Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

Six of the best money-savers

By Staff Reporter

The final Bank Holiday is almost here so take the 'bank' theme literally and use these gadgets to save money.

Plug it in

D-LINK DSP-W215 mydlink Home Smart Plug, £32.99, from Currys

Save money on your energy bills, while making your home safer in the process, with this affordable gadget. It connects to your WiFi and all you have to do is pop it directly into an electrical socket. From there, you can control any device that's plugged into it using the accompanying app. If you're out of the house and realise you've left something on, you can turn it off - or the opposite; use as a home security measure - turning lights on and off at set times when you're away. The app also allows you to monitor your energy consumption, which in turn can help cut your bills. One additional benefit to the Home Smart Plug is it comes with a thermal sensor, which will react and turn off the device if the plug is at risk of overheating. So clever.

Drink up

SodaStream Power, £149.99, from

If you're keen on fizzy drinks - especially expensive fizzy water, this gadget will definitely save you money. Granted, this involves an outlay of £149.99 to begin with, but given it's easy to spend at least £1 a day on carbonated drinks, it won't take long to have the Sodastream pay for itself. Unlike its previous incarnations, the latest SodaStream plugs in. This means, rather than "pumping" the device to create your bubbly drink, you simply press one button, having chosen from three options, ranging from lightly sparkling to "intensely bubbly". You can buy mixers for it, too, and save money on bottles of fizzy pop.

On your bike

Carrera Cross-fire-E, £999.99, from

It's not the product here that's money saving, but the costs associated with it. Electric bikes bridge the gap between bicycles and mopeds. You still control the bike and peddle your way around, but you get a boost of electric power when needed. However, like peddling up a hill before admitting defeat (something you won't have to do now), the prices of the bikes can be too steep for many. If your company is signed up to the Government's Cycle to Work scheme - which sees you save up to 42% on the cost of bikes - you could save serious bucks on one of the latest models. The Crossfire-E, which only requires charging every 70 miles, is £999.99 by Halfords, priced to qualify for the scheme. Depending on your tax and NIC rate, that could reduce the cost of the bike to £580.

Look after the pennies

Glowing Coin Counting Money Jar, £5.95, from

Take the money-saving theme literally and spend £5.95 on this great gizmo; a take on the humble piggy bank. Whenever you find spare change, pop it in this jar and it automatically tots up how much money you've fed into it, displaying the amount on an LCD screen. However, to make it extra enticing - especially for younger savers - every time you pop a coin in, the large jar will shine brightly in various colours. You'll need three AA batteries, but then you're good to go.

Coffee on demand

Smarter Coffee, £179.99, available for pre-order from

Are you guilty of calling into your favourite coffee shop on a daily basis and splashing out on a pricey brew? This could be the time and money saver that you've been waiting for. Okay, the initial outlay is £179.99, but if you spend £3 a day on your caffeine fix, you'll be saving money within a few months. So what's different about this coffee maker? And are you really more likely to actually use it? Well, it can be controlled via an app. So, when you wake up and are lying in bed, you can just reach for your phone and by the time you're downstairs and racing out the door, your coffee will be ready and waiting for you. It makes one to 12 cups at a time and you can tailor it to your tastes.

Feel the heat

Nest Thermostat, £249 (including professional installation), from

As summer fades and we turn up the heating, our energy bills rise. For this reason, the Nest Learning Thermostat appeals. It learns from your behaviours, ie, the temperature you like and the hours you want the heating on, then sets a personalised schedule. Unlike other thermostats, it's unbelievably straightforward to use. In addition to saving money by not warming your home unnecessarily, it comes with an energy-saving function: every time a leaf is displayed on the screen, you'll know you're saving money. You'll be encouraged to lower the temperature a tiny amount to continue saving. There's an auto-away function for holidays and if it gets too cold, it will turn the heating on to reduce the potentially expensive issue of freezing pipes. You can control it remotely and will receive a monthly home report detailing your usage, plus tips to save even more money.

App of the week

Groupon, free from Google Play and iTunes

Money-saving site Groupon isn't just for browsing when you're sat in front of your PC. There's an app for their deals when you're out and about, too. Whether you're out with friends and want to find a restaurant nearby that has a great deal on, or you're commuting and dreaming of a pedicure, you can do it all on the app. It comes with a map so you can see all the Groupon locations near to you, and, once you've decided to snap up an offer you can redeem the voucher immediately, showing it on your phone rather than printing it out.

Top 10 bestselling apps

1. Minecraft - Pocket Edition by Mojang

2. AirReceiver

3. Build Battle: Mini Game by Orgonite Apps

4. Five Nights at Freddy's 4 by Scott Cawthon

5. Plants vs Zombies by PopCap Games

6. Goat Simulator by Coffee Stain Studios

7. Terraria by 505 Games

8. The Chase by Barnstorm Games

9. Soccer Physics by Vector Entertainment

10. Dark Angels: Masquerade of Shadows by Alawar Entertainment Inc.

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