Internet of Things promises to simplify our lives by transforming the way we interact with the Internet. Rather than accessing the Internet from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, people will connect nearly all everyday technology to the Internet over WiFi or cellular. Everything from you car, refrigerator, thermostat, shower, television, or oven will have the capability of connecting to a network to make things easier. There has been a lot of hype over the IoT revolution, with experts like Gartner predicting 20.8 billion connected “things” by 2020. With all of that hype and confusion over what Internet of Things actually means, it’s easy for the everyday consumer to feel lost when trying to answer, “How will the Internet of Things simplify my life?”
In 2015, I made a commitment to utilize connected “things” to reduce my monthly expenses, and I was shocked to see how much my monthly costs went down. Outlined below are 3 ways to reduce monthly expenses by leveraging connected things and smart devices.
Connected/Smart Thermostat: Nest
Google’s Nest product has completely revolutionized the smart home by keeping the home warm or cool based on weather data, user behaviors, time of day, and historical user preferences. The device connects to your home WiFi and accesses temperature and weather data, and it actually learns your temperature preferences over time. Nest senses movement in order to detect whether a person is home, however with it’s most recent update, the device will sync with your smartphone to determine if anyone is home. With the latest update, if I am home, the Nest will keep the temperature at 72-74 degrees during the day. When I leave to go to work, it will jump to 78-80 degrees.
The result of utilizing the Nest is that I no longer have to worry about forgetting to turn off the air conditioning, which in California can result in exorbitant energy bills. The Nest also takes the guess work out of setting the temperature. It learned my family’s temperature preferences, and ensures that the house is not being cooled at times when it does not need to be.
Result: Approximately $150 reduction in annual energy costs
Connected Irrigation System: SkyDrop
This is a big one for those of us living through California’s epic drought. In early 2015, we purchased a home in beautiful Southern California, shortly after the state began its water rationing measures. We were faced with potentially removing landscaping and and replacing it with a desertscape (yes…this is an actual thing), replacing the lawn with artificial turf, or finding creative ways to reduce our water consumption. After doing some research, we found a solution called SkyDrop. In a nutshell, SkyDrop is Nest for your sprinkler system.
The device connects to WiFi and waters the lawn based on a combination of user preference, weather forecasts, and temperature to ensure that water is not being needlessly wasted. For a city kid like me, who never had a lawn until now, the beauty of this solution is the ease of programming and the simplicity of keeping the lawn cared for while minimizing water consumption.
Result: 27% reduction in monthly water costs
Connected Car: Verizon Hum
Connected car is among the most exciting aspects of the Internet of Things space. A variety of startups are attempting to develop a game-changing solution to connect the hundreds of millions of cars in the U.S. to the Internet. Companies like Automatic and Zubie have developed solutions to allow consumers to track their vehicles, receive vehicle diagnostic information, and track safe driving behavior. Recently, Verizon entered the fray with its Hum product. I have been using this product for the last few months, and I have been impressed with its feature set. An overview video is included below:
While there are a number of ways connected car solutions like Hum will help reduce monthly expenses, including: reduced maintenance costs, reduced fuel consumption, etc, the immediate place to reduce costs is through insurance premium discounts. Many insurance companies provide a 5-10% discount for consumers using GPS technology in the vehicle. For me, that translated into approximately $102 in annual insurance premium savings.
Result: 5% reduction in monthly premium ($102/year)
In total, I am saving nearly $700 per year in energy, water, and insurance costs. The hardware also paid for itself within the first year. This is just a sample of the potential IoT has to simplify our lives, reduce our costs, and improve the environment. For more information on the latest IoT news and opinions, follow me on Twitter @TheIoTExpert or on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/rodriguezangelo.