Get Smart! Energy-Saving Apps and Devices

By Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen

Every new piece of technology seems to come with a lot of promise, doesn’t it? Then we have to find out for ourselves if it lives up to the hype. Here are a few products we recommend to help you save energy:

Smartphone Apps

There are several energy apps available today, but two stand out. They’re free, easy to use, effective and available for both Android and iOS devices.

  • JouleBug is a fun app that helps you save energy. You collect points for each energy-efficient move you make inside the home, on your daily commute and in daily life. The app helps you make changes and build ongoing energy-saving habits. It’s designed as a competition among friends and can help you and your family create an energy-efficient household together. The app also includes fun, educational videos and links to helpful articles.
  • There are several energy cost calculator apps that help you identify where you use the most energy in your home. You can enter how many hours per day you use each appliance or electronic device and the rate you’re paying for power, which you can find on your energy bill. The app creates a total operating cost for that specific device.

Smart Theromostats

A smart thermostat connects to the internet and your computer and/or smartphone through your home’s Wi-Fi and could shave $50 off your energy bill every year.

Woman using smartphone
Smartphones and other devices make it easier than ever to take control of home energy use.
Photo Source: Karolina Grabowska

Here are some features to keep in mind if you’re considering a smart thermostat:

  • Learning: A learning thermostat will figure out your habits and adapt — this is probably the best way to make the most of a smart thermostat’s energy-saving potential.
  • “Geofencing”: This will detect when you leave home and return, and adjust the temperature up or down so energy isn’t being wasted.
  • Additional features: They include remote room sensors and voice control.

Before you buy, learn what you can about the functionality of the smart thermostat’s app, and take a look at how easy it is to program the thermostat unit directly. Finally, consider the installation. Some models are more difficult to install and may require rewiring.

Don’t forget to check with your local electric cooperative on additional programs and services designed to help you save on your energy bills.

This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency.