Does Tech Actually Make Owning a Home any Cheaper?

The internet would have you believe that the magic of technology will drive all your homeowner costs to zero, but how true can all these claims be? Ask Google or ChatCPT and there is no end to the list of money saving devices that people want to sell you. We took a look at the top suggestions to see if they really do save you money:

Here are four ways that the internet claims technology can make being a homeowner cheaper:

Smart Home Devices: The Nest Learning Thermostat claims to reduce utility bills, but does it? According to two independent studies and one internal study, the Google-owned company claims on average the Nest Learning Thermostat saved U.S. customers around 10 to 12 per cent on their heating bills and around 15 per cent on their cooling bills.

With the device going for about $200-250, it depends on the size of your bill how fast you will see savings. If you have a bill north of $300, it’s probably worth looking into, but if you’re down under $100 it might be awhile before you earn back your investment.

Energy-Efficient Appliances: Not all energy-efficient appliances are the same so let’s consider EnergyStar, a certification created by the Environmental Protection Agency that appliance manufacturers can advertise if they meet certain energy efficiency standards.

Let’s look at the washing machine – an EnergyStar appliance uses 50% less water and 30% less electricity. The average US family does 300 loads of laundry a year, so this can represent a significant savings. Energy Resource Centre estimates that this will add up to about $300 over the course of the lifetime of the unit. Other factors, like the advertised longer unit life, might also increase lifetime savings.

So do energy saving devices save money if they have a higher upfront cost? It depends on the margins, but other benefits like environmental benefits might convince some people to switch to an EnergyStar appliance.

Renewable Energy Solutions: This covers a wide array of tech so let’s focus on two: Wind energy and Solar energy.

Wind: In most cases, no, wind energy is not feasible in a residential setting. Depending on the size a wind turbine can cost anywhere between $15,000 – $75,000 USD to produce 5-15 kW of wind power capacity.

According to the Department of Energy in order to produce enough power an acre of land is required, and most Americans do not own near this amount. In addition, wind generators require wind speeds of 6-9 mph, which can work in land-locked areas but coastal areas struggle with.

On an industrial scale wind energy is extremely efficient, but most homeowners can’t replicate the factors needed to see significant savings.

Solar: Depends on incentives, Feed-in-Tariff program and how much sun your roof gets. The Solar Incentive Tax Credit (ITC) is available to homeowners in the US and covers 30% of the cost of the system. Many states also provide incentives that reduce the cost of a solar array. On average a 6kW system is $12,700, and the price per kW decreases as the size of the array increases.

In terms of the amount of sun your panels will get, solar energy is fairly predictable using past weather data, so the amount of energy your panels will produce can be estimated with a high degree of accuracy. Given this information, solar is much more feasible for many more americans. But does it save money?

As with most true answers, it’s complex. Because of the number of variants affecting the outcome each home needs to be assessed. Luckily, most companies will provide free quotes complete with an estimate on savings over time, so if you aren’t seeing savings you can decide not to go ahead. That being said, most homeowners will see savings eventually due to the three decade expected lifespan of panels, even if they aren’t seeing savings in the first five years

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