5 Smart Tech Items That Save You Money — and 5 That Don’t

Although spending is usually considered the opposite of saving, there are times when you should spend money to save money. That is, spend wisely on items that will cost you today but save you even more in the long run.

[See: 10 Big Ways to Boost Your Budget — Without Skimping on Your Daily Latte.]

Read on for the smart technology purchases that will save you money — and those that won’t.

5 Smart Tech Items That Save You Money

Smart thermostat. If you do not already have one, and you own your own place, a smart thermostat is one of the best tech items on which to spend money. Remote control over Wi-Fi and smart scheduling are two of the most important money-saving features of a smart thermostat. When used correctly, a smart thermostat can save hundreds of dollars by optimizing heating and cooling schedules to better match your routine.

LED bulbs. Those that are Energy Star-qualified use only one-quarter of the energy incandescent bulbs use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, because an LED bulb costs far more to purchase, switching to LED is best for the rooms you use frequently. Generally, it is worth switching to an LED bulb from incandescent if you are going to be using the bulb more than one to two hours a day.

Ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are far more energy-efficient than air conditioning. The savings are so dramatic that, in many cases, a ceiling fan will pay for itself in less than a year. In fact, ceiling fans will allow you to raise the thermostat setting in your home by about 4 degrees without impacting your comfort, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can double up on savings by getting a fan with a built-in energy-efficient LED light fixture in case you do not already have energy-efficient lighting.

[See: How to Live on $13,000 a Year.]

Smart plugs. A smart plug lets you activate or deactivate any device remotely or on a programmable schedule. For example, you could schedule lamps to come on at preset times when you are away. You can also use a smart plug to set a humidifier on a schedule. The more expensive smart plugs can be activated or deactivated remotely, giving further flexibility in managing electrical devices when you are away.

Energy-efficient space heaters. Electric space heaters have historically been an expensive way to heat since electricity is one of the costlier ways to warm up the house. Still if you have to use one, it may be worth switching to an energy-efficient space heater. Modern units incorporate features like thermostats and timers to be a lot more efficient.

5 Smart Tech Items That Don’t Save You Money

Solar calculators. The charging hassle and minimal cost savings from a solar calculator make it a tech item that will not save you any money in the long run. Battery-powered calculators are very energy-efficient and cost-effective. Their batteries last many years and replacements are usually in inexpensive AA or AAA sizes. A solar calculator will save a few dollars on batteries every few years, but the hassle of keeping it charged is unlikely to be worth the cost savings. After all, most of us hardly ever use a calculator outdoors on a sunny day.

New smartphones. Upgrading to a new phone is always fun and exciting. The novelty wears off after a few days, however, while the payments often last years. At the current level of phone technology, improvements in the latest models are mostly incremental. A better camera or slightly more storage is unlikely to make the new phone significantly better in your actual usage. You may want to skip over a few models and upgrade your phone only every three years instead of annually.

[See: 10 Steps to Cut the Cable Cord.]

Renting a router or modem. Paying a regular fee to rent a router or modem from your internet service provider can cost hundreds of dollars over time. Such devices can be important profit sources for the internet service providers, but you are usually better off buying your own router instead of paying monthly to rent one.

High-end HDMI cables. HDMI is a digital transmission standard, and an expensive HDMI cable generally doesn’t result in better picture over an inexpensive HDMI cable. The picture either makes it or not as HDMI’s digital ones and zeroes do not degrade. Therefore the picture quality of an expensive $200 HDMI cable is the same as that of a $10 cable.

In-dash GPS navigation and traffic subscriptions. In many premium cars, in-dash GPS navigation is an expensive option, costing hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars up front when you purchase the car. And you often have to pay extra for a subscription for traffic information for an in-dash GPS navigation unit. In-dash GPS navigation is a waste of money given that navigation software is available for free on modern smartphones. Plus, traffic information is usually incorporated in phone-based navigation, saving you even more compared to an in-dash unit.

More from U.S. News

11 Expenses Destroying Your Budget

8 Big Budgeting Blunders — and How to Fix Them

10 Big Ways to Boost Your Budget — Without Skimping on Your Daily Latte

5 Smart Tech Items That Save You Money — and 5 That Don’t originally appeared on usnews.com