Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint are both hot topics in today’s economic climate. So what if you could do both all from the palm of your hand?
The most effective thing you can do to reduce your impact on the environment is to switch to a renewable energy supplier, and despite what many believe, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will be paying more for your energy.
Making sure you’re on the tariff is not the only way you can cut your energy bills, smart home applications have boomed over the last decade and can offer homes and businesses a new level of control over the energy you use and help to ensure that your home is energy efficient. They allow you to control your heating and electricity from your mobile device, optimising the energy you use and decreasing waste.
Energy savings apps have a variety of features that include monitoring your energy usage, using technology to identify sustainable businesses or even controlling the heating and lighting in your home from anywhere in the world.
Energy experts at Love Energy Savings have compiled a list of the top 10 energy saving mobile apps available through the Apple and the Play stores, giving you the power to reduce your heating, electricity and even fuel costs.
Smart home technology is constantly making your home more intelligent. You can now control everything from your doorbell to your washing machine, all from your smartphone - and now, you can save money on your bills with it too.
Hive is one of the biggest names in smart thermostats. Hive thermostats claim to save customers as much as £130 a year. That promise, alongside its user-friendly features, makes Hive one of the most popular systems on the market.
Hive has several money-saving features, including frost protection to prevent your pipes from freezing in low temperatures and a holiday mode to make sure you’re not wasting energy when you’re away from home. You can even connect Hive to your Amazon Alexa, allowing you to control your home’s heating with your voice!
Cost:£179 (including hardware)
Pros:It’s very intuitive and easy to use, integrates with Amazon’s Alexa
Cons:Hive thermostats need to be installed by a qualified engineer.
Nest is the brainchild of Google and Nest Labs, a company specialising in home automation devices. The result is one of the most sophisticated smart thermostats available.
As well as being able to monitor and adjust a room’s current temperature, Nest can also detect light, humidity and motion to recognise whether or not you’re in the room. It can then use these sensors to learn your schedule, meaning there’s no need to programme it in every day, as it will instinctively adapt to your habits.
You can control it in advance, too. The ‘holiday’ mode gives you the power to schedule your heating to turn on when you know you’ll be returning home - that way you’ll know you’ll be coming home to a warm house.
Cost:Prices start at £169 (including thermostat hardware)
Pros:Senses opportunities to save energy and alerts you to them, really easy to set up and works with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa
Cons:You’ll need to purchase multiple temperature sensors if you want to heat your whole property remotely, which can get pricey. It also does not support Siri.
Tado smart thermostat may be less well-known than the Hive and Nest, but it is growing in popularity thanks to claims that it can cut your energy bills by 31%, paying for itself in less than a year.
While the advanced Tado systems have a higher upfront cost than some of the other smart thermostats, it does give you the option of self-setup, saving you on professional installation fees.
Tado also gives you the option to fit a thermostat to each radiator in your home, giving you accurate room-by-room control over the temperature of your house - all from the app.
Another great feature is Tado’s geolocation automation. Geolocation uses the app and your smartphone’s location settings to automatically turn your heating on or off as it senses you arriving or leaving home.
Cost:Prices start at £119 (including thermostat hardware)
Pros:Works with almost all heating systems and can even detect when a window is open, to alert you to lost insulation.
Cons:Tado can’t learn your preferences, meaning you’ll need to manually input room preferences.
Sense is a home energy monitoring system. The Sense system can help you calculate how much electricity the appliance in your home or business is using.
The Sense system uses algorithms to monitor and present the different amounts of energy appliances have used. This can be really helpful to remind you to unplug electronics when not in use. The user interface of the app is very intuitive and allows you to look at historical data for your home’s energy usage.
Cost:£230 (including smart energy monitor hardware)
Pros:Easy to use, and new versions come with solar energy production monitors which are really useful.
Cons:Can be complicated to set up and not fully compatible with all devices.
With several apps available to assist you with your heating, keeping your home energy usage under control has never been easier. But what about when you’re out on the road?
