Intelligent plugs are an excellent way to automate your dumb devices such as lights, gaming systems, and coffee machines. They also promise energy and money savings. But will they save enough money to pay for themselves? Maybe sometime.
Smart plugs are perfect for easy automation.
We like smart plugs because they are easy to set up and allow for excellent automation. Just plug it into a power outlet and then plug it in a little. You now have a smart point of sale ̵
You might think that smart plugs are also a great way to save energy. Finally, you can ensure that Smart Plug controls are not activated all day long by setting a simple schedule to turn off the device when you exit. But it is a bit more complicated. Many of your electronic devices are as energy-efficient as possible from the start, and electricity is a relatively cheap resource, at least in the US.
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They use energy to save energy
The simplest way to save energy is to disconnect your devices from the mains. However, this is impractical. Some things that you need to do often enough to walk around the house and plug in everything are quickly getting old.
While connecting to a smart plug initially sounds like a money-saving solution, two factors affect you. First, when it comes to vampire energy, it does not cost you as much as you might think. Second, smart plugs draw power to work. This is necessary if you think about it. Your plug must be connected to something (Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, etc.) and watch for signals. These can be timed signals from a schedule or one you send via an app or voice assistant.
Luckily, smart plugs do not consume much energy. We tested three different intelligent plugs with a Kill A Watt monitor and after half an hour of measurement, the meter still showed 0.00 kilowatts of consumption. If the device stays connected long enough, we will eventually measure something, but the consumption is quite low.
The same is true for vampire energy when we tried in the past to measure how much energy a single device consumes when turned off. The only way we could get results was to connect six devices.
So, if you're hoping to lower the vampire's energy costs with a smart device, you should hold back. The low cost of vampire energy and the cost of operating intelligent plugs cancel each other out.
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Powerful electronics are also energy-efficient
Vampire energy, however, is not the whole story. Do you tend to forget about switching off? Are you coming home to notice that you have been on the TV, Xbox and surround system throughout the day? Smart plugs can help here. You can set a schedule to turn off these devices every morning and night. Still, you do not necessarily save money and do not even pay for the Smart Plug itself.
As an example, we measured a power strip with 10 connected devices turned on for half an hour: an Xbox One X, a Nintendo Switch, controller charging stations for both systems, a surround sound system, a 60-inch Netflix streaming television, a Google Home hub, an Eero wireless router, a Synology NAS, and an Nvidia Shield TV.
In total, these devices used 0.15 kilowatts (kW). According to the EIA, the average electricity cost is 12.82 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). So, if we leave this device day and night as it is, it would consume about $ 1.10 in electricity.
It is unlikely that all these devices will be in operation 24 hours a day, every day. So if in a probable scenario, during the eight hours you slept, you left everything standing every night, you would spend about 32 cents a day. In this scenario, it would take 71 days for the Eufy Smart Plug to pay off. Time adds up when you stop being generous with how often you leave everything plugged. But as you can see, a smart plug could pay for itself and possibly even save money in the long run.
How to determine if a smart plug pays off
If you want to save money, you should do without trifles. For example, your device's chargers do not consume enough power to cover the cost of the Smart Plug. Instead, strive for something that is strained and probably needs more energy. Then make sure you do not have a built-in option yet. In the above example, both the Xbox and the TV must be turned off after a certain amount of time, but the surround sound system does not.
In our case, a large dehumidifier in the basement seemed to be the first candidate for savings. The basement where it is located is damp and the dehumidifier usually needs to run for five or six hours a day to avoid problems. However, the humidity sensor will not work properly and the dehumidifier will run day and night when left to itself.
If you've found a potential candidate like the one above, connect it to a Kill A on Watt Energy Monitor and plug it into the wall. Wait half an hour or an hour and then press the kWh button. The display of the Kill A Watt monitor shows the amount of electricity consumed in kilowatt hours. The next step is calculating.
You must determine how many kilowatts a device consumes in an hour. Multiply this by the number of hours consumed per day. Then multiply that by the cost of kilowatt hours in your area. That's how much the device cost you daily. Then decide how many hours you can save with a Smart Plug. Multiply this number of hours by the previous kWh number and then by the kWh cost in your region. That's how much you can save under ideal circumstances.
Sometimes the savings are huge.
In the case of the dehumidifier, it consumed 0.31 kWh in half an hour. To simplify the calculation, we double it to 0.6 kWh in one hour. That means in one day; The humidifier consumes 14.4 kilowatt hours. (24 hours multiplied by 0.6 kWh).
Based on our estimate of 12.82 cents per kWh, the humidifier costs $ 1.87 per day (we have rounded up to 13 cents, that is, 14.4 kWh multiplied by 0.13). With a smart plug we can shorten the duration of the humidifier to six hours. This reduces the power consumption per day to 47 cents per day. (Multiply 0.6 kWh by 6 hours and then multiply the result by 0.13 cents.)
Since this humidification is really performed throughout the day, the numbers above are closer to real life than in the example of a media Center. By reducing the bill to an estimated $ 1.40, the $ 23 million Eufy Smart Plug will pay for itself in about 17 days. And the first month will save you $ 18.20.
Automation is still the best feature
You may save money with smart plugs. But for every place where math works, there are probably two or three places where this is not the case. A smart plug with a coffee machine, a light bulb, or a power strip to which you plug all your phones and tablets probably will not save you money.
But you still gain automation. Just because it saves no money does not mean that planned outlets are not comfortable. You can use timers and schedules to give the impression of being at home when you are not. And the ability to turn some lights on and off via the voice or your phone is incredibly convenient.
So, if you do not know that you have energy aspirators that need to be controlled, it's probably best to focus on the convenience of smart plugs and treat the potential money savings as a bonus. Nice if it's there, acceptable if it's not there.
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