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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

5 Smart, Easy Ways To Add Smart Home Technology To Your Place

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Sunday, 20 May 2018 13:53

Has technology passed your home by? It's never too late to update it. Whether you just want to bring the home's function into this century for your personal use or are looking to put it on the market, incorporating some smart home items is, well, a smart strategy.

"The stock advice for homeowners putting a house on the market used to go like this: Give the exterior, or the front door, a fresh coat of paint; tame unruly shrubs; and swap out a few light fixtures. But today's homebuyers are expecting a little more," said Consumer Reports. According to Coldwell Banker's latest annual smart-home survey, most potential homebuyers want smart-home tech preinstalled."

Specifically, "Seventy-seven percent want smart thermostats, 75 percent want smart smoke detectors, 66 percent want smart home security cameras, and 63 percent want smart locks, to name a few."

Smart thermostats

Not only will a smart thermostat make your air conditioner function better and make your house more comfortable, it will save you money in the process. "With a smart thermostat, easily control the temperature in your home from a central control panel, with the sound of your voice, or using your mobile device," said Vivint. "Combined with a smart assistant that intuits and learns your preferences and behaviors, your thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature - saving you valuable time, energy, and money."

The Nest Thermostat is one of the most popular options on the market. It "currently costs $249 but projects an average savings of around $173 per year," said UpNest. We also love the ecobee because it has multiple sensors. The latest version, the ecobee4 ($249), also has built-in Amazon Alexa.

Smart door locks

There are lots of smart door locks out there, which eliminate the need for a key and replace it with a keypad and code that are used for entry. But, we love this August Smart Lock, which takes smart home capabilities up a notch.

"This battery operated device sells for $199, and communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth," said Nerds on Call. "When the Smart Lock identifies your Bluetooth signal approaching, it unlocks your door, and can lock it behind you if you choose that setting. It also allows you to set up virtual keys for guests, with the ability to grant access for only certain dates and times for each key. The activity log keeps track of when each unique user comes and goes. Perhaps the best part about this smart home upgrade is that it goes over your existing lock, meaning that you can have strong security and an intelligent lock. If you choose, you can pair the Smart Lock with the ‘August Connect' for $79, which lets guests in and locks the door behind them. The Connect also grants real time status of locked or unlocked, and alerts you instantly when somebody comes or goes."

The August Smart Lock Pro is also a Consumer Reports fave. "We tested the previous-generation August Smart Lock and found that it offers a wealth of smart features that potential homeowners will appreciate," they said.

Video doorbell

The humble doorbell has come a long way in the past few years," said Business Insider. "Gone are the days when all a doorbell would do is alert you to the fact that someone's at the door. These days, doorbells can connect to your Wi-Fi network to offer enhanced home security with built-in cameras and microphones. Of all the doorbells you can buy, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 (currently $199) is our top pick because it doesn't have to be hard wired and it has an excellent 1080p camera."

Smart smoke detectors

If you've ever dealt with a smoke detector going off in the middle of the night, this product should thrill you. But, of course, knowing your family is safe is obviously your No. 1 priority. And why not save a little money at the same time, right?

"Another smart technology product, the smart smoke detector, could not only save you money (approximately 5% on your insurance premiums), but could even save your life," said UpNest. "One 2014 CBS news report cites a figure of 2/3 of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled -- which is something many of us have resorted to at one time or other out of sheer frustration when our typical ‘dumb' detector insists on shrieking an alarm every time we try to fry up some bacon. A smart detector will allow you to keep on frying without fear of interruption. Two such products, the Birdi and the Nest Protect, will not only monitor smoke but also carbon dioxide and general air quality. They can even send an alert to your smart phone or tablet if anything is amiss. These products retail for $119 and $99 respectively."

Smart irrigation system

The SkyDrop: Smart Irrigation System Controller is a next-level automatic sprinkler system that allows you to control your irrigation from anywhere by using their app, and, "The best part is the irrigation will adjust itself based on your local weather," said Nerds on Call. "The SkyDrop can be programmed to adhere to local water restrictions in order to contribute to saving water. An amazing part about SkyDrop is that it can calculate how much water your lawn uses every day and adjust the amount of watering time to keep your lawn healthy. This device sells for $200 on Amazon, and connects to your existing irrigation system along with your WiFi network."

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