Smart home disaster stories aren’t too difficult to find online. However, don’t let these discourage you from taking the plunge. As a starting point, consider the following smart home solutions. Each is practical and relatively inexpensive. Some will even help you save money.
Save Energy and Money
One of the most popular smart home devices remains the Nest Thermostat (CA, UK) ($249), which first arrived on the scene nearly five years ago. Now owned by Google, this smart device offers one immediate benefit to homeowners: it will help lower your energy costs.
Central to all that Nest can do is its ability to monitor your coming and goings. As such, it can place anything from air conditioners and fans to heating units on “away” status whenever you leave your home. When you’re away from home, you can instruct the unit to turn devices off or adjust the temperature, thereby saving you a lot of money on day one.
Nest says that independent studies have shown that the device saves homeowners an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills.
That’s just one of the ways you can benefit from installing Nest. There are many other ways as well.
Installing a Nest thermostat is relatively straightforward since it works with your home’s existing wiring. You can also find a Nest thermostat professional installer online.
Switches, Plugs, and Motion Detectors
If you want to save money on your energy costs but can’t afford Nest, consider the WeMo Insight Switch (CA/UK) ($49), which connects your home appliances and electronic devices to your Wi-Fi network. In doing so, it allows you to turn devices on and off remotely, and even create rules and custom schedules so that appliances are only running when you want them to run.
As its name suggests, the WeMo Insight Switch has another trick up its sleeve. It provides insight on how much energy devices in your home consume by sending energy and cost reports right to your phone, courtesy of the WeMo app. Better still: it provides tools for saving lots of cash on your next energy bill. Finding the power hogs in your home has never been easier.
Setting up a WeMo Insight Switch is pain-free. Download the WeMo app and plug the switch into an outlet. Connect the switch to your Wi-Fi network and follow the onscreen instructions to complete the installation. Now turn your home electronics/appliances on or off from anywhere.
Another switch worth considering is the GE In-Wall Smart Switch (CA) (various models starting at around $40). With this product, you can turn your lights on/off from your smart devices, and also trigger your lights when certain events occur. For example, when someone opens a door or leaves a room. The switch also plays nice with ceiling fans, which can turn on/off depending on the temperature of the room.
Motion detectors are a growing subsection of the smart home industry. These serve various functions including the ability to monitor whether doors, windows, cabinets, or your garage are open or closed. They also have the capacity to monitor movement in your home. The benefit here is that you can make sure that individual devices switch off whenever you leave a room or home.
Products that monitor movement are typically part of a large smart home solution, but not always. The popular Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit (CA) ($249), for example, includes a motion detector, hub, multipurpose sensors, and an outlet. By contrast, the Canary (CA/UK) ($179) and Withings Home (CA/UK) ($199) provide all-in-one home security systems.
Looking for a less expensive solution? Consider the iSmartAlarm Wireless Motion Sensor (UK) ($35), which detects suspicious movement and provides instant notifications via your smartphone. The D-Link DCH-S150 mydlink Wi-Fi Smart Motion Sensor (CA/UK) ($34) performs similar tasks.
Think of the many ways smart switches and motion detectors could save you money:
- Turning bathroom lights off when your teen leaves the room, turning those lights on when you enter the room at night.
- Cellar lights that turn off when completing laundry.
- Garage lights that turn off automatically on a cold, winter night.
Smart Plugs are also growing in popularity. These are devices that plug into an ordinary outlet. Instead of plugging your appliance into the wall, for example, you’d plug it into the smart plug.
The benefit is controlling the smart plug remotely. Some plugs are even programmable so that they automatically turn on or off depending on certain timers or events.
Among the smart plugs worth considering are the Amcrest Wi-Fi Smart Plug (CA) ($26), iHome Wi-Fi Smart Plug ($36), and the Nyrius Smart Outlet (CA) ($15). As you can see, these too are low-cost solutions that can help you save money from the time of installation.
The Misfit Beddit Sleep Monitor (CA/UK) ($80) provides insights into your nightly sleep habits. The band, which is placed directly on your mattress under the sheets, measures sleep cycles and quality by tracking respiration, heart rate, movement, snoring, and ambient sound.
The information the Beddit Sleep Monitor gathers transmits to your smartphone, where you can view vital statistics and sleep graphs on the free Misfit app.
The smartphone-free Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light With Colored Sunrise Simulation (CA/UK) ($138) is also worth considering. The stationary light gradually wakes you up beginning at 30 minutes before your set wake up time.
Another non-smartphone solution is the Drift-Light (CA/UK) ($30). Unlike the Philips Wake-Up Light, the Drift Light focuses on making the start of your sleep better. During a short period, the Drift Light slowly dims to help promote relaxation and an increase in melatonin. This combination makes you more relaxed before sleep.
Not every smart home solution is expensive. Many, as you can see above, don’t even require a hub. Instead, they work independently via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. When looking for a smart home solution, make sure you answer two simple questions. First, do you need it? Second, will it help you either save money or make your life better? If you can answer “yes” to both of these questions, go for it.
What smart home solutions have you been thinking about implementing in your home?