Smart technology is poised to take over the home appliance market. We already have smart thermostats, smart lighting and even smart refrigerators. If that's not enough for you, there are some new contenders on the market that allow you to turn any electrical device in the home into a smart item. The best part is that it's a simple DIY experience – no need to find an electrician to hook it up. It’s the smart plug, a small box that you plug into your home's outlets. From there, you can use your smart phone to control whatever light, television or other electronic appliance routed through the smart plug. Read on to learn more about these remarkable efficiency devices.

Control and Monitor Your Electronics

There are a variety of smart plug options on the market: The Satechi IQ Plug, the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, the D-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug and the Valta Starter Kit, among others. The cost and functionality of the different brands vary, but they all operate on a similar principle – allowing you to set schedules and remotely control whatever device you choose.

The smart plugs connect to your phone via Bluetooth or wireless Internet, so you can switch them on or off from anywhere in the home – or even from the other side of the country if you have an internet-optimized model. You can also program schedules so the plug automatically activates an appliance at appointed times – turning a coffee maker on first thing in the morning, for example, or switching on a space heater before you go to bed in a chilly part of the house.

Retro Meets Modern

The upshot is that there's no need to wait for cutting-edge smart devices to come out to keep your home on the cutting edge of technology. Imagine impressing your neighbor by demonstrating the new smart functionality of a retro 1950s television, or your old Victrola vinyl player.

Smart plugs also monitor how much electricity a given device uses and when, so you can make informed choices about increasing your energy efficiency though disaggregation, breaking it down appliance by appliance. You can also save energy by using the smart plug to turn off the power to devices when you aren't actively using them, preventing your electricity bills from skyrocketing due to always-on settings or “energy vampires.

Savings and Control All at Once

If you have additional questions about smart plugs and how they work, find an electrician who can show you their utility and functionality. With surprisingly little effort, you can harness their power to save energy and control devices all throughout your home.

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