Whether it's the price of the devices themselves, the phone or broadband bills that come with them, or even just the cost of powering the things - there's a lot about tech that is a drain on our wallets.

However there are ways to make your tech work for you as you try to save money.

Many of these things are completely free, too, and even where investment is required - the return will come fairly quickly.

It may not come close to shielding you from the current wave of price rises - but it will help to soften the blow.

After all, every small step taken to save means there's more money staying in your pocket each week.

What are the free tech tools that will help us to save money?

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The first thing that people are always told to do when trying to save is to draw up a budget.

It’s not sexy, but it's really the only way of knowing where your money is going, how much you have left to play with after the essentials are covered, and where you might be able to make savings.

There's nothing wrong with doing that on pen and paper, of course, but it can get messy very quickly. You might also like to use a spreadsheet on the likes of Excel, if you're that way inclined, but you need to have a handle on the software to do that properly.

So a far easier option is to use one of the many budgeting apps that exist for smartphones and tablets.

They do all of the hard work for you, and they tend to do a better job of visualising your budget, so you can see what's going on and where you're at, at a glance. It's also right on your phone, so it's much easier to track and monitor your spending as it happens.

And some of these apps can even connect to your bank account, if you want them to, so they can automatically track what you have and what you spent.

It is the case that many budgeting apps require a subscription fee for some of the features, or they're only free to use for a trial period. But there are some good, free options out there.

One example is Daily Budget - which is full of great features at no cost.

There is a paid-for upgrade option, but the features it adds are just nice extras rather than essentials, so you don't need to pay if you don't want to.

So you have your budget done up – what’s next?

Well now it's about trying to find ways to shave whatever you can off your spending. And there are lots of apps out there to help you do that.

TooGoodToGo and Olio are two apps that are primarily focused on reducing food waste, but they can save you money too.

TooGoodToGo lets shops, cafés and restaurants sell surplus - but still perfectly fine - food at a steep discount.

You can see what's available nearby, place an order and collect it minutes later.

The catch is that you don't know exactly what you're going to get - but the shop you’re buying from will help to give you an idea.

This could serve as a way of getting a cheaper meal here and there, or even some fresh baked goods for the next few days.

Olio, meanwhile, allows people to offer their own surplus items - be it food or household goods - to people in their neighbourhood.

It means you can share items that you know you won't be able to use.

But you'll also find that a lot of what's offered is also coming from Tesco, because it partners with the app to make its own surplus-but-in-date food available to people for free at the end of a day.

When it comes to supermarkets, if you're a member of one of the grocery chains' loyalty schemes, they all have apps now. Using them makes it easier to ensure you have whatever coupons or vouchers they're offering on hand when you're at the till.

There are also apps like Vouchercloud that pull together the various offers and vouchers being offered by different retailers around the country.

The key to getting the most out of a voucher is to only use them on things you're already planning to buy. If you go looking for something to buy because you have a coupon, you're not saving money.

But if you've a purchase planned, it's worth checking these apps to see if there's a voucher that will help bring down the cost a little bit.

And when you're making a big purchase another app to check out is Pricespy – which is a price comparison service.

They don't do Irish-specific comparisons anymore, but you can still see the UK or mainland Europe comparisons, which will generally be available to Irish consumers too.

What if you're trying to stop yourself from spending money online?

One of the curses of tech is that it has made it far too easy to spend money.

But, again, you can turn it to your advantage to try to reduce that urge.

Of course nothing is going to replace good, old-fashioned self control - but you can take steps to make the task that bit easier.

For example, most new-ish smartphones have built-in features around 'Screen Time', which are designed to make it easier for people to limit the amount of time they spend looking at their phone, or specific apps.

Within that you can set restrictions on the amount of time you can spend on an app - or put restrictions on the time of day you use it.

So if you know you're prone to a bit of impulse shopping in the evening, you can set a time block on the shopping apps, or even the internet browser on your phone or tablet.

That won't completely block you from accessing it – but it will force you to click past a little reminder in order to get in, and it will regularly remind you that you've set a limit on using the app.

Think of it as a little nudge encouraging you to do the right thing.

If you want to go a step further you can even set up your phone so that certain apps disappear from your home screen at certain times of the day, or when you're in certain locations.

You can do this through the 'focus' setting on an iPhone, for example.

Again, it won't delete the app altogether - it just hides it from view, and you have to go looking for it if you want to use it.

