As summer approaches, you’re probably wondering what prized possession you’ll have to pawn to pay the monthly air conditioning bill. In extreme inland climates, such as the Coachella Valley in California, bills may soar to $200. Even in Los Angeles County, a region cooled by brisk onshore winds, air conditioning demands its pound of flesh.
There is, however, an escape route. So put the following energy-saving tips and tools on your “To-Do List,” and stop irritating Mother Nature. Who knows—maybe she’ll relent this summer.
Nest Learning Thermostat
A new type of thermostat that learns your heating and cooling schedule just from watching you adjust the temperature up and down is something to consider this summer. The Nest Learning Thermostat will adjust conditions when the home is empty and recommend the most efficient temperature. If you’re coming home early, you can change the temperature remotely on your smartphone app. Used properly, say the makers, the Nest thermostat can slash 20 percent from your heating and cooling bill.
View Dynamic Glass Windows
Where windows once had silicone caulk and rusty hinges, View Dynamic Glass windows have electrochromic coatings that dim in response to electrical impulses. View offers commercial customers dozens of double- or triple-pane argon-insulated dynamic windows. The windows can be arranged in zones, so that south-facing walls can darken at noon, or that the cafeteria can be brighter than the conference room. Algorithms do most of the work, but the windows can be manually controlled by wall switches or an included mobile app. Dynamic glass can chop your heating and cooling bill by 20-30 percent, says View, but the real benefit is improved human productivity from natural light.
Apple Watch and HomeKit
Thanks to Apple, we can now swim, jog and snack within a tap-and-swipe of the Internet. The Apple Watch, which debuted early March 2015, has sapphire crystal touchscreen interface, a rotary knob and button, a fitness tracker, voice-calling and text-messaging capability, and access to dozens of miniature apps and games. How does it help the Earth? Well, it doesn’t. Not yet. But with the Apple Watch, you could control any of your home appliances that are connected to HomeKit, Apple’s home automation platform. Several HomeKit products, such as iDevices Switch, could help you reduce electricity costs from your energy provider (learn more) by eliminating phantom power draw (info here).
EvaDrop Smart Shower
A $50,000 crowd funded Indiegogo campaign made saving water while showering incredibly easy. EvaDrop, which integrates into your plumbing system, modulates water flow. It can throttle flow anywhere from 0-100 percent, so when you’re shaving your legs in the corner, Evadrop will automatically reduce the water flow. If you leave, EvaDrop will shut off the water. The device amasses all its usage data and graphs it for review on your smartphone.
Moen Smart Faucet
One day, smart shower systems will be mandatory. In drought-stricken regions like southern California, a region suffering under a four-year drought so significant that Governor Brown has issued multiple executive orders to curb water use, green lawns and hot tubs will be things of the past. In their place will be innovations like the $399 Moen smart faucet. Wave your hand, and it turns on. Tap the base, and it only flows when it senses motion. Or just work the old-fashioned lever, and water pours forth.
Why spend $399 on a motion-activated water faucet, you ask? Because one trillion gallons of water are wasted every year through household leaks. And when summer comes, you’ll want them back.