Do Smart Homes Save Money?

smart homes

I was thinking about adding some smart technology to my home. I had been visiting a friend who had Alexa set up to control all sorts of different things in the house. I got a kick out of saying, “Alexa, turn on …” and choosing the lights I wanted on and off, the music I wanted playing, and so forth. I’ve seen those commercials with the refrigerators and ovens that practically do everything themselves with just the sound of a voice. We’re all moving towards having some version of smart homes. However, when I looked into the costs of just a few of those things, I wasn’t so sure anymore.

Do Smart Homes Save Money?

I’ve always figured that smart homes generally cost money to set up but have the potential to save money in the long run. However, I think that type of thinking primarily comes from the type of smart technology that makes a home more energy-efficient. When it comes to all of the technology available today to make a home more convenient, it may not actually save money. In fact, setting up a smart home can probably cost a lot of money that you don’t recoup. So, I’m trying to figure it out; do smart homes save money? Or do they at least have the potential to pay for themselves?

Energy-Saving Technology Can Save Money

Doing my research confirmed what I expected. It is possible for smart homes to save money if you’re talking about smart technology that saves energy. In other words, if you update your house to reduce energy waste then over time you can save a lot of money on energy bills. I found a helpful infographic that showed how some of this technology pays for itself then saves you money over the long run.

In fact, that research reminded me that I can make small investments that could make a difference. For example, I never thought about getting smart power strips. I use tons of power strips in my home already. Smart power strips monitor energy usage and turn the power off when it’s not in use. That could be really convenient. It could save energy. I like the green aspect of saving energy in addition to the fact that it helps me save money.

A smart thermostat is another really popular device in smart homes. It seems to also pay for itself in terms of quickly offering cost-effective energy savings. Of course, one could argue that simply setting your own thermostat to appropriate temperatures would achieve the same effect. So it’s not that we need the technology to save energy, necessarily, but it might be a small investment to make doing so more convenient.

Convenient Technology Doesn’t Necessarily Save Money

Some of the other technology in smart homes doesn’t seem like it pays off, though. For example, that same infographic shows details about smart refrigerators. A smart refrigerator can actually show you when items are about to go bad. Arguably, you might then use more of your food in time, and not wasting it could save you money. But it doesn’t save you that much. According to the infographic, it takes thirty years for a smart refrigerator to pay for itself. That’s before you would even start saving money thanks to it. Technology often needs frequent updates and repairs so it’s unlikely you’d keep that refrigerator much longer than thirty years (if you even make it that long).

Will I Invest In Smart Home Technology?

So, here’s what it boils down to … it doesn’t make financial sense for me to buy most types of smart technology for my home. The things that are most fun and add convenience generally cost more than they save. However, there might be a few small changes (smart power strips, smarter lighting) that could actually save me money in the long run. I don’t need them. It’s not something I’m going to get at this time. But as the technology keeps changing, I’ll keep reviewing the costs and benefits. It may make sense for me to look at smart homes again in the future.

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8 Things to Do Today Save Money This Summer

Save Money This Summer

If you want to save money this summer then you should start planning ahead. If you aren’t prepared in advance then summer can be an expensive season. People frequently travel in summer, which is a big expense. When you have children, they often attend summer camps and other costly activities. If you aren’t careful, finances easily just slip away. However, there are things that you can start doing right now to prevent that.

1. Review Your Regular Expenses

It’s time to take a look at your money. If you don’t know what you’re working with then you can’t make smart financial choices. Review all of you ongoing expenses, looking for ways to cut back. Even small changes can make a big difference in the summer. For example, how many different streaming television services do you have? Can you cut it down to one or even none for a few months to save money this summer?

2. Set a Budget and Make a Plan

Once you have cut your regular expenses as much as possible, it’s time to make a plan. Look at the money that you have. Update your budget. Don’t forget to include all of the unusual expenses that summer brings. Some expenses to consider:

  • Babysitters, daycares, or day camps for kids who aren’t in school in the summer
  • Special events including those for Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and summer weddings
  • Summer clothes if you or the kids’ need a wardrobe update
  • Travel plans and their associated costs including pet care while you’re away
  • Water activities including pool memberships or day trips to the water park

3. Change Vacation to Save Money This Summer

If it doesn’t look like you’re going to have enough money in your budget to cover your vacation, then it’s not too late to reconsider. Think about why you’re traveling. Is it to see relatives? Is it because you want your kids to experience something new? Or is it just because it’s something you’ve always done? You can reduce the cost of travel by:

  • Changing your destination so it’s cheaper
  • Using a more affordable mode of transportation
  • Camping instead of staying in hotels
  • Taking a shorter vacation than originally planned
  • Having a staycation instead

4. Brainstorm a List of Free Activities

Find ways to save money this summer by brainstorming a list of free activities now. Then fill your calendar with those. Look for free classes, events, workshops, and camps for your entire family. Check out what your city offers in terms of free days at museums, galleries, and other spaces. Visit parks, beaches, and hiking trails in your area. Make a list of things that you can do at home for free. Whenever you hear the dreaded, “I’m bored” this summer, you’ll have a list of options to point to.

