Smart technology is pervasive these days- it seems like every new product is “connected” or “wifi-enabled.” As the world becomes more technology driven, everything is becoming “smarter”- including our homes. Making the home smarter offers many everyday benefits, but just how you use smart technology is up to you. So, where should you start?
If you’re unfamiliar with smart home technology, here are the answers to the top 10 questions that consumers have when it comes to connecting your home. Ready? Let’s begin!
- What is a smart home?
In a nutshell, a smart home is a home that contains one or more Wi-Fi enabled, connected devices, often controlled by a central device (think Amazon’s Echo speaker or Nest’s thermostat). Smart devices can include lighting, thermostats, entertainment, security, and more- you can find a smart version of just about anything these days. These “smart” devices often learn your lifestyle and behavior in order to personalize their operation and optimize energy efficiency in your home.
Smart Tip #1: It’s a common misconception that a “smart home” has to be filled with high-tech devices- in reality, just one or two simple devices qualifies your home as a “smart” home!
- Okay…But what will it do for me?
Have you ever left on vacation and started panicking that you forgot to lock the door? Have you ever wished that the A/C would start before you walked in the door? Have you ever stubbed your toe in the dark looking for a light switch? Smart home technology solves these simple problems by giving you control over your home from anywhere- usually through a mobile device, but often including voice or motion controls. If your home is “smart” you can simply check your door locks from afar, have your thermostat learn your routine, or tell your lights to turn themselves on.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though- having a smart home is not only convenient, but more energy efficient, saving you money in the long run. In addition, homes with smart technology often sell faster and for more money- something to think about down the road!
- Isn’t that expensive?
That’s’ the big question, isn’t it? All the convenience in the world isn’t worth going into debt over. Fortunately, smart home technology sounds expensive, but doesn’t have to be. It’s easy to start with one or two small devices like the WeMo Insight Switch and move up as you feel comfortable integrating more devices. The initial upfront cost of smart devices may be more than a standard version, but the long-term savings could have each device paying for itself- especially with energy-related upgrades like smart thermostats and lighting. The best advice? Do your research and talk to a professional to find the best options for your budget- your realtor, as a trusted home expert, is a great place to start!
Smart Tip #2: Smart thermostats are the #1 smart home device for a reason- they can save you up to 23% off of your energy bills, paying for themselves in the process. Plus, they make great eye candy during an open house!
- Why would I want a smart home?
Great question! Smart homes come with many benefits for your daily life- let’s talk about comfort, efficiency and resale value:
Comfort & Convenience: This is the #1 reason why most people opt for a smart device. Using your mobile device, you can control your home from anywhere, or let the device learn your lifestyle and adjust itself! Smart devices are special in that they increase home comfort while simultaneously improving energy efficiency- it’s a win-win!
Efficiency: Speaking of efficiency, this is a big benefit for many smart home devices. With smart thermostats, you can control room temperatures for specific rooms at specific times using multi-zone climate control. This uses energy only when it’s needed, improving your home’s efficiency and lowering costs. Other upgrades like lighting and smart switches do their part too- you’ll often find that smart device = efficient device.
Resale: Here’s a hidden benefit you might not have known about- smart home technology will often make your home more marketable if you decide to sell. Consumer Reports found that smart tech in the home can be worth a 3-5% increase in home value when it comes time to sell!
Smart Tip #3: Pick highly visible smart devices like thermostats, lighting or security systems for the biggest impact on potential buyers!
- Will all these devices work together?
Several recent studies show that consumers expect all their smart devices to communicate with each other, and why shouldn’t they? Connected devices are a big part of the smart home concept. While there isn’t currently a single industry standard, most mainstream brands are currently able to work together as part of a home system, and most devices are designed for DIY users.
With proper installation and expert advice, it’s relatively easy to connect your home to your device. Again, you’ll want to do your research and talk to a professional before making a purchase- your realtor is a great resource for recommendations.
- Would my smart home be secure?
The biggest concern that consumers have about smart technology is the security- how can you protect yourself and your home? There are several things you can do to make sure that your smart home is connected safely, starting with the basics- be aware of what information each device collects and always change the security defaults during installation. It’s no different than setting the permissions and passcode on your smart phone. These two steps will protect you from most security threats- learn more about making sure that your smart is safe here.
- Is my Internet connection fast enough?
It’s true- the more devices you connect, the slower your Wi-Fi becomes. Fortunately, today’s broadband Internet technology is more than capable of supporting a network of smart home devices. You’ll want to test your Wi-Fi to see if it’s not up to speed, then you may want to think about upgrading your router and/or adding range extenders, especially if you’re adding multiple data-heavy devices. Most homes can support basic smart home systems without any trouble at all.
- Isn’t new technology always buggy?
Like any home product, you can choose from a range of smart devices- it depends on your wants, needs, and budget. There is a growing list of established brands with excellent track records- Rachio or ecobee, for example. It’s best to do some research before connecting and talk to experts to figure out the best option. In this case, experts means people with experience owning smart devices, like your friends and family, as well as those who know homes inside and out- like your realtor!
Smart Tip #4: Look for more information in our ongoing series of posts on smart devices- we’ll have more details on different products that will help you make smart decisions!
- Okay, I’m sold. But where do I start?
Integrating your current home can be as easy or complicated as you’d like. Do you have uneven heating or high energy bills? Try a smart thermostat. Do your kids leave lights on all the time? Install smart lighting in your home. Want help watering your yard efficiently? There’s a smart watering system for that. When it comes to smart device integration, start by thinking about the problems you have in your home, and then seek out the best possible solution. When you’re ready to make the jump, your realtor will be there to help.
- What now?
It’s a cliché, but smart homes are the wave of the future. They’re quickly becoming the solution to many common problems in the home, and when used properly can save you time and money. As more millennials join the home owner ranks, smart devices are becoming a big driver, helping to make older homes more comfortable, more efficient, and more marketable.
So, check out some of the devices we’ve mentioned and start to envision your home as a smart home- what does that look like for you? Are you checking your door locks from the airport? Walking into a pre-cooled house after work? Or are you looking at a drastically lower monthly energy bill?
If you have any questions about smart homes and their role in real estate feel free to reach out to your realtor with any questions. We’re happy to be a resource and hopeful in making your home the perfect place for you!