Save Money with a Smarter Home
Arguably one of the most attractive reasons to invest in smart home technology is the promise of saving money. This is also one of the main reasons homeowners initially begin to explore their options for raising their home’s IQ. While smart home technology has many benefits, not all of them can be proven to save you money in the long run. Some home technologies, though, do have definite financial benefits that can be realized with sustained usage.
Most people will want to dip their toe in the smart home waters by purchasing a network-enabled thermostat. There are many options, including the Nest thermostat, which features an eye-catching, modern design; but also can work well without a smart home hub of any kind. It can be swapped out for an existing thermostat in most homes--even homes that have been around for awhile.
Most smart thermostats come with easy-to-follow instructions that will walk the owner through installation and initial setup functions. While getting a professional to help with installation is certainly an option (a licensed electrician could easily get the job done in a reasonably short amount of time), almost anyone can handle disconnecting a few wires from the back of their old thermostat and reattaching them to the back of their new, smart thermostat.
Getting set up with a smart thermostat offers you the basics of being able to set up usage schedules that fit your lifestyle, but it can also provide a few more benefits.
- Automatic activity monitoring that can trigger “Away” mode when nobody is home. The best smart home devices will feature “adaptive learning.” This means they learn from your routines and patterns with minimal direct input from you. Many smart thermostats will automatically adjust the trigger temperatures to be more efficient, taking advantage of the hours of the day when the home is empty.
- Alerts sent to your mobile device. Imagine being able to get a text message sent to your phone if one of the kids decides to heat the house an extra ten degrees in the middle of winter (put on a sweater, Junior!). Many smart thermostats allow you to set up notifications to be sent to you during qualifying events that you consider to be important.
- Air circulation in between cooling or heating cycles. Part of maximizing efficiency in the smart home is keeping the air moving even when your HVAC cooler or heater is not running. You may want to consider investing in a smart thermostat that will use your circulation fans to keep the air cycling through your home. This balances the air in rooms of your home that are more prone to cooling or heating more quickly due to the outside elements. This could mean that more exposed rooms with sunward-facing windows can benefit from the cool air sitting in cooler, less exposed areas of the home.
Smart Climate Control with Distributed Sensors and Devices
For a more advanced, and possibly even more energy-efficient experience, consider investing in a smart thermostat that features additional sensors. A smart thermostat like ecobee3 takes advantage of sensors that are on board, as well as additional ones distributed throughout the home. This allows for a more decentralized approach to climate control. Additional room sensors feed real-time temperature data to the main thermostat unit, and the user can tell the thermostat which room(s) it should be focused on and when.
Another enhancement of this type of decentralized approach is the smart air vents, such as Keen. Network-connected smart vents also leverage in-room thermostats to adjust the distribution of conditioned air to rooms that might otherwise be unusually hot or cold, compared to the rest of the house. This also allows the homeowner to restrict airflow periodically (such as during winter or summer months) to rooms that may be visited less frequently. Smart vent technology is like a steroid injection for the HVAC system, essentially turning any residence into a multi-zone home.
Smart water management for your yard and garden
Environment consciousness is at the heart of what drives much of today’s smart home innovation that can also save you money. By conserving energy, you are conserving natural resources. By utilizing smart water management devices, you are directly conserving water, which is quickly becoming one of the most precious of our natural resources.
There are some cities in places like California who are pursuing aggressive measures in the area of water management. A few municipalities already require their residents to have smart water meters. Ideally, the adoption of smart water management technology throughout the rest of the country would help to head off similar crises in other regions that could easily be considered at risk for similar drought conditions should the climate take a slight turn for the worse.
In the case of smart water management controls, you can feel good about saving the planet and saving money at the same time.
Companies like GreenIQ offer smart garden technology to connect both outdoor watering and outdoor lighting systems to your network. The GreenIQ system comes with very basic water valve and lighting controls out-of-the-box, but also integrates well with other smart devices such as Flower Power, extending your ability to control your outdoor domain from the palm of your hand.
Selling Your Smart Home
Buyers are becoming more conscientious of the true cost of owning a home. This means they are not only looking at the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments; they are more aware of the cost of services needed to run the home. If you have smart products in your home, make sure to choose a real estate agent that recognizes these products and knows how to market them. Investing in smart home products today brings not only savings and convenience but it also creates a differentiator in the market when you're ready sell.