How to save energy with HomeKit accessories and automation

Best HomeKit Smart Plugs 2020, Wemo Mini smart plug in a kitchen setting
Best HomeKit Smart Plugs 2020, Wemo Mini smart plug in a kitchen setting (Image credit: Belkin)

We love HomeKit for its convenient controls, automation potential, and ease of use, but did you know that you can also use HomeKit to help save energy? With the right combination of HomeKit devices and a little automation know-how, you can be on your way to lowering your home's power consumption in minutes. Here are some HomeKit energy-saving tips and ideas that can help get you started.

Plug and save

Meross Smart Wifi Plug Mini in front of an Ikea and Sylvania Smart Plug

Meross Smart Wifi Plug Mini in front of an Ikea and Sylvania Smart Plug (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

The absolute quickest and easiest way to reduce energy consumption in your home is with a HomeKit smart plug. These tiny accessories make connected devices instantly smart and are incredibly simple to set up, with most cases involving plugging one in and scanning its HomeKit pairing code.

How to set up your HomeKit devices

HomeKit smart plugs are great for those instances where you left something on while heading out for work. You can turn smart plugs off remotely with the Home app, or even with a Siri command via-CarPlay. Even if you are still at home, just having the convenience of remote controls can help curb wasteful habits. No longer in a room upstairs where a fan or lamp is still on? Toggle it from the comforts of your couch without even having to get up.

For the most impact, try pairing a HomeKit smart plug with indoor space heaters, appliances, electronics, or lamps in your home. For the outdoors, use a HomeKit outdoor smart plug with battery chargers for power tools, decorative lighting, or even pool pumps. Of course, smart plugs do consume energy as well, so make sure to check around for labels on your devices and on your plug that show wattage or volts to ensure that you are saving.

Monitor it

Connectsense Smart Inwall Outlet app

Connectsense Smart Inwall Outlet app (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Sometimes, a little bit of awareness is all it takes to promote energy saving, and there are plenty of HomeKit devices that can provide relevant data to help. Some HomeKit smart plugs and in-wall outlets include energy monitoring capabilities onboard, which can present energy trends over time, real-time consumption data, charts, and even actual costs by entering in your utility rates.

If you have a HomeKit plug with monitoring, don't just limit it to devices that you think are big energy consumers — use its portable nature to your advantage! Try moving your smart plug around to all the devices — especially older ones, in your home to help identify potential issues and replace or reconfigure as needed.

Ecobee SmartThermostat SmartSensor on a shelf

Ecobee SmartThermostat SmartSensor on a shelf (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Aside from smart plugs, there are also quite a few HomeKit sensors available that measure temperature, humidity, light, window, and door status. Most HomeKit sensors are entirely wireless, running on batteries and utilizing Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for relaying data, making them quite handy for monitoring multiple rooms and making them easy to keep out of sight.

HomeKit temperature sensors, in particular, are one of the best ways to save energy as they can help determine when exactly to fire up the heater or air conditioner. Most thermostats in the home only react to the temperature from the room or area they are in, which may or may not be where you spend most of your time.

These scenarios lead to instances where your heating and air runs even though it is comfortable on one side of the home, so with a temperature sensor, you can make adjustments to prevent that from happening. The same applies to HomeKit humidity sensors, although correcting humidity levels may not be entirely feasible.

Vocolinc VS 1 Contact Sensor Review Open

Vocolinc VS 1 Contact Sensor Review Open (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Another great sensor option is HomeKit door and window sensors — otherwise known as contact sensors. Contact sensors are another quick and easy way to keep tabs on the home, as they attach directly to doors and windows using mounting tape. Just slap a contact sensor on, and you will always know if any doors or windows are open and affecting your home's climate.

Climate control

Ecobee SmartThermostat

Ecobee SmartThermostat (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Your home's heating and cooling is more than likely the biggest consumer of energy you have, so if you want to see a significant impact on your usage, you need a HomeKit thermostat. Installing a HomeKit thermostat is easier than you may think, with most following the same steps and only requiring basic tools and electric knowledge. If you are still a little scared at the thought, take a look at our ecobee thermostat installation guide, it will give you a good overview of the process.

