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10 Cool Gadgets Any ‘Smart’ Home Needs: Saving Energy and Money With Style and Fun Efficiency

BY // 09.28.16

If spring is cleaning season, then consider autumn back to school season for your home. Seize the opportunity to reevaluate your everyday essentials and fill your home with smart products that will make your life more efficient. Thankfully, recent industry trends have put an emphasis on aesthetics as well as all-around utilitarianism.

This roundup of energy-efficient and timesaving devices will give your home — and life — the fall refresh it deserves.

1). The Haiku Fan

Bemoaned by designers, but beloved by Texas homeowners: the ceiling fan. Fret not, because Haiku has introduced a fan that will make designers and homeowners alike happy.

Forget particle-board blades; Haiku’s aerodynamic airfoils, crafted from bamboo and aluminum, will look sleek in any home — contemporary or traditional. Dreaded pull chains be gone — the fans automatically turns on and off when you enter the room, thanks to their SenseME technology. They can be used year-round too, thanks to their several different modes to aid your air conditioning and heater, and even have a Whoosh Mode that mimics a varying summer breeze. Starting at $450,

Haiku fan. Photo courtesy Haiku.
Haiku fan (Photo courtesy Haiku)


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Smart Energy Plan & Usage Insights

With so many efficient products installed in your home that will save you time and money, don’t forget to make sure your electricity plan is smart, too. For example, Direct Energy offers groundbreaking energy plans that incorporate products like these — and the company features its own Direct Your Energy tool.

This innovative system tracks your energy usage by date and time, even by appliance — so you can finally make sense of your energy bill and figure out practical ways to reduce your usage. Knowledge is power when it comes to saving energy, and Direct Energy, under the leadership of CEO Badar Khan, has purposefully attacked the problem of confusing energy bills.  All Direct Energy customers get access to the Direct Your Energy insights. Sign up and you’re empowered to know where your electricity is going.

Direct Energy takes the mystery out of energy use,
Direct Energy takes the mystery out of energy use.


3). Sengled Light Bulb

Taking lighting a step further is Sengled’s family of products — dubbed “lifebulbs” — LED bulbs equipped with sound systems, security cameras, Wi-Fi extenders, back-up batteries, and motion sensors. The Pulse lightbulb enables you to wirelessly stream your music and podcasts through high-quality JBL speakers, while the Boost bulb eliminates Wi-Fi dead zones from your home.

Place the Snap — a wireless and weatherproof bulb with a camera inside — on your entryway to monitor your home from anywhere via an app. From $17.99, at

Sengled light bulbs can help you save energy.


4). KitchenAid Architect Series II Top Control Dishwasher

Forget about long dishwasher cycles — the revolutionary KitchenAid Architect Series II continually removes food particles from the wash water, which in turn makes for shorter cycles and less water and energy consumption. The machine is very quiet, running at only 43 dBA, and the 1-touch cycle automatically determines the optimal cleaning method for the load.

The attractive design with top controls will fit seamlessly into any chef’s kitchen. $1,099, at

KitchenAid Architect Series II Top Control Dishwasher. Photo courtesy KitchenAid.
KitchenAid Architect Series II Top Control Dishwasher (Photo courtesy KitchenAid)

5). WaterHawk Smart Shower Head

Thanks to droughts and water conservation efforts worldwide, residents are frequently being asked to reduce water usage — sometimes by as much as 25 percent. But do you know how much water you actually consume?

The average eight-minute shower uses 20 gallons of water, for example. Enter WaterHawk, a smart shower head with a color-coded temperature LED light and digital display that tracks your consumption for you so you can save money, water, and time (by knowing exactly when the water hits the temp you desire). $69.99,

WaterHawk Smart Shower Temperature Display. Photo courtesy WaterHawk.
WaterHawk Smart Shower Temperature Display (Photo courtesy WaterHawk)

6). Rachio sprinkler

There’s nothing worse than seeing your neighbors’ sprinklers go off right after a crazy Texas rainfall. By installing the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, you can save as much as 50 percent on your outdoor watering bill, all while ensuring your plants get just the right dosage of what they need.

Rachio follows the local weather and adjusts schedules for rain, freezing temps, and seasonal changes, all of which you can monitor from an app on your mobile device. 8-zone from $144.00, 16-zone from $149.99,

Rachio Sprinkler. Photo courtesy Rachio.
Rachio Sprinkler. Photo courtesy Rachio.

7). Foobot LED Light

EPA studies show that indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and since we — children and house pets included — spend the majority of our time inside, that’s alarming. Fooboot, the “good air guru,” is a discreet little device that monitors the air in your home every five minutes that you can then monitor on an app on your mobile device.

Foobot’s attractive LED light changes color when it’s time to turn on your air filter (or just connect it with your Echo). $199,

Foobot air filter monitor. Courtesy Foobot.
Foobot air filter monitor (Courtesy Foobot)

8). Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is basically an artificial intelligence personal assistant for your home. It’s activated by your voice, and goes by the sassy name of Alexa. Alexa will answer your questions, set an alarm, create shopping lists, check the weather and stream podcasts for you.

Helpfully, the Echo pairs with your smart home products like Rachio, Philips Hue, and FooBot, and Amazon continually releases updates. She can lock your doors, create shopping lists, turn down the thermostat, even water your lawn.  $179,

Amazon Echo. Photo courtesy Amazon.
Amazon Echo (Photo courtesy Amazon)

9). Tesla Powerwall

Having a Tesla is the new status symbol on the road — you even see oil rig brokers flaunting them around town. Now Tesla is invading your home, too. The brand is introducing a home battery, dubbed the Powerwall, that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or from the utility grid when rates are low.

It provides a backup electricity supply should there ever be a power outage, and offers the security of an emergency backup wrapped up in an attractive Tesla-designed module.

Tesla Powerwall. Photo courtesy Tesla.
Tesla Powerwall (Photo courtesy Tesla)

10). Scout Alarm

The prettiest alarm we’ve ever seen — seriously, the motion sensors could practically double as a modern art piece — is the Scout. You can even select the color and finish of the components you desire. Via any smart device, check in to view either the entire system or a single sensor, watch the recorded activity feeds, arm and disarm, tell the system how to react, and even auto-alert a trusted network if you’re out of reach.

It’s connected to the internet wirelessly, but there is Cellular 3G backup in case the internet goes out — which it probably will, at an inopportune time. There aren’t any annual contracts, either, meaning you can change your service plans without penalty.

Direct Energy offers a plan that includes the innovative alarm. Dubbed the Live Brighter 12 Plus Scout plan, it offers a fixed electricity rate for 12 months (no more worrying about any checkbook-denting summer spikes) and a Scout Alarm Starter Kit, which normally runs $288, at no extra charge. Get all the details here.

Scout alarm. Photo courtesy Scout.
Scout alarm (Photo courtesy Scout)

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