These days, technology develops at a staggering pace. Ask any teenager and they’ll be sure to tell you how “old” your current cell phone is… even if you did just get it last year. With advancements in technology comes the ability for home owners to adapt their homes in order to take full advantage of these new products. And while some of the initial setup costs can be a bit on the pricey side, more often than not the gains in energy efficiency will pay off in the long-run. Before you know it, you’ll be pocketing a bit of extra cash when it comes time to pay the utility bills and wondering why you didn’t “smarten up” earlier.
Smart Light Bulbs
Smart lights are probably the easiest of the smart home products to install, and in the case of the color changing Phillips Hue, the most fun of the smart home products. Adjust the brightness, color, intensity and even program them to flash, all with just the swipe of a finger on your smart phone or tablet. Install a few smart bulbs outdoors and change the color to reflect the seasons: green and red at Christmas or orange for Hallowe’en. Most of the bulbs on the market today are LED and incredibly energy efficient; some boast a lifetime of up to 20 years! Think about how many traditional incandescent lightbulbs you’d require over 20 years and then consider your cost savings… you’ll be surprised!
Smart Smoke Detector
Traditional smoke detectors typically shriek at you with that annoying, shrill alarm that makes you jump out of your skin… all because your toast is just a little bit overdone. Install a smart smoke detector and choose how you want to be warned with programmable sounds or voices that don’t panic you even more during an emergency situation. Most smart smoke detectors monitor more than just whether there’s a fire or not, they actually monitor the air quality in your home and report on levels of soot, dust, carbon monoxide and even pollen and allergens. Log in the app on your phone, tablet or computer and get a report on the quality of air in your home and recommendations on how to improve it.
Set it and forget it. Gone are the days of the mercury filled thermostats that you grew up with. With modern smart thermostats, control your homes temperature with the swipe of a finger. The Nest thermostat even learns your habits and adjusts the air temperature accordingly. A smart thermostat knows when you leave and arrive home, what time you go to bed and wake up, and adjusts itself according to your needs and schedules. Want a bit more control? Use the app or log in at the office and find out the exact temperature of your home and adjust to your comfort level. Installing a smart thermostat is one the quickest ways to save on your heating and cooling costs and put more money in your pocket.
Smart Outlets and Adapters
Smart outlets are a relatively inexpensive way to automate your appliances and electronics without having to replace everything you own. Don’t have $400 for a smart crock-pot? Then simply install a smart outlet adapter into your existing electrical outlet and program it to turn on and off when you need it. You can even get motion detecting outlets that power on devices as you approach them (think getting up in the middle of the night without having to fumble for the lamp cord). Don’t want the kids wasting their summer vacation in front of the television? Replace the existing power outlet with a new smart outlet (or have an electrician do it for you if you’re not electrically savvy) and program when the TV receives power.
Now this is smart. Replace the deadbolt on all entry doors to the house with new smart locks and never worry about forgetting your house key again. Smart locks can be programmed to automatically lock when you turn the house lights off or when you go to bed; unlock when you wake up or even unlock as it senses you and your smart phone walking up the front path. Some smart locks have a “guest feature” that allows you to program and monitor when the neighbor comes over to water the plants and feed the cat when you’re on vacation.
Speaking of being on vacation, ever have that moment of panic, when you're sitting on some tropical beach, and suddenly wonder if you remembered to lock the back door? Don’t worry! Just log in to the app or a computer and lock all the doors with the touch of an icon. Find out anywhere you are when the kids get home safe from school by programming the deadbolt to send you a quick text when they punch in their code to the front door.
While there are many more options for introducing smart technology to your home, and creating a more energy efficient and safe environment, these are just a few simple additions that you can do yourself. Most of these add-ons can be done with the tools you have at hand and can be purchased at your local electronics store or ordered online direct from the retailer. Oh, and in case you were wondering, there is such a thing as a smart crock-pot.