Living in New England, it seems like I can never catch a break from high utility bills. If paying your utilities hurts your wallet every month, there are a lot of different ways you can slash those bills down to a more manageable number. For one, smart home technology can help you be more efficient with both heating and cooling, as well as with water and electricity use. Here are 10 smart products that can help reduce your utility bills and put money back in your pocket. Are you forever leaving the living room light on?
Summer is the season of spending. Even if you aren't planning beach vacations, road trips, and new bathing suits, you probably can't go too long without blasting pricey air conditioning directly into your face. Energy, water, and other utility bills can really soak up a summer budget. Looking for a few smart ways to curb some of that spending this season? Here are a few cool tips, tricks, and gadgets that can get you through the sweatiest, spendiest months.
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. After spending more than two years testing 41 smart outlets, we're confident that the Wemo Mini is the best smart outlet plug-in adapter for people who want to add remote control and automation to their existing lamps, fans, or other electrical devices. It's the most reliable Wi-Fi smart plug we tested, it's simple to use, and it works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant. The Wemo Mini is the only model that has been rock-solid reliable over long-term use, offers a compact design that won't block both outlets on a wall plate, and supports all the major voice-control platforms. Like most of the smart plug-in switches we tested, the Wemo Mini is easy to set up: Just plug it into an outlet, download an app to your phone, set up the wireless connection, and then control lamps, small appliances, and even higher-draw devices like fans and air conditioners. The Wemo family also includes light switches and dimmers, so it's easy to expand your system. The Lutron Caséta Smart Lighting Lamp Dimmer costs quite a bit more than the Wemo Mini, but it has two outlets, allowing you to control two lamps or strings of lights at once (though not independently).
Like it or not, the home of the future is going to be smart, online, and connected. We're in the early stages, but soon the the smart home will simply be called "home." This glorious smart home future is exciting even for a part-time luddite like me. However, thanks to confusing interfaces, multiple protocols, high installation costs, and a general lack of product cohesion, for most of us, the smart home seems overwhelmingly complicated. It doesn't have to be this way.
This reliable, feature-packed air conditioner from GE earned our top honors during testing. The GE Profile Series PHC08LY is a window-mounted air conditioner that blends top-notch cooling capabilities with a variety of unique features, with a bit of style and elegance. During testing, this 8,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) AC unit reduced our 340 square foot test area's temperature by 10 F in only 43 minutes and lowered the room's humidity by 14 percent in the same amount of time. On top of this, it ran (for an air conditioner) quietly. While using the GE Profile Series' Quiet Mode it only put out 49.3 dBA of sound -- that's less noise than an average household refrigerator makes.