electric bills http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/17486/all en-US 3 Great Home Gadgets That Can Save You Real Money http://www.wisebread.com/3-great-home-gadgets-that-can-save-you-real-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-great-home-gadgets-that-can-save-you-real-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_tablet_92297561.jpg" alt="Woman using great home gadgets that can save her real money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Home automation is very popular right now. Some gadgets are very pricey and more cool than useful, while other home technologies can actually save you a lot of money. Many of these gadgets can control utility usage, be controlled wirelessly, and even interconnect with each other. Check out these technologies if you want to make your home smarter and also reduce your monthly bills.</p> <h2>Nest</h2> <p>One of my favorite devices to use is <a href="http://amzn.to/28PQY4p">Nest</a>, which is a smart thermostat. We first purchased Nest three years ago. It was easy to install, and we saw savings immediately. We saw enough savings that first summer to justify the cost of the device.</p> <p>Nest cooled and heated our home smarter, turning itself off if it didn't detect motion or if it was set to Away. The second year, our electric company offered incentives if customers had a Nest. We earned about $150 that summer just for allowing the electric company to have control over our Nest. They would simply have blackout hours which disabled Nest during high volume times. Usually, it was disabled for a few hours two to three times a month during the summer.</p> <p>When we lived in our one-story 1,800 square foot home, our electric bill was rarely over $100. It was usually about $150 in the summer months. This was mostly due to smart usage, a well-insulated home, and of course, Nest.</p> <p>Nest currently costs $249 through Amazon and is much more stylish and easier to use than a conventional thermostat. Depending on how excessively you use your air conditioning and heating, Nest could pay for itself in savings within a few months. Be sure to sign up for energy saving programs and rebates through your local electric company, too.</p> <h2>Rachio Sprinkler System</h2> <p>Rachio is a smart irrigation system that can be controlled through your phone. This irrigation system also connects with weather readings, so your sprinklers won't turn on when it's raining outside or when the rain is expected.</p> <p>Before investing in a smart irrigation system, our water bill was routinely about $110 per month, and we rarely watered our lawn. Since we pay our water every other month, it was always a nasty shock to see our bill over $200, since we thought we were being conservative with water (and our lawn didn't look great).</p> <p>The first smart irrigation system we bought helped reduce our water bill by $30&ndash;$40 right away. We then switched to the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller when we moved two months ago and now have more lawn to water. Our water bills are still predicted to be $70&ndash;$75 per month, or $150 per billing cycle in the spring/summer months. They might be lower, but California has a few conservation surcharges added to each bill. The biggest difference is that with the use of the smart irrigation systems, our grass stays green, despite not using more water.</p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/28PPXLn">8-Zone Rachio Smart Sprinkler</a> costs $199.99 and many water companies will give you a rebate. Be sure to check for <a href="http://rachio.com/#gallons-saved">local rebates</a> for the Rachio system. Even without a rebate, if the Rachio system saves you $30 each month, then you will have saved $360 for the entire year. Subtract the base cost of the Rachio from those savings, and you still pocket an extra $160 the first year of using Rachio.</p> <h2>Canary</h2> <p>While I think that home security systems are a great idea, they can be expensive. US News says, &quot;Most companies will offer installation specials as low as $99, but startup costs for all the equipment could <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/09/09/the-cost-of-keeping-your-home-safe">run between $600 to $1,200</a>.&quot; After these initial costs, the monthly monitoring costs average $30 a month. Even if you get free installation and pay a very low $30 a month for home security, you will still end up paying $360 a year.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/28PQjl4">Canary</a> is a good solution for tech-savvy individuals. The devices start at $166.94, and users can stream real time video in their home. Canary alerts your phone when it detects movement (there is an option to disable that feature when you come home). Once you get that mobile alert, you can instantly look through the camera and even sound a siren and alert the authorities. You can view the recordings for up to 24 hours, but if you need the video past that time, you will just have to pay a small fee.</p> <p>Best of all, you don't have to deal with a pushy salesperson or need to get it installed. I love that you don't have to rush to a keypad to disable the alarm, either. You just plug it in and connect it to your secure Wi-Fi.</p> <p>With the use of these three devices, I estimate that we save at least $1,000 a year. Not only do we save a good amount of money, but these three devices have made life much more convenient. If I want to check on my baby sitter and kids, I quickly check Canary. If I want to start cooling the house a few minutes before I get home, I just push a few buttons on my phone to activate Nest. If I want to change my watering schedule via Rachio, again, all I have to do is push a few buttons on the phone.</p> <p><em>What smart home technology do you use in your home?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-great-home-gadgets-that-can-save-you-real-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-lost-keys-fast-with-a-teeny-tiny-tile">Find Lost Keys Fast With a Teeny Tiny Tile</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/34-smart-ways-to-cut-your-electric-bill">34 Smart Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-apps-that-actually-pay-you-to-shop">8 Apps That Actually Pay You to Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-apps-that-pay-you-to-workout">6 Apps That Pay You to Workout</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-parking-apps-for-your-city">The 11 Best Parking Apps for Your City</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Technology apps electric bills gadgets nest rebates security sprinklers thermostat water bill Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:30:20 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1740458 at http://www.wisebread.com Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/solar-4250134-small.jpg" alt="solar panels" title="solar panels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Thinking about reducing your carbon footprint by going solar?</p> <p>Besides helping the environment, installing solar panels can dramatically reduce your electric bills.