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Cut Energy Costs by Creating a 'Smart' House

By Ellen Chang

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Finding ways to reduce the amount of energy used in your home is now even easier with the push of a button by accessing your apps.

Consumers now have many options to chose from so they can lower both their electricity bill and energy usage without having to spend hours installing a new product. Many products now are Wi-Fi enabled so you can access your devices even when you are at work.

Lights Out!

If you are at work and forgot to turn off your lights, now you can solve your problem by tapping your smartphone. A new light bulb called Robosmart--made by Smartbotics, a Los Gatos, Calif. startup--allows you to turn it on and off simply by using your smartphone, laptop or tablet. The light bulb is embedded with a Bluetooth sensor and works with an app compatible with Apple's iOS platform. By August, Android users will also be able to utilize the device.

"We wanted people to be able to save more energy, consume less power and pay less for their electricity," said Kelly Coffey, founder and chief executive of Smartbotics. "We are creating a product that will help you save money automatically."

The light bulb can also sense how far away the user is and will turn itself off if you leave the room, he said.

Smartbotics plans to expand its capabilities to outlets and to temperature sensors in the future so that you can make your home automated. In the works is a light sensor which would be used for light harvesting. If a room is lit by sunlight, the light sensor will notify the lights to dim or turn off automatically, Coffey said.

"We hope to make it so simple to use that the average Joe would want to buy this product and take it home," he said. "In the future you can get home automation without having to sign up via your home wireless data network."

Although the light bulb is sold currently online via the Smartbotics website or at Los Gatos hardware stores only, the product will hit other hardware stores later this summer and the big box electronics stores by fall. While paying $40 for a 40-watt light bulb seems expensive, Coffey said each bulb should last 10 years if it is used for three hours a day. Eventually, consumers will only pay $20 for a bulb. Each bulb should save an average of 72 cents annually.