Clean Up Your Utility Bill and Be More Energy Efficient


When we think of spring cleaning, vivid images of crowded garages, disorganized basements, and overstuffed drawers come to mind. Ugh. Instead of going down that rabbit hole, let’s focus on something more fun: Getting new gadgets. So, let the dust bunnies live uninterrupted and free, and turn your attention to the purpose of this article: How to clean up your utility bill with energy-efficient and long-lasting products. It’s easy to get lost trying to understand the terminology of the newest technological advancements, but let’s test the water and see where we end up.

Smart LED Bulbs—Control Lights

The first easy and fun way to save some money on your next energy bill is by upgrading your light bulbs. Yes, upgrading, because as you’ll see, in the technology world, saving money doesn’t need to mean downgrading. Lightbulbs are arguably the most-used and under-appreciated devices in our homes. Consider swapping out your current lightbulbs for more energy-efficient options, such as LED ones, or go further and take the first step in creating a smart home by getting a smart LED bulb. There are many advantages to smart bulbs, namely the ability to control them from a mobile device, create customized scheduling, and the long life they offer.

Philips Hue, a major player in the home automation and smart home realm, offers many smart light bulbs in all shapes and sizes. The White and Color Ambiance A19 Bulb not only offers remote control via iOS or Android devices (when connected to a ZigBee Hub), but also provides you with the ability to change the color of the projected light to one of 16 million bright colors. Sync the lights in your family room to the thumping beat of music, or to the intense video game you’re playing against friends online with third-party apps. Oh, right. It also lasts up to 25,000 hours, or up to 22.8 years based on 3 hours of use per day–a good way to start shaving some dollars off your energy bill.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Single Bulb with Richer Colors

Another company with their eyes on the prize is TP-Link. They offer four different smart LED bulbs, all with different users in mind. Included in those bulbs is the LB130 Wi-Fi Smart LED Bulb, which offers the same 25,000-hour lifespan as the previously mentioned Philips Hue bulb, and features similar color-changing capabilities. What differentiates TP-Link’s line of smart LED bulbs and other smart home products is the way in which they connect to a network. Instead of using protocols that require additional hardware, such as a hub, they have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect the devices directly to your home Wi-Fi network. This, in turn, grants you the ability to control them from anywhere in the world on your smartphone or tablet using the free TP-Link Kasa app. This helps to ensure that you’re not wasting energy by keeping the lights on—simply check on the app and turn them off if you forgot to before you left.

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart LED Bulb with Color Changing Light

Smart Switches—Control Multiple Light Fixtures

Because replacing all the lightbulbs in your home could be quite costly, there are alternate ways to control lights. One such option is via a smart light switch, such as the WEMO Light Switch. It offers the same remote control functionality to that of a smart bulb, but can control multiple lights, depending on your home setup. Additionally, the switch can control ceiling fans for even more usability. Through WEMO’s free app for iOS and Android devices, you can customize schedules and set Rules, allowing you to choose when lights or fans will go on to suit your needs and lifestyle. Its Wi-Fi connectivity means that you don’t need any additional hardware to get up and running, just the technical skills to install it, since it replaces your current light switch.

WEMO Light Switch

Smart Plugs—Control Small Appliances

Companies have also made other products, such as smart plugs, that allow you to control lights, lamps, coffee makers, air conditioning units, and more. Companies such as WEMO and TP-Link offer multiple products that give you freedom to control devices in your home, while saving some energy to keep your bills low. For instance, the Mini Smart Plug from WEMO allows you to control any small appliance from your smartphone, ensuring you don’t leave something running while you’re out of the house. Similarly, TP-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug provides the same functionality, while the Energy Monitoring version provides more insight into how energy is being used. Through the app from TP-Link, you can analyze a device’s energy use both in real time, as well as historically, to help you better manage your device.

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Smart Thermostats—Control Heating/Cooling Systems

Lastly, if you’re looking to optimize your energy consumption throughout your whole home, with integrated devices, the Nest Learning Thermostat might be the right product for you. With built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, Nest learns your routines and automatically adapts your heating and cooling systems to meet your preferences—after about a week! The advantage to a device like this is that it can help you save money without requiring additional hardware and costly installations, and with minimal effort from you. Nest can also be integrated with other offerings from the company itself, including both the indoor and outdoor Nest Cams to monitor your home and keep loved ones safe, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The thermostat will optimize all connected devices to make sure energy isn’t being wasted, all the while making sure your home is comfortable when you arrive home.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Efficient Takeaways

Whether you’re looking to save some money by upgrading to longer-lasting smart LED bulbs, or would rather control your lights via a smart switch, you’re sure to clean up your energy bill with any of the aforementioned solutions. For larger appliances, as well as lamps and fans, be sure to consider smart plugs, which offer convenient ways to ensure energy-draining devices are turned off even when you’re away from home. Smart thermostats are also a great way to shave down your energy bill by optimizing the various heating and cooling systems running throughout your home.


"Smart" switches don't work with electronic appliances, only old-time electrical ones.  An electronic programmable appliance gets stupid when it loses power: it won't go "on" i.e. function, when the power comes back; it will sit, waiting to be programmed.  These "smart" switches are just remote on-off.  So, for example, they work with a cheap coffee maker, but not an expensive one.

I don't understand why so many think it smart to put everything they can on a leaky grid?  If we should have learned anything over these last 5 years is that the internet is NOT secure or reliable, yet we keep moving more and more into its grasp - like lemmings over the cliff!!!! 

While all these gadgets are fun and some even save money, if you live or work in a city/state that is deregulated, you can save serious money by shopping for a different electricity company. Several of my family/friends/photo clients are saving 20-30% by trying a new company. We use that company as well, and are saving far more via their referral program. 

Like insurance and other expenses, we need to shop around once in a while for the best price. 

The more we save, the more we don't have to earn!