Inventions with power to save you cash

Make the most of innovations around the home to slice a sizeable portion off your bills, writes Verity Campbell.

Make the most of innovations around the home to slice a sizeable portion off your bills, writes Verity Campbell.

When it's time to buy new appliances, be sure you choose energy efficient ones. A more efficient appliance will save you money in running costs - and you'll be doing the environment a good turn.

Ceiling fans

Fans are the most efficient way to keep cool in summer. They work by circulating air, which increases evaporation of sweat from your skin - they cool the person, not the room. Fans can also be effective in winter. A fan on reverse cycle will recirculate the rising warm air from the ceiling back down to where it's needed.

The Aerotron e503 is a new generation of ceiling fans. Its energy-efficient design outperforms every fan in its class, and leaves conventional fans for dead. Silent and sleek, the fan's efficiency is due to the blades' aerofoil shape and wingtips, an active self-balancing system, and a custom-built DC motor. RRP$389, including remote.

Home automation

Home automation used to be the preserve of the wealthy and the wired, but a new generation of easy to use, low-cost systems are making wireless control of appliances a practical reality for the average householder. They mean energy-efficient practices can be automated with push-button simplicity.

Belkin's WeMo Switch + Motion is a system that works with wireless technology, simple plug-in adaptors and motion sensors. You can connect it to any plug-in electronic device. If you connect an electric heater, for example, you can turn it off and on, set timers and adjust settings - all from a user-friendly interface on your iPhone or iPad.

The motion sensor can turn devices on when you enter a room, and off when you leave. WeMo can also be connected with services such as IFTTT (If This Then That;, so you could, for instance, program it to send a text when the temperature drops to below 15 degrees, and then turn on a heater. Ingenious. RRP$119.

Halogen replacements

Most homes renovated or built in the past three decades had halogen downlights installed, and plenty of them. With each halogen using on average 50 watts, the energy costs are significant.

Brightgreen's D700 dimmable halogen replacement bulb matches the brightness (720 lumens) of a 50 watt halogen with a 70,000-hour lifespan, while using a fifth of the energy. Brightgreen's calculator estimates a payback time of a year or less per bulb - after that it's all money in the bank. RRP$69.

Insulating blinds

Gap sealing, glazing and frame materials all play their part in mitigating heat loss and gain through windows, but window furnishings also play a critical role. Heavy lined curtains with pelmets provide the best insulating benefit, but if they're not your thing there are other options.

Duette Architella Opaque blinds are a new generation of "honeycomb" blinds designed to provide an air barrier against heat loss and gain. The "honeycomb" aesthetic is created by triple air pockets that trap insulating layers of air within the blinds. When the blinds are installed as fully recessed and reveal-mounted, the manufacturers claim they will almost halve heat loss. Price on application.

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