Rick Emerson, author of Zombie Economics, joined us today to show us his favorite gadgets for saving money in the long run.
1) Smart Thermostat
The last few years have seen big advancements on this front. So-called “smart thermostats” are easier to use, more effective, and actually start to learn your patterns. They connect to an app on your phone, and can automatically shut down when you leave the house, then pre-cool (or pre-heat) while you’re on your commute home. Because they hook into your WiFi, they can also adjust the preset temperature depending on changes in the weather.
Best of all, they’re easy to use; one popular brand, The Nest, was created by the designer of the iPhone, and is just as simple to operate. It can even be installed easily, with a basic, color-coded system.
2) One-Click Power Strip
One solution is a “single-click” power strip, such as The SmartStrip. These power strips have enough outlets for all of your computers accessories, and a main outlet for the computer itself. They sense when your computer has been turned off and they automatically shut down all of the related devices. This can also work for things like home-theater setups, which have their own tangled ecosystem of accessories.
3) A New Laptop
All that, plus they can unplug, slide into a handbag or backpack, and go wherever they might be needed.
4) Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
The good news is that manufacturers have come a long way in a very short time – it’s now possible to outfit your entire home with energy-saving lights (especially LED bulbs) that are virtually indistinguishable from the incandescent variety. And, if you have older relatives (or a husband like me), they actually make a version which looks exactly like an old-school bulb, so that you can overcome any lingering resistance.
And the money you save by using modern bulbs is significant: they pay for themselves in as little as four months, and depending on how many lights you use in your home, you can easily save over $100 a year. Plus, they last exponentially longer than the old-fashioned kind.
5) Solar-Powered Xmas Lights
The startup cost is definitely higher than the average bundle of lights, but if you take your decorating seriously, they’ll pay for themselves in by the end of the second December.
And, because these are LED lights (instead of the old-time “bulb” variety”), they’re infinitely customizable – some even interface with computers or smartphones to create intricate patterns......demonstrating to the neighbors that you have absolutely no life at all.