In just three years, the number of Americans who say they understand what a “smart home” is has jumped 53 percent, according to a Finn Futures survey. But this jump doesn’t mean we’re all jumping on the home technology bandwagon, though. In fact, the survey reports that 59 percent of Americans don’t plan to adopt connected home technology anytime soon, and they cite cost as the main barrier.
And they’re right – it can be pricey, but some features may just be worth the money. (Others will not be worth it.)
According to the Finn survey, 55 percent of respondents want automated or smart door locks. These locks don’t make your home any more secure than your current deadbolt does because they work with the deadbolt, not in place of it.
“You’re paying for convenience (not necessarily security),” says cnet.com’s Ry Crist.
Smart locks can be quite expensive depending on the kind you chose, which includes key fob, password entry, fingerprint recognition, or Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled. If you want a smart lock for the convenience factor, we say go for it. If you’re looking for extra home security, consider forgoing the lock and investing instead in a smart home camera, an alarm system, or a motion-sensing doorbell.
At the top of many Finn survey respondents’ lists was a smart thermostat (44 percent say they want one). How is a smart thermostat different from your trusty old programmable one?
For starters, the most obvious answer is that it can make life more convenient. Have you ever tried to program a standard thermostat? It’s time consuming, and they are limited in the number of programs you can use.
Smart thermostats are connected to the Internet and controlled by other devices, like your smartphone. There is an unlimited number of programs you can use, and programming is simple. In fact, learning thermostats, like Nest, don’t need programming at all. It promises that after a week, it will have learned your routine and automatically adapted to it.
We think a smart thermostat is worth the splurge (about $249) because it can help you save on utility bills. In fact, three studies of the Nest Learning Thermostat showed that users saved an average 10 to 12 percent on their heating bills and 15 percent on cooling. That’s impressive enough for the Nest thermostat to become ENERGY STAR certified by the EPA.
The third most desired smart home feature is smart lighting. This feature lets you program the lights in your home to turn on, off, and even dim via a remote device like your smartphone.
For example, you can program the gadget to turn on the porch light at dusk or as you make the last turn into your neighborhood on your way home from work. You can tell it to turn on random lights around the house when you’re out of town, or turn off the lights behind a child who leaves a trail of lit rooms in his wake. In some cases, smart lighting can save you money on your electric bills!
Smart Smoke Alarms
If no one is home when the smoke alarm goes off, does it make a sound? If it’s smart and connected it does! Smart alarms can send a warning to your phone, which is handy if fire breaks out while you’re away from home.
We think smart smoke alarms are worth it because they provide a sense of security and you may get a discount on your homeowners’ insurance. Before you buy a smart smoke alarm, check with your insurance representative. Some insurers have a list of alarms that they consider “qualified.”
While homeowners aren’t yet jumping on the smart home bandwagon, home builders are. In the next few years, don’t be surprised if you find newly constructed homes come with a full package of connected-home options.
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