As 2015 draws to a close, you may be making resolutions to eat healthier, get to the gym and save more money. If saving money is on your list, you may be considering upgrading to new, energy-efficient home appliances.

But these new gadgets often come with hefty price tags -- which raise the question of whether they'll save you enough money to be worthwhile. Today, we are looking at some of the "smart" appliance upgrades out there -- and whether you should consider the investment.

Thermostats


If you have an old dial-style thermostat: replace it! A digital thermostat is much more energy efficient, and can save you up to 15% on your heating bill each year!

But while a regular programmable thermostat costs around $75, you can also opt for a "smart" thermostat, like the Nest or Ecobee. These thermostats adjust based on your preferences, so, after awhile, you won't have to touch a thing! Some thermostats have apps so you can control temps while you're out of the home. At $200+, they're not cheap -- but over time, you will make back your investment due to their efficiency.

The bottom line? Buy a programmable thermostat -- and if you can afford it, a "smart" model!

Vacuums
It sounds too good to be true: leave for work and come home later to a clean house! Smart cleaning systems like the Roomba claim to clean your floors better than you can. And now, many are app-controlled, so you can program a house-cleaning at the swipe of a finger! But, at $400+ for a Roomba, it's an expensive house cleaning.

The bottom line? Skip It. A good vacuum is expensive -- but not even the upscale Dyson will cost you that much! If you are looking for a replacement for a house cleaner, a Roomba could be helpful. Otherwise, save your money and get a good vacuum -- then clean your house the old-fashioned way (hey - you'll even get in a good workout!).

Washer/Dryer


Have you ever returned home ready to switch the wash, only to discover that it's still full of water with an "error" code flashing angrily at you? A smart washer/dryer would solve this problem, as these machines diagnose and address problems as they occur. Again, many are app-controlled to be able to alert you to problems on your smartphone.

The bottom line? Skip It. At nearly $1500 per machine, these appliances cost 2-3 times as much as their energy efficient, brand-new counterparts. If you're looking to save money, any Energy Star certified machine will do that -- at a fraction of the price.


Security Systems
Control your settings remotely via an app on your smartphone. From setting your alarm, closing your garage door, to locking your door, you can do it all with a swipe of your finger. You'll pay for each piece of equipment (garage door opener, house locks, lights) and then control via an app.

The bottom line? This is a great idea -- and much cheaper over the long run than a standard security system. Using an a la carte approach, you can pick and choose what you need for your house. Check out Wink for more details.



It's a New Year -- so embrace the technology out there! Just make sure your "smart" upgrade is the "smart" thing for your family's budget!

Sources: Consumer Reports, Appliances with Advanced Degrees | Energy.gov, Thermostats | House Beautiful,
The Amazing List: 75 Smart Home Tech Solutions
Photo credits: David Berkowitz, Nest Thermostat - Consumer Electronics Show - CES 2013 - Las Vegas | Japanexperterna.se, Close up of smartphone in hand | Deidre Woollard, Washer/Dryer at Dwell on Design

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