4
Mar

Reasons the Smart Home is Getting Even Smarter

by Guest in Frugal Green

green house remodel with Energy Efficient Mortgages

Smart homes are becoming more and more common these days, and home builders are incorporating technologies that didn’t exist even 10 years ago. Here’s a few of the technologies coming to a home near you, and how they’ll make your life easier.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are special heating and cooling control devices that can automatically change the temperature in your home based on presets or your behavior. They can also be manually changed by turning a dial or changing the temperature on the device or via remote control on your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device or computer.

Smart thermostats, like the Nest, have become very popular in recent years because of their ability to reduce heating and cooling costs without noticeable differences in comfort for users. With energy costs rising, most homeowners welcome the idea of a high-tech solution to energy bills and are implementing these kinds of controls in their own homes.

Smart Security Systems

Smart security systems help protect your home from invasion and protect your family from being terrorized. Most of the newer systems on the market employ multiple redundancies and backups so that, even if the power goes out (or were intentionally cut), you would not lose your security system.

Systems that employ whole-house monitoring sometimes also allow for remote monitoring via a smartphone or tablet. In these systems, the user is given a secure channel to connect to the security system. This might be a link to a secure or private webpage or an app that connects to the security system.

If you want to know more about these types of security systems, visit smart72.com/contact. If your system is connected to a police or fire and rescue service in your locale, then emergency services can be contacted in case of a break-in or a fire. Most smart security systems are designed to be multi-functional. In other words, they’re designed to protect you from a wide range of threats, not just burglars.

Smart Heater Vents

Smart heater vents help you stay warm or cool, depending on the time of year. A smart vent will open or closed based on the ambient room temperature and occupancy. This means that the home’s temperature is effectively regulated based on whether someone is in the room or not.

This kind of innovation will help even out the temperature in the entire house, directing heat or air conditioning away from rooms that don’t need it and to rooms that do so that you’re not too hot or too cold.

Temperatures can also be controlled based on the time of day. So, for example, if you generally like it warmer in the kitchen in the morning, you can have the vents open up in the morning in the kitchen, but close upstairs in the bedroom or in other rooms that you don’t use.

At night, you might want the vents opened up in the living room where you spend most of your time. This technology typically has two different components. The first is a replacement heating vent or a retrofit for existing vents, and a special sensor.

The vent contains an actuator that move the vents automatically for you. The sensor monitors air temperature and communicates with the actuator to move the vents as needed.

Smart Electrical Outlets

This is probably one of the more amazing innovations in smart home design. With smart outlets, you can plug any appliance or light, electronic device, or anything else into the outlet and control it remotely. For most devices, this means you’ll be able to shut them off when you want to. But, also, you’ll be able to turn them on – even when you’re away. The uses for this are endless.

Let’s say you want to be able to turn on the lights before you get home, but you’re not sure when you’ll be home. You can operate the lights in your home using your smartphone, turning them on before you arrive so that the interior lights are there, welcoming you. But, you can also turn on the porch lights, if you want to. A warm welcome and you won’t have to burn the electricity when you don’t need it.

Smart Appliances

In addition to the smart outlets, smart appliances “sense” the power usage they need and adjust accordingly. And, as power companies update the grid, these devices will help reduce the amount of energy used, while also increasing the efficiency of the appliance.

No wasted resources and a lower power bill.

Ryan deMoore is a builder by trade who is currently in the process of renovating his home. Always interested in technology and the latest gadgets to come on the market he is enjoying seeing how Smart Home tech is becoming more mainstream now.

12
Feb

Frugal Friday – Always Check Your Bills

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayHappy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • I guess this same item is a fail and a win. For the first time in seven months I actually LOOKED at my Internet bill. I was being charged for equipment insurance and a monthly magazine outlining their cable offerings. Called and got those removed, saving $9.00 a month. The fail part is because it took me too long to catch that!
  • Scored a brand new, with tags pair of $60 shoes at the thrift store. Paid only $15 and now I can stop wearing shoes with multiple holes in them. Also got two pairs of designer jeans for $5.99 each.
  • Purchased a Harry Potter/Universal Studios vacation package and got a great deal including three day park hopper passes for the price of two. Yeah for a real (and pre-paid) vacation!
  • Scored a glass top oven and a frig in like new condition from a homeowner who decided they wanted stainless after a kitchen renovation. Got both for $150 and I am positive we can sell our old ones for at least that much.
  • Free stuff galore: Took a 10 minute survey and got a $50 Amazon gift card. Also got two free tablets, a free restaurant.com gift certificate, and a free night at a hotel. Woot!

Frugal Fails:

  • Last month we $200 over budget on food. Ridiculous! Too much eating out.
  • Also last month we received a huge electric bill. We need to have our furnace inspected and I switched to another provider. Hoping we can reduce these winter bills!

How did you do this week?

26
Jan

Cutting Cable From the Budget, Easier Than You Think!

