Want A Smart Home 5 Reasons To Get Started Nowand How

Want A Smart Home 5 Reasons To Get Started Nowand How

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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 our Smart Home Guide—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.

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 a survey by Houzz, 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.

This smart washer saves on your water bills.

This smart washer saves on your water bills.

Reason No. 3: Smart homes save you time and stress

It's time for the fun part: Smart homes make life easier!

“A lot of people don’t want to have to lift a finger around the house,” says Tom Flanagan, founder of Real Estate Things, a blog about real estate technology. And many aspects of this Jetsons-style fantasy are actually within reach.

For instance, rather than needing to schlep across the room to turn on your stereo, you can just tell a smart speaker (like Amazon Echo or Google Home) to play your favorite tunes. And since these speakers also work as virtual assistants, you can ask them for the weather forecast, or how many teaspoons are in a cup in the midst of cooking, or to add toilet paper to your shopping list.

Granted, all these little tasks might not seem like much hassle individually, but they add up, and they're just the beginning. These Wi-Fi-enabled smart speakers can also act as smart home hubs, enabling various smart gadgets to speak to one another (i.e., your smart alarm clock can wake you up and turn on your smart coffee maker, while your smart fridge can sense you're out of eggs and add that to your grocery list). It's no wonder, then, that according to a survey by Houzz, one-third of Americans who'd recently purchased a home plan to add some form of automation.

Reason No. 4: Smart home gadgets aren't as hard to install as you might think

You don’t have to be tech-savvy to install most smart home products.

“They’re made to be user-friendly,” says Austin-based home technology expert Stacey Higginbotham. Many offer online instruction videos, and you might not even have to pick up a drill, since many operate wirelessly (like Arlo Pro's Security System with Siren below, $201.45 at Amazon).

Arlo Pro's security cameras are wireless—and easy to set up.
Arlo Pro's security cameras are wireless—and easy to set up.


Reason No. 5: Smart homes are easier to sell

When you eventually sell your home, smart devices can pay off in a number of ways. According to Consumer Reports, smart home features can boost your home’s resale value by up to 5%—that's $15,000 on a $300,000 home. Research also shows that home appraisers are beginning to factor in the value of tech features.

Victor DeFrisco Headshot
Phone: 561-951-3759
Dated: May 17th 2017
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