5. Prep Your Home Now for Summer

If you run the air conditioner in your home all summer long then your bills will be much higher than they need to be. If you haven’t properly cleaned out air filters or looked for drafts then the price will be even higher. Update your home energy system now in order to save money this summer.

  • Install a smart home system so that you don’t cool the house while you’re not in it.
  • Get used to keeping the home a tad warmer than last year to save big costs.
  • Sign up for a tool like OhmConnect that gives you money back for saving energy.
  • Purchase some portable fans to avoid using the air conditioner so much.
  • Update your curtains or blinds to keep the sunlight out during the hottest part of the day.

6. Start Planning Summer Meals

One smart way to save money this summer is to look at what you’ll be eating. There are so many great ways to cut costs on food in the summer. Switch the whole family away from other drinks and just to water. It’s better to stay hydrated during those hot months and it doesn’t cost much. Find a good local source for fresh fruit, especially water-dense fruit like cucumber and watermelon. Keep meals simple. Use the stove as little as possible so you don’t add heat to the house. If you plan out your meals now then summer cooking should be easy and affordable.

7. Declutter and Sell Things

Take advantage of the downtime in summer to get your house in order – literally. go room by room decluttering everything that you don’t need. Sell what you can. The activity can keep your whole family busy without spending a dime. You might even make a little cash.

8. Earn a Summer Income

One of the best ways to offset the costs of summer is to earn extra income. You have plenty of daylight hours to pick up some extra work. Start looking now to see what option are available to you for a summer side job. Housesitting, ride share driving, caring for other people’s children, and lawn service are just a few of the options to consider.

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How to Save on Your Auto Insurance

auto insurance

Auto insurance companies constantly battle to claim providing the best deals, but only some actually pull through. There are many areas in your life where you can make cuts, and, believe it or not, your auto insurance is one of them.

A year after I graduated college, I had my first taste in shopping around for new auto insurance companies. I felt I was not receiving the promised rewards of my plan at the time, and despite reaching out to my representative, no changes were made. After doing some extensive shopping around, I cancelled my plan and went with a new company. This reduced my monthly payment by roughly $60. Needless to say, I was very happy I took the time to do some research.

Many individuals tend to forget to reevaluate their car insurance. They are so focused on their car and having this investment protected that savings could be easily missed, which is completely understandable. But, when working on improving your personal finances, leave no stone unturned.

Just because you already have a policy does not mean you can’t still shop around. Finding the best quotes is key to auto insurance savings. These insurance quotes from reliable companies will be the primary tool you need to leverage change in what you pay. Keep in mind that the estimates you choose should be from a comparable plan to your existing one.

So, let’s get started and get you the savings you deserve with these quick tips.

Don’t limit yourself

There is no cost to getting an auto insurance quote, so don’t limit yourself to just one. In fact, get as many as you can to really help you evaluate your options and to present these estimates to your current company. Performing a thorough research is the first step in this process, and a really important one. Ask for referrals from friends and family and consider looking on forums for advice on companies to speak with.

Dig deep and know your auto insurance needs

Referrals are great, but you still need to research the company to make sure it is a good fit for you. Know what you need in a policy. What is the companies’ coverage like? What are their policies on accidents, speeding tickets and so on? Do they offer forgiveness plans? Do they primarily work online or are they very personalized in their customer service? Knowing all the background information and fine details are important in your savings journey.

Raise your deductible and have good credit

You may need to raise your deductible in order to lower your premium. As companies begin to run quotes for you, they will also look into your credit score, so just be prepared for that. If you need to improve your credit standing, this recent article published right here on Suburban Finance may help.

Try to stick to online searches

Although agents will generally always be available to speak with you, you may be presented with additional costs to meet and talk with them. Not to mention, this will also take up a lot of your time. Try to do as many online searches as you can without speaking to an agent. Should you need to speak with someone for more details, there are some companies who do have online chats or will offer a complimentary phone call with a representative.

Bring multiple cars together

If you have more than one vehicle, consider placing them all under the same policy. This will bring you even more savings.

Overall, the goal is to weigh out your options to make sure you are getting the best deal for you and your budget. Customer service is huge for me, so when my previous auto insurance carrier failed to look into my issues with me, I decided to move on. If your company is willing to make changes to better suit your needs, they may be the best option you.

Never be afraid to look into things and ask where you can save. The answers are out there; you just have to look for them.

What tips would you add to the list?