10 gadgets that pay for themselves

10 gadgets that pay for themselves

We love gadgets and we love saving money, these gadgets do both and in fact over time they should cost you nothing or very little because they pay for themselves!

thermostatA smart thermostat

Our homes are expensive to keep heated but even more expensive when we’re not using the heat because we’re away! Smart thermostats learn when you’re home and can ensure your house is warm at only the times you need the heat. Also, they give the additional benefits of being able to warm up your home before you get home (via mobile apps or home automation).

Warning: If you have thermostatic valves on your radiators (and actually use them) and a decent digital wired or wireless thermostat (and use it correctly), then you will make little if any savings but if the convenience of being able to check/switch on/off remotely or even use your voice to control the heating with Amazon Echo is worth the extra then go for it!

If you’re aiming to control an old boiler, stop! Save for a new boiler instead, a new boiler will most likely save you a lot more money than one of these!

You will most likely need these to be installed by a professional so remember to think about prices for installation.

What are my options for smart thermostats?

  • Nest Thermostat – Superior looking device, weather compensation, connects to IFTTT/Amazon Alexa controls both hot water and heating, Wifi connectivity.
  • Hive – Controls both hot water and heating, option to integrate smart home plugs etc directly with the system.
  • Honeywell evohome – More advanced that the above two options but more costly, you can control individual rooms to exact temps so only the rooms you’re currently using are heated.
  • Tado – We don’t have any experience of this unit but reports are good overall.

freshboxA FreshBox for Fruits & Veg

These small little gadgets made by Whirlpool are placed in the fridge to help keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer, they last around 3 months each. Also, consider these cheaper alternatives made by Croc.

batteriesRechargeable batteries and charging dock

It’s pretty simple really rechargeable batteries cost more to begin with but cost dramatically less for each subsequent charge combine this with a decent AA/AAA Battery charger and you will be on to a winner.

The batteries we recommend > Either Eneloop or Amazon Basics
The battery chargers we recommend > Either Technoline or 7dayshop copy (avoid fast chargers, they ruin batteries)

↪ Also, consider adaptors for C & D batteries, these larger batteries often cost a fortune but the adaptors may save you a small fortune because you just install AA batteries inside them!

Learn more about rechargeable batteries


camerasHome Security Cameras

Security cameras offer great peace of mind so they may not immediately pay for themselves but they would do if a burglar was to spot them and avoid your house because of them (the average household has £1500 worth of items ready to be stolen). Homes protected by some kind of security system are as much as 300% less likely to become targets for crime + think of the saving in time compared with having to resecure your house after a burglary.

The fact you can keep an eye on your possession when you’re away from home or even just your room (if you house share) means they’re often well worth the expense even if a burglar never targets you, just be careful to add in the price of software / data storage.

Your home security camera options:

  • Foscam (a little complicated to setup) or similar IP cameras connected with software like Sighthound (one off price and then £0 per month as you run the software locally) + backed up with software like Dropbox.
  • Nest Outdoor and Indoor Cameras are SUPER easy to setup but you will be looking £80-£240 a year for online storage
  • Netgear Arlo cameras are wireless options (no cables at all), they offer stick up and record functionality, waterproof and are a great solution if you don’t want a more permanent option (e.g. you’re renting).
  • Canary Home Security System – Not just a camera, this contains a siren, speaker and microphone. A superb DIY home security bundle.
  • Sannce & Annke Camera system – A cheap wired camera solution, you potentially will have cables everywhere but a great solution for a more permanent solution.

radfanRadiator Fans

British Manufacture Radfan produce magnetic radiator fans that sit on top of your radiators to increase your houses warmth, lets you replace expensive fan heaters and directs heat away from windows where you can expect around a 35% heat loss.

Ideal if your radiators are behind sofas, desks or beds! 30 seconds to install, we’ve got one and it works well.

It’s also automatic so only turns on when the heating is hot and turns off when cool + only costs on average £2 a year to run.

smartplugsSmart Home Plugs

Wemo, TP-Link and Hive all make smart plugs, these can control anything that you plug into mains power. We use them on our desk, various standing lights around the house, Christmas tree lights etc. Many others use them for things like Kettles, Electric Heaters, Heated Mattresses and fans.

Combine them with their relevant smartphone apps or home automation systems and you can perform tasks e.g. If I’m away turn on certain lights so it appears like I’m home or when the sun sets turn on the light. Not only does this help with security but it can save you money by turning off items you don’t need when you’re away.

Also, many newer home plugs can keep track of your power usage allowing you to see in real-time how much certain products are costing.

solar-pollsSolar Outside Lights

Mpow sell some great LED solar outdoor lights, they save you money because you don’t have to hire in an electrician + best of all they use the sun to power themselves!

SolarCentre make some decent post lights.

Herb Keeper

herbCole & Mason and Gourmet2Day sell herb keepers. The idea is you place your pre-packed herbs into water to help them last up to 2 weeks.

Of course, the green-thumbed amongst us will argue you would be better off buying a little herb garden and you’re right but often we only use fresh herbs when having a dinner party/cooking something special as a one off.

bulbsAutomatic Smart Lights or LED Bulbs

Smart bulbs made by companies such as Philips won’t massively save you that much money if you already have decent LED bulbs but they will add convenience and also help with home security. If you’re moving from traditional light bulbs you will see a much greater saving if you move to LED, estimated to be £553.05 saving over 3 years for the average household.

The ability to control lights remotely or only when you need the light is a great way to save even more money. The most overlooked part is convenience, if we wake up in the night and walk downstairs for a drink the Philips Motion Sensor detects us and puts the landing lights and kitchen lights on a low glow, so we can see but won’t be blinded, meaning it will be easier to fall asleep afterwards, which may help you get the sleep you need to perform at your best at work the next day = more likely to get a promotion/score a great deal!

cofeeEspresso / Cappuccino Machine + Decent Flask

Starbucks, Costa or local coffee shop customer? Often a coffee can cost £2-3, do this 4 times a week and you’re spending £416-£624 a year on coffee you can make cheaper at home or in your office!

Buy a decent coffee cup, combine this with a decent Bean to Cup Coffee Machine like the De’Longhi Magnifica, add some decent coffee and possibly some syrups and you’ve got a great combo!

If you work somewhere without a coffee machine, consider speaking with your manager about fixing this issue. Explain how you will be more productive and worst case consider splitting the cost (of at least the coffee/milk) between other staff.

What are the other options for coffee makers?

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