With a smart plug doing your bidding, you can position your abode a step closer into becoming a bona fide smart home. And then some. It’s true: There’s a lot of back and forth on the merits of one, but smart plugs put you right into the 21st century. Giving you control over dumb devices within your household and a way to stop vampire energy dead on its tracks. Once and for all.
Indeed, a smart home is a vision made possible via IoT or the Internet of Things. And if you’re wondering what vampire energy is, then you’d better do a bit of a movie recall and remember that the fantasy blood-sucking creature draws blood sans the victim’s consent. Much like how a slew of devices (e.g., computers, coffee makers, TVs) in your home draw power even when not in use. And as you don’t have control over these energy hogs, especially not without the internet, these devices are considered dumb. Not unless a smart plug rescues them and puts them on the map.
But like any device under your dominion, smart plugs can be grossly misunderstood too. To your disadvantage. Here we detail how you can max on the anti-vampire gizmo to save you tons of energy and money. Not to mention your abode.
Kill Vampire Power: What’s a Smart Plug Anyway?
An army of pundits would argue many, if not most, of America’s appliances and electronic devices, are energy efficient, so using smart plugs and smart strips aren’t really as spot-on as advertising would make it look. And besides, electricity here in the Land of the Brave is a fairly cheap resource. So why save?
Well, a little perspective should be timely in this case. While energy use is still a family decision (and obligation), being able to find ways to cut corners and save is a welcome option for millions. Especially when the numbers may add up to become jaw-dropping.
For starters, the US Energy Information Administration revealed that fans and airconditioning are the single largest energy suckers in US households, with some throwing out $525 every year. And here’s a big one. If you think that vampire power, also called phantom power, is minimal, think again. A 2016 article in The New York Times detailed that:
- 50 large power plants worth of electricity: annual tally of energy wasted by vampires
In this sense, catching all those energy leaks before they become a flood is a good first step. Something entirely made possible using smart plugs.
Yup, a smart plug is part of the larger futuristic concept slowly but steadily transforming American abodes today: home automation. A direct application of IoT, automating your dwelling place speaks of greater comfort, allowing you to monitor and control key electronic features in your abode - from the AC to the security systems.
And who wouldn’t love a smart plug? All you have to do is plug it into a socket, and voila you can turn on/off any electronic equipment you connect to it from your phone or via voice assist. And with that, tons of perks come in with the terrain. As you can switch on or off the plugs remotely, you can control the plugged electronic device even when you’re out of your house. So long as you’re connected online.
That way, whatever a smart plug controls aren’t left on all day long when you’re away. Smart plugs contain electronic devices from turning into an energy vampire. Even better, many of these devices are compatible with existing online ecosystems like Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple Home Kit allowing you to have a central app to control other devices in your home. Not to mention voice control.
How do You Make the Most of It?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. As we all know, jumping into a ship without doing your due diligence is folly. As state of the art as smart plugs are, it’s like any electronic device: if you don’t observe proper instruction you can misuse it. Below are 3 takeaways to help you make the most out of these revolutionary devices.
- Choose your target and skip over anything small.
If your intention is to save the most money, you don’t smart plug each and every device in your abode. Be wary of smaller electronic devices. For instance, using your smart plug on your device charges can be counterproductive as these charging units do not draw enough power to justify the cost of buying the smart device.
Instead, target power-hungry electronics or those that require so much more energy. Make sure there’s no built-in option to save energy on the device before you get a smart plug going. Your smart TV and Xbox, for instance, can be pre-programmed to shut down; audio devices like a surround system may not.
To a large degree, pairing your choice smart plug with the airconditioning system is wise. AC, along with refrigeration (i.e., freezer), occupies the top spot when it comes to energy-sucking devices in American homes.
- Nothing like voice control to please your senses.
The idea of servants coming to you at a clap is pretty amazing. It sure beats having to call each one by name to get the service you want. Looking for voice control possibilities in your smart plug can go a long way to the comfort you desire at home. Not only will you be able to set schedules for routine operations, but you can also turn things on or off by just commanding it.
To this end, check if your smart plug is compatible with Alexa or Google Home or any existing ecosystem. Imagine how much comfort you can get with an army of home appliances under your command. Of course, it’s best to factor electronic consumption of your smart plugs. Remember these devices do need power to work. Which can all add up.
Voice command is also spot on when you want to control hard-to-reach devices remotely. It’s all a matter of finding a smart hub like Google Home, the ecosystem to make your voice matter.
- Vacation-proof your home
Every once in a while, you may take more than a day away from your home, ample time for burglars to take notice and do their thing. Once your presence is not felt for a longer time than usual, you inadvertently make your abode an easy target, a virtual sitting duck for lawless elements.
Not when a smart plus is around. By turning your lights and appliances on or off in strategic hours you can make it appear that you’re around - averting a possible home invasion. In this sense, smart plugs value cannot be overemphasized. You can be having the times of your life on the beaches of Boracay and still keep your home safe a thousand miles away.
Guide to Sample Savings Calculations
Of course, when it comes to savings, a little math can go a long way. Electronic devices are designed to consume a set amount of energy; identifying the biggest power hog is, therefore, a great first step.
To know which electronic device would best be strapped into a smart plug, you’ll have to figure out how much power it uses. To do that, you need to do some measuring. While wattage can be explicitly displayed on the appliance itself, measuring things out is vital for more accurate results.
You can use a Kill A Watt energy monitor towards this end. All you have to do is plug the target device into a Kill A Watt monitor and get the monitor plugged into the wall. After a period of an hour or less, the monitor will reveal how much electricity the appliance uses. Just press the kWh button.
Now, multiply that number of kilowatts to the number of hours you use the electronic device/appliance. You can, then, get how much energy it consumes per day by multiplying that with the designated kilowatt-hours in your particular area. The answer will reveal how much of a power hog is your electronic device.
To know how much savings you’ll get, decide how many hours you’re going to cut back using your smart plug. Like before, multiply that with the same kWh usage of the device and eventually with the cost constant your area uses. And voila! Your get your eventual savings. It may not be much. But adding it all up can be a great start to a brighter future ahead.
Half-hour usage via Kill a Watt
One hour usage
24 hour usage/ x 24
Local power rate
$1.87 per day
Cost of running the dehumidifier
Cut time using a smart plug
Total Daily Savings
Multiply 47 cents a day whole year through and you know how much value a smart plug truly has.
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