It’s a slow news and gadget week so I thought I’d put together a list of some tech and gadgets that will probably pay for themselves in terms of savings if used correctly or in a specific use case. You’re welcome to add your own in the comments and it may make it to a later version of this post.
Am I trying to sell you something? Meh… you can buy if you want, or don’t click anything. I’d really rather people just learned to save some money and I think these style things can help with that. If not used or used correctly they won’t. I should probably call this “The 10 best gadgets of 2023 to put cash in your pocket!” based on all the SEO spam I’m seeing on tech sites these days but meh.
My favorite anti-energy monitor comment was on one of the ones we’ve reviewed extensively – the Sense Home Energy Monitor. We’ve been reviewing and coming up with new uses and complaints about that thing since 2017. The comment went along with “this thing won’t save you any money, it can’t because it only tells you what you’re using.”
Well yeah… it doesn’t save you a dime and it costs like $250. There are other less expensive brands, but talking about the one I’ve worked with as a note. No energy monitor will save you any money by itself. What they will do is show you what’s taking up all that energy. You get a psychotic electric bill do you just claim the electric company is lying and find a couple of articles that might support that based on one UK smart meter failure from 2015? Or do you use an energy monitor to figure out why?
There are people in my neighborhood who routinely ask why their electric bills are over $500 and then complain that the electric company charges whatever they want because they want to be willfully ignorant that it’s over $500 because their water heater is running nonstop and their heating and cooling system is stuck on aux/heat strip heat.
Yes, you can go out and watch the meter spin while turning everything off and turning one thing on at a time… or you can get an energy monitor, train it, and know when your fridge is suddenly $100 of your electric bill because the compressor never stops running because the $15 user replaceable fridge seal is completely worn out.
I also use mine to inform me when the dryer or washing machine has been off for more than 5 minutes so I don’t forget and leave a sopping wad of clothes turning into mildew central needing a re-wash (which uses more electric and water). My washer and dryer are in a basement, I do not hear the little song the dryer sings or the beeping of the washer when it’s done.
It’s also great for those paranoid about the idea of having left the stove on when they’re out. Nope, stove still not on.
During the pandemic toilet paper was currency. These little butt-washing devices became pretty popular but they’re still seen as a novelty in the US. Starting at $19 and going all the way up to several hundred dollars, bidets reduce toilet paper usage significantly, at least for those who have Marker Butt (that’s where no matter how many times you clean yourself with toilet paper it’s always marked.)
I have no great way to metric this because I don’t review bidets nor keep up with my TP purchase history, but I can tell you after installing two bidets at my house TP usage plummeted significantly. More than paid for itself.
Got a kid laying tracks in their underwear? Probably will help with that.
I will mention though if you have no water pressure to the toilet, that these are lackluster at best.
A smart outlet
This is use case specific. In my use cases I have certain things on smart outlets that draw a reasonable amount of electric when turned on. These being a fan, an old school high wattage light that can’t be new-schooled, and an ozone generator. That last one is not so much saving electric, but my lungs. Remote trigger and all.
The fan requires about 150 watts to run and only needs to run at certain times as part of my house heating and cooling. Sure I could spend a little over $5000 on a new blower, duct work through 1940’s thin walls and plaster, but the $40 fan and $7 at the time smart plug combine to turn it off and on as needed. They also don’t cost me over $5000.
Being able to turn the 150 watt fan on and off rather than running it nonstop saves about 14 hours a day, about 2kW, or about 21 cents a day for me. 730kW a year. 10.1 cents local rate for electric. $73.73 a year.
I measured the smart outlet as pulling 6 watts to exist. That may be low, may be high. Have not measured these extensively and not sure my Kill-A-Watt is functioning correctly for different reasons. 144 watts a day, 52kW a year, about $5.25 a year to operate.
My $7 smart outlet paid for itself at the start of month 2.
As for the light bulb, no idea on the savings. It’s paid for itself being able to turn it off remotely because someone left it on but that’s more a dad thing.
This part sits in theory. Your average electric scooter costs about $500. If you live in a city, chances are you can use it to park your car absurdly far away for free and scoot on in. Or if you live within operating range don’t even have to find free parking for the car. The amount you spend on electric to go 10 miles is about 1/3rd of a kilowatt, so between $0.03 (Nashville rates,) and $0.10 (Hawaii rates). Parking in downtown can be in the $20 range for anything, so 25 days of not having to park and you’ve paid for a $500 scooter.
There are obvious issues with when it rains, and a “wuddabout” list that you can come up with, but they’re cheap, fun, and yeah. Use it 25 times to save the cost of it. In that scenario.
A label maker
This exists in the “if time is money, then wasting time is wasting money” realm and may only apply to me. Do I want to hear arguments about which child owns what toy? Do I want to explain that shirts go in this drawer and pants are found here and that socks go there? Do I want that lost toy to make its way back to the classroom (on ‘bring a companion’ day also known as ‘let’s let a bunch of 7yos bring in toys and then walk around the school with them, surely they’ll keep up with them this time right?’)
I freaking label everything now. I didn’t label a brand spanking new $80 coat the other day and my 7yo managed to lose it within 2 hours. Yeah, it’s gone. $40 an hour for a coat. She left it at school, the teacher put it on her desk in her chair, and my guess is another kid took it.
Anyway, yeah… most things can be solved with a label maker of one sort or another… I love the NIIMBOT series, use it to mark ports at work, door frames for key info, label chargers for what they go for, place conspicuous labels in kid clothing (I re-print, that’s how I do it.)
I can look in a box of chargers and read what the charger is for rather than looking at the plug type and then looking to see if it’s the right amperage.
1940’s house here with 1940’s duct work. All I can say here is that I can balance the temperature in my house now automatically using a $40 remote hygrometer/thermostat, a fan and a smart plug. Let’s put this on “can” rather than does as you have to have a highly specific use case.
If you find your bulbs are being left on all the freaking time, these will pay for themselves. They’re not that much more expensive than traditional LEDs now and will save you money … if they’re being left on all the time… that’s a big caveat here.
The downside here is very few smart bulbs actually deliver light well. Dingy, not good to read by, dim and dirty light are what I think of most smart bulbs… so finding a good one is key and you know what, I have one that fits the bill and it has no freaking markings on it and I can’t remember where I got it… waugh….
As noted, specific use cases to save money…