If you have a diesel or gas car, the WhatGas app will tell you the prices at petrol stations across the UK. This way, you can pre-plan journeys to make sure you’re always getting the best rates.
Pros:You can easily plan your journeys to save the most money on fuel
Cons:Accurate pricing information is dependent on app users regularly updating prices.
One of the main concerns for electric vehicle owners is being able to find an available EV charging point. Zap-Map allows drivers to find available charge points locally by searching the most comprehensive database of charging points, plan journeys, share updates and pay for charging on participating networks.
Zap-Map allows you to locate the 33,000 publicly available charging points in the UK when you are out and about, taking the stress out of electric vehicle driving.
Pros:Map interface uses Google Maps, it is easy to use and accurate.
Cons:New charging points are being installed all the time which may not yet appear on ZapMap.
It’s easy to lose track of how much energy you’re using at home until you’re hit with an unpleasant bill. With an app like the Energy Cost Calculator, available to Android users, you can see accurate readings of how much energy you’re consuming on a daily basis.
The app works by asking you to input data from your meters. It uses readings to give you data on your gas, electricity and water usage. The app lets you colour-code data and add comments to readings so you can better understand and navigate the information.
You’ll need to update the app with regular readings to discover your average rate of consumption over a set period.
Note: By installing a smart meter in your home, you’ll receive the most accurate data and won’t need to submit meter readings to view your usage.
Pros:Customisable charts let you visualise data in whichever way is most helpful to you
Cons:The interface is difficult to master and the instructions aren’t completely user friendly.
When trying to cut back on your energy usage, it’s important to know how much energy you are using. With the Energy Cost Calculator app, you can analyse which appliances in your home use the most energy. The concept is pretty simple: enter the wattage of your appliance and how often you use it to find out how much it is costing you to run.
The app isn’t 100% accurate as it doesn’t have access to information about your tariff. It also relies on you giving accurate readings on how much you use an appliance. However, if you don’t want to invest in energy monitoring hardware, it’s a good starting point to find out which appliances are costing you the most.
Like with other energy monitors, once you have the data, you can use your appliances more sustainably.
Pros:Gives you insights into how you use your energy at home and where you can save
Cons:Relies on you providing accurate readings to be useful.
9. Eco Charger
Running out of phone battery is a modern-day nightmare that most of us fear. To combat this, many people are guilty of overcharging our phones when it’s simply not necessary (putting your phone on charge before bed, for example, is much longer than it needs to fully charge).
The Eco Charger app will help you keep your charging to a minimum. The app will trigger an alarm when the battery is fully charged to let you know when it’s time to unplug.
By sticking to the Eco Charger’s alarm, you’ll save money on your energy bills by only charging when you need to and also preserve the lifespan of your phone’s battery.
Pros: Automatic notifications to prevent overcharging
Cons: No option to change the notification sound
10. My Earth
Originally created by researchers and students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology, the My Earth app is designed to help you keep track of your personal energy usage, your savings and your total impact.
The app contains five main categories: electricity, recycling, travel, food and usage. It includes day-to-day activities to measure how environmentally friendly your actions are. These activities can range from small measures like recycling your glass bottles to larger tasks like switching your appliances with energy-efficient replacements
My Earth includes a diary for users to check off their activities and lets you visualise how small steps can add up to a bigger impact environmentally. By using an image of a polar bear on an iceberg, users can see how their actions cause the iceberg to grow or shrink - helping people make sense of carbon units and how their actions affect the grander scheme.
Pros: You can see how your actions as an individual make a difference
Cons: You’ll need to remember to record your actions for accurate results
“Finding new innovations to save our customers money on their energy bills is something we’re always looking out for,” says Phil Foster from Love Energy Savings
“When it comes to utility bills, more often than not, it’s small actions that snowball to create large bills.
“With the help of mobile apps, customers can now keep a closer eye on how they’re using their energy, but more importantly, take actions to become more energy conscious and save money in the process."
You can switch your energy provider straight from your phone. Compare quotes from energy suppliers on your mobile by entering your postcode today and see how much you could save.