Smart Home Updates that Save You Money

Smart Home Updates that Save You Money--Miter Saws and Mary Janes

When it comes to smart  home updates, there are plenty of cool gadgets on the market. But which actually save you money? In this guide, I highlight smart products I’ve installed in my home, rental properties, and/or flips. Here are the best products I’ve found to upgrade your home in a smart way AND save money:

Smart Home Updates: Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures

Low-flow plumbing fixtures are a double whammy: They save water and save you money. According to Energy Star, installing low-flow fixtures can save you over $140 per year.

I personally like to retrofit old fixtures with low-flow aerators if they don’t need to be replaced. My favorite aerator is the Niagara Conservation N3610CH Tri-Max 3 Flow Rate Dual Thread Needle Spray Aerator (try saying that fast even one time!) which costs less than $6.

When buying a new showerhead, I opt for Waterpik, gravitating between the RSD-133 Rain Head and the ASR-733 Drench Head. Both have superior pressure and hold up well to the abuse my tenants put them through.

For kitchen and bathroom faucets, I tend to stick with Moen for my rentals and flips because they have great customer service and warranty coverage. For flips, it can also include Kohler since that’s a recognized brand that appeals to buyers. The Moen Commerical M-Bition Widespread Faucet is in over 10 of my rentals. I always opt for separate hot & cold water levers as the integrated faucets seem to have more issues with repairs.

Programmable Thermostats

Hands down, the best programmable thermostat I’ve ever found is The Nest. I don’t install these in my rentals because I don’t pay the utilities (and I’d hate to see one of them mysteriously walk off). But I do have these in my own home. We have 2 because we have 2 separate heating systems. I love that I can link the two systems so they “talk” to each other.

Plus, operating The Nest from my smartphone allows me to control the temp even when I’m not home. There have been countless times when we’ve left for a trip and I’m setting the thermostats to the ‘Away’ setting while boarding my plane–it’s so easy!

According to the Real Savings website, Nest users save, on average, 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling. While annual savings of upwards of $150, the device pays for itself in less than 2 years. If you’re interested in purchasing The Nest, contact your utility company to see if they’re offering rebates. My company was, I bought the device during a Black Friday sale for $199, and I received a $100 rebate in less than a month.

Smart Home Updates: Smart Doorbells

If your safety and security is important, you may want to consider installing a smart doorbell. After I had a few packages stolen from my front porch over the holidays, I opted to install one with a camera. It allows me to see what’s happening, communicate with others, and monitor package deliveries without opening my door.

The best smart doorbell I’ve been able to find is The Ring. The standard, WiFi-capable version is less than $150 or you can upgrade to the pro model for about $100 more. While this device won’t provide energy savings, it can help with staving off porch thieves and provide an alternative to some security system add-ons.

Motion Sensors and Power Timers

Motion sensors simply make sense if you’re trying to cut your electricity bill. Why pay for lights to run when you’re not in the room? Installing a motion sensor switch is a quick DIY project most anyone can figure out.

The key to motion sensor switches is installing the correct version. For older homes that may not have neutral wires, you will have to spend a few more dollars to purchase a switch that doesn’t require the neutral. A great option I’ve installed in my flips is the Lutron Maestro. At less than $25, it will certainly pay for itself many times over. Plus, it’s a selling feature most buyers will notice. For homes with newer wiring or where a neutral is present, a cheaper alternative is the TopGreener line I’ve found on Amazon.

As far as power timers, consider installing these on larger appliances such as hot tubs and attic exhaust fans. You can set the timer to kick on during optimal times (contact your utility provider for specific time ranges). This will save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the appliance.

Smart Home Updates: Sprinkler Controllers

If you have an outdoor sprinkler system, you need to have a smart sprinkler controller installed. Not only will this device save you money, it may also be able to alert you of pricey leaks in the system. My rental properties are in the South, so every house has a smart sprinkler controller installed.

Tenants are responsible for their own water bills, so it’s in their best interest to utilize the system I’ve provided. In the event I sell one of the properties, the sprinkler system is always a hit with buyers.

Smart sprinkler controllers come in a variety of price ranges depending upon their functionality. The best yet most expensive option I’ve found is the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller at $200. A more budget-friendly option is the RainMachine Hd-12 Smart WiFi Irrigation Controller for less than $60.

Smart Ceiling Fans

I once flipped a house that had a neon, Pepto Bismal-colored ceiling fan in one of the bedrooms. It also had the same pukey, pink color on the window trim, baseboard, and closets but that’s for another post. 🙂

When shopping for Pepto’s replacement, I fell down the rabbit hole of smart ceiling fans. It’s amazing what’s available these days, including extra-large fans, fans that connect to your phone, and even ones that connect to Alexa, Apple Homekit, etc. My advice is to purchase the largest fan that will fit in the room without being a safety hazard.

Additionally, consider a WiFi-capable fan for mobile control. If you have an older fan, you can update it simply by installing a smart switch such as those made my Haiku Fans. Just make sure what you’re spending on the fan and switches will be recouped in lower bills (about $50/year is average).


Do you have any smart updates in your home? What has saved you the most money?


**This post contains affiliate links but, as always, I only showcase products that I’ve personally tried, have liked, and feel comfortable recommending!**




Willow is the founder of Miter Saws and Mary Janes, a lifestyle site about DIY, personal finance, travel, real estate investing, and home hacking. She chronicles her DIY, travel, and outdoor adventures and how she makes over $10,000/month online. Click here to learn how to start a blog!