Smart home and home automation products are penetrating our bedroom, kitchen and living rooms at increasing speed. However, even with recent surge and popularisation of voice control products, the benefits of automation are not clear to many. Almost 40% of consumers stated lack of understanding how smart home products work as second most frequent reason not buy.
This article looks at details at three biggest smart home benefits and how you can use those for your home. It is important to note different people will have different priorities and the most important benefits for them as well. For example, the families with kids will probably look more into safety aspect, house owners in Europe will be concerned with heating costs and city folks will want to make their life more comfortable. A good thing is that smart home devices can cover any of those needs if you know how to select and configure them to your needs.
This is the most easily measurable benefit and nowadays we can save on heating, electricity water bills easily.
Pay 30% less for heating
Smart heating devices are giving by far the best return on investment across any smart home products. Heating is a significant part of monthly spend for many of us. In the US depending on the type of fuel used, households spend somewhere between $650 to $1600 to heat their home in the winter. To reduce that, you can install a smart thermostat and avoid heating your house when you are away and even control each room separately.
There are two types of thermostats – single and zoned. Zoned thermostats can control multiple zones (rooms) separately.
For a flat, we recommending installing a single thermostat, which will cost you $200 for a device and $200 for installation. A third generation of the smart thermostats pioneer Nest can not only learn and adapt heating to your lifestyle but also easy to control and beautiful
For houses, a zoned thermostat is the best option. It will cost you between $300 – $600 for thermostat/TRVs and starting from $300 for installation (you can also do a lot your self), but rest assured it will make your home climate more comfortable while paying off itself very quickly. We have two recommended products – a very powerful EvoHome from Honeywell or basic but reliable Wiser from Drayton (see a detailed review of zoned thermostats)
Save up to 20% of your electricity bill
Depending on the size of the house we spend around $30-80 for electricity monthly. This can be reduced by at least 20% by not having lights on when we do not need them or devices not being used. A key thing in adopting light and power control devices is to have a good smart hub to establish automation rules (like switch off all lights at night or when I am not at home) (see a review of smart hubs) with smart sensors to help with that. For example, in my house, I barely touch light switches and presence detection help to avoid any unnecessary waste of electricity when I am at work or sleeping
You can smarten your lights by either installing smart bulbs or changing your switches. We recommend the latter as a more practical choice although at the cost of some functionality (bulbs can change color, brightness and color temperature). For bulbs, our recommendation is to go for TP-Link (see a detailed review) and for switches – Sonoff.
Stop wasting water (and money)
Water is a scarce resource but we are not treating it as it is. A ton of water (and money) is spent on watering lawns and smart tech can make it more efficient. The current smart watering system can not only amend the schedule depending on when it rained last but even take into account the weather forecast. This can reduce the water bill by up to 50% while keeping your garden healthy. And also they are relatively easy to install and maintain. Our recommendation is the second generation of Rachio Smart Lawn Sprinkler as the most reliable solution that can integrate into the most other smart home hubs.
Another water-related device you should install is the water leaking sensor and shut off valve. Leakage in kitchen or utility room is one of the most often claimed accidents in home insurance and involves very lengthy claims and renovation process. It is much easier to install a couple of leak sensors and shut off valve on your mains so your smart home can react and save you from all the hassle. Our recommendation is Dome Water Shut-Off Valve and Aeotec Water Sensor.
Secure your home
Physical security of our homes is key for your peace of mind. This is not only relevant when we are at home, but especially when we are away. Smart home devices can allow you always be aware of what is going on in your home, control your locks remotely and set up a smart alarm solution that notifies if any windows or doors are opened.
Always see what is going on at your house
Wireless cameras are getting less expensive (under $100) and can now cover all important entry points to your house. You can also use them to see what your dog is up to and look after a nanny with your kid. Installation is as easy as plug and play with many easy solutions offering apps that would notify you if any motion and offer free cloud storage.
Remotely control who can enter your house
Smart locks allow you to lock and unlock the doors remotely; check if your doors are open or not and track who and when opened the doors last. There are many practical uses of this. For example, you do not need to worry about giving the keys to your cleaner or carry a key with you at all. Important to note that you need to check with your home insurance company first before installing the locks.
Get notified of unauthorized entry
Another good idea is to cover all the doors and windows with sensors so you can arm your house and get notified if anybody tried to enter your house. You can also set-up an intelligent presence control so your smart home can arm and disarm your house without any of your actions.
Make your life more comfortable
We do many things in our life that we rather not. This is especially relevant for house chores. Smart home products producers know that and offer a range of products to help you to enjoy your life.
Never touch a wall switch again
We got used to doing some things dozen times a day and even those small things cost us energy, time and effort. Switching on and off lights is one of those things. Imagine that you never need to touch your wall switch again and lights would switch on as soon as you enter the room and switch off when you left saving you money. This is easy to do now and you do not need to have good DIY skills for that. You can change smart bulbs within five minutes (our favourite is TRÅDFRI IKEA bulb – $29). If you want a bit more cost effective solution and have a neutral wire in your switch box, go for TP-Link Kasa switch $28)
Let your smart home open your blinds
Are you tired of opening blinds in the morning and closing them in the evening every day? You can now install smart blinds like Link Shades Wifi (~$200 per window) and forget about it forever. The majority of motorized blinds can automatically open with the sun, easy to integrate to your smart hubs and simple to retrofit to any horizontal blinds. See more detailed motorized blinds review.
… and robots your vacuum cleaning
Do you like vacuuming? Many of us not. It is boring, loud and not fulfilling a true human purpose. Thankfully we have robot vacuum cleaners for that now. At the cost of just over $200, you can schedule it clean your house while you are away. As the bonus, you cat can ride the thing as well. If you have two floors, you can just move it to the next floor next day. Our recommendation is the iRobot Roomba 690 for the best balance of reliability and value for money.