10 Feb 10 gadgets to help you live more sustainably
When it comes to the best smart home devices, we want them to be sustainable gadgets. We want to know that we as householders are making sensible decisions which make our carbon footprint smaller.
Lots of the stark realities of negative human impact on the world feel well and truly out of our control as individuals. In many ways that’s true. You aren’t in control of the massive pollution producing machination of a globalised economy. But as a consumer and a householder, you do have some power.
By making small changes to how you live, you not only reduce your own carbon footprint, you put pressure on producers to be more sustainable too. These changes involve adopting the best smart home devices and using these effectively, as well as making conscious choices when it comes to everything from cleaning to clothing.
The best smart home devices
As we always say, don’t try to do everything at once. Pick one or two devices or gadgets, get familiar with them, and then consider introducing another.
1. Smart thermostats
Perhaps the best known of the sustainable gadgets, thanks to names like Nest and Hive, smart thermostats enable you to take control of your home temperature (and with it your use of gas and electricity).
You can set and manage temperatures remotely and by-the-clock. Some use an element of machine learning to adapt to your habits and make smart choices. The idea is that you don’t waste energy heating the home when not in use.
2. Smart radiator valves
Alongside smart thermostats, smart radiator valves enable a more piecemeal approach to heating the home. They allow a room-by-room approach, ensuring that energy isn’t wasted on heating rooms not in use, or where the thermostat isn’t present. You can effectively zone your home, making it much more energy efficient.
3. Lighting sensors
There are several different ways you can take a smart approach to lighting. One involves the use of lighting sensors. Lighting sensors ensure lights are only turned on when there is active movement in the area. They are excellent in hallways and through areas, as well as outdoor path areas. This way you never leave a light on longer than necessary. You can also use occupancy and vacancy sensors for rooms you spend longer periods of time in where there isn’t constant movement. Generally you’ll need a professional to install these sensors as they can be quite complex to get right.
4. Lighting timers
Similarly lighting timers can be good sustainable gadgets. There is a tendency amongst householders to leave lights on, either by accident, or because of ease. Lighting timers allow you to take control and minimise the amount of time a light is on. For example, if you return home from work at a certain time and need the porch light on, you don’t need to leave it on all day. Smart lighting devices can now even send you an alert if you accidentally leave a light on, and allow you to remotely turn it off.
5. Smart water saving devices
Smart water valves are able to monitor water pressure and determine efficiency of water flow. They can pick up issues such as leaks and burst pipes, helping to save water as well as prevent damage.
6. Smart plugs
Smart plugs are amongst the best smart home devices for a simple change that makes a difference. Whilst the cost of smart plugs can add up, you can introduce them over time, where they are most needed. For example, items such as hair straighteners can both consume a lot of electricity and be dangerous if left on for long. Smart plugs come with various degrees of complexity. For example, entertainment systems can use a power strip multi-plug so they work cohesively together. Or chargers can be controlled by a mobile app.
7. Smart showers
Showers are much better than baths in terms of the amount of water used, but we can still unnecessarily waste water (and energy heating that water). There are now various smart shower systems which are able to use much less water to give you the same sensation, or even a sensation of having more water by turning it into micro-droplets! An example is Nebia, which uses 65% less water.
8. Smart window treatments
Smart window treatments are often used in countries where awnings or shades need to be closed. However, they can be used for window treatments that keep your home warm too, thus making it more energy efficient. For example, you can set curtains or blinds to shut at certain times, ensuring you lose less heat, therefore requiring less energy.
9. Composting gadgets
The humble compost caddy very much still has its place for the householder who wants to use food waste in a positive way. But if you don’t have a garden or room for a compost pile then where do you put the caddy contents? Smart food recyclers can break down your food waste within a day or so.
10. Eco appliances
Making sustainable choices also means considering the appliances you choose for your home. These gadgets, such as washing machines and dishwashers, vary enormously in terms of how green they are. Making the right choice on these big-buys at the time of purchase is complex but can help the planet.
Making it easier, Which? has introduced the Eco Buy label so that you can choose such smart appliances knowing that they have a considerably lower carbon footprint whilst also being all-round good buys. To get the label, the appliance must score at least 60% higher than other appliances in their class in terms of longevity, energy use and how easy they are to repair.
By gradually introducing some of the best smart home devices into your home you can ensure that you are making the best sustainable choices. Your bills will be lower but you’ll also use considerably less energy and natural resources. You’ll feel good whilst knowing you’re also doing good and contributing to the health of our planet.