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Guide to smart home energy efficiency

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See how using smart home technology can make your home more energy efficient.

Controlling your energy use remotely could help you to cut your electricity usage and save money on your bills. In this guide to smart home energy efficiency, we’ll help you to understand smart homes and how they work. Learn how smart home technology could benefit you and start creating your own smart home in Northern Ireland. 

Article contents  

  • What is a smart home?  
  • What are the benefits of a smart home? 
  • How energy efficient are smart homes? 
  • How to make your house an energy efficient smart home  
  • Smart home FAQs  
  • Invest in smart appliances with Power NI Perks  
  • Further reading  


What is a smart home? 

A smart home is one in which electrical appliances, lighting, thermostats or other devices are controlled remotely, usually from a smartphone or tablet. By giving you greater control over your electricity usage, smart home technology offers more convenience and bigger savings on your energy bills. 
Smart homes can be created using either hard-wired or wireless smart technology. Hard-wired systems can be more reliable and may add value to your home when you come to sell it, but retrofitting equipment and cables into a property can be expensive. 

Wireless systems use your Wi-Fi network to connect appliances and devices to your phone or tablet. This means installation is much easier and much cheaper than for a hard-wired system. Although you need reliable Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home to benefit fully, a wireless smart home is the best option for most households in Northern Ireland. 

What are the benefits of a smart home?  

There are several key benefits of smart home technology. A smart home:  

Increases energy efficiency at home - By making it easier to monitor and control your energy use, smart home technology helps to cut usage and become more energy efficient. 

Saves money on your home utilities - The flexibility to switch devices off remotely, schedule when they turn on and see if they’re in use helps to cut energy costs.  

Helps manage home appliances in one place - Creating a smart home makes it incredibly convenient to control your appliances from a single hub — usually your phone. 

Allows you to control appliances remotely - Turning devices on or off when you’re not at home — and scheduling their use — brings convenience and cost-saving potential.  

Improves appliance performance - Your TV already knows what you want to watch, your kettle can be boiled ready for the ad break and your microwave knows exactly how long to heat your food. 

Helps you gain home management insights - Data from smart home apps can help you to make smarter decisions around energy consumption and cut your use of costly appliances. 

Provides real-time monitoring to increase safety - Access to smart doorbells, cameras and potentially dangerous devices all make your home more safe and secure. 

How energy efficient are smart homes? 

Smart homes are up to 26% more efficient than homes that don’t use smart technology, depending on which devices are installed. Smart thermostats that monitor and control temperatures around your home, smart lighting controlled by your phone and smart EV chargers that schedule off-peak charging are a few of the ways that smart homes can increase energy efficiency. 

How to make your house a smart home 

By making small changes and introducing smart home devices, you can quickly and easily make your home more energy efficient. Let’s look at some of the easiest ways to turn your house into a smart home. 

  • Introduce smart thermostats 

    Using smart thermostats, you can switch your heating off, turn it on later than planned and control the temperature in different rooms. You can do all of this whether you're at home or on the go. A smart thermostat can be installed with gas, oil or electric heating to give you greater convenience and control from your phone. 
  • Invest in smart kitchen appliances  

    With hobs that talk to extractor fans, ovens that know when your dinner's cooked and fridges that you can monitor remotely, smart kitchen appliances can make your life easier and cut your energy consumption. Appliances that you can switch off from your phone or that switch themselves off can make your home more energy efficient.
  • Switch to smart lighting  

    By swapping regular light bulbs for smart light bulbs, you’ll be able to control lights around your home using your phone. This is perfect for switching off a light you’ve left on by mistake or scheduling when lights should turn on and off. Equally, it’s a great security feature if you’re away or home later than planned. Get more tips in our energy efficient lighting guide.
  • Capitalise on smart home entertainment 

    Smart TVs and other smart home entertainment devices can all be switched off from your phone to save you money if you’ve left them on. A smart speaker can control many of your home entertainment devices — and other appliances, too. Get your speaker to play your favourite song and turn the tumble dryer off when your clothes are dry! 
  • Upgrade to smart plugs 

    Instantly turn any appliance into a smart device by using smart plugs. You simply plug your appliance into a smart plug, then plug the smart plug into a socket. The smart plug connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled from your phone. Make sure appliances are switched off, turn off lamps and use scheduling features to cut your energy costs. 
  • Consider the Power NI app 

    Using the Power NI app — makes it easier to monitor your electricity usage. You can spot energy-guzzling appliances in real-time and take action to cut your bills. Alternatively, look for trends in your spending to see how you can change your behaviour to reduce your energy use. 
  • Install a smart security system 

    A smart security system helps you to monitor your home when you’re out. Smart doorbells, cameras and alarms all give you more reassurance and extra control over your home security. Some insurers even offer home insurance discounts when you install smart security features. 
  • Choose smart EV charging 

    With smart EV chargers like the Power NI home electric car charger, you can start, stop and schedule charges from your phone. This means you can charge your EV when your electricity is cheapest. Combining smart charging with the reduced overnight rates of our EV Nightshift tariff can save up to £330 a year. You can also set a charge level to avoid spending more than you want to on your charge. Find out more in our guide to smart EV charging.

Smart home FAQs  

What is a smart home system? 

A smart home system is a network of appliances and devices that connect to your home broadband so that you can control them from your phone or tablet. This could be a collection of various different devices that you’ve added to your home over time or a purpose-built system that is fully integrated with your home. A smart home system can either be hard-wired into your home or connected using your Wi-Fi network. 

In some cases — particularly new build properties with hardwired smart technology installed — the term smart home system is used to describe the hub or central display screen from which various smart devices can be controlled. In most households, your phone performs this function. 
What is a smart home device?  

A smart home device — also known as a smart device — is any appliance that can connect to the internet so that you can control it remotely. This could be achieved using a display screen, your phone, tablet or voice.  

Smart speakers, smart thermostats, smart doorbells, smart locks and smart kitchen appliances are all examples of smart home devices. These devices are typically connected to a Wi-Fi network or are hardwired into the property’s broadband connection to give you remote control over the device. 
What Wi-Fi bandwidth do smart homes need? 

A minimum download speed of 25 Mbps is recommended for basic smart home activities. For multiple devices or intensive use, aim for download speeds of 100 Mbps or higher. If you're using a smart doorbell or security camera, you will need upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps. The faster your internet connection is, the more responsive and reliable your smart home will be. 

Another consideration in ensuring the reliability of smart home technology is Wi-Fi coverage. You might need to get range extenders or Wi-Fi signal boosters to control smart devices in parts of your home that don’t have reliable Wi-Fi coverage.  

Invest in smart appliances with Power NI Perks

Taking the first steps towards creating a smart home needn’t break the bank. Power NI customers can use the Power NI Perks scheme to get discounts and deals from many major electrical brands and retailers. This includes rewards at Apple, Asda, Argos, B&Q, Sainsbury's and Tesco. 

Take a look at our current rewards to see how you can save money when investing in smart home devices. Discover Power NI Perks