(Pocket-lint) - Keeping energy bills as low as possible is an all-year-round job.

Sure, you don't need the heating on in the sultry days of summer, but then that ramps up the AC costs instead. Or maybe the nights are still a little chilly even in summer where you are?

Follow our tips for more efficient energy use and better home automation to save a few pennies on your bill this summer.

Make the most of Demand Response

Energy demands change throughout the day and night, resulting in many providers charging  more for peak times. You can take advantage of this by heating the water in your tank when energy is cheaper, for instance, or charging your car off-peak if it's electric.

Demand Response works by usage at times when energy is cheaper, reducing the risk of a system overload at peak hours. You can volunteer for programs that automatically adjust your AC thermostat, for example. This would mean you wouldn't be quite as cool during a heat wave but in return, you could receive a rebate on your energy bill.

Pick a smart meter

Knowledge is power, no, not that kind of power. But it can help with both. Smart meters measure energy consumption so accurately that they give you a near real-time understanding of which energy-guzzling devices use how much power and when.

They can often display the cost of that usage, too, and you don't need to go to the electricity cupboard (or wherever the meter is) to discover the cost. Instead you'll have an in-home display that will show you.

So if the room heater is blasting away in the bedroom long before you turn in, and costing a lot as a result, you can see that and adjust it accordingly. Another benefit is that smart meters deliver accurate bills, with no estimates.

Choose efficient light bulbs

Compared to regular incandescent bulbs, LEDs and halogen bulbs can save energy costs quickly - the energy demand can be as much as 80 per cent less. The bulbs are more expensive to buy but they last a lot longer so turn out to be better value in the long run.

You could also try a smart bulb like the Philips Hue. Not only can they change color to the exact shade you like, you can turn them on and off from a smartphone app. This means you could set them to switch on to welcome you home by pressing a button when you're approaching the driveway, for example. This could be especially useful if your driveway is dark, too.

Control energy use from a smart thermostat

The smarter the thermostat, the better your energy use, and Honeywell's Wi-Fi Smart thermostat is plenty clever.

It responds to your voice when you say one of the programmed commands like "I'm feeling cold". Better yet, it learns your schedules so it can make sure you're at just the right temperature.

Of course, it's a connected device so you can change the home temperature from your smartphone or tablet, wherever you are (handy if you went on holiday and forgot to turn the heating down).

$199, yourhome.honeywell.com

Save more energy by using solar power

Look out the window, that's the sun, that is. Stump up for the solar panels and installation, and the energy the sun delivers after that is free.

Depending on where in the country you live, the amount of energy generated will vary. They work when light shines on to cells and creates an electric field. They'll work even on cloudy days, though brighter days are better, obviously.

The general rule is: if you can clearly see the solar panels, they are gathering enough light to produce electricity. Solar panels also help reduce your carbon footprint, too. 

Water your lawn, but not too much

Sprinkling your lawn is important to keep it alive, but you don't want to waste water. The Blossom 12 Zone Smart Watering Controller links to local weather forecasts to respond accurately to what's needed.

You can divide your yard into 12 areas and assign a name and specific plant type for each. Because you can control this irrigation system from an iOS or Android smartphone, it's easy to add an extra watering session from wherever you are. The Blossom is resilient enough to be mounted outdoors as well as in.

$199, amazon.com

Manage your AC

If your air conditioner has a remote control, Sensibo can make it smarter. Attach the Smart Pod to the AC unit (hint: it sticks on) and connect the hub to the home router by Ethernet cable.

You can then control the Air Conditioner from your smartphone. There are useful features such as a timer so you can set the AC to cool the house when you're on your way home, or warm the bedroom just before it's time to get up, only using energy when needed.

If you have more air conditioners, you can also add to the Sensibo system. There is a fully automatic mode, and because it's easily attached and removable, you can take it with you if you move.

From $199, sensibo.com


The Honeywell Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector is an early warning system that notifies you on your smartphone when a leak is detected or the temperature drops below a temperature of your choice. By catching it early, you may be able to avoid expensive repairs and loss of treasured items. To find out more visit Honeywell.com

This article was created in association with Honeywell.

Writing by David Phelan.