5 energy smart home apps that will change your life

Matthew Grocoff

November 1, 2012

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Green Living

Over the 30 years of the life of your mortgage you could pay over $500,000 in energy for your home and gasoline for your car. The money usually trickles out slowly in a steady stream. Other times it pours out in a torrent. It's always one of the biggest home expenses.

Yet, the utility company gives us very little way to help control our usage to ensure that we get 100% of the benefit for the energy consumed. Lights left on in empty rooms costs money, but adds no value to our lives. The utility company still charges for the heater left at 70 degrees when you leave for Christmas, but you get no extra comfort.

Here are 5 killer apps that will change your life. In real-time, they'll help you know how you use energy, help you control it, make you more comfortable, and save a ton of money in the process -- not to mention help get all of us closer to the goal of net zero fossil fuel emissions from our homes.

Ecobee & Nest Smart Thermostat apps

ecobee thermostat iphone app

Nest thermostat

The most exciting new technology for homes is the simplest: smart thermostats. Both the Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats allow you to control your home comfort from your phone, tablet or computer. Unlike old school programmable thermostats, they are insanely easy to use.

When you are coming home early from vacation and want the house cozy when you get there, you simply change the temperature from your phone. If you're looking for ways to save even more energy, these apps will show you how and when you're using energy and help find ways to keep your family healthy and comfortable while still reducing your energy bills. You can read more about these smart thermostats in my article on Old House Web, iPhone Godfathers Create Coolest Thermostat Ever

Chevy Volt app

Chevy Volt app for iphone

Now this app is fun. The extended-range, electric Chevy Volt is the future of driving (in 2013 Cadillac will offer a luxury car on the Volt platform). From your phone the Chevy Volt app lets you check your fuel economy, unlock your doors, remote start the climate controls, charge your car during off-peak rate times, and even monitor your tire pressure to optimize fuel economy. With all this data and control at your finger tips, you may never need gasoline again.

eMonitor app

eMonitor

Imagine if your car had no dashboard and you never knew how fast you were going or how much gas you had left. That's pretty much the way the utility company charges you for the energy they deliver.

The eMonitor from Powerhouse Dynamics is like a dashboard for your house. It is a whole-house energy monitoring system to help you get the information the utility company won't give you. It allows you to monitor every circuit in your home independently. This live view lets you to know where you're using energy and where your wasting it.

Opower social Facebook app

opower

Facebook and the NRDC have teamed up to make saving energy social. You'll be amazed at how much energy you can save just by comparing your home to your friends' homes. This app helps you see how you stack up to others and find ways to save energy. Opower makes saving money fun. It allows you to compete with others and set savings goals. You can join thousands of others each month.

GE Nucleus home energy manager app

GE nucleus home energy manager app

Like the eMonitor the GE Nucleus helps you track your energy use in real-time. It brings a ton of data about your appliances to the palm of your hand. For homes with time-of-day rates (the utility company sometimes offers cheaper rates during off-peak hours), this is a great tool. GE has begun installing components in their appliance products that will communicate with your smart meter and adjust their usage to optimize usefulness, energy savings, and cost based on time-of-day.

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