Top 5 Ways a Smart(er) Home Can Save You Money
When looking at smart home technology it’s easy to focus on the upfront costs of getting all that cool technology installed. Don’t get us wrong, it’s sensible to think that way! Unless you’re a bajillionaire and money is no object, it’s good to have a budget and stick to it.
That being said, one of the major draws of smart home technology is that it lets you bring all kinds of efficiency-gains to your home. That’s right, smart home technology isn’t just cool, in the long run it can save you significant moolah.
Here’s five ways a smart home can save you money.
1. Improved energy efficiency
Your typical non-smart technology thermostat is a control panel hooked up to a central thermometer - a pretty basic device. If you own a good one, it’ll try to keep your temperature within a given range and that’s about it. If you have two temperature zones in your house, this will have no impact whatsoever on how it operates. Frequently, they end up working against one another, one thermostat trying to warm the house, the other attempting to cool it. The result is a whole lot of energy inefficiency and, of course, a bloated power bill.
So how is a smart thermostat different? Well, first of all, a smart thermostat doesn’t just gather its information from a centrally located thermometer and then haphazardly adjust the climate based on a simple schedule. Instead, it will constantly monitor the temperature in your whole home through strategically placed sensors.
The Nest line of thermostats will even learn your preferences the more you use them, intelligently predicting your preferences and adjusting your climate in advance. If you have more than one smart climate zone in your house, Nest smart thermostats are able to work together to deliver your perfect climate with the least energy outlay. No more dueling thermostats!
Smart lights take advantage of LED technology and when it comes to energy efficiency, LED lighting is the gold standard. There’s simply nothing better.
Firstly, your average LED bulb will consume up to 80% less power than its incandescent bulb equivalent. If you take into consideration the number of lights you have in your home and the combined hours you use energy to make light, we’re talking some serious savings right there.
Then there’s heat to consider. An incandescent light bulb produces heat and lots of it. This is hardly surprising considering it works by making a filament glow with the heat produced by an electrical current. LED lights produce very little heat, by comparison. LED lighting, therefore, helps to keep your home climate costs down.
The Philips Hue offers a wide range of LED lights and to add to their awesomeness they’ll even synch up with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant.
One of the most significant energy inefficiencies most of us deal with is simple human forgetfulness. We leave things on when we don’t need them. Lights, televisions, pedestal fans, you name it. It’s oh so easy to walk out the room, leaving our appliances to chew up energy for no good reason.
Smart-timers make the world of difference here. These devices can keep track of your appliances, turning them off for you when they aren’t in use. You can even access appliances remotely, switching your devices on and off even when you’re out.
2. Getting smarter with water consumption
Water is a scarce resource and it’s something we all pay for, often through the nose. Getting smarter with water consumption can make a huge dent in that dreaded water bill.
In the United States, over 9 billion gallons of water is used each day for outdoor purposes. As much as half of that is wasted water from over-watering gardens. That’s 4.5 billion gallons of wasted water!
Many people use standard drip irrigation systems as a way to combat this waste. These systems work on a manually-configured timer and deliver a set amount of water throughout a garden each day. It’s a good start, and a whole lot more efficient than using an old-school garden hose.
Smart irrigation takes water consumption efficiency to the next level, by integrating data collected from a set of sensors to deliver exactly the right amount of water needed to keep your garden alive. Soil conditions, ambient temperature, even a weather forecast are all factored into how much water is used. The result is an incredibly efficient approach to handling our precious resources, and a lower bill for you!
Smart shower heads
For every minute your shower is running, you’re using an estimated 2.5 gallons of water. This means if you like to zone out in the shower in the morning and let it run for ten minutes, you’re burning through 25 gallons of water. That few extra minutes daydreaming every morning can turn out to be pretty expensive.
A smart shower head can fix that by showing you exactly how many gallons of water you’ve used and how long you’ve been in the shower in a handy LED display. Other kinds are a little less data-centric, changing color as you get close to your predefined daily quote of shower water. If you really don’t trust yourself, you can even set your shower duration so that it will automatically stop after a set period of time. So you can’t use soap in your eye as an excuse, and if you must daydream, this is a much better option.
3. Protection from theft
Smart home technology doesn’t just provide resource and energy efficiency savings. We’re also seeing big efficiency gains in home security equipment. Smarter home security means less chance of theft and more peace of mind.
The Ring Doorbell turns your front door into a smart surveillance camera. Every time someone approaches your door, the Ring doorbell is activated and sends an alert to your smartphone. It doesn’t matter if you’re home or out for a night on the tiles, you’ll still get the incredibly handy option to see who’s at your door and talk to them if necessary.
These smart devices are an excellent deterrent to package thieves and other ne’er-do-wells lurking around your house. They also integrate with a range of community security apps, so entire neighborhoods can keep each other informed of suspicious activities. Take that, sniveling package thieves!
Old school surveillance cameras simply record what they see. That’s it. If you wanted to see what happened while you were away then you’d have needed to trawl through all that footage manually.
Smart surveillance cameras don’t just record - they constantly analyze what they’re seeing. For example, the Nest Cam can be configured to be automatically activated when you leave the house, monitoring specific zones for movement. If something odd happens, the footage can even be sent directly to your smart home. If you own pets, the smart surveillance software can even be configured to ignore animals, only notifying you if a human is in the house.
4. Preventing leaks
Up until now, we’ve looked at technologies that can bring you incremental savings over time. While they might not save you lots of money in the short-term, in the medium to long term it really adds up.
Let’s turn now to a smart technology that could instantly save you thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars: smart leak detectors.
A water leak caused by a burst pipe, a leaking washing machine or any number of appliance mishaps can cause serious damage to your property. Of course, your electronics, furniture, and fixtures can be damaged. But the effects of a leak can run much deeper, causing damage to your walls, your flooring, even your foundation. If something in your home springs a leak while you’re away, you could come home to a big, watery nightmare.
Smart leak detectors will send an alert to your phone the moment it detects a leak. If you live in a cold area you can even install sensors which can detect frozen water so you can fix the problem before it gets worse. For cellars or high risk places, grid smart leak detectors are available which can detect water leaks over an area of up to 150 feet.
As well as having the potential to save you the most money, these devices are also one of the least expensive smart home upgrades you can invest in. Basic models run for as little as $30. That’s not much outlay for a whole lot of peace of mind!
5. Other savings from “going smart”
If you thought all that was a good reason to upgrade, remember there are other financial incentives that come with smart technologies.
For example, many power companies actually offer rebates and other financial incentives for customers who choose to upgrade to smart thermostat technology. Some power companies have even offered smart thermostat technology to customers at no cost!
The benefits also extend to insurance companies. For example, investing in smart home security products and smart leak detectors may earn you a tidy credit. It makes sense really. Insurance companies have a clear, vested interest in having us get our pipes repaired before they burst. Creating a “check-engine light for the home” through smart technology means that homeowners are likely to solve many problems before they become costly.
Many smart technology devices work so well because they’re efficient. They’re designed to deliver the best possible result with a minimum of waste and resources. The wonderful result of this pursuit of efficiency is that smart technology isn’t just incredibly cool to have in your home, it’s also a smart choice for your wallet! Sure, it’s still important to be budget conscious when choosing which technologies to invest in, but it’s good to know that money spent now can bring significant savings down the line.