Save energy in the palm of your hand

There are several reasons why people are interested in cutting back on energy consumption — some are primarily motivated to save on their monthly energy bills while others may be more concerned about reducing their personal carbon footprint.

Actively practicing energy efficiency and conservation provides multiple benefits. For parents, being more conscious about energy use can be used as a tool to teach kids about sustainable habits; conserving energy also means fewer carbon emissions, which results in better air quality and a healthier environment; and saving money on monthly utility bills is a great reason to monitor home energy use.

Regardless of why you’re interested in using less energy, there are several smartphone apps that can help you do just that.

Smart thermostat apps

I know what you’re thinking, and yes — to use a smart thermostat app, you must purchase a smart thermostat. But heating and cooling make up a large portion of the average home’s energy consumption (and cost), so saving on heating and cooling can make a big impact on bills.

Smart thermostats and their accompanying apps are handy and promote energy-efficient behavior. These devices have become much more affordable over the years. You can purchase an ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostat for as low as $100, which can save you 8 percent on annual heating and cooling costs, or about $50 per year.

The device will quickly pay for itself, and you’ll gain insight into better ways to heat and cool your home. Plus, the ability to control the thermostat from anywhere can equate to real savings.

Energy cost calculators

If you want to reduce energy use at home, it’s important to know where your consumption is going. Energy cost calculators can help pinpoint your energy use and identify areas to save with a few simple steps. The concept is simple; just plug in the wattage of your various appliances and how often you use them to see which are using the most energy.

Most energy cost calculator apps are free and can be downloaded to any Apple or Android device. If you browse the app store, you’ll find multiple energy cost calculator apps, but most are similar in functionality. Be sure to read the app’s reviews and download the one that best aligns with your energy efficiency goals.

JouleBug app

If you’re competitive and enjoy games, the JouleBug app is right up your alley. JouleBug makes energy conservation simple and fun through personal tasks and badges earned within the app, group challenges you can tackle with friends, and communities you can join to learn about local sustainability efforts. The JouleBug app is free and can be downloaded to Apple or Android devices, and it’s an easy tool to make saving energy fun.

Other ways to save

These are just a few apps that can help you find new ways to save energy. Smart light bulbs are typically paired with apps for convenient control of home lighting; smart plugs also come with apps to help you control how you power everyday devices and electronics.

Whether you use an app or not, saving energy is always a smart idea and can help save money on your monthly bills and reduce your carbon footprint.