While we all know that saving energy (and money!) is great, it can take a bit of time to wrap our heads around the ways in which we can make our homes more efficient and our purses a little less empty.
Thankfully for us, our smartphones are worth more than just a few games of Candy Crush: there are apps literally at our fingertips that can help us along the path to energy efficiency.
Here are some of Modernize’s favorite energy saving apps.
What will I learn?
A) Basic Energy Calculators
If you’re not particularly adept on your smartphone or tablet, or if you just want a basic app that will tell you how much you’re spending on a particular appliance or part of your home, then these energy calculators will do the job just fine.
1. Energy Cost Calculator (iOS, Free)
As basic as it gets, this free iOS app calculates your energy cost and usage per day, week, month, and year for individual appliances or pieces of machinery. All you need to do is input your appliance’s consumption per hour, usage per hour, and the cost per watt of the appliance.
As an added bonus, the calculator can also tell you your average carbon emissions per year for the annual electricity consumed in your home. The interface leaves a little to be desired, but the app does what it sets out to do and works as a perfectly good energy cost calculator.
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2. Energy Calc Pro (iOS, $1.99)
This iOS app can calculate your average energy usage for a number of household appliances by searching and selecting from a preloaded database. Simply enter your wattage, average daily usage, and cost over a specific period of time to calculate your use per appliance.
At $1.99, this basic app functions with all Apple devices and the peace of mind it gives is definitely worth the small cost.
3. Water Use Calculator (iOS, Free)
This app was created by the National Ground Water Association. This simple app allows you to learn how much water you use whenever you turn on the tap–shower, watering the lawn, washing shies, etc.
The app also gives you a lot of useful tips and hints on how to conserve more water, thus saving you some cash on your next water bill.
B) Energy Trackers/Calculators
When pure figures just won’t do the trick, you might be in need of one of these apps.
With a little more information than a basic cost calculator, these apps show your usage over time and offer tips on how to cut your energy costs.
For a quick peek at all your major utilities, EnergySaver provides energy-usage reports for your electricity, water, and natural gas in one convenient place.
Since energy utilization varies from summer to winter, this app lets you create multiple profiles for different seasons.
If you are thinking about adding or upgrading appliances, EnergySaver predicts their potential impact on your bill. With colorful and easy-to-read charts, you can identify phantom loads and receive helpful tips for decreasing them.
While you can input your specific data and utility rates, it provides you with average rates and consumption data for common household appliances.
It’s a bit pricey at $9.99, but this top-rated app will return your investment in monthly energy savings each year.
5. Kill-Ur-Watts (iOS, Free)
If you’re looking for a free energy calculator app with fantastic graphics and a crisp, clean template, then this app is for you.
The pros: view energy usage for any period of time in standard or graph style, make note of peak usage times and your individual carbon footprint, and get tips on how you might be able to save energy in your home.
The con: you must link the app to a Green Button Connect account, which gathers information from your energy company regarding your usage and bills. The functionality of this app far outweighs some of the other basic apps, so grab this one while it’s still free.
6. Everyday Energy Tips (iOS, $0.99)
While energy calculators provide valuable figures regarding your energy usage around the house, knowing what to do with this information in order to make savings is even more important. This basic informational iOS app costs $0.99 and comes with a user friendly interface and simple search functions.
Find specific and practical ideas for lowering your home’s energy costs from suggestions given on the app, including finding leaks, sealing windows, and adding insulation.
The Wiser™ Energy Management System (EMS), is simple yet efficient tool that arms you with information and guide you to reduce or shift your energy use during peak times.
This of course helps electricity providers improve grid efficiency and network reliability.
8. Energy Tracker (iOS, $0.99)
This is a great tool to avoid those unnecessary energy expenses. You can find out just how much energy a particular appliance, or your system as a whole, has used. You can also export this data to your PC.
I think it is worth the $0.99 that they charge for the app on iTunes.
C) Smart Thermostats
Thermostats that learn your regular energy usage patterns and automatically adjust the temperature in your home are becoming more commonplace for homeowners around the world. While their individual formats and interfaces vary, the apps behind these thermostats all have the ability to monitor, track, and adjust energy usage from your smartphone or tablet.
Here are a few of the best apps for smart thermostats around.
If you’re looking to conserve energy, consider investing in a smart thermostat that automatically adjusts itself as it learns your family’s unique habits.
With a free price tag, the Ecobee app works in conjunction with an Ecobee thermostat device. From your mobile phone, you can remotely edit your settings, including humidity levels and how long your fans run. With the app, you can download data from your thermostat to your computer, and configure charts that show areas where you can save the most.
Since heating and cooling costs account for up to 70% of energy usage, a thermostat-monitoring app equals money in the bank.
Like ecobee, the Nest app is built to work with your individually installed Nest products, including the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Protect, Nest Cam, and Dropcam.
If you’re interested in a smart thermostat system, you will need to shell out a bit of money to make the switch and install your thermostat, but once it’s up and running the app and its services are all free, and it promises to save you money almost instantly.
The app links to your thermostat(s) around the house and not only tracks your usage but also allows you to adjust your heating when you’re away from home. Enable notifications and your app can let you know of any extreme temperatures when the weather is very hot or cold.
For those of you who are serious about making changes to the way you use energy at home, this is the perfect solution.
Note: Please keep in mind that while some of these apps are free to install, the actual back-end system that you will have to install (like Nest Learning Thermostat) will cost you money. But, for most people, it’s a cost that can pay for itself in a short time by saving you more energy thus reducing your energy bills.)
The Bottom Line
While lowering your energy bill might be the end goal, sometimes you need to start with the basics to achieve the best results. Money saving apps such as Acorns and Mint will help you get your finances in order, find out where you’re spending the most money, and make changes accordingly. These apps should be used alongside the energy saving apps mentioned above and, if you stick to it, you ought to be able to save yourself more than a little bit of money.
From tracking energy usage to using appliances wisely, the end goal is an energy-efficient home that saves money and helps the environment. With tiny, handheld computers at your fingertips, you may as well use their available apps to help achieve your desired energy savings.