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Top 5 Energy Efficiency Smartphone Apps

By Joe Romm on December 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

"Top 5 Energy Efficiency Smartphone Apps"

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– Miriam Berg in an Alliance to Save Energy repost

Top 5 Energy Efficiency Smartphone Apps

While you’re busy preparing for the holiday season, use these energy efficiency smartphone apps to save energy, money and time. It’s energy efficiency in the palm of your hand!

Energy cost is one of the biggest monthly expenses for American households. The first step to lower monthly bills is measuring energy consumption – but in the season of food, family and festivals, who has the time to track how long the lights are on?

Save energy without wasting time by using smartphone apps that not only monitor your energy use, but also help you shop for energy-efficient products and power off your appliances. It’s energy efficiency at your fingertips!

1. One-Stop Lighting Shop

Holiday shopping for energy-efficient lighting? The Light Bulb Finder helps you browse for the best light bulbs to fit your fixtures and preferences. It also places your order, and calculates savings and payback period from replacing your current light bulbs.

Here’s the video:

2. Improve Fuel Efficiency

Did you know that speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid breaking can reduce your gas mileage by one-third? To become a more fuel-efficient driver, install greenMeter and position it as you would a GPS. The app’s sensors record your speed and changes in acceleration to tell you if you are driving efficiently.

3. Slay the Vampire

“Vampire energy” – the electricity consumed by an appliance when it is turned off but plugged in – accounts for 10% of an average home’s electricity use. To calculate how much electricity you may be wasting in each room of your home, check out the iGo Vampire Power Calculator. Keep in mind that the app does not take appliance age or model into account.

4. Make Your Smartphone Even Smarter

Cut down on how often you need to charge your phone with iamgreen’s Battery Saver. This app gives you one screen from which you can adjust many battery-draining settings, such as unnecessarily bright screens and unneeded Wi-Fi. It also includes an energy quiz, offers tips on saving energy and plants a tree with each purchase.

5. Coming Soon: Show Off Your Energy-Efficient Profile on Facebook

OPower and the Natural Resources Defense Council are working to launch a Facebook app designed to stir online conversation about energy use. With this social energy app, Facebook friends compete to use less energy and hold each other accountable for their energy consumption goals.

Other Apps: Make Your Phone a Remote Control

Some manufacturers offer energy-efficient equipment that comes with smartphone apps. Together, these apps and related devices can turn your phone into an energy-saving remote control:

Apps for Thermostats

  • Nest is a popular smart thermostat that has excellent video instructions on how to install it and control temperature. If you have a Nest thermostat, download the Nest app from Apple.
  • Like Nest, Ecobee thermostats come with an app that lets you control your home’s temperature from your phone. If you have an Ecobee thermostat, download the app from Apple or Android.

Apps for Power Strips

  • Smart power strips from UFO Power Center tell you the real-time energy cost of the devices plugged into each of them and allow you to turn off the power strips from your phone. Download the Energy UFO Plus app from Apple.
  • EnergyHub offers power strips and sockets that turn off connected devices from your phone. Download the EnergyHub app from Apple or Android.

Apps for a Variety of Appliances

  • General Electric’s Nucleus system estimates real-time electricity rates and energy use to tell you how much you are spending on electricity from moment to moment. Nucleus is designed for homes with smart meters but can be modified to work without them. If Nucleus is operating in your home’s Wi-Fi network, download the GE Nucleus app from Apple.
  • The Control4 home automation system comes with an app to dim lights, turn off your TV and program the thermostat. Hotel for the holiday? If your hotel is equipped with Control4, you can control your room’s appliances, housekeeping and dining options from your phone. Download the Control4 home app and the Control4 hotel app from the Apple. Control 4 will be available on Android soon.

Images and videos courtesy of Eco Hatchery (Light Bulb Finder), Apple App Store (greenMeter), Nest and UFO Power Center.

– Miriam Berg in an Alliance to Save Energy repost

Alliance Communications Intern Sumayal Shrestha was a major contributor to this article.

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6 Responses to Top 5 Energy Efficiency Smartphone Apps

  1. Dan Miller says:

    I have the Nest thermostat and the associated iPhone app. It’s great! The out-of-the-box experience is fantastic and it’s easy to install. You’ll never think about a thermostat the same way again (ok, you probably never thought about a thermostat before). With the iPhone app, I can turn down the thermostat after I leave the house or turn it up when I’m heading home. I’ll definitely save the $250 (times 2) that it cost in the next few years.

    On the lighting front, I’ve been seeking out satisfactory LED house lighting for the last few years. It’s finally here! If your house uses “cans” with flood lamps, replace them with the FEIT PAR30 Dimmable 13.5W flood lamps. They are about $50 each (and hard to find now). But they are as bright as a 65W incandescent, are really dimmable, have great color, and are instant full brightness. They also have PAR38 and non-dimmable models. If your house uses small “MR16″ halogen bulbs, there are several 6W LED replacements that work well now. For replacing standard 60W bulbs, Philips Ambient bulbs (they look yellow when turned off) got an excellent review by Consumer Reports.

  2. Artful Dodger says:

    Yup, “Energy Efficiency: The Durban Alternative”

  3. Vic says:

    Attention ThinkProgress Admins :

    When viewing your publications on a smart phone, access to the comments is disabled. Why force us to put down our 3 watt iPhones and fire up a 30 watt computer in order to see and participate in the comments ? Why do you choose to deprive the commuters who travel to work on public transport ? I would have thought you’d want to encourage low carbon access to your sites, but apparently you don’t. I don’t like to criticise the excellent work you’re doing here but this situation does come across as a tad hypocritical, especially when the solution is so simple. On the Mobile version’s front page you could provide a link to the full version, like http://www.physorg.com for example. Alternatively, I suspect you could create a win-win scenario for both yourselves and your readers by just doing away with the mobile version altogether, it’s not like the full version is super heavy in graphics and such.
    Please consider.

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      It’s not just the mobile app. Even if I use phone’s browser and paste in address at top of this page, the comment feature doesn’t show up.

      The site is detecting I’m using a phone and does not display comment area.

      I agree with you, why not?

      I have the FlexT9 Text Input app (from Nuance/Dragon) for Android which gives much better voice to text than the built-in version and phone is now as quick or quicker to enter text as typing on the computer.

  4. Leif says:

    I got a Philips LED Ambient a few months ago, (Home Depot, $30) It intently became my wife’s favorite reading light. Se reads a lot. A month latter we got back for another one for the other end of the house and three others for Xmass presents. (At that time they were $25 @ Home Depot.)

  5. Johnny says:

    Great ideas. I would also recommend checking out JouleBug as well. It’s an up and coming game for iOS devices where you earn points and badges for sustainable living. Makes it fun and easy to compete with your friends (and I actually have learned a thing or two while playing).

    App.net/joulebug