</p> <p>Solar panel installers say the panels can cut monthly electric bills by 50 to 90%. The Department of Energy confirms that a solar electric system can meet &quot;nearly all the needs&quot; of an energy-efficient home.</p> <p>A two-kilowatt system could cost $16,000 to $20,000 including installation, or $8 to $10 per watt, according to the Department of Energy. Cheaper PV systems are available, but they only slightly cut electricity costs. At the high end, a five-kilowatt system that completely meets the energy needs of many conventional homes can cost $30,000 to $40,000 or $6 to $8 per watt, installed.</p> <p>What's more, the cost of solar panels has fallen substantially in recent years, due to improving technology and low-cost imports. According to Clean Edge, a renewable energy research firm, solar costs for the panels themselves have dropped from $7.50 per watt to $2.50 since 2000.</p> <p>In addition, photovoltaic, or PV, panels will protect you from rate increases in the future, which run at 4% or more a year, since the sun will never charge more for its power. That means 10 or 20 years from now the cost of electricity may have doubled, but you'll be getting your power for free or for very little.</p> <p>Solar panels also increase the value of homes, so homeowners should get their investment back when they sell their homes. A <a href="http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/04/21/bright-spot-for-solar/" target="_blank">Berkley Lab study of California homes</a> found that homes with photovoltaic panels sold for a premium over homes without the panels.</p> <p>How much you can save depends on how much sunshine you get, the solar system you install, the cost of electricity in your area, and how much electricity you use, all factors that vary widely.</p> <p>If your utility has net metering, you'll be credited for excess energy the PV system creates during the day. In effect, your meter will run backwards. That means your electric bill could potentially be zero. In some areas, utilities may pay homeowners for excess energy.</p> <h2>Tax Credit Where Credit Is Due</h2> <p>Homeowners can currently obtain a federal tax credit for 30% of installation costs.</p> <p>Many states also offer rebates and tax credits. Eligibility criteria, incentives, and installer equipment requirements vary widely. For listings of state, local, utility, and federal incentives, visit the <a href="http://www.dsireusa.org/solar/" target="_blank">National Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy</a> (DSIRE). The Department of Energy also has a nifty <a href="http://energy.gov/savings">online tool</a> for finding state incentives for solar energy, as well as other alternative energy sources.</p> <h2>How Much Can You Save?</h2> <p>After getting quotes from installers and calculating the state and federal tax savings, use your past year's electric bills to estimate your savings.</p> <p>Divide the installation costs after tax incentives by 25 years to find the system's annual cost, and compare the annual cost to last year's electric bill to estimate your savings. If you borrow money to pay for your solar system, take into account the interest you'll pay, too.</p> <p>California, the largest solar energy market, is pushing PV panels in a big way with its <a href="http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/about/csi.php" target="_blank">Go Solar California</a> campaign, a joint effort of the state's Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. The <a href="http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/about/csi.php">California Solar Initiative</a> offers rebates to customers of its investor-owned utilities &mdash; Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas &amp; Electric &mdash; with rebate amounts depending on the performance of the solar panels. All you need is roof or ground space that gets unobstructed sunlight from 11 a.m. to sunset year-round.</p> <p>Customers of municipal utilities may also qualify for incentives through their municipal service providers. For the California Solar Initiative program, you first must complete an energy efficiency audit done through your <a href="http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/csi/step1.php" target="_blank">utility's program manager</a>. It can be done online or over the phone.</p> <h2>Buying Sunshine's Electricity on Credit</h2> <p>Installing a solar system may cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you might be able to lease the equipment with little or no money upfront. If you opt for leasing, you pay a fixed monthly fee, typically for 15 to 20 years, while the solar company maintains the panels. Solar leases, or third-party financing, is relatively new and is expected to energize the solar business, says a report from <a href="http://www.greentechmedia.com/research/report/u.s.-residential-solar-pv-financing" target="_blank">GTM Research</a>. To date, leasing is available in 14 states, including California, Arizona, and Colorado.</p> <p>A downside of leasing is that the company, not you, gets the federal tax credit. And you can't be certain the company maintaining the system will be around for 15 or 20 years, especially given the young solar industry's record of turmoil and bankruptcy.</p> <h2>Getting Started</h2> <p>In California, the state maintains a database of solar contractors who are eligible to apply for state incentives; other states may have similar programs. Talk to at least three installers. Ask about their warranties, how many systems they've installed, the average cost per watt they charge, the peak generating capacity, and the total cost including hardware, connecting to the grid, and permits.</p> <p>The contractor will handle the state rebate paperwork. Utility customers get a monthly incentive based on the PV system's output, but owners of systems under 30 kilowatts are also eligible for an upfront rebate.</p> <p>Other states also offer tax credits or rebates. For instance, Arizona, another sunny state, has a 25% tax credit for residents installing solar energy systems, up to $1,000, and Nevada offers a tax rebate of up to $12,500 for residential solar electric systems. Ask your utility company for referrals for installers.&nbsp;</p> <p>So if you live in a sunny spot, you can say goodbye to rising electric bills while feeling good that you're doing something to help the environment.</p> <p><em>Have you upgraded your home or property with solar panels? Are the savings meeting your expectations?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/michael-kling">Michael Kling</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-anyone-can-go-solar-and-save-on-energy">10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-more-detergent-make-for-more-clean">Does More Detergent Make for More Clean?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-stocks-to-buy-if-you-love-the-earth">5 Stocks to Buy If You Love the Earth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home Real Estate and Housing clean energy conserve electricity electric bills solar panels Fri, 03 May 2013 10:24:34 +0000 Michael Kling 971408 at http://www.wisebread.com