Your Smart Plug Can Pay for Itself, if You Use It Correctly (2024)

Smart home gadgets, from the Amazon Echo to the Ring camera doorbell, are all about convenience. When it comes to smart plugs, however, their benefits don't stop there. Smart plugs can secure your garage, remotely restart your router and even help you cut your energy bill. How can smart plugs save you money, you ask? It's simple, really. Smart plugs help reduce wasted energy while consuming a negligible amount of energy themselves.

Any and all of the five tips listed below can help you cut energy consumption with a smart plug, but they're not the only way to lower your electricity bill. For more ways to save energy, consider switching to Energy Star appliances, using a smart thermostat, flipping the rotation of your ceiling fan or changing up how you do laundry.

How much energy do smart plugs use?

On its own, the average smart plug uses at most one, maybe two watts at any given time. Zero, like that of an unused standard outlet, would be ideal, but smart plugs require a small amount of electricity to stay connected to your Wi-Fi. Still, a smart plug uses only around 10 kWh over the course of a year.

Electricity costs are different everywhere (and in some places, prices even fluctuate throughout the day), but my provider here in Fort Mill, South Carolina, currently charges a rate of 13 cents per kWh. So over the course of a year, if my smart plug stays plugged in all 8,760 hours, it'll add less than two bucks to my electricity costs for the year.

Given how little smart plugs will add to your energy consumption, it doesn't take much for them to save more than they use. Soon enough, that $10 to $20 smart plug will likely pay for itself, but it won't do all the work on its own. You'll need to use smart plugs strategically to maximize the savings. Here are five ways to do just that.

Go Van Helsing on those energy vampire appliances

They're called "vampire" appliances or devices, and they're surely in your home, consuming energy even when they're powered down. With plug prongs like a vampire's fangs, televisions, desktop computers and their monitors, gaming consoles and other devices will continuously leech energy after you've hit the power button.

Vampire devices are responsible for around 10% of total energy consumption in the average household, easily adding $100 to $200 to yearly electricity costs. Unplugging vampire devices when they're not in use is an effective way to combat waste, but the task isn't always convenient and can be easily forgotten.

Smart plugs can save you the trouble of remembering to unplug things and running all over the house to do it. Set a timer for your smart plugs to turn off automatically, or turn them off manually via the app on your phone. When turned off, smart plugs cut all power to whatever's plugged into it, so turning the smart plug off is essentially as effective as unplugging the device from the outlet.

Your Smart Plug Can Pay for Itself, if You Use It Correctly (2)

Turn off the lights you left on, from anywhere

With a smart plug, you can hit the lights, wherever you may roam. It's alright if you don't get that Metallica reference; the point still holds true. Smart plugs enable you to check a device's on/off status and switch it accordingly from virtually anywhere. That means if you left the house for work, or a two-week vacation, you can check to see if you left any plugged-in lights on and turn them off remotely.

A left-on light won't waste the same level of electricity as a vampire device might, but every little bit adds up. If you can reduce your energy consumption by turning off a couple lights from five or 500 miles away, why not do it?

The same goes not just for lights but anything that may have been left on, whether you're home or away. Use your smart plug to turn off any fans or heaters that may be needlessly running in another room, or devices like electronic toothbrushes and earbuds that don't need to be charged 24/7. Also consider turning an indoor security camera off when you're home or a nursery cam when you're away and don't need the monitoring.

Monitoring your energy consumption makes it easier to save

Your Smart Plug Can Pay for Itself, if You Use It Correctly (3)

Most smart plugs, and specifically the accompanying app, come with an energy-monitoring feature to help you keep track of how much electricity your plugged-in devices are using at any given time.

Use your smart plug to get a gauge of how much energy your household items use. You may be surprised by how uneconomical that space heater is and opt for an extra layer and a blanket instead. You may also find that even low-usage devices such as a lamp could benefit from minor changes like using a more efficient light bulb. Either way, your smart plug is keeping you conscious of how much electricity you're using.

Read more: A Space Heater Could Save You Hundreds on Heating This Winter. Here's How

Some smart plugs make it even easier to monitor and rein in energy consumption. For example, the Emporia Smart Plug, one of our favorite smart plugs, offers a setting to automatically turn devices off if they hit a set level of energy use.

Set it and forget it

Ever heard of the smart home automation tool called IFTTT? IF This Then That (no, that TTT doesn't stand for "trust the tech," but it could!) controls and combines the automated actions your connected smart devices perform in response to other devices.

For example, if your smart thermostat detects a rise in temperature, you could set a compatible smart plug to automatically turn a fan on and then off again once the temperature drops back within a set range. Or, you could set lights to automatically turn off when Alexa notices you've left the room, effectively doing the job of conserving energy for you.

Even if you don't take full advantage of the IFTTT capabilities, your smart plug is sure to come with settings to schedule devices to turn on and off at certain times. So, if you accidentally leave a light or the TV on when you go to bed, your smart plug can turn it off for you when scheduled to do so.

Work around your electricity provider's peak hours

Demand can have an impact on what you pay for electricity, and demand is often at its highest at certain times, often known as on-peak hours, during the day. If possible, use your smart plug to coordinate energy consumption around these hours to save money where you can.

Obviously, there's no avoiding the use of some appliances or devices during on-peak hours, but some could operate just the same no matter the time of day. The dishwasher, battery chargers and electric vehicle chargers, for instance, could be scheduled to be active only during off-peak hours. You won't be using as much energy during those popular on-peak hours, but that's OK; you'll be saving money.

