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How to use a smart air conditioner to save money and sleep better

Connected air conditioners are here to help alleviate your woefully high summertime electricity bill.

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Summer is coming, and while that means different things to different people, one rule can be applied to pretty much everyone:

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Your electricity bill will be giant.

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If you’re reading this and have ever used an air conditioner and paid an electricity bill, you know all about the summer spike, and while burdensome bills may be an unfortunate reality during that time of year, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to stay cool and protect your wallet.

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We’re talking about smart air conditioners.

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Why use a smart AC?

Smart AC units (units that connect to the internet) offer several benefits over regular counterparts, including the gift of automation. That means, for instance, you can program your AC to shut off when your room reaches a specified temperature or program it to kick on or off at specified times of the day, ensuring you don’t suck up unneeded energy.

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One very cool (no pun intended) example of smart AC automation is the ability to preemptively kickstart the unit before you get home. That means instead of cranking your AC to quickly cool down a hot room, you can instead send a message to a smart AC unit before you arrive and slowly cool your room via a more energy-efficient setting.

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Where to start

Smart AC units like LG’s Dual Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Air Conditioner, for example, come with plenty of features, including compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant. It also uses a dual-inversion compressor that can adjust speed continuously as opposed to simply turning off and on. According to LG, this feature alone could save 15 percent more energy over a unit with a traditional compressor.

hAnother solid option in the smart AC world is GE’s Energy Star 115-Volt Electronic Room Air Conditioner. Like the LG, it works with Alexa and Google Assistant, but also adds functionality with Apple HomeKit and Siri. You can even sync this smart AC up with your phone’s location services so that it cools your room before you arrive home.

Some smart air conditioners can also create reports for you on your AC usage as well as the general health of the unit so you know when to change a filter or provide maintenance before a hardware problem worsens.

$430

LG's dual inverter smart AC will run you several hundred dollars.

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$300

Even with all of those features, the GE smart AC is about $100 cheaper

GE

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If buying a $400 AC is out of your budget, you don’t have to resign yourself to dumb AC all summer long. There are ways you can imbue your non-connected AC with some abilities of their connected counterparts.

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How to make your dumb AC smart

Products like Sensibo Sky and Cielo Eco Breeze — small modules that communicate with your AC unit using infrared bursts — can elevate your dumb AC into something that can be controlled remotely, allowing you to switch your unit on from afar or automate specific times.

Both products enable you to do things like geofence areas and automatically turn your AC on when you’re in proximity to home.

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Integration with If This Then That (IFTTT) also allows you to sync Sensibo to applets that can control your AC based on current weather or atmospheric conditions like temperature and humidity, plus other factors like whether you’ve entered a certain room.

$68

The Cielo Breez Eco is fairly comparable to Sensibo Sky and costs slightly less.

Cielo

$119

The Sensibo Sky is a tad more expensive but offers app-sharing with multiple users and IFTTT integraiton.

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Smart plug

If smart AC controllers are still over your budget, there’s an even simpler way to make your dumb AC smart, albeit not quite as feature-rich: Smart plugs.

Plugs like those made by Gosund or TP-Link for example, come with their own app and can be paired with Alexa and Google Assistant. As a result, you can control them with a smart speaker and trigger them on a timer or manually through Wi-Fi. Plug your AC into one, and you’ve now got yourself a semi-automated unit.

Gosund smart plug

You’ll obviously lack granularity here, including the ability to do things like changing the temperature, fan settings, or geofencing, but you’ll still be able to mitigate some overuse by being able to cool your home low and slow before you arrive or by automatically switching it off at a certain time of night.

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Plus, they’re pretty cheap...

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$10

This plug made by TP-Link is only $10 and is compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and even IFTTT.

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$9

A Gosund smart plug is $9 for one plug on Amazon.

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If you’re looking to optimize your AC usage this summer, these three methods (a smart AC, control module, or smart plugs) are all viable depending on your budget, so while summer might still make you sweat eventually, you can at least stay a little bit cool about your electricity bill.

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