, you can find stylish designs available too. These bulbs use approximately 80% less energy than a standard bulb.
While these are similar to energy saving lightbulbs, LEDs also have long lifespans to be more cost effective too.
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.
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 must display this information, though many other gadgets like TVs and kettles will likely also tout this attribute. If you make this a key criteria for all new products in your home, you’ll improve your energy efficiency with ease.
Energy-saving devices are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint without making big changes to your everyday life. They allow you to carry on your ordinary activities while minimising the amount of power you’re using. Many power-saving gadgets are able to reduce your energy expenditure without you even noticing the difference. For example, power-saving lightbulbs can save up to 80% of the average household electricity usage and the dimming effect is often imperceptible. You can get designs that slowly increase the amount of light they produce for when you’re spending a prolonged period of time in one room as well as those that give you a consistently lower wattage.
This drastic difference in energy efficiency can make a big difference to carbon emissions, with studies suggesting it may be even more effective than 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 has the added bonus of helping to cut down on waste, and smart chargers, which are designed to keep devices from 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.
A novel option in the realm of energy-saving is the Ecobutton, which is made for all computer and laptop users. It plugs into your device’s USB port and can adjust your energy expenditure to suit your usage. You’ll get a real-time update telling you how much energy you’ve saved each time you take a break, as an added incentive to power down every now and then.
If you’re looking for small changes you can make now, look into small but practical pieces such as charging stations, which automatically stop sending power to your devices either when they’re switched off or after a set period of time.
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, or you can even install an app for your phone, so you’re able to control your power usage even when you’re not home. It’s great for adjusting heating times to suit your schedule – or even for those lights you forgot to switch off when you were in a hurry!
Where your energy is already at maximum efficiency, it’s also important to consider your usage and where you might be able to cut back. Energy-efficiency measures are most effective when paired with monitored usage, so making small changes like remembering to switch off lights in rooms you’re not using or even turning your thermostat down by a degree or two can make a serious difference – both to your bills and to 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 an energy monitor. An energy monitor includes a handheld or tabletop screen, a sensor unit and a transmitter that together help you see 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.