That's it for our list of ways to save money with a smart plug. For more money-saving tips and home hacks, check out our list of year-round cost-cutting tips for around the house. Plus, a smart plug isn't the only smart home gadget that can save you money. And try this smart bulb trick that your Uber driver will thank you for.

Your Smart Plug Can Pay for Itself, if You Use It Correctly (2024)


Your Smart Plug Can Pay for Itself, if You Use It Correctly? ›

So over the course of a year, if my smart plug stays plugged in all 8,760 hours, it'll add less than two bucks to my electricity costs for the year. Given how little smart plugs will add to your energy consumption, it doesn't take much for them to save more than they use.

Do smart plugs cost money to run? ›

How Much Energy Do Smart Plugs Use? Increasing sustainability and going green with smart plugs are key to a healthier home. Smart plugs use about 1-2 Watts of power. Your energy bill is measured in kilowatts per hour.

Can smart plugs save money? ›

When used correctly, smart plugs can help you save energy and, ultimately, utility costs in the long run. Some smart plugs also provide energy consumption data which you can use to make your household more energy efficient. Some of these energy statistics also let you know where you are spending the most money.

Why does my smart plug turn on by itself? ›

If there is a power outage in the home, some devices will be turned on automatically after the power is completely turned off and turned on again; If there is no such situation, please restore the device to factory settings in the App.

What is the purpose of a smart plug? ›

While the most common use for a smart plug is for remotely turning a device on or off, there is much more that can be done with these products. Being able to monitor the energy usage of what's plugged into it, schedule times for it to turn on or off, and plenty of other ways.

Do smart plugs still use electricity when off? ›

Smart plugs use around 10kWh annually — this is so they can maintain a connection with your home's Wi-Fi. Of course, traditional outlets don't use any power when not in use, but smart plugs can reduce the idle power draw in your home from devices that are plugged in and not in use.

Is it expensive to leave things plugged in? ›

This continual use of power drives up your monthly electric bill. There's a simple solution, though: Just unplug the appliances when you aren't using them. According to the US Department of Energy, unplugging these devices could save the average household up to $100 a year.

What are the disadvantages of smart plugs? ›

Moreover, some smart outlets and plugs may not support high-wattage appliances, such as heaters, air conditioners, or hair dryers, and may pose a fire hazard if overloaded. Another disadvantage of using smart outlets and plugs for home security is that they may compromise your privacy and data security.

What are the security risks of smart plugs? ›

Smart plugs can be hacked through weak passwords, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, vulnerable firmware, and phishing attacks. To protect your smart plugs from hacking, use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, keep your firmware up to date, and beware of phishing attacks.

Does unplugging cords save money? ›

While unplugging appliances can reduce your energy costs, you have to decide whether the savings are worth it. The United States Department of Energy estimates that you can save $100 per year on your energy bill by unplugging your appliances. That comes out to $8.33 per month (or about 27 cents per day).

How do smart plugs turn on and off? ›

A smart plug is a small Wi-Fi-enabled power adapter that plugs into a regular wall outlet and controls the flow of electricity to connected devices. Once set up, you can control a smart plug from a companion app on your phone or tablet or from a smart speaker or display.

Do smart plugs have built in timers? ›

One of the greatest features of the Amazon Smart Plug is that it can be powered on and off at specific times of day. If you're curious to know how it works, here's a closer look at how to set a timer on Amazon Smart Plugs.

How do you control a smart plug? ›

How to use an Amazon Smart Plug
  1. Plug in Amazon Smart Plug and open the Alexa app. ...
  2. Tap the Devices icon in the lower right corner of the Alexa app, then click the Plus icon to get started.
  3. Select Add Device and then select the Plug.
  4. Plug your lamp, coffee maker, or other appliance into the plug.

What is the difference between a smart plug and a normal plug? ›

You may be wondering, “What does a smart plug do that is so different than your typical outlet?” Well, smart plugs give you complete control over your devices with more convenience and ease-of-use than ever before. Even your regular (non-smart) devices become “smart” with the help of a smart plug.

What is the best way to use a smart plug? ›

Smart plugs are a simple way to automate your wired devices and make your home a bit smarter. To set it up, all you have to do is plug it into an outlet and then connect it to your Wi-Fi network by following the directions in the compatible app on your phone or tablet.

Do smart plugs consume electricity? ›

Smart plugs typically consume around 0.3-0.4 watts a day on average, and the consumption can go up to a maximum of 2 watts a day. This is a minimal consumption and doesn't affect your electricity bill significantly. The energy consumption also depends upon the type of smart plug you use.

Do smart plugs use a lot of energy? ›

Smart plugs typically consume around 0.3-0.4 watts a day on average, and the consumption can go up to a maximum of 2 watts a day. This is a minimal consumption and doesn't affect your electricity bill significantly. The energy consumption also depends upon the type of smart plug you use.

Does unplugging plugs save money? ›

When your devices are plugged in but not in use, they consume electricity, known as the phantom effect. As a result, unplugging those devices can save electricity. Do not worry about unplugging every gadget; simply plug what you can into a power strip so you can unplug less.

Does turning off all plugs save money? ›

Turning off your appliances at the wall won't magically cut your power bill in half, but it can help you further conserve energy and save on electricity. Every little bit counts!

How much does it cost to keep a smart meter plugged in? ›

Your in-home display – the small touchscreen device that shows your home energy use – is powered by your electricity supply. It uses a very small amount of energy and costs between 70p and £1 a year to run. In fact, smart meters usually save you money.

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