What is a smart home? Nearly everyone I know has at least one kind of smart home device. Be it a television or a google assistant or Alexa (The smart-mouthed woman living in my house who doesn’t listen to me). They are there simply to make our lives easier.
Did you know though that if the right smart devices are used and used correctly they can actually save you money? The benefits of smart homes and smart home devices can actually outweigh the initial outlay on their purchase.
So what is a smart home? what are the benefits of smart homes and how can it save me money?
It sounds crazy I know, The most I have ever done is I have my Alexa turn on lights in my hallway but most of the time I just end up turning them off and on manually as and when I get up off the sofa. Seems like a pointless waste of time doesn’t it?
So how do we use smart devices to build a smart home to save ourselves money and how much money can we end up saving. I have done some testing and the results have been surprising.
What Is A Smart Home:
Firstly let’s look at what is a smart home? A Smart home isn’t an all in one package it is a variety of smart devices that you have chosen to make your life easier.
A Smart home could be a home that has all its lights hooked up to a smart lighting system so you need never touch a light switch again and you could set up dimming capabilities via your smartphone.
Your Smart home could also involve smart heating via a smart thermostat or you could have a range of smart plugs that help you control all the electric devices in your kitchen.
Basically when you are asking what is a smart home then it can be your home with at least 1-2 smart home connected devices in it that you use to enhance your life.
The issue is that in order to even begin to think about creating a smart home for yourself you are going to need to look at all the smart devices there are and how they work as well as the benefits of smart homes.
Smart Home Devices:
So I have told you what is a smart home, now you need to know about the devices available that will make up a smart home. There are lots of different devices that all do different things. Let’s take a look at some of them and see how they integrate into your home.
These voice assistants are the key to a smart home because the ability to control devices with just your voice or Smartphone is the main benefit of smart homes and these assistants are essential in that role.
As I said at the start I have Alexa which is probably one of the most popular voice assistants and for me one of the most ill-disciplined ones. (I jest I just haven’t used it enough)
The 3 main ones are Alexa which works with all the Amazon Echo devices, Siri which works with all Apple devices and the Google home devices.
All 3 have sold millions of units and they all work really well. Personally I feel Alexa and Siri have the edge but the google assistant is well-loved as well and potentially is the most accurate at picking up commands.
Smart lights are probably the next thing I would think be on your list when creating a smart home. Smart lighting is one of the easier items to set up for most people and when you can add a range of colors and simple ways to change colors and brightness via voice or phone it becomes even more attractive.
Phillips Hue is the outstanding market leader at the moment when it comes to smart lighting. There are others available but Phillips has got it locked down in terms of the market.
They offer simple white bulbs and also colored ones which you can change the color of at the drop of a hat as well as a mix of the two.
All these bulbs need to be controlPhoto by Charles Deluvio on Unsplashled via a central hub which means it can be a little expensive to start out with the lighting but ultimately rewarding when you have control of all lighting throughout the house as well as potentially the garden.
Smart meters dont actually save you money via the device. What they do do is to make you aware of how much it costs in electric to do everyday tasks such as use the toaster or kettle or to switch on the oven etc.
What this does is make you more aware of the expenditure you may be wasting on a daily basis and therefore by changing your spending and electrical using habits you can save yourself money.
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I live in a big house and it can get cold during the winter. Luckily I have a thermostat that I can program to turn the heating on and off at set times so as it never goes below a certain temperature.
The problem comes when I am off during the week when I would normally be at work. The thermostat then needs me to go out and manually turn it on. All in all a little annoying. When looking at what is a smart home, Smart thermostats is where it is at and also how you can save money as well.
Smart thermostats are essentially a bit of kit that connects your home heating to the internet enabling you to control your heating even when you are not at home.
Smart thermostats can also learn your movements and the normal temperatures you prefer throughout the year and then will set these for you.
The 3 main players in the smart thermostat field are Hive, Nest, and Honeywell.
