9 smart home devices that could save you money

A woman using a smart thermostat app on her smartphone

RACV Staff

Posted June 21, 2023

Smart tech doesn’t just make your home more convenient. From smart plugs and lightbulbs to sprinklers and thermostats, here’s how smart devices can help you save money around the home.

Smart home devices do more than just make it easier to see who’s at your front door or spy on your pets while you’re at work. When used correctly, they can also help save you money on everything from your energy bills and water usage to your weekly grocery shop.

Smart thermostats can learn your living habits and heat or cool rooms in line with your daily schedule, smart sprinklers can lower your water bill by learning the level of moisture your soil needs and watering accordingly, and smart plugs can kill ‘vampire energy’ by making sure plugged-in appliances are switched off (and not on standby) when not in use. 

From simple screw-in lightbulbs to big-ticket appliances, here are nine smart home products that can help save you money. 

Save money at home with these smart devices 

Smart plugs

Have you ever heard of ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire’ energy? It’s when electrical appliances or other gadgets— such as computers, TVs, coffee makers or phone chargers — continue to suck power even when they aren’t in use.

If you’re looking to make your home’s biggest energy hogs more efficient, smart plugs are the way to go. Smart plugs (and power boards) offer a relatively inexpensive way to boost the efficiency of your existing light bulbs, devices and appliances. Simply plug in the energy guzzler – a plasma TV, space heater, lamp, pool pump, or even your air conditioning unit – and program it to cut the power when the device isn’t in use.

Devices connected via smart plugs or power boards can be operated on a timer or manually via a smartphone app. This means you can even monitor them when you’re not home, so you’ll never have to wonder if you left your hair straightener turned on again.  


A dripping tap

A smart leak sensor can save thousands of litres of water, not to mention money on your bills. Image: Getty.


Smart thermostats

Heating and cooling account for as much as 50 per cent of the average Australian household’s energy bills. This is where a smart thermostat can be a game changer. These nifty devices optimise your home’s heating and cooling, allowing you to remotely control your systems or even customise temperature settings by room. This is a great way of making sure your home is only heated or cooled when you’re there to enjoy it.

Leaving work? Turn on your heater via the smartphone app so that you arrive home to a cosy house, or program it to come on automatically. Smart thermostats can even learn precisely how long it takes for a room to reach your preferred temperature, therefore, maximising the amount of time they can spend in energy-saving modes.

Smart leak sensors

According to the Australian government's YourHome website, a dripping tap can waste more than 12,000 litres of water a year, while a badly leaking toilet can waste around 96,000 litres. Installing a smart leak sensor is an easy way to pre-emptively monitor sinks, toilets, taps, or even washing machines for potential water wastage.

If the sensor detects a water leak, it will send a smartphone alert so that you can plug it before it becomes a major problem. Some smart meters will even shut off your home’s water supply to prevent further damage. While it may not save you money on your bills every month, if a leak does occur, it could pay dividends. 

Smart sprinkler or irrigation systems 

We’ve all been guilty of leaving the water sprinkler or hose running too long and ending up with a muddy backyard mess. Smart sprinkler systems help save you money by adjusting the amount of water used on your lawns or garden based on the soil type you have or even your specific plants’ thirst requirements. They can also check the weather forecast to make sure they don’t give your garden a good drink right before it rains.

Smart light bulbs 

Lighting accounts for 10 per cent of the average Australian household electricity budget according to energy.gov.au. One of the easiest energy-saving smart home solutions is to convert your regular light globes to smart globes. Smart bulbs can be motion activated, remotely controlled, automated, or even scheduled, meaning you won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn them off when you exit a room. Sensors also mean they’ll automatically dim or swith off when there is sufficient daylight. Smart bulbs are also LEDs, which use 75 to 85 per cent less energy than incandescent globes and last five times longer, greatly reducing replacement costs and the number of light bulbs ending up in landfill.

If you also get a smart dimmer switch, you can reduce energy usage even further by restricting the flow of power to the bulb.  


An app showing the inside contents of a smart fridge

Smart fridges help prevent food waste and energy spent mindlessly opening the refrigerator. Image: Getty.


Smart ceiling fans

If you want to cool down or warm up without turning on your split system, ceiling fans are a cost-effective alternative to help shift the temperature dial. Make them even more efficient by installing smart fans fitted with motion sensors so they’ll only spin when they detect someone in the room. 

Smart shades and blinds  

Windows can be a big source of heat transfer in your home, particularly if you live in an older home with single-glazed glass. This can result in freezing cold winter temps and overheating in summer. That’s where smart shades come in. Smart shades (or blinds) can operate on a schedule and be programmed to open or close depending on how much light you want to allow into your home.  

They can also be set to energy saving mode so they’ll automatically close when your windows start heating up. 

Smart refrigerators

Of all the money-saving smart appliances out there, a smart fridge is one of the coolest. Sure, many newer appliances have higher energy star ratings, helping to save on power, but the best thing about having a smart fridge is that it can help you monitor and prevent food waste, too. Smart fridges are fitted with internal cameras that link up to a smartphone app so you can see what’s inside, even when you’re out and about. This means you’ll be less likely to double up on stock you already have, therefore reducing the amount of food waste you produce. You can also log items’ expiry dates so you know which foods to prioritise using for your next dinner prep.  

Smart energy monitors  

Still can’t figure out why your energy bills are sky high? A home energy monitoring system can be installed anywhere in your house and will automatically send detailed, real-time information about appliance energy consumption straight to your phone. Being able to see a clear report of how much power you’re using on a day-to-day basis, and which appliances are adding the most to your energy bills, will give you a clearer idea of where your energy leaks are and how to manage them. It’s a must-have tool if you’re serious about lowering your energy costs. The Victorian Energy Upgrades program is offering eligible households rebates on in-home displays.  

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