How to make your home a smart home (and save money in the process)

When you think of being smart, you probably picture your high school valedictorian or Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. But, it’s much more versatile a word than that. You can dress smart, be street smart, invest smart money, eat smart food, or even act like a smart aleck. You know what else can be smart? Your home. And it won’t take the cost of a college education to get it there. In fact, it might even save you some cash in the long run.

A smart home is a living space that is equipped with any number of appliances, heating, air conditioning, lighting, electronics, cameras, computers, and security systems that are connected via wi-fi or Bluetooth, can communicate with one another, and can be controlled remotely.

Right now, smart technology is all the rage in the digital world. It improves safety, accessibility, control, and a level of efficiency that can ultimately lead to increased savings and lower upkeep costs. It’s the future of home automation, so let’s get to work on the ABCs of smart technology. Relax. We’ll bring your home up to date in no time!


Smart assistant platforms

Amazon Echo and Google Home are today’s leading voice-control platforms. They each have their own advantages so you can decide which is best for you. Functionality wise, they’ll let you search the internet, set alarms, make to-do or shopping lists, stream music and podcasts, tell you the weather, give you traffic updates, make phone calls, and more! Your voice assistant will also let you control any of your connected smart devices by voice command.

Smart locks

Whether you’re fumbling for your keys, leaving one under the mat, or even racing home to double check the iron, a smart lock will make your life easier and your home safer. Smart locks, like the Nest x Yale lock or the August Smart Lock, allow you to remotely control entry into your home and eliminate the need for physical keys. You can create unique codes that track who, when, and which entrance is used. You’ll also be able to pair it with a smart doorbell, a video surveillance camera, and your security system.

Smart cameras

Day or night, wouldn’t you like to know who’s wandering around the outside of your home? Maybe it’s a burglar, or maybe it’s you’re neighbor’s dog. A surveillance camera that detects motion, zooms closer to the activity, provides video, and captures snapshots is your first line of defense. An indoor model will let you chat with your pet during the day, and watch the kids arrive home after school–all from the convenience of your smartphone. Check out the popular Nest or the Arlo Pro 2 family of security cameras.

Interactive doorbells, like the Nest Hello, offer the same type of security at your doorstep. Whether it’s a person or a package, whether you’re home or away, you’ll be able to see who or what’s at your front door. As a bonus, you’ll be able to say goodbye to army crawling across the floor when the doorbell rings. One app on your phone will let you see, talk to, and record front porch visitors and improve your home’s security.

Smart plugs

With the smallest of gadgets, you can even raise the IQ of your electrical outlets. Use a smart plug in an outlet, and it’ll bring automation to any appliance or device it powers. Plug your Keurig into a smart plug, and you’ll be able to turn it on before you get out of bed. With either voice control or your mobile device, you can turn on your crockpot, set an on/off schedule for your lights, or turn off the iron after you’ve left the house. Whether near or far, any electrical device can be under your control. Check out both the standard and the mini Belkin Wemo and TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plugs.

Smart thermostats

Your heating and cooling bills make a significant contribution to your monthly household expenses. Install a smart thermostat and not only will it help you live more comfortably, but it’ll also automatically save you money. The Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, will learn your temperature habits and preferences and adjust as needed. It’ll also sense whether people are in the house and, if not, switch to Eco mode to conserve energy. Ecobee4 is another intelligent thermostat that can detect the number of homebodies and regulate the temperature for maximum efficiency.

Smart bulbs

Energy efficient bulbs have graduated to smart bulbs. They’ll still conserve energy and save money, but you’ll also be able to control them from your smart device. Turn them on, off, and dim them through voice command or remotely from your smartphone. Light up a room or create different moods with the variety of available hues. Set up motion sensors and Philips Hue bulbs will automatically light your way when you get up for a midnight snack. Gone are the days of stepping on that random Lego piece. LIFX bulbs will be a less expensive option since they only require a wi-fi connection and don’t require a starter kit, which can be costly.

A smart home isn’t necessarily born overnight, or over the weekend for that matter. It’s easy to start small and gradually add more features. Consider what’s most important or what conveniences you value most and begin there. Once you realize the benefits, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!

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