What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home is more than a collection of smart devices, and it’s more than a “connected” home. One could live in a house with many smart devices that are connected to the Internet, but that wouldn’t make the home a smart home. If those devices are connected to each other and working in concert to automate a number of the home’s processes, we’re getting closer to a definition of smart home most people can agree with.
What Are Smart Devices, and How Much Do They Cost?
The lights, thermostats, and more that comprise the Internet of Things are called smart devices. A by-no-means complete list of smart devices includes:
Thermostats, which allow you to control your home’s temperature remotely and see your usage for heating and cooling. Price range: approximately $200-$250.
Locks, though which you can control who has access to your home and see when they access your home, even if you’re not on site. Price range: most sell for approximately $200.
Lights, which can be adjusted from your smart phone for comfort and brightness, and which can be set on a schedule. Price range: pretty large; anywhere from $50 to $200.
Plugs, that allow you to control “dumb” objects, as well as monitor energy consumption of anything plugged into them. Price range: most are about $50.
Cameras, which can alert you to intruders, record video, and set off a siren. Price range: between $100 and $200.
Smoke and CO Alarms, which will alert you (on your cell phone) to increased levels of carbon monoxide or the presence of smoke. Price range: about $100
What Are the Benefits of a Smart Home?
The top benefits of a smart home are convenience, energy efficiency, and security:
57 percent of smart device owners say their devices save them time
45 percent of smart device owners report their devices save them money, and
72 percent of smart device owners state their devices make them feel safer
Many consumers install these smart devices to be able to control their lighting with their voice, or to be able to adjust the temperature level of their home from an app on their phone. Some install devices that will open their garage door automatically open as they pull onto their street, or unlock their front door as they approach their house. The goal is to make to make common household tasks more streamlined or automated.
Other consumers enjoy the energy savings of being able automatically disable the costly heating and cooling of their homes when they are away. There is even an entire smart home device category for home energy monitors, which can show real-time energy usage. Knowing your home’s energy profile can help you identify ways to save money.
Motion detectors, smoke and CO detectors, and security cameras can work in concert to alert homeowners that something is amiss in their home. From there, you have the option to alert safety officials in your area. This technology exists today and is continuing to be improved all the time.
What Are the Financial Benefits of Using Smart Home Technology?
Devices: Smart thermostats can easily pay for themselves over time. Nest claimed that use of their smart thermostat results in average savings of 10-12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills. Other manufacturers claim similar benefits.
Insurance: Many insurance companies offer reduced rates for homes that have smart locks, smoke alarms, and security cameras. We’ve seen discounts of up to 15 percent.
Rebates: Gas and electric companies often pay rebates to users of smart thermostats. These rebates can exceed $100 and will cover almost half the price of a new smart thermostat.