They all offer LCD displays and some can even offer zonal heating for your home to heat or cool individual rooms. I won’t go into the different capabilities of each thermostat as that is another article in itself.
When it comes to what is a smart home this may be one of the first things you see. It is another cheap way to get started making a smart home.
The plugs are relatively inexpensive and using your voice or smartphone you can effectively control anything that is plugged into it.
For example, I have a smart plug in my Kitchen and have my kettle plugged into it. Now bear in mind I do check to make sure it is filled up every evening and the kettle switch is on. In the morning I instruct the plug to turn on and hey presto my kettle boils before I get downstairs to make a cuppa.
To be fair it can be a pain but a smart plug is useful for lots of things. Having lamps turn on and off when you are not in to make it appear as if you are. My friend has his television and Xbox plugged into smart plugs and can get them turned on with the sound of his voice.
On those cold winter nights, you could have your electric blanket on your bed turn on before you go upstairs. The amount of things that a smart plug can help you with is limitless.
This is one I have been toying with for a few months now. My wife and I work long hours and never seem to be in for parcels etc so to be able to hear at work on my phone when someone rings the bell and then instructs them where to leave my package is a godsend.
Ring is the clear leader in this market when it comes to smart doorbells. They are not too expensive and can give you peace of mind for deliveries such as what I would use them for or if you are out of the country a lot or away on business and wanted to help keep your property secure then knowing who is lurking around your house is helpful.
These Smart cameras work in much the same way as the smart doorbells do. You can have a few set up throughout the house and then you can monitor these at any point by simply accessing an app on your smartphone.
I have a friend of mine who has smart cameras and uses them occasionally to check his kids are doing their homework at the kitchen table when he is away from home. It is also a peace of mind piece of tech designed to add an extra layer of security for your home.
So you may be thinking ok Lee you have told us what is a smart home? Now how can this save me money?
Well to begin with it won’t. As I’m sure you can imagine when you start to buy more than one smart piece of tech for your home the price starts to add up. If I had my way I could easily spend thousands on smart tech and make my home living environment do everything for me.
Over time though these individual bits of tech will save you money. Let’s start with just the Smart lights. How many times do you leave an upstairs light on but can’t be bothered to go back up and switch it off? No more problems like that when you can do it from your phone.
What is a smart home if it isn’t going to save you money. Here are some of the ways in which you can save money using your smart tech devices.
Saving money is key when you are looking at smart tech devices.
Smart lights are usually Led which last longer than normal bulbs. Also, they consume less power so this also helps. On average you could save up to 30% per month on your lighting bill alone.
Smart Cameras can save you money on your home and contents insurance and could save you 20% per year on your premiums. This could be a big saving.
Smart Meters can save you money on your electricity bill as you can track how much you are spending and then adjust your usage accordingly.
Smart Thermostats can save you money on your heating by working out exactly when you need it and to save any wastage of heat. They can also help adjust the temperature to a more comfortable range which in turn could save you money on your heating bill each month potentially up to 30%.
Smart Plugs at the moment dont really save you money but they can save you energy as you are not having to get up and turn items on and off hence saving you energy.
Smart homes are becoming more and more accessible to everyday people and making our everyday lives a little bit easier. Now you know a little bit clear about what is a smart home you can think of ways you like to do this for your home.
Every little bit of smart tech we put into our homes gives us that little bit more extra control. Now how you set up your smart home is entirely up to you.
You can go the money-saving route by installing tech that monitors your spending and helps you control it or you can install an amazing array of smart products to impress your friends.
Either way, you decide to go I hope this article has helped you learn what is a smart home and in some way make your mind up and also enlighten you a little about smart homes and the benefits of smart homes.
If any of you reading this post already have a smart home set up and wish to show it off please don’t be shy and leave some beautiful pictures in the comments for me and other readers to drool over. Maybe one day I will upgrade from my simple Alexa and smart lights to something a bit more upmarket so I can impress my family and friends and also enhance my living environment.