How Smart Home Products can Change the Way You Live

On top of providing convenience, accessibility, and comfort, the growing variety of smart home technology allows your house to learn how to work best for you.

Using smart appliances around your home can help lower your bills while minimizing your impact on the environment. From lighting to lawn maintenance, figuring out the most efficient use of your utilities can be as easy as “set and forget.”

What are Smart Home Products

Smart home products are internet-connected appliances that allow you to adjust various settings around the house through the ease of a smart home hub like Amazon Echo or Google Home.

These smart home hubs act as the central point of the smart home system from which you can make changes with the simple push of a button or voice command. While smart appliances are often sold as separate units, smart home hubs are compatible with many new technologies or can be programmed through platforms like If This Then That (IFTTT) to control several devices in your house.

These appliances can customize everything from security, comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency, all to your exact liking.

What makes these products “smart” is their use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to figure out your preferences and patterns. They are able to monitor the state of your home and switch appliances on and off when they are best needed (for example, turning off lights in an empty room).

Smart devices use their wireless connections to communicate with each other and outside entities like smart electricity grids to figure out how to work in the most energy efficient way possible.

For example, location based controls, called geo-fencing, can automatically turn off your appliances based on the location of your smartphone.

The following array of appliances can bring you customized convenience while minimizing both your monthly bills and your carbon footprint.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats can manage your home temperature from anywhere at anytime and are a great choice for saving energy around your home.

Different models offer features like detecting when your home is empty to adjust the temperature for maximum efficiency or sensing when you are heading home to have the house set to your liking by the time you step through the door.

Some smart thermostats also feature a learning ability that can remember the times you prefer to lower or raise the temperature in your home, which can result in additional monthly savings.

In addition to learning your personal temperature likings, smart thermostats are equipped with sensors that detect when people active in the house, allowing them to schedule what times need heating/cooling the most as seasons change. Some thermostats can even track the latest local weather reports and make fitting changes to your home’s temperature.

These systems can also provide energy reports on how much power you are using, including information on how your energy use has changed over time and how much this is likely to cost you.

Due to their energy-saving abilities, many utility companies, including Austin Energy, offer rebates to customers who install smart thermostats in their homes. Customers can also opt into programs like PowerSaver that allow utilities to adjust the temperature in their homes by a couple degrees during peak demand times to help them save money and relieve strain on the grid.

Google Nest, ecobee, and Honeywell Lyric are a couple options compatible with several smart hub devices.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting systems are revolutionizing how homeowners set the mood, conserve energy, and improve security around the house.

Lighting can account for up to 30% of your home electricity bill. Timers, motion detectors and geofencing features allow smart lights to lower your electricity bill by switching themselves off when they are not needed.

Additionally, almost all smart lights are LED bulbs, which use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents while lasting 3-25 times longer. And their ability to dim reduces their wattage and output, which helps you save even more.

By allowing you to change colors, smart bulbs can also offset some of the health concerns that are linked to the blue light emitted by LEDs.

Some smart lighting products can be paired with other devices like smart thermostats and security systems for energy saving away modes and safety options. For example, the Google Nest smart thermostats can pair with the Philip Hue lighting system to turn bulbs red when smoke is detected.

Initially, smart light bulbs may cost more than regular compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, but smart light bulbs offer many benefits that can offset the initial costs over the long run. The best smart lighting options conserve energy, last much longer than traditional light bulbs and offer customization options that are both fun and practical.

Smart Sprinklers and Irrigation

Between changing seasons, sun exposure, and soil types, different areas of a yard can have different watering needs.

By installing smart sprinklers, you don’t need to be a horticultural expert to give your garden exactly the right amount of water each day. These systems can optimize your in-ground irrigation system by automatically adjusting to the conditions that best suit your landscape while cutting water use.

Smart irrigation systems can determine whether your yard’s soil will affect evaporation and the watering requirements of different plants, while accounting for weather forecasts to give your garden the exact amount of water it needs to flourish. They determine the best time of day and watering duration to help the water soak in and reduce run-off.  Smart sprinklers can also automatically adapt this schedule to changes in sunrise over the course of a season.

Cutting out excess water waste not only saves you money, but prevents the loss of critical local resources that can have a significant impact on the environment.

Most systems are certified by the EPA’s Watersense program, which can qualify you for rebates on your utility bill.

Rachio 3 and Orbit B-Hyve are a couple examples of smart sprinkler systems available.

Smart Leak Detectors

Prevention is the best cure when it comes to potentially disastrous water leaks in your home. Water is one of the most common causes of property damage, even if you don’t live in an area subject to flooding.

From leaky water heaters to a broken supply line or a split washing machine hose, a well-placed smart water-leak detector alerts you to trouble before any major damage is done. These sensors can also notify you to other conditions that may lead to future property damage issues like freezing temperatures and high humidity levels.

Rather than just beeping when a leak is detected, smart water sensors connect directly to your smart home hub or phone to bring leaks to your attention wherever you happen to be, whether at the office or on vacation. Some detection products also have the ability to automatically turn off your water line when a leak is detected, though these systems typically require a professional installer.

Undetected, a minor household leak can cause the loss of gallons of water, putting unnecessary strain on your bill. Catching leaks also helps to save a precious environmental resource for future use.

The iHome Smart Water Leak Sensor and FIBARO Flood Sensor are a couple leak detection options currently on the market.

Smart Appliances & Plugs

From refrigerators to dishwashers, ovens, clothes washers, and dryers, more and more appliances around the home are adding smart features to learn how they can work best for you.

New energy-saving smart tech allows you to program routines through your smart home hub to operate major appliances when energy demands are low, saving you money and placing less strain on your local grid.

Even when appliances are not in active use, the displays on microwaves, ovens and refrigerators remain on and consume power. Smart tech can put appliances into power-saving modes, turning off displays when a device or appliance is not in use.

Additionally, smart plugs let you control the power supply of almost anything in your home via your smartphone or smart home hub. While starting your smart home journey can feel overwhelming, smart plugs are an easily installed option to add smart technology around the house.

These handy devices plug into your wall outlets and work like any normal power supply, with the convenience of remote control. Smart plugs can work on their own or sync with your smart home hub to switch off devices on a timer (every night after a certain hour, for example) or manually via an app to make sure they aren’t unnecessarily adding to your electricity bill.

You can also remotely ensure potential fire hazards like irons and hair straighteners are switched off if you think you forgot before leaving the house.

As easy as plug-and-go, smart plugs are a great multi-use option to save money and lower energy use in your home.

The Wemo Mini Smart Plug and Kasa Smart WiFi Power Strip are highly compatible, entry level options for turning any appliance into a smart device.

Smart Homes Let your Home Perform at its Best

Smart homes offer many ways to improve appliance efficiency and prevent energy waste, giving homeowners control over their appliances like never before.

Whether you approach each appliance at a time or install a full smart home system, every device brings its unique value and savings that only build as you add more.

With smart products, the future of sustainability begins at home.

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