Installing and setting up the ecobee4 wifi thermostat

While features may vary between thermostats, HomeKit offers some pretty handy standards like Siri controls, scene support, and the potential to make adjustments through automation. Some of the higher-end HomeKit thermostats also offer automatic comfort adjustments that consider room occupancy and usage trends.

GE HomeKit window air conditioner in a living room setting

GE HomeKit window air conditioner in a living room setting (Image credit: GE)

If you have a smaller home or only really use a couple of rooms every day, then a HomeKit window-mount air conditioner may be a good fit. Window air conditioner units focus on cooling just the area they are set up in and are perfect for bedrooms, offices, or anywhere else you spend lots of time.

Just like with smart thermostats, HomeKit air conditioners provide all of the same remote controls, scene support, and automation potential, only on a smaller scale. While none of the current HomeKit window options have learning capabilities, you can still combine one with a HomeKit temperature sensor to create automatic adjustments.

Hunter Romulus Ceiling Fan in a kitchen setting

Hunter Romulus Ceiling Fan in a kitchen setting (Image credit: Hunter)

Another energy-saving climate control option is a HomeKit ceiling fan. Ceiling fans are already great for circulating the air in a room or for providing a nice breeze, but with HomeKit, you can leverage other accessories to make things magical. HomeKit fan features include adjusting speeds via Siri or through the Home app, controlling integrated lighting, and even changing the fan rotation.

Through automation, you can set your fan to automatically turn on if the temperature or humidity in a room gets too hot or stuffy. Creating this type of automation will provide energy savings by allowing you to set your home's thermostat at a higher temperature during the day while still maintaining comfort. Setting up this type of automation is a little tricky, so check out the guide below if you need help.

How to create a temperature-based automation in HomeKit

Lights off

Bulbrite Solana Filament Edison

Bulbrite Solana Filament Edison (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Our final energy-saving tips all have to do with your home's lighting. The switch to LED lighting over the years has significantly reduced energy usage for most of us, but there are certainly some opportunities still to reduce it even further. HomeKit light bulbs are one way to address it by putting your home's lighting right at your fingertips, adding dimming controls, and of course, support for automation.

A simple yet effective way to save energy is to create an automation that turns off your light bulbs when you leave for the day. This automation will use the location data from your iPhone to determine when to run, and another automation can turn them back on when you arrive.

How to create automations in the Home app

Another energy-saving automation is to have outdoor lights turn off at sunrise every morning or at a time of your choosing so you will never have to worry about leaving them on all day.

Meross Smart Wifi Switch Review

Meross Smart Wifi Switch Review (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Have a lot of light fixtures with multiple light bulbs? Then a HomeKit light switch or HomeKit dimmer switch may be a better option. HomeKit switches install directly into your walls pretty much the same way as traditional switches, making all the bulbs attached to a fixture smart and available for automation and quick controls.

How to install a HomeKit-enabled light switch

Going with a HomeKit light switch for fixtures can save you money upfront by not having to replace each bulb, and in the long run, by consuming less energy overall than multiple smart bulbs.

Lutron Caseta Wireless Motion Sensor next to Onvis SMS 1 Motion Sensor

Lutron Caseta Wireless Motion Sensor next to Onvis SMS 1 Motion Sensor (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

If you want to take your lighting savings to the next level, add in a HomeKit motion sensor. With HomeKit automation, you can set your lights to turn on when you arrive home, never leaving you in the dark while you fumble for keys. More importantly, though, HomeKit motion sensors can be set to toggle your lights off automatically after a specified time or after motion is no longer detected.

The best part about motion sensor capabilities, though, is that you may already have one in your home. Most HomeKit cameras expose their built-in motion sensors to the Home app, so you can use them the same way you would a dedicated accessory. If you can't track down your camera's sensor, then check out our guide below.

How to ungroup HomeKit accessories in the Home app

Have some HomeKit energy-saving tips?

What are some of your favorite ways to use HomeKit for saving energy? How much of an impact has HomeKit made on your energy usage? Let us know in the comments below!