Skip to main content

Household electrical usage increased in 2020. Here’s how a smart home can help

A report released by Sense has revealed that home energy usage increased dramatically throughout all of 2020. Of course, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise — with the quarantine and lockdown protocols ensuring most people stayed at home during this time, the average amount of energy used increased by 9.3%. This translated to an overall average increase of $127 by the end of the year, with the highest increase taking place during the spring and summer months.

U.S. customers overall paid an increase of $1.21 billion, but this added cost was not distributed evenly across the country. Five states in particular saw the highest increase in rates, with residents in New York and Massachusetts facing an increase three times that of Florida. As the pandemic spread throughout the country, demand for electricity continued to rise up to 22%.

In addition to the pandemic, wildfires and heatwaves led to far more overall utility spending. If you’re looking for ways to cut back on energy costs, smart home technology can help. Here’s how.

Smart LEDs work on schedules and use less power

People spent a lot more time at home in 2020 than before. This meant a lot more time with the lights on. Smart lights use less energy overall than other types of bulbs for a variety of reasons. Not only do LEDs use an average of 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, but the ability to schedule when the lights turn on and off — as well as the brightness of the bulbs — can make a huge impact in overall usage.

Philips Hue Iris table lamp pink
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Smart lighting can be triggered to activate when there is motion in a room. You can also set the lights to turn off after a certain amount of time with no activity or to turn on and off at a specific time each day. All of these features help reduce energy costs by a large margin.

Smart plugs fight vampire or phantom power

Did you know that “off” doesn’t always mean off? In many instances, your appliances are still using energy even though you have turned them off. Anything with a display can often pull power, so appliances like microwaves, coffee pots, etc. will draw energy even when they aren’t in use. While the amount of energy used is low, it adds up over time.

Wemo Mini Smart Plug Best smart outlet deals

Smart plugs control the flow of power. You can set schedules, turn the plug on and off through voice controls or the app, and much more. When there is no power flowing through the plug, there’s no phantom power draw. It’s a small investment, but it can save you a lot of money over time.

Smart plugs also bring with them the ability to make a regular appliance much smarter. You can plug in lamps and other appliances to a smart plug in order to gain voice control over them or control them via an app, and it’s often a much less expensive option than investing in smart lights.

The Sense Energy Monitor helps track your electrical usage

The Sense Energy Monitor attaches to your electrical panel and scans your home’s energy usage over one million times per minute. It provides users with a detailed breakdown of where the energy in their home is being used. This can tell you if a room is using more electricity than expected.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Most users save between 6% and 9% on their utility bills. It provides information on exactly when and what appliances were turned on, such as the microwave, washing machine, etc. You can also track how long the appliances were used for.  This kind of information can help users figure out where excess energy usage is going and how to cut back on expenses.

Smart water monitors help cut back on water bills

A water leak can cost a massive amount of money. Between the damage caused by water leaks and the excess you’ll spend in utility payments to the water company, even a small leak can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. A smart water monitor can help keep an eye on leaks before they worsen.

Flo by moen review
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Water monitors track the amount of consumption and can even shut off the main water valve if a leak is detected. It can save your home from a lot of damage. By tracking your water use, you can find out where you can improve your habits and reduce utility costs even more.

Although you might spend more time at home these days, it doesn’t mean you have to spend more money. Put smart home technology to use to help you reduce your utility costs.

Editors' Recommendations

Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ vs. iRobot Roomba Combo Essential: Which is better for you?
iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ with auto fill dock for Black Friday

The iRobot Roomba Combo j9+ is one of the most versatile robots of 2024, making it easy to keep all types of floors clean without getting your hands dirty. Along with the ability to vacuum and mop in a single run, it can automatically empty its dustbin, which makes it a shockingly autonomous addition to any home. However, some of those same skills can be found in the affordable Roomba Combo Essential Robot, which carries a much more agreeable price tag.

That begs the question -- should you opt for the cheaper Roomba Combo Essential, or is the Roomba Combo j9+ a worthwhile investment? From vacuuming and mopping performance to additional features and more, here's a look at these two unique robot vacuums to help you decide which is better for your needs.
Pricing and availability

Read more
Best washer and dryer deals: bundles from LG, Samsung and more
A washer and dryer sit next to each other in a laundry room.

Grabbing yourself a new pair of washers and dryers can be an overwhelming task, whether you want to replace something old or you're starting with an empty house. They tend to be quite expensive, and if you're already on a tight budget, it can be hard to find something good that's also relatively cheap. Luckily, there are some great deals on brands like LG and GE, and there are even some great Samsung deals if you are already in the Samsung ecosystem. To that end, we've gone out and found some of our favorite deals and bundles to help save you the trouble and get you the best return on your investment.
Best LG washer and dryer deals

LG makes some awesome appliances. We've picked some medium-sized options, including a fairly cheap package deal available at Best Buy.

Read more
How to fix an Amazon Smart Thermostat that’s unresponsive
The Amazon Smart Thermostat hanging on wall.

Few smart thermostats are as affordable and powerful as the Amazon Smart Thermostat. Clocking in well under $100 and backed by the great reputation of Amazon, the affordable thermostat is one of the most popular on the market. Yet despite its popularity, the Amazon Smart Thermostat isn't without a few issues. A common issue that crops up for users is the thermostat unit becoming unresponsive, making it difficult to use the device as intended.

Read more