Consumer excitement about the smart home has reached epic heights, with hundreds of new devices on the market that monitor, notify, control and secure the home. According to Parks Associates, mobile ubiquity, technology innovation and industry standards and partnerships have contributed to more than 13 million U.S. households now owning a connected device. Based on CNET observations, this number is set to increase threefold over the next three years to an estimated 45 million smart homes by 2018.
With connected products available to even the least tech-savvy consumers for as little as $50, there’s no better time than now to create a smarter home. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Automate your light switches. One of the easiest and most affordable places to start automating your home is with the lights. Chamberlain and other companies let you appear home when you’re not by setting schedules that turn lights on and off at select or random times. These products are sold at most home improvement and electronics stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy and online for about $49.99.
2. Control the garage door. According to the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association, an estimated 71 percent of U.S. households use their garage as the main entry point to their homes. Automating the garage door allows homeowners to monitor and control the most active door of the house from anywhere in the world. Smartphone alerts let you know when the garage is in use or left open, and give you access to opening it any time to for guests, deliveries or workers.
3. Install smart locks. With connected door locks, a mere touch of your finger locks or unlocks the front door, providing alerts every step of the way. You can also allow access to others through their smartphones and turn off access at any time. Smart locks begin at about $200 and are available at Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other stores.
4. View your home with video. A connected home video camera can help by streaming live video to your smartphone once movement is detected in or around the home, and video is accessible with a cloud storage option. These products start at about $150.
5. Save money and energy through temperature control. Installing a connected thermostat can save you up to 20 percent on your heating bill throughout the year. Smart thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature based on your comings and goings from anywhere—turn up the heat in your house just before returning from a trip, or switch your setting to vacation mode if you forgot to do so before leaving. These devices sell for about $250 from various online, electronics and home improvement retailers.