Really quick episode this week about something I recently learned about that can make our lives easier and help us to save on our electricity bills: Smart outlets or smart plugs.
First let me tell you the difference between an outlet and a plug. An outlet is a built-in rectangular receptacle with usually 2 electrical sockets that is an electrician installs in the wall, floor and sometimes drawers. A plug is a small square or rectangular box with sockets that plugs into an existing electrical outlet. Plugs are often used when you need more than 2 sockets. An electrical strip is a variation of a plug.
Anyway, my quick tip this week has to do with smart outlets and plugs. They allow you to remotely control and automate the electricity going to that smart outlet or plug.
Smart outlets and plugs work pretty much the same way, but smart outlets are built-in and electricians can easily add them to newly built houses. Smart plugs might be a better option for existing homes.
Plugs are bulkier and not as attractive as smart outlets, but one advantage to plugs is that they can be moved around from one outlet to another if need be. Smart outlets are obviously less flexible, since they are hardwired into your walls, but they give you the seamless and fully-integrated feel of a full-fledged smart home. Since this podcast focuses mainly on new construction, I’ll be referring to smart outlets.
Okay, with that intro out of the way, let me give you this week’s quick tip.
Have smart outlets installed wherever you plan to plug in power-leaching televisions and audio equipment, rarely used electrical appliances/electronic, or outdoor and indoor lights, including holiday lights, that you want to come on automatically.
Now I know that you could place old school timers on different lamp sockets so that could switch on and off at certain times of day, but old school timers can be bulky. Smart outlets pretty sleek and look like ordinary electrical outlets.
Just like with timers, With smart outlets, you can program lamps in your bedroom to come on in the morning to help you wake up. Or you can create the appearance of occupancy in your home while you are on vacation.
And in addition to being able to schedule lights and other electrical appliances to turn on and off at scheduled times, smart outlet have other features that make them better than timers.
You can set up smart outlets so that plugged-in lamps automatically dim when a TV is switched on. With smart outlets, you can check your smart phone or tablet to see if you have accidentally left an appliance on. Then you can remotely turn that appliance off using your smart phone or tablet. Think about how handy this could be for those of us who sometimes worry about forgetting to turn off a curling iron or flat iron.
You can also use Alexa or some other voice activated home assistant to control smart outlets.
Another cool thing about smart outlets are that they can also tell you how much electricity is being used by an appliance. And the outlets themselves can be programmed to shut all the way off at certain times of day when no one is home. This is how you can save on your electricity bill since electrical appliances use electricity whenever they are plugged in, even if the appliance is off.
And the outlets themselves can be programmed to shut all the way off at certain times of day when no one is home. This is how you can save on your electricity bill since electrical appliances use electricity whenever they are plugged in, even if the appliance is off.
In many smart outlets, each socket can be controlled independently, giving you more flexibility. Many also come with a built-in night light and USB ports for charging your phone or tablet. You can't control the USB port like you can control the sockets, but it's still a nice feature to have.
Smart outlets obviously won’t let you control hardwired lights and fixtures. You can only control appliances that are actually plugged into a smart outlet.
As you can image, smart outlets cost several times more than regular outlets, so you probably won’t want to use them exclusively, but think about where they would be most effective and add them there. Again, maybe for your televisions which are notorious for using significant electricity even when they are off, or for lamps in a rarely used guest room, or near your bathroom vanity where curling irons and flat irons will be used.
So that’s my quick tip for this week. Use smart outlets in smart places in your house to increase livability and safety and to decrease your electricity bill.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it’s subject to change, so it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
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