Smart plugs fit right into an existing electrical outlet and add a few simple features.
The first is remote control. Most smart plugs talk to your Wifi system, and use a free smartphone app to control the plug. From the app you can set timers, schedules and remotely turn the plug on and off–from the couch or from an Internet cafe in the Ukraine. Two highly rated plugs that include these basic features are the Kasa ($15-19) and the Gosund Mini ($33).
A few smart plugs also include energy monitoring. If you would like to know how much energy a particular device or appliance is using, you can track that with a full-featured smart plug. Smart plugs with energy monitoring include the highly rated Eufy Mini ($23) and the Wemo Insight ($44).
As a final thought, most smart plugs are standard 110-volt power. But the really big users in most homes–like clothes dryers and refrigerators–are 220-volt plugs, which have differently shaped prongs. At this time, we have no 220-volt smart plugs to recommend. But if you’re really into monitoring your energy usage at the device level, we should talk about the Sense meter.