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Cut Cable tipsWhenever you read articles or blog posts about budgeting and saving money there is always, always a tip to disconnect your cable and save $80-100+ a month. While I cannot dispute that this is a great tip and great way to save money, I was always firmly in the heck no camp. I don’t watch a huge amount of TV but I do have some shows I like to watch…Property Brothers, Outlander, Grimm, Supernatural, etc. Some of those I could watch on my computer but honestly I don’t enjoy watching that way. Therefore getting rid of cable was not going to happen.

A funny thing happened when we moved last year though. We were basically forced to get rid of cable because our preferred provider (and the one we got for a very discounted rate) was not available in our new neighborhood. We had to decide if paying full price with a new provider was worth it and for me, it wasn’t. Well, I was willing to go without for a couple months and see how we managed. It has been over six months now and we have managed just fine. In fact, I cannot even believe I waited this long to make the leap. I wasted some serious money on cable for YEARS!

Cable TV Alternatives

In general cable service costs about $80-$100 per month. For much less you can subscribe to streaming services and/or buy a couple devices and still manage to watch most or all of your favorite shows.

Streaming Services or Software:

We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Kodi. Netflix is kid friendly and my son loves it. It has a collection of TV shows and movies. The movies and shows are all older (already aired) with the exception of their original shows, which are pretty good if you ask me.

Amazon Prime has a collection VERY similar to Netflix so it may seem redundant to have both but I use their two day shipping often and I also use Prime Music. Amazon prime also offers subscriptions to Starz and Showtime for $7.99 a month I think. This is a great way to get premium cable channels without having to pay for the basic channels. This feature will allow me to watch my fave show, Outlander, without paying for cable and I only need to subscribe while the show is in season.

Hulu is a streaming service that allows you to watch current shows from several major networks. You can usually watch your favorite TV shows within a day or two of them airing.

Kodi is free software that you can install on a laptop computer or even a Firestick (though it must be jailbroken first). With this software you can stream just about anything….from TV shows that just aired (including cable ones) to movies that are still in theatres. I don’t say this to enter into a debate about ethical streaming I am just pointing out that Kodi provides it all. With Kodi I can watch just about every single TV show I want and any movie I want, new or old. To watch it on an actual TV and not a computer you just plug the laptop into your TV (HDMI). The Firestick attaches in the same way.

Streaming Devices:

You will need a device to use streaming services, unless you have a smart TV.

We have all of the above. Rokus are the most user friendly way to stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. You just plug a Roku in using an RCA connection (like you would a DVD player). You can also get one with an HDMI connection. Streaming can be set up in minutes as long as you already have the accounts with the streaming services, like Netflix.

Gaming consoles can also stream the popular subscription channels but you may need to pay a membership fee to the game manufacturer…xBox for instance requires an xBox Live membership and PS4 requires Playstation Plus which average $55-$60 a year.

Our monthly for streaming services is only $22. If you add in game console memberships (x3) that brings it to $33 a month. $33 a month and the whole family can watch whatever we want to watch…from local channels to cable shows to movies. That is about $800 a year in savings.

Are you willing to try it?

6
Nov

Frugal Friday

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayHappy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • Paid off a credit card. We got a Lowes card about four months ago to purchase a riding mower. We got a nice chunk of money off the mower and had six months to pay it back interest free so we jumped on it. Paid it off in four months.
  • Made a big pot of ham and beans on the weekend and had enough for lunches for most of the following week.
  • Went out of town and prepped meals for the husband to make while I was gone so he and the kids wouldn’t be tempted to eat out every night. It mostly worked. :)
  • Got a free ticket to Disney (any of the parks) but could not fathom using it for only 2-3 hours, since that is how much free time I had between other events on my trip. Decided to save that baby until spring.

Frugal Fails:

  • Did not bring sunscreen or a hat with me to Orlando. Since I knew I would be spending several hours on boat I ended up buying a straw hat in the gift shop at Disney’s Yacht Club resort. Spent $32 on a hat. Ouch! And I still got burnt. Double ouch.

All in all a very good week! What frugal wins or fails do you have to report?

Friday, November 6th, 2015

No Comments on Frugal Friday

23
Oct

Frugal Friday – Thrift Stores

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Happy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • Finding compost buckets at the thrift store. I paid $1.91 each and now we can stop using our mixing bowls. Yay!

compost buckets

  • I found the clothing for my daughter’s Halloween costume at the thrift store for $4.00, then I just had to buy a small bit of makeup and some masking tape. Fairly easy and very cheap costume. She is going as a creepy marionette, if you wanted to know.
  • Picked up like-new winter boots for my youngest son at the same thrift store for $3.00
  • Bought an Aldi meal plan and made/froze 20 meals for about $160. This is a huge time saver too.

Frugal Fails:

  • Poor planning resulted an evening of eating out with the kiddos one night this week. This in itself is not so bad except that the eating out budget was being reserved for the weekend, when hubby would be around to enjoy with us. Funny thing though…the very next day a gift card to a restaurant showed up in my mailbox. It was a generous gift from a company I recently blogged about.

Have a great weekend all!