How to use Alexa to lower your electricity bill

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)
(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Alexa is a great smart home assistant for communication and convenience, but did you know that Alexa also has cost-saving benefits? With certain features and settings, Alexa can actually save you money.

There are several ways a smart home can save you money, but when it comes to Alexa specifically, you can leverage the assistant to cut down on utility bills. While it helps to have a device like the Amazon Smart Thermostat (or any of the best smart thermostats, for that matter) there are ways to use Alexa for saving money with all the smart home devices you own.

“I find the best energy saving hacks can come from features that you set up once and then they just continuously work, without you having to do anything,” said Maiken Moeller-Hansen, Director of Energy and Sustainability at Amazon Devices and Services. 

As money and energy savings are typically two major concerns of homeowners, you’ll want to know how to use Alexa to manage both with your smart home devices. Here’s how to save money with two distinct Alexa features — Routines and Hunches.

How to save money with Alexa routines

Depending on how long you’ve had Alexa speakers and other Alexa compatible smart home devices, you might already know how to create an Alexa smart home routine. An Alexa smart home routine is basically an automation that can be triggered by either a voice command, specific action of a smart home device or a pre-assigned schedule.

“I’ll be setting up Alexa Routines when I put up holiday lights around one of my outdoor trees—that way they turn on each night at sunset and then off by midnight so they don’t run all night,” said Moeller-Hansen. “I’ve seen a noticeable difference in my energy bill when I didn’t have my outdoor lights running all night.” 

For those who set up holiday lights, a smart plug is a good investment. One of our editors used these cheap smart plugs to control Christmas lights. An outdoor smart plug like the Cync Outdoor Smart Plug (opens in new tab) ($29) can help cut down costs on powering even the most exorbitant holiday light show.

An example of a routine I recently set up in my own smart home changes the settings on multiple devices when I tell Alexa I’m leaving. With this command, Alexa will turn off my Philips Hue lights and knock down my thermostat. (It will also secure my smart lock and smart garage door opener a few minutes later, if they weren’t already.) Before, I tried my best to do these actions manually, but it’s easy to forget when I’m in a rush. If you can relate, I recommend setting up routines in your Alexa app.

How to save money with Alexa Hunches

The only hold-up with routines is that some require you to trigger them with an assigned voice command. In other words, if I forget to tell Alexa the right phrase, my routine won’t run. That’s when Alexa Hunches come in handy.

Hunches is still considered a newer feature, but it’s easily one of the best Alexa skills for having an intuitive home. There are two main ways Alexa Hunches can save you money on your electricity bill.

First, Alexa can have a hunch that it should carry out changes to your smart home devices without your intervention. For example, Alexa can guess when you’ve left the house or everyone is asleep based on your regular behaviors. If you enable Hunches and assign automatic actions, Alexa can turn off your lights and lower your thermostat when the assistant thinks it’s appropriate. 

Second, Alexa can have a hunch that one of your smart home devices isn’t working as it should. For example, if a smart light bulb stays on when you’ve otherwise told Alexa to shut the house down for the night, you’ll get a notification asking whether it’s still lit on purpose. 

If you’re looking for more insight on the cost value of smart home devices, check out our report on how Matter devices can save you money. Also, be sure to see our ultimate smart home guide for more direction on getting started with a connected home. 

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.