It's all about trying to make it that little bit more awkward to spend money.

Energy bills are the big concern for many now – can tech help at all there?

Yes, there are a couple of ways you can use tech to cut your bills. Some are cheap, or even free, and even when you're spending money you should get a return on investment fairly quickly.

A smart thermostat is a great example of that - it works like a normal thermostat, triggering your boiler when the temperature in a room falls below a certain level - but the 'smart' bit can help to make your heating system far more efficient.

For a start you can control it through your phone or tablet, so it's much easier to adjust the temperature and set up schedules to suit your needs.

So whatever about the advice of lowering your thermostat by a degree, you could now adjust it by the day or the hour so you're really only using what you need.

And because it's controlled by phone you can also set it remotely - you could even set it up to turn off the heating altogether when no-one is home, but turn on when you're on the way back, so you won't be coming back to a freezing house.

The thermostats themselves can cost €100-200, depending on the brand, but it's worth checking with your utility company first. That's because most of the big providers here offer discounted, or even free smart thermostats to customers.

Some also offer them as incentives to people switching over which, as we know, is something people should be doing regularly anyway.

Failing that, you may be eligible for an SEAI grant for heating controls upgrades, depending on what you currently have - that's up to €700 towards the cost.

And if you want to go whole-hog on this there are systems that will let you add remote controllers to every radiator in your house, so you can manage the heat on a room-by-room basis without getting off the couch.

That will cost a lot of money, though, so it's not going to save you money in the short-term.

Is it just smart heating that can save you money?

No - you can also save money with smart lighting.

For a start, smart lights are generally LEDs, which are the most efficient type of lighting.

They use about 14% of the energy of the supposedly eco-friendly halogen bulbs that are generally available in shops.

So if it costs you a bit over €18 a year to use an eco-halogen for an average of three hours a day through the year, an LED will cost you about €3.

They also last a lot longer - well over ten years, even if you have them on for half the day, every day.

But where the smart lights can add to your savings is in the fact that, once again, they can be controlled from your phone and remotely.

That means you don't have to traipse around the house to make sure the lights are out - you can just glance at your phone and switch off what you don’t need from your couch.

If you have a smart speaker in the house you can even tell it to turn the lights on or off, so you can be very lazy while still saving money.

They're also dimmable - even if you don’t have a dimmer switch - so you can use a bit less energy even when they are on.

And they're really easy to set up on a schedule – maybe automating a light so that it only comes on at sunset, or goes off at midnight. You can even link them to motion detectors, so they go on or off depending on whether someone is actually in the room.

A €15 saving per year, per bulb may not seem huge - but if you multiply that across the 10, 15 or maybe more bulbs across a house, it quickly becomes a €100-200 saving from an annual bill.

And there's an added benefit to using them beyond money.

Because as we head into the winter, and the longer nights, they give an extra bit of peace of mind by letting you to turn lights on and off in the house remotely, so you can make it look like there’s someone home even if you're out.

What about the cost?

This is where it gets a bit tricky - because there’s a huge variety in price depending on the brand and bulb type; you can also opt for white only bulbs, or bulbs that can also give you various different colours.

The ones made by the likes of Philips are on the pricier side - but Ikea do a range that start at €8 a bulb, so only a few euro more than an equivalent, "dumb" bulb.

The advice would be to move over to smart bulbs as your old ones burn out, so you're not wasting money by throwing out bulbs that are working fine at the moment.

It's recommended that you also stick with recognisable brands.

There are a lot of cheap options available online but they may not be particularly well-made, and if you have to replace them after a year or two it really undermines whatever savings you hope to make.

Anywhere else we can smarten up our homes?

Another potential energy-saver are smart plugs. These work like those old timer plugs that have a dial on them, only with these you - once again - control them through your phone.

This means you can set up an on/off schedule – or you can just turn them on or off through an app, as you need them.

These may be particularly useful for those devices that drain away power when in standby mode – the so-called electricity vampires, like your TV, microwave or games console that are said to cost households somewhere in the region of €180-200 a year.

They can be easy to forget about - or maybe the plug is just a little awkward to get to - but if you’ve a few of these you can have them all switch off in the push of a button.

Some of the fancier smart plugs can even track the amount of energy being drawn through them, so it might help if you're trying to pinpoint which device is adding the most to your bill.