A lot of people say that the increased technology in our lives is increasing our living costs. But how true is this? We’re going to take a look at some of the most important areas in our daily home lives and how technological advancements could actually be saving us a lot of money over time.
A lot of people forget just how much money we used to spend on communication. Phone bills were a common cause of shock. This wasn’t exactly helped by the introduction of the mobile phone, which actually saw most of us spending more money; there were the contracts to consider as well as the costs of calls and messaging, which were usually much more than the costs of using a landline.
But the introduction of new software to our technology has made all the difference. Voice over IP technology is probably the biggest name here; apps like Skype allow us to make free calls to pretty much anywhere in the world, either using our computers or our smartphones. Then, of course, there’s WhatsApp to consider. As long as you have a WiFi connection, you can send text messages, images, and videos for basically free – it depends on the data usage agreement you have with your phone contract provider!
Heating and cooling sees a lot of energy use in your average home, and that means you tend to see a lot of spending going towards these things. In fact, the largest portion of the energy bill of the average home actually stems from heating and cooling. As you may know from personal experience, the costs can sometimes be a little baffling. You may feel that you’re spending too much for the effect you’re actually feeling in your home. This is because so many heating and cooling systems are pretty inefficient. Not only that, but they’re also pretty difficult to regulate. There are two main ways in which new thermostat technology is helping homeowners save money.
The first one to consider is the ease of programming that comes with a newer, more advanced thermostat. Many of these thermostats use ‘smart’ technology, which usually refers to the implementation of IoT technology. Smart thermostats can be programmed from anywhere – not just from anywhere in your house, but from outside your home using your smartphone. This helps you keep an eye on any unwanted spikes in temperature due to undesired programming. (Plus, you can start warming up the house while you’re on your way home! This doesn’t exactly save money… but it is cool.)
Another way that many modern thermostats are increasing efficiency? With zone-based technology. A lot of heating and cooling systems use more energy than they need to simply because they end up heating or cooling rooms that you’re not actually using. This results in massive amounts of energy waste. More advanced thermostats recognize your home as a set of ‘zones’, allowing you to change the temperature of specific rooms. Some even use motion detection to ensure only rooms that are being used are having the temperature regulated.
So how much money are you spending every month on powering all the technology? Sure, the average energy bill isn’t usually quite as high as a lot of technophobes may imply. But the fact is that energy bills really do add up in the long run – and there are usually so many ways to make big savings that people don’t think to take advantage of. But don’t these money-saving techniques usually involve not using our technologies as much as we usually do. Are there ways that implementing more technology into our lives can help us save money?
Well, there are always the new ways of generating that energy in the first place to consider. While they used to be something that only a few big businesses were experimenting with, home solar panels are now widely available and fairly easy to get installed. While the initial cost may be off-putting to some (though you can get very good deals there), the overall savings – plus the positive impact on the environment – could more than make it up for most people. It may be best to get an energy audit in your home to help you get the data needed to help you make the decision that’s right for your home.
It could be argued that a lot of modern technology sees less total energy use because so many devices now serve multiple purposes. There’s a strong case to be made here. After all, being able to use a smartphone to watch videos, plan journeys, do work, listen to music, set alarms – this consolidation of use means that you’re not powering up so many other devices to do some of those tasks, which does actually mean you’re using less energy in total!
We can be constantly connected to some kind of shopping outlet. No longer do our cravings to purchase some item or another at 2am (for whatever reason) remain unfulfilled; while getting most items immediately is still out of the question, we can at least hop onto the likes of Amazon and eBay to get the item ordered. And an emphasis on ‘ordered’ is certainly required; the fact is that a lot of people love the feel of having ordered an item online. And when you consider the fact that the likes of Amazon and eBay are now available via apps on our smartphones, the ubiquitous and perennial nature of online shopping becomes even more effective and clear.
Now, as to how much this helps us save money in our daily lives? That can be up for debate. On the one hand, the less money online-only companies spend on overhead, the more likely it is that customers will get great savings. But there are a few problems to consider, too. The ease with which we can make these purchases, bundled with the thrill many of us feel when using these outlets, can actually have us spending more money, and on things that we don’t really need. Increased data-mining technology use by these companies also makes it easier for them to bump prices up on items they predict we’ll need.
Still, this technology can help us save money if we use it responsibly. There are also a bunch of useful features such as price drop alerts, which smartphones and apps can help us take proper advantage of. It’s also easier than ever to do thorough price comparisons; when we’re in a ‘real’ store, we can use our smartphones to check prices elsewhere.