A Smart Home on a Budget
Smart Home Dreams, Realistic Finances
It’s been an inviting dream for decades: a smart home that responds to our needs automatically, keeps energy usage to a minimum, and makes life easier. While we may not be ready to move into Tex Avery’s House of Tomorrow just yet, a number of devices have come on the market in recent years that have the ability to turn any house into a smart home. Whether you’re a renovation and design enthusiast or just an average home owner, now is truly an exciting time to think about the possibilities of creating a smart home.
Except there’s just one problem: a lot of these devices are expensive! Sure, you can have lights that switch on and off automatically, a coffee pot that starts brewing when your alarm clock goes off three rooms away, and voice-activated everything, but installing all of these things will run up a bill faster than you can say “credit or debit.” Fortunately, with some careful number crunching and a few select, affordable devices, you can turn your house into a smart home, even on a shoestring budget. Here are some ideas and products to consider.
Intelligent Thermostat Control
Your home’s energy usage is one of your largest expenses. A smart thermostat like Nest may seem like a big upfront expense, but it has the potential to save you quite a lot on your energy bills, even in just one year. Nest learns your temperature preferences and then adjusts them automatically. It also has graphics to show you when you’re saving energy. When used with its proprietary app, you can get all sorts of statistics about your energy usage and how you can cut back. The app also allows you to adjust the temperature of your home even when you’re miles away, keeping your home comfortable and efficient at all times.
You don’t have to replace all of your appliances to make your house a smart home — you just have to upgrade your switches. Belkin’s WeMo Switch allows you to turn any device on or off with an app through your home’s wifi network. These switches are programmable, too, which means you can set up your electric blanket to switch on 15 minutes before bedtime or your lamps to click on at sunset. They’re fairly affordable, and you can start with just one and purchase more as your budget allows.
What if your mere presence could activate lights, switch off the TV, and adjust the temperature of a room? This would be possible in a custom-built smart home, but what about in your current dwelling? With Airfy Beacons (which are currently in development), the smart home dream is attainable for a very low price. These devices, along with the Airfy smart phone app, act as wireless triggers for your regular lights and appliances. Your presence, as indicated by your smart phone’s location, is picked up by the nearest beacon, and changes are made according to programming or preferences. Not only is this fun, but it’s practical as well, as using Airfy’s Beacons can help you to save money on your energy bills
Let The Robot Hoover
We may not have robot maids to do our housework for us quite yet, but with a robot vacuum like the iRobot Roomba, you can have clean floors in your smart home without lifting a finger. Think of it: a smart vacuum to clean a smart home. True, some of the more recent, advanced models are quite pricey, but basic models start at around the same price as a quality manual vacuum.
There’s A Smart App For That
Years ago, the remote control revolutionised the way we watched TV and listened to music. Now, with set-ups like the Griffin Beacon Universal Remote Control System, all of your smart home’s entertainment devices can be controlled with a simple smart phone app. The system consists of a battery-powered beacon that can be configured to work with TVs, stereos, and other entertainment components and then used with the Dijit universal remote app. And, the total lack of wires and plugs contributes to the clean aesthetic of a smart home.