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:

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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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't 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.

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