The Internet Might Actually Start Paying You To Use It

By tapping into the internet of things, consumers can save a meaningful amount of money.

Feb 16, 2014 at 2:00PM

Your house is robbing you blind, and you probably don't even know it. Each day it picks a few dollars out of your pocket and hands them to your local utility, or worse, just throws them into the trash. Add it all up and we're talking about hundreds, if not thousands of dollars that your house is quietly costing you each year.

How to fix your leaking nest
Thermostats control about half of a home's energy. However, simply owning a programmable thermostat isn't enough, it actually needs to be, well, programmed. That one step can save the average consumer 20% of their utility bill or an average of $173 per year. However, most of us fail to properly program our thermostat. On top of that, few take the additional steps to lower our utility bills such by simply changing the temperature setting to conserve energy while we're on vacation.


Photo credit: Google Inc 

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is hoping to stop the waste. The company recently spent $3.2 billion to buy Nest Labs, which developed the Learning Thermostat. Nest's $249 thermostat programs itself so that consumers won't have to. That savings alone can yield a payback of under two years. However, that's just the start. Its auto-away can save consumers up to 6% more on an annual energy bill just by adjusting the temperature for a two week vacation. Meanwhile, its Nest Leaf feature challenges consumers to change the temperature in their home by a degree in order to save another 5% on their utility bill. Finally, its filter reminders can shave another 5% off of a consumer's bill by letting consumers know its time to change the filter. It all adds up to quite a payback over time.

The smart laundry room
Google isn't the only company hoping to save consumers a little money by investing to save energy. Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) believes its 6th Sense Live technology will not only give consumers peace of mind, but can also cut their energy bill. For example, the Smart Energy feature can save users $20-40 per year by connecting to the Smart Grid used by utilities and then optimizing energy use by scheduling the washer or dryer to run during off-peak hours. In addition to that, the EcoBoost option can save energy and money by using a portion of the dryer's dual heating element and extending drying time.


Photo credit: Whirlpool Corporation 

The only problem with Whirlpool's Smart Energy feature is the fact that the payback period from energy savings alone isn't quite as compelling as those found in Google's Learning Thermostat. A Whirlpool dryer, for example, featuring the 6th Sense Live technology retails for $1,439.10 at a local home improvement store. However, a simple high efficiency sensor dryer retails for $899.10 at that same store. That puts the payback differential from energy savings alone at more than a decade.

Thinking inside the icebox
takes saving money a step further with its Smart ThinQ technology. These appliances are smart grid ready, meaning these are designed to detect the lowest power consumption in the area so that the appliances can operate when energy rates are lowest. However, LG takes the smart refrigerator to a whole new level as it can tell its owner where to look for a food item as well as what items are closing in on an expiration date. 

Because it knows what's inside, though this information does need to be entered manually, it can make it easier to compile a shopping list or even suggest a meal recipe built around the ingredients inside. On top of that its Smart Access refrigerator app makes a trip to the grocery store even more efficient. It can let consumers know what needs to be purchased as well as providing recipe ideas with a summary of the ingredients that need to be added to the shopping list.

 Lg Smart Thinq

Photo credit: Flickr/David Berkowitz

Here again the problem is that the current cost outweighs the energy savings. The LG refrigerator with Smart ThinQ technology is $3,149.99 at a local appliance store. That's well over $1,000 more than a comparable sized refrigerator. However, with estimates suggesting that Americans throw out between 14% to 25% of the food we buy each year, the savings from not wasting really add up as the average family tosses out $1,365 to $2,275 in food each year. Simply knowing when food expires, and consuming it before that time, could yield a very quick payback for this LG refrigerator.

Final thoughts
Internet driven smart technology has the potential to pay consumers back in a hurry by using less energy. Google's Learning Thermostat, for example, already has a less than two year payback for those that don't currently utilize a programmable thermostat. Energy savings, however is just one of the many ways that Internet driven smart technology can start paying off. LG's Smart refrigerator has the potential to save consumers a lot of money as we stop wasting what's inside. Best of all, if those savings are invested wisely, it'll really really compound over time.

Get the inside scoop on the "Internet of Things" here:

Let's face it, every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big. Like buying PC-maker Dell in the late 1980's, before the consumer computing boom. Or purchasing stock in e-commerce pioneer in late 1990's, when they were nothing more than an upstart online bookstore. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hyper-growth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure-play", and then watch as it grows in EXPLOSIVE lock-step with it's industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified 1 stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 TRILLION industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report.

Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers