ith the help of a simple smartphone app, your customers can control almost any appliance plugged into a smart plug—from anywhere with an internet connection.
A smart plug simply plugs into a normal wall outlet and acts like a ‘gatekeeper’ between a power outlet and an appliance. So, at the most basic level, a smart plug can used to simply turn the plugged-in appliance on and off remotely, by controlling whether power reaches the appliance.
But smart plugs allow users to do way more than that. One of the greatest aspects of using smart plugs is cutting energy costs – something that will benefit both your utility and your customers.
When appliances are connected to smart plugs, a user can schedule them to turn on and off whenever needed.
For example, someone might program a smart plug to switch on their clothes dryer or their hot tub’s filtration only at low peak times, when electricity is cheaper to use.
Or perhaps someone uses space heaters in their home or office, when winter months get chilly. Space heaters can get a room cozy pretty quickly—but unfortunately, many older models don’t have effective thermostatic control. What’s more, they’re not exactly energy efficient. So once the room is up to temperature, the heater needs to be turned off to avoid wasting energy and becoming too warm.
Using a smart plug, the heater can be automatically switched off after a certain time, or an IFTTT integration could be programmed to switch it off once a temperature sensor in the room indicates that the space is warm enough.
The smart plug allows users to keep their place at just the right temperature and save on energy.
In the same way, they can control lights, TVs, AC, fans, water heaters, electric blankets, dehumidifiers and all kinds of other appliances, so that they’re only working when they’re really needed to—and not wasting energy (and money) when users sleep, or leave home or simply forget to turn them off.
Cutting vampire power
Do your customers know that many of their devices and appliances are still using energy even when they’re switched off?
The power electronics use when they’re ‘off’ but in standby mode is called ‘vampire power’ or ‘phantom load,’ and according to the Department of Energy, it can account for up to 25 percent of the power used by home electronics. Even more shocking, it’s estimated that this pointless power leakage is responsible for about 1 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions globally!
When it comes to vampire power, some of the worst energy suckers are electronics like TVs, set top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, game consoles, computers, monitors, printers, scanners, WiFi modems, phone chargers, audio amps for desktop speakers, and even heaters, AC units, microwaves, blenders and other kitchen appliances.
So how can smart plugs help? By plugging each of these devices into a smart plug, your customers can easily make sure their appliances switch off completely when not in use, rather than going into standby mode—because the power is totally cut off from the outlet.
A really clever way to make sure devices switch off at night, for example, is using a smartwatch or a fitness band that can integrate with IFTTT. If smart plugs are also integrated, users can program any appliance—TV, Blu-ray player, gaming console, whatever—to automatically shut down when they do!
Tracking energy usage
Many smart plug models actually provide metrics on how much energy the plugged-in device is using. So, using the plug’s phone app, users can track the consumption of each smart-plugged appliance, hour by hour, day by day. They can see which devices are using the most energy and manage usage accordingly.
A smart plug also allows users to set energy budgets per device—so the app sends alerts if the device is using more energy than usual. This allows users to assess how efficiently things are running—if their freezer seems to be struggling, for example, maybe it’s time to get it checked, or even replace it with an energy-saving upgrade (before it fails completely and they’re left with heaps of defrosting food they can’t use!).
Smart plugs are an easy, affordable first step into home automation—and after your users have tried them, they’ll wonder how they ever got by without them! And they’ll appreciate the relationship you’ve built by providing them with these efficient and high-tech devices.
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