Tech Gadgets: Top Home Automation Solutions
The holidays are quickly approaching, so now’s the time to think about gift giving. If you are considering gifting the tech savvy person on your list with a smart home gadget, go for it. It’s the perfect idea for the techie or conservation-minded friend or relative. The numerous home automation choices out there can leave you a little lost, so we are here to help. From heating and cooling system thermostat control products, to smart lighting and smart plugs: we’ve compiled a list of home automation gadgets that can help save energy, make life easier and bring “oohs and ahhhs” this holiday season.
Smart Thermostats (for Heating and Cooling Systems)
According to 2009 data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average homeowner spends close to $2,000 on energy each year. One way to help lower that bill (and help improve temperature comfort in the home) is to use a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat allows you to remotely control your thermostat via your smartphone or computer. Some thermostats use multiple sensors to monitor temperatures in different areas of the home for more balanced heating or cooling. Other models can track your home’s temperature history and use that data to best set up a heating and cooling schedule based on your past preferences. Top brands include Ecobee®, Honeywell®, Tado® and Nest® and while a bit expensive up front (some models start at over $150), it may be worth the investment in the long run if you see cost-savings on future utility bills.
Lighting and Smart Bulbs
The EIA also estimates that in 2016, lighting consumption was about 129 billion kWh or about 10% of total residential sector electricity. While it’s easy to reduce energy usage by simply turning off unneeded lights, walking around a dark house isn’t always an option. Looking for other ways to save on electricity? Try smart bulbs and connected lighting. Like everything in the 21st century, lighting has grown smarter and high tech -- the light bulbs of today are not our parents’ standard incandescent light bulbs. By swapping them out for smart bulbs with a variety of connected solutions, you’ll be in control of your home lighting with just a tap of a finger from your tablet, smartphone or smart home hub. What’s more, you can add some mood lighting and colored lights to the room with products like the Philips® Hue Bulbs.
Smart bulbs offer some control and interactivity that you can’t get with traditional bulbs (for example, scheduled timers and remote-control options.) They're also way more convenient. You can expend very little energy using a smartphone to turn off/turn on lights in your house or apartment than to get up and drag yourself over to a traditional wall switch. It’s perfect for when you are feeling super lazy or if you’ve left the house and realized you forgot to turn off the lights.
You can spend a near fortune replacing your appliances with new "smart" appliances, but did you know that a cheaper option is to buy smart plugs? A smart plug sits between the outlet and your appliance and gives you control over the flow of electricity. You can turn on/off whatever is plugged into the smart plug. You can also put it on a timer, so it can’t become a fire hazard or waste power. Also, if you have a smart home hub (like Amazon Alexa® or Google Home®), you can let the intelligence help you with your morning routine. For instance, you can have your coffee maker connected so that you can say, "Alexa, turn on my coffee maker" and have a fresh pot of hot coffee ready post-shower. Smart plugs may not be as fun as buying a new appliance, but they're a lot more cost effective: you can buy some brands (such as TP-Link®, Belkin® and iDevice®) for less than $50 at retailers like Amazon.
Whether you decide to go the high tech home automation route, or want to just find some simple ways to help save on electricity, you can find energy saving tips for in and around your home. You can’t go wrong choosing any of these tech gadgets, be it for your friend, a family member, or yourself!
Lastly, another money-saving home solution is to protect yourself with a home repair service plan. This can help alleviate the stress of having to deal with an unexpected covered home emergency. It can also help alleviate the stress of trying to manage the daunting task of researching repair pros and having covered repairs completed in a timely and efficient manner.
To find out how you can sign up for a home repair plan in your area, enter your zip code here.