Homeowners tend to be focused on two things at the moment – the latest innovations and gadgets that can transform the look and feel of their homes, and saving money. The problem has been that over the years it’s always been a compromise between the two, but thanks to smart homes and a series of new innovations it is finally possible to get the latest gadgets without having to spend thousands to get and use them.
Smart home systems and individual products including smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo have become the must-have items in homes up and down the country, with increasing numbers of people becoming aware of the various benefits that go with the initial novelty that most gadgets come with.
These products and systems are far more than gimmicks or flash Christmas presents and offer homeowners a whole series of practical benefits ranging from deterring thieves to cutting costs and providing comfortable surroundings for you and your guests.
What is a smart home?
For those who aren’t fully aware of what a smart home is, or who are looking for clarification, it is essentially a series of systems and devices around the house that are connected via the Internet and controlled using a handheld device such as a smartphone.
Smart home systems include security, lighting, power, entertainment and heating which can all be automated and controlled without even being in the property. Rather than having to walk from your chair to the light switch or to the thermostat, you can do it all at the touch of a button on a smartphone app; or you can set the lights to come on at a certain time as you leave work so that you arrive to a fully lit property without fumbling around in the dark.
In addition to the range of apps, property owners can also control their connected homes using hubs and meters in the property. The different smart lighting, smart security and smart heating systems, for instance, all come with central control units that enable you to monitor your existing setup and make changes to individual devices helping to save both time and money in the long term.
Similarly, smart speakers have the ability to perform a range of functions for us. Once connected to various smart home devices the speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are able to provide homeowners with information that they may otherwise spend time searching for through voice control.
These clever devices respond to their owner’s voices and search the web for answers to queries such as the weather forecast, complicated homework questions and finding statistics for a big presentation to enable you to get on with the hard work in a fraction of the time.
How can a smart home save time?
We all like things to be quick and simple. Whether it’s ordering a takeaway through a mobile app to save ringing up and fetching it or using a slow cooker to ensure that dinner is ready the second we walk through the door at the end of a long day at work.
Smart home systems can help us to reduce the amount of time we spend on menial tasks each day – like switching on certain appliances or having to run back to the house to check that the bedside lamp has been switched off.
Connected homes might not sound like that save you hours each day, and they may not be able to do all of the household chores for you, but just having the central heating set to come on when you get home will enable you to get the washing dry as soon as possible or you can switch off any lights that the kids left on by accident when you rushed them out of the door for school.
How does a smart home save me money?
Since electricity was installed in properties around the world, parents and children have been arguing about lights being left on. The age-old line about “it looks like Blackpool illuminations in here” continues to be rolled out by parents tired of paying the excessive electricity bills ramped up by kids leaving their laptops, games consoles and bedroom lights on while charging their phones.
This may all start to change now that smart homes are becoming more widely adopted, especially as parents have the ability to switch off the lights and devices without having to move. If the family are all gathered around the table for dinner or watching a film in the living room, parents can go on their smartphone apps and see that lights have been left on upstairs and, with just a tap on the screen, they can be switched off to save power and money.
Ultimately, however, the main benefit of a smart home in terms of saving money relates to smart meters. A smart meter is designed to give homeowners a clear, concise idea of just how much power they are using and how much it is costing them. Rather than waiting to see what the dreaded utility bill said at the end of the month, homeowners were able to turn appliances on and off to make instant savings that were reported to their gas and electricity providers in real time.
Smart meters can show exactly how much power homeowners are using at any one time – even when they’re not at home – and if they see that funds are getting tight towards the end of the month, or that they can save money by simply switching off more devices and appliances, then they can get instant feedback by switching things on and off. This is also particularly beneficial for anyone looking to “do their bit” for the environment by reducing the amount of power being used in the home.
The government announced that every home would be offered a smart meter by 2020 and while some have been relatively sceptical about having one installed, around four in five who took part in a comparethemarket.com study said that they were interested in having one.
Smart homes will also enable homeowners to take advantage of off-peak energy deals from their providers by automating their devices to come on when costs are lower and to switch off when they increase at peak times.
Smart security systems are a prime example here, with homeowners in the property during the peak times not needing their video doorbell enabled, for instance, but if they go out in the evening with friends or if they have a delivery during an off-peak time of the day when they’re at work, the system can be enabled at a lower cost giving them a cheaper and more secure home in the process.
Another excellent example related to smart lighting, especially in cases such as the Philips Hue wireless lighting system. Each bulb has thousands of different colour options that can be adjusted and stored at the touch of a button, enabling you to change the colour and feel of your room in an instant which is great for parties or watching films at home.
Homeowners have the ability to switch individual bulbs off or to dim them to save power (and money), and there is no need to change your lighting when you redecorate as you can simply adapt the colour of the bulb to suit your new décor.
5 ways smart home systems can save time and money
Automated homes have come at the right time for a lot of homeowners. As mentioned, we’re all looking to add the latest and greatest tech to our properties, but we also want to save money wherever and whenever we can. Smart home systems give us the freedom and ability to do this and you can choose from single smart devices like speakers or alarms through to complete connected home systems.
To help you decide whether or not this technology may be for you, here are five ways smart home systems can save time and money:
- Accurate energy bills. No more waiting to see what the letter or email says, and no more waiting around for someone to come and read the meter. You have clear, real-time information at your fingertips.
- Improved security. Smart security systems can be used anytime, anywhere. From home CCTV systems to video doorbells that enable you to answer the door without even being there, homeowners can monitor their homes from work or while they’re away on holiday and receive alerts if anything happens.
- Greater understanding of energy usage. For years you may have questioned what more you can do to save energy and cut your utility bills. Thanks to smart power devices like smart meters you can gain a greater understanding of what you’re using and what you can switch off to save money – which is also great for kids and educating them on protecting the environment and to switch devices off.
- System updates through the associated mobile apps so need to replace the devices. The problem with a lot of technologies is that they are very quickly replaced by newer, updated models – just look at games consoles and mobile phones. With smart homes the different devices can be updated all the time through software updates in the apps on your phone keeping them secure and working effectively.
- Monitor and control your home from anywhere in the world. Provided that you have an Internet connection you can monitor your home and switch appliances on and off from anywhere in the world. You can set lights to come at certain times in order to deter thieves while away on holiday, and you can look in the various rooms to ensure that you’ve not left any lights on while you’re at work to save you money.
Whether you’re looking for a single wireless light bulb or a full smart home security system, visit BT Shop today for all your connected home requirements.