You’ve probably heard the term “smart home” a lot lately. After all, almost half of Americans now own some type of smart home technology, according to a recent survey by Coldwell Banker. Nonetheless, most of us have barely scratched the surface of all the options out there for boosting our homes’ IQ. Frankly, some of us might find all that tech a tad intimidating, or maybe just don’t think it’s that useful. And for those on the fence, it’s hard to know where to get started. Well, we’re here to help!
Welcome to The Connected Home—a series of articles where we help you navigate this brave new world, from smart security systems to thermostats to kitchens and beyond. We’ll help you cut through the white noise and tell you in simple terms which gadgets are worth getting, why, and what it’ll cost to set them up in your home.
In this first installment, let’s take a step back and highlight all the ways smart products can make your home a better place—by saving money, time, headaches, and other hassles.
Reason No. 1: Smart homes are safer
Homes should be our safe space, and an array of smart home devices can help ensure that. In fact, one survey by August Home found that 63% of consumers cite home security as the biggest motivation to buy a smart home device.
The most obvious smart home security devices to use are cameras that detect break-ins; they can also be serviced by companies that can further assess the danger and send the police rushing to your door. But burglars aside, smart home devices can detect an array of other threats: smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, moisture levels (important if you’re concerned about leaks or flooding), radon, and so much more. Smart locks can also be locked or unlocked from afar, removing the hassles of lost keys and pricey locksmiths.
Even better, most smart home security products won’t drain your wallet as much as you might think. According to Houzz’s 2016 Smart Home Trends Survey, the majority of smart home security upgraders (76%) spend just $1,500 or less on these features.
Reason No. 2: Smart homes save money
Want to slash your home’s energy bills? That can easily be done with smart thermostats like those from Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee, which can perceive how many people are in a room and adjust the temperature accordingly, and also allow you to make adjustments remotely, with your phone.
According to a Nest study, the company’s smart thermostat saved consumers on average 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Based on typical energy costs, that translates to an average savings of $131 to $145 a year, which would mean this smart device (which costs $249) can pay for itself in less than two years.
Because smart thermostats are fairly cheap (Honeywell’s costs $159) and boast a clear payoff, they’re a great way to start smartening up your home. If you’re ready to broaden your home’s budget-friendly amenities, consider smart lighting, smart dishwashers or laundry machine. Sure, these items are more expensive—Kenmore’s Smart 5.2 cubic foot front-load washer costs $1,290 (on Amazon), more than double the same-sized model without smart features—but they’ll save you money down the road by conserving heat and water.
According to Consumer Reports, water-efficient laundry machines use about 13 gallons or less for an 8-pound load—half the 26 gallons sucked down by a regular washer.