There was a time when adding smart home Tech features was a costly affair available only to the rich and famous. It required not only expensive equipment, but cost-prohibitive expert installation. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. With the rise in smart home popularity, we’ve got a wide range of products at all price points, and you can install most of them yourself.
But even with the decreasing costs (and the potential savings on utility bills), it can be pricey to deck out your whole home in smart home tech all at once. The average consumer will need to prioritize their smart devices purchases. We’ve got some tips to help you think about your priorities as you create your own smart home system.
Devices With Life-Saving Potential
The most obvious place to start is to focus on technology that can protect you and your family from health risks and emergency situations. Here are some key devices to start with:
- Home security systems – Although these have been around for ages, newer security systems are smart and can offer you peace of mind both at home and away with remote monitoring and control. Additionally, a security system can also work seamlessly with other smart devices you may want to add.
- Environmental alert systems – Smoke detectors, CO2 monitors and other air-quality alert systems now have smart technology built in. They can send messages to a cell phone, flash lights, and otherwise alert your family to a dangerous or unhealthy situation. If you’re already planning to upgrade your smoke and CO2 alarms, consider moving to smart versions. The Nest Protect is just one of many smart devices in this category.
- Communication devices – For those of us with aging parents, or even kids who are often home alone, smart communication devices can give peace of mind. If someone is injured and can’t get to a phone, a smart communication device can be voice activated to call for assistance. Two examples are the Amazon Echo, which provides voice communication between households, and the Nucleus, which allows for voice-activated video chatting.
It’s a lot easier to justify new technology if you know it can save you money in the long run. These favorite smart home devices not only help to make your life easier, they are more financially and environmentally friendly as well.
- Thermostats – The biggest bang for your buck in this department may fall with the connected thermostat, especially if you don’t yet have programmable thermostats in the home. They can go well beyond the ability to turn off and on at preset times; they can learn your schedule and your preferences. They can be triggered by your smart car or phone when you leave work and can connect to other home devices like a smart lock or security system, welcoming you home with a more comfortable setting without unnecessary energy use.
- Smart outlets – If you regularly forget to turn off appliances and lights, smart outlets can help. They can be configured to turn off when everyone has left the house, or via the push of a button on a mobile app. Be aware that smart outlets do have a small power draw themselves to allow them to maintain a Wi-Fi connection, so if saving money is your goal, they are best utilized with power-hungry items like your household curling iron. These simple add-ons are also a great replacement for your old-school light timers that turn on or off at certain times.
- Water sensors – If you occasionally have water emergencies in your home, whether due to burst pipes or a high flood plain, a water sensor can alert you quickly to an issue before you incur costly damage. These inexpensive little devices will send a text message to alert you to high levels of moisture so you can react, whether you’re down the street or halfway around the world.
Time-Savers and Fun Add-Ons
We all know that time is money. This group of devices can save you time, or they might just be an inexpensive way to have fun with your smart home tech system. While they may be the lowest options on the priority list, they offer tons of value.
- Smart light bulbs – As the price on smart light bulbs go down, the features go up. These are a fun way to show off your smart home to friends while also adding some practical devices to your list. Whether automatically setting mood lighting at a dinner party or triggering your lights to turn on as you pull into the driveway, smart bulbs are fun and highly visible smart home options. You can also turn off all the lights in your house with the touch of a button, a great perk for families with a lot of rooms (and forgetful kids).
- Voice assistants – If you’re setting up a DIY smart home installation, you’re going to want a simple and cohesive way to communicate with all of your devices without relying on their individual apps. Use a smart home hub that integrates all devices in an app on your smartphone. You can also use assistants that you control with your voice. Google Home or Amazon Echo are two options for tying everything together with reasonably-priced and easy-to-use voice-activation. As a bonus, they can play music, share the weather, and even tell you a joke. You can also control your smart home features via your TV remote, if your provider is tied to you home security system.
Money Saving Tips
Once you’ve set your own priorities and budget, keep the following in mind when shopping and making your initial smart home tech plan:
- Choose quality over a slightly reduced cost, especially when it comes to the life-saving devices. Tried and true is a good bet here.
- Consider whether a bundle, such as that found with a home security system, may be a more cost-effective choice for your needs.
- Know your limits. Are you able to install this equipment yourself and maintain it? If not, go through a professional service. Saving money on your tech doesn’t do you any good if you aren’t able to use it.
- Look for rebates. Insurance, utility and cable companies often offer incentives for switching to devices that enhance safety and cut down on resource use. You can also find rebates with police and fire departments, as well as local, state and federal government agencies.
After you have your plan in place, enjoy your smart home (and the savings it will bring you). It can be quite easy to Turn your ordinary home into a smart one.
Guest Author Bio: Christy Matte is a mom of two and a Boston-based writer who covers home security for XFINITY Home. She is also a die-hard techie who blogs at QuirkyFusion.com.
The post Smart Home Tech on a Budget: How to Create a Connected Home appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.