Woman sitting on phone with cell phone
Home automation made simple. Image courtesy of Cavan Images.

Not only can home automation save you money, it can save your sanity, too. For anyone who has started off on a family vacation and instantly started stressing over whether an iron was turned off or the front door was locked, you know that peace of mind is just as valuable as the savings on your electric bill.

Controlling heating, cooling and lighting from your smartphone or tablet can definitely reduce your use of energy. No more leaving a light on all day if you schedule it to come on when you leave work. The house doesn’t have to be cold when you get back from a vacation if you turn the heat up a couple hours before you return home.

These are all the modern conveniences that you can enjoy with a home automation system controlled by an app. Some home-wide systems are more difficult to install, but super simple systems such as programmable power cords are easy to use. A few home automation programs have monthly fees, which can negate energy savings.

The following are some of the best choices for simple home automation:


This whole home automation kit offers motion detection sensors for security, as well as features that could be used for energy savings, providing you with double the benefits. Electronics, small appliances and lighting can be controlled from your smartphone. Motion detection sensors allow you to have a light or stereo turned on in response to motion, and can also adjust lighting and appliances to turn off when you leave. Even window A/C and space heaters can be activated before your arrival for a comfortable home. Additional add-ons include moisture detection systems, alerting you to water leaks and extreme temperatures, so that you can avoid costly water damage from a bust pipe.

SmartThings Devices
Feeling Smart? SmartThings Devices. Images courtesy of SmartThings, Inc. Media Kit.

Nest Learning Thermostat

You can only control the thermostat with this home automation system, but it “learns” your heating and cooling preferences, both time of day and days of the week, so that it automatically adjusts without your needing to do a thing. Best for individuals that don’t want to constantly be adjusting their thermostats, Nest says it can save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling costs through this smart automation.

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Don’t want a whole home system or anything too complicated? Just want to be able to put a light on at home when you’re coming back late at night? These LED light bulbs, which can be found at major retailers, can be easily controlled by a smartphone app. There’s no home wiring that needs to be done, but you’ll still get the convenience of  creating lighting schedules based on your daily needs and be able to dim lights to your preference. Even better, the LED lights will already be saving you energy costs. Not just a way to turn on lights when you’re not at home, they’re also perfect for when you’re comfy on the couch and don’t want to get up to turn a light off – just use your phone!

Feature image courtesy of Jeremy Levine

By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit KimButton.com for more information.