Can a ‘Smart Home’ Upgrade Save You Money?

by Beth Kotz on March 20, 2017

smart house home automation device with app icons. Man uses his tablet PC with smarthome app to control his house. the new generation of the internet of things.

If you’re an eager DIY expert, you’re already on your way to saving money. You likely have a running list of mini home makeovers you want to get started on as soon as the snow melts. Spring home improvement projects typically include an inspection of the drains and gutters, roof repairs, and some general indoor cleaning, but this year it might be smart to add some new items to the tally.

When looking for new ways to cut costs, you may not think to look into home automation technology. For years, many of these devices simply weren’t worth the steep price of entry. However, the arrival of increasingly sophisticated voice-controlled products and improvements in affordability are bringing this trend to the forefront of more people’s minds.

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Photo Courtesy of Slash Gear

Energy – perhaps surprisingly – is the first place to look for smart home savings. Today’s smart thermostat models will actually learn your habits and turn your HVAC equipment on and off when appropriate to maintain comfy temperatures with no need for you to manually intervene. Of course, you can change the settings whenever you desire, including from afar using your smartphone. Nest has deployed an innovative platform called “Time of Savings” for its popular Learning Thermostat. Customers who sign up for this service will see their energy usage change to avoid consuming electricity at times of day when their utility suppliers charge higher rates.

Almost everyone outfits his or her residence with a variety of appliances, from washers and dryers to refrigerators and lights. The new generation of smart appliances offer an additional avenue for energy savings because they can configure themselves to act with greater efficiency. There are now refrigerators that monitor and adjust their interior temperatures by themselves and lights that dim and brighten as you walk to different rooms. By only turning themselves on when necessary, these gadgets cut down on amount of electricity they expend.

The expense of replacing all your home accessories with smarter equivalents is probably too high, but you can take steps to improve the performance of your existing devices. Installing smart outlets and switches will prevent certain electronic items, like your television and Blu-ray player, from drawing vampire power from your system while not in use.

Man installing alternative energy photo-voltaic solar panels on roof

Solar panels have long been identified by forward-looking enthusiasts as a replacement for current carbon-intensive processes, but the technology has been too expensive and impractical for everyday purposes. This is changing, however, as photovoltaic cells have become better and their price has come down. You can contact any of a number of firms to set up a solar energy solution at your location, and you might even be able to get the equipment at zero upfront cost. Smart solar arrays permit you to oversee overall system operation from your computer or smart device and cut your electric bills by about 30 percent.

Smart security functions primarily mean a greater peace of mind and enhanced levels of convenience. You can install a simple doorbell camera to see who is out there at your entryway, and a smart alarm system will keep you notified in case of fire or intrusion. While these features by themselves won’t do much to cut costs directly, they keep the rest of your property safe from harm and thus spare you the expense of having to purchase replacements or seek outside assistance in case of an emergency.

A well-integrated, smoothly running home automation setup could raise the market value of your house significantly, but there are a few stumbling blocks you’ll need to avoid. It’s important to select products and software that work well together because you want every piece of the whole to be accessible and controllable through the same interface. This can be challenging because of the wide array of proprietary standards being used by different suppliers.

Data privacy is also an issue because of a large amount of personally sensitive information this equipment tends to transmit. You can safeguard yourself by updating the units in question whenever new software is available from the manufacturer and always change your usernames and passwords from their factory defaults.

Whether you’re looking to save money over time or you simply wish to make your property more attractive to buyers, raising your home’s IQ could be a profitable move. Do your homework first, and you’ll find a set of devices that are not only intuitive and easy to manage and cost-efficient too.

This entry was posted under Home Inspiration, Real Estate and tagged , .
Beth Kotz is a business writer and contributor to Credit.com. She has also been featured as a writer and editor for numerous blogs in the energy, entertainment and home verticals.

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