Smart home technology is all the rage, but if you’ve got an older home, the idea of bringing it into the 21st century can be daunting. By 2022, a typical family home could have more than 500 smart devices. Embrace your inner geek with these makeover ideas.
Whole House Upgrades
Smart Switches and Outlets: Perhaps one of the easiest and more affordable ways to upgrade your home to smart technology, smart switches and outlets from manufacturers cost around $40 to $50 a switch. You can work your way through one room at a time, and basically any device you plugin to the outlets, which connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network, becomes easily controlled via an app on your smartphone. Use these to turn on and off various lights and appliances throughout your home.
Smart Thermostat: With smart thermostats like Nest, your thermostat leaves the temperatures you like, and programs itself. It will automatically turn off when no one is home. You can control it from your phone, tablet, or smartphone over Wi-Fi. Independent studies show it helps save an average of 10 to 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills, paying for itself in two years.
Smart Locks: With the Kwikset Kevo, you have a Bluetooth electronic deadbolt to protect your home without your keys. All you have to do is tap your smartphone to the door, and with the $99 upgrade to plus, you can get remote access and monitoring, without monthly access fees. If you forget to lock your door, no problem. If you don’t have a smartphone, the lock comes with a key fob you can use to open the door, too. You’ll spend around $200 for this security upgrade.
Wireless Security System: While you can go to home security companies for wireless solutions, you also have the option to turn to something like Canary – an all-in-one security system. You can stream real-time HD video, get instant motion alerts, get high quality audio, protect your home with a siren with remote control ability, and more. You’ll even be able to monitor temperature, air quality, and humidity, store recorded video and audio in the cloud, and there’s no installation required. Small homes can benefit from the $199 system while larger homes can get the two pack for $379. You’ll even save on homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
Heating and Cooling: Keen offers smart vents, for around $90 each, that allow room-by-room temperature control and air purification. Right now, you can pre-order for a 25% discount, and expect them to ship in Fall 2016. You can work room-by-room with these, or plan on outfitting your entire home at once. All you need to know is your vent size. Plus, they work with the Nest Smart thermostat. With room scheduling, you’re not paying to heat the kitchen while you’re sleeping in your cozy bet.
Video Doorbell: Video doorbells like Ring and SkyBell allow you to answer the door from your smartphone, whether you’re home or not. This way, you can make it appear as though you’re home but otherwise engaged, to protect against burglary, and you can see who’s coming to your door when you’re not home. You’ll spend about $200 on this technology.
Smart TV: Smart TVs are becoming more affordable as 4K and curved TVs have made their way onto the market. These TVs connect to your home Wi-FI and come with a variety of apps to make streaming movies and TV shows easy. You can find 32’’models for under $300.
Smart Refrigerator: One of the more expensive upgrades on our list, coming in at around $3,600, the Samsung Smart Fridge comes ready for your Wi-Fi connection and an 8-inch LCD screen. It allows app access and connection to other Samsung products – which is nice if you also have a Samsung smart TV. With it, you can control temperatures through various zones of the refrigerator to ensure your produce stays fresher for longer and keep the freezer dry to cut down on freezer burn. Mirror your phone so you can follow along on a recipe video from YouTube, or answer your phone while you’re busy cooking.
Smart Oven: ThinQ Electric Single Range Oven with Infrared Grill allows you to control your oven temperature from your smartphone. On your way home from work? Preheat the oven so you can pop the pizza or roast in right when you walk in the door.
Smart Memos: The Invoxia Triby offers a smart-board for leaving kitchen memos for your family. Beyond leaving memos, you can use Wi-Fi calling to contact them instantly. If you forget to leave a note on the board, it’s possible to leave one on the board from your smartphone. The device is available for $199, and works with Alexa voice controls, so you can also play music, get information from Wikipedia, request an Uber, get the news, set alarms, and control other smart home devices.
Digital Faucets: Several manufacturers offer smart faucets for use in your kitchen, including hands free models, and digital faucets that let you know the water temperature when it comes out.
Self-Cleaning Toilet: A dream invention for many, the self-cleaning toilet will set you back anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000, and it will only clean the inside to the bowl, so you’ll still be stuck wiping down the seat and the outside of the base.
Motion Sensors: Stop the silly arguments about needing to put the seat down when you’re finished, with motion sensors that will automatically raise and lower the toilet seat for you. You’ll spend about $100 and get a completely new toilet seat.
Toilet Seat Warmer with LED Lights: In cooler climates, there’s nothing worse than crawling out of bed and sitting down on an ice cold toilet seat. You’ll spend about $125 for an entirely new toilet seat, but it will stay warm, and help light the way in the middle of the night when you don’t want to shock your sleepy eyes with the bathroom light – and the night light doesn’t give you the light you need.
Smart Showerhead: Beyond touchless bathroom faucets similar to what you can put in your kitchen, Delta also makes showerheads that help you see and control the temperature of the water.
Refrigerated Bathroom Cabinets: Do you have medicines that need to stay cold? Want to have a nice refreshing drink while you soak in the tub? These are custom-made to order and will set you back a pretty penny – with pricing starting at $3,000.
LCD Shower Panel: These allow you to control your shower temperature, water flow, steam, music, and chromo therapy. These programmable shower panels are available at various price points to suit nearly a budget, ranging from around $300 for a basic unit to $3,500+ for a unit with all the bells and whistles.
Smart Washer & Dryer: Several manufacturers are making washers and dryers with smart technology. Whirlpool, for instance, offers what they call 6th Sense Live technology, that allows you to activate certain features when you’re not home. The Energy Advisor tracks how much energy the appliance is using, and Detergent Assistant makes sure your appliance stays in good condition and lets you know when it’s time to replace the accessory. It pairs with a dryer featuring similar smart technology. Samsung offers similar technology, allowing you to control and monitor your washing machine for your smartphone, and features a touch screen to control your washer functions. Expect to spend up to $1,500 per appliance.
Smart Sprinkler System: Smart Sprinkler systems like Rachio and Skydrop provide adaptive and smart watering controlling, by monitoring the weather in your local area. This way, your lawn, and garden stay green and healthy all year long, but you’re not wasting water. Expect to spend at least $300 on this technology.
Remodeling Your Home
If you’re buying an older home and planning to remodel it anyway, then it may make sense to add more features and upgrades. One of the best upgrades is installing Category 6 cable, the highest rated cable available for Internet, phone, audio, and video. Expect to spend at least $1 per square foot or around $5,000 to $6,000 to outfit a 5,000 square foot home.
Or you can take it to the extreme and install a smart console, designed to help you monitor various systems in your smart home, and make it more convenient than controlling everything individually. Thankfully, regardless of the budget you’re working with, there are several options to choose from.
For less than $300, you could turn to either the NuByte Smart Home Console or the Neurio. The NuByte is all-in-one smart home system that helps with lighting, security, a calendar, the weather, monitors energy consumption, and even serves as an intercom. The Neurio monitors your home while you’re away, helps reduce your energy usage, and even does things like remind you when the clothes are done in the washing machine so you don’t forget to dry them.
If you’re on a bigger budget, you could spend anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to integrate everything, from an audio system with wireless speakers, to a smart thermostat, cloud camera, smart home hub, smart door locks, smart vacuum cleaner, smart light switches and outlets, and even smart light bulbs.
Upgrading technology in your home can help save money because you’re able to have finer control over lighting and temperature. Ultimately, you can keep things running at a minimum when you’re not home but set them up so you’re nice and comfortable upon your arrival. Less power and water consumption translates to more money in your pocket.
All images are credited to their respective manufacturers.