Smart plugs have the potential to save you money in several ways. They allow you to schedule when devices are turned on or off at the plug socket, ensuring they’re not wasting electricity when not in use. They can let you switch off devices when you’re away from home, handy if you’ve forgotten to turn off an energy-guzzling electric heater after going out for the evening. Many models also offer energy monitoring, allowing you to see precisely how much electricity your devices consume and react accordingly.
Let’s use the example of an electric radiator, which many people use to heat back bedrooms or garden offices. Under the new price cap from October, a 2,000W heater will cost just over £1 to run for every hour it’s switched on. If you forget to switch the heater off before heading out for a meeting or to a restaurant for the evening, you can use the smart-phone app to switch the radiator off and save £1 an hour (assuming the radiator’s running at full pelt). The same could apply to other high-energy devices, such as dehumidifiers.
Smart plugs can also help prevent those high-energy devices running when they’re not needed. Smart plugs allow you to run devices to schedule, so you might have that office heater turned on at 8am every morning to warm the office before you start work and, crucially, ensure it’s switched off when work stops for the evening.
However, with free services such as IFTTT.com, you can synchronise your smart plug with the weather forecast. So, if we’re in for an unseasonably warm couple of days, the heater won’t be switched on automatically, saving you money on heating that you didn’t need to spend.
Smart plugs can also be used in combination with other smart devices. For example, you might pair a smart plug with a motion detector, so that those high-energy devices are only ever switched on if they detect someone in the room.
Finally, there’s another way smart plugs can save you money and a lot of grief. Devices such as the TP-Link smart plug have an ‘Away Mode’. When you’re away from home, this switches on the smart plug at random intervals – perhaps switching on a lamp or a radio. This could be enough to convince burglars someone’s at home. Granted, this will add a little to your energy bills, but it’s a price many will be willing to pay.