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Smart thermostat
© Vladimir StaniÅ¡ić |

5 ways to lower your energy bill this summer using tech

It’s getting hot out there, and you’re probably itching to hit the road. Have an older car? Rather than dropping a fortune on a new one, try these upgrades to revamp your ride.

You may not have enough money to travel by car or plane if you don’t get a handle on your bills. Energy prices are high and are expected to stay there for some time. Here are some clever tips to lower energy bills.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats know the outside weather, how long it takes for a room to reach a specific temperature and whether you’re away or home. Some even pair with your smart home assistant, so you can dictate the exact environment you want.

Switching your regular thermostat to a smart one will make your home feel more hi-tech and help cut energy costs. Check the settings for energy-saving features that will lower your bills even more.

Amazon’s Smart Thermostat is ENERGY STAR certified and easy to install. Alexa will guide you through installation and setup and then help you keep the temperature optimal. Click on the Check compatibility box on the product page to ensure your HVAC system is compatible with the device.

NOTE: You’ll only reap the benefits of a smart thermostat if you use it as directed. That is, set it and forget it. You’re defeating the purpose if you keep raising and lowering the temperature manually.

Smart sprinklers

When you think of summer, do you imagine green lawns? We sure do. You can’t have a healthy lawn without keeping it adequately watered. Doing it manually takes time, what with turning the sprinklers on every morning and off at night. Not to mention running outside to turn them off when it’s raining.

Automatic timers don’t help much since they can’t tell if it’s raining or sunny. And the timers with rain sensors aren’t very accurate.

Think of smart sprinkler controllers as a thermostat. They automatically water your lawn based on weather conditions and know the best time of day to get the most out of each session.

When you set up your smart controller, it connects to the internet to get local weather data. For example, the controller may skip the next cycle if enough rain has fallen. The system also checks forecasts to plan its watering schedule accordingly.

You want a controller that splits your lawn into zones so that grass in sunny areas gets more water than grass in the shade.

The Rachio 3 automatically creates watering schedules for eight zones based on hyperlocal weather (right outside your door). With rain skip, wind skip and freeze skip, it’s genuinely a set-it-and-forget-it system. Install it yourself in 30 minutes with no special tools required.

Note: If installing the Rachio outside, get the waterproof casing. Tap or click here to buy it now.

Smart plugs

Smart plugs help save energy by switching off anything consuming electricity while on standby. This “phantom energy” could cost you hundreds of dollars per year.

Set-top boxes, games consoles and older TVs are some of the main culprits. Switching off just a few appliances when you don’t need them (like when you go to bed) will pay off in the long run.

This set of four Kasa smart plugs is a good deal. They work with Alexa and Google Home so that you can control anything plugged in hands-free. Use the app from anywhere to set timers or countdown schedules for everything from your living room lamp to the bedroom humidifier.

RELATED: Here are all the cars that now qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit

Smart bulbs

When was the last time you replaced your lightbulbs? You should look into LED smart bulbs if it’s been a while. LED bulbs are more energy efficient, and adding smart ones means you get a range of excellent features while saving money.

But who wants plain lighting when you can have dimmable multicolor LEDs? These Kasa smart bulbs have a two-year warranty and can be voice-controlled with Alexa or Google Assistant.

Use the remote control or download the app and manage the lights from your phone. Create timers and schedules so the lights turn off when they’re not needed or dim for late-night TV sessions.

Smart shades

The sun is an excellent source of free heat in the winter, but it’ll quickly warm your house in the summer. Motorized shades cool your home, which means your air conditioning won’t have to work as hard. The result is a lower energy bill.

Yoolax motorized shades work with the included remote control at the touch of a button. You can also connect them to Alexa and Google Home. Use the app to set schedules or let the shades operate based on the time of day.

Note: This product must be customized via the Customize Now button before adding it to your cart.

Bonus: Beyond saving money, motorized window shades can protect your furniture from sun damage.

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