How can technology help people combat the rising cost of living?

Smart meters, budgeting apps and smart home controls could all be used to help people save money.

Smart Meter Energy Usage
Smart Meter Energy Usage

The rising cost of living is placing increasing pressure on household budgets, but there are a number of pieces of technology which could help people make some vital savings.

Here is a look at some of the tech which could make a difference.

– Smart meters

Getting a smart meter is a key step in making your home more energy efficient, as it can help bring an end to the use of estimated bills and give users an insight into how much energy they are using and which appliances use the most – giving an incentive to change some usage habits.

Smart meters enable both users and energy suppliers to track the energy consumption of a home, making it possible to more easily understand when a home uses more energy and how it could become more efficient, and potentially highlight where a household could switch to a cheaper tariff based on their usage.

– Smart home tools

Given the increased connectivity in many homes today thanks to the rise of smart devices, it is now also possible to control many appliances and other items from a smartphone.

A number of apps enable users to set routines to turn connected appliances and electronics on and off at certain times, a feature which could be used to improve efficiency and save money.

The major smart home apps from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google all offer their own variations of these tools – depending on which smart home devices a household already has.

Another app worth noting is Samsung’s SmartThings – which is available on both Android and iOS – and enables users to not only connect to and control appliances and other devices from a range of brands, but also has the ability to connect to the home’s smart meter and allow energy consumption and costs tracking from a user’s smartphone.

Monzo
(MONZO/PA)

– Spending tracking apps

Beyond trying to make savings just on energy bills, there are a number of apps and online tools that can help people better track their spending and budget more generally each month.

Online banks such as Monzo and others send notifications to a user’s phone every time money is spent, but also allow users to organise money into different “pots” and see breakdowns of what they are spending money on each month to help with budgeting.

For those who do not use an online or app-based bank, there is a range of budgeting apps available such as Emma or Snoop Finance’s Budget Planner which can be connected to bank accounts to help track spending and set monthly budgets.

Some of these apps also offer tips and guidance on better money-saving, and can even flag cheaper deals for certain services when they become available.

However, be aware that while many of these apps are initially free to download and use, some charge a subscription fee for some features.

– Connectivity and social tariffs

Staying online is vital for many people for school or work, but also to access vital online public services, as well as staying in touch with friends and family, but is becoming increasingly difficult for many as the cost of living rises.

Some broadband and mobile phone providers have begun to introduce what are known as social tariffs – cheaper connectivity deals for lower-income households and those receiving universal credit, with more likely to be rolled out in the coming months.

In addition, the charity Good Things Foundation is working with Virgin Media O2, Vodafone and Three to provide free mobile data to people via The National Databank.

The scheme provides free mobile data, texts and calls to people in need, and works in a similar fashion as a foodbank, but for internet connectivity data.

Local community partners within the Good Things Foundation’s network can apply to access the databank, enabling them to provide free data to those in their communities who need it.

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