Welcome to the world of The Jetsons: the futuristic cartoon TV family whose fully automated household could get George dressed for work, coffee poured, space car ready and waiting, and out the door without a human lifting a finger (although Rosie, the robot housekeeper, did a lot of the legwork). With the advances in smart home technology, we aren’t far behind.
As our lives become increasingly connected, smart homes are no longer a thing of the future, but a reality for many homeowners. Learn about the latest technologies, increase your home's resale value, and explore financing opportunities to make your home smarter and more energy-efficient. Along the way, you'll also discover how smart home technology has evolved and become an integral part of our culture.
Getting started with Home Automation
Embrace the future with a smart house that simplifies and enhances your everyday routines. Begin by identifying which aspects of your life you want to improve through home automation. From smart watering to smart thermostats and smart speakers, wireless, “intelligent” technologies are up-leveling virtually every aspect of domestic life. Since the introduction of smart home technology in the early 2000s, the market has grown exponentially. Currently, over 40 million homes in the U.S. have at least one smart device.
Selecting a Hub for your Smart Home
A smart hub is the command center for your smart home, connecting and controlling all of your smart home devices. The market offers various options, with the most popular providers being Apple, Google, and Amazon. Each hub has its unique strengths and weaknesses, and one is likely to work best with your specific needs and preferences.
- Apple HomeKit: Apple's ecosystem is known for its security, privacy, and seamless integration with iOS devices. Notable devices include Philips Hue lights, August smart locks, and Ecobee smart thermostats. The cost of these devices ranges from $20 for a single smart light bulb to $250 for a smart thermostat.
- Google Nest Hub: The Google Hub offers impressive voice recognition and a wide range of compatible devices. Compatible devices include Nest thermostats, Nest cameras, and Google's line of smart speakers. Prices range from $30 for a Google Home Mini to $400 for a Nest camera system.
- Amazon Echo (Alexa): Speakers with Alexa provide a vast selection of compatible devices and excellent voice recognition. Some popular compatible devices are Ring doorbells, Amazon smart plugs, and Sonos speakers. Costs can range from $25 for an Amazon smart plug to $300 for a Ring doorbell system.
Smart Lights, Camera, Action
Transform your living space with these incredible gadgets and technologies, each with a different price range to suit your budget:
- Smart light bulbs: Control your home's lighting from your phone or through voice commands, set schedules, and adjust brightness and colors to suit your mood. Prices start at $15 for a single smart light bulb and can go up to $200 for a complete lighting system.
- Cameras and security: Smart home security systems offer real-time monitoring, notifications, and even facial recognition to keep your home safe. A basic security camera may cost around $100, while a comprehensive system can reach $1,000 or more.
- Smart thermostats: They can save money and energy by learning your habits and adjusting the temperature accordingly. The cost ranges from $100 for a basic model to $250 for more advanced options.
- Music: Smart speakers like Google Home or Alexa devices for the home allow you to control your music with just your voice. Prices start at $30 for an entry-level model and can go up to $400 for a high-end device.
- Smart garage door openers: May be motion sensitive, programmable, or remote-controlled – so you never have to worry about smashed bicycles or whether you left the door open. These devices typically cost between $150 and $300.
What about privacy?
While smart home technology offers numerous benefits, privacy is a real concern for many consumers. To address these concerns, companies are becoming more transparent about their data practices and giving users more control over their data. Consumers can protect their privacy by researching products, choosing companies with strong privacy policies, and keeping software up to date.
Smart home = smart money
Creating a smart home can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the extent of your upgrades. But these improvements may increase your home's resale value, and almost certainly make your home more attractive to certain buyers than an equivalently valued home that’s not wired for efficiency and convenience. In one Coldwell Banker survey, 81 percent of smart-device users said they would be more likely to purchase a home that already has tech in place. You might consider leveraging a home equity line of credit to finance smart home investments.
Unlocking the potential of your smart home
Experience the convenience and improved quality of life that comes with a smart home. Consult with your lender to learn more about financing options and make your home a technological masterpiece. As smart home technology continues to grow and become more integrated into our lives, understanding the available options, costs, and privacy concerns will empower you to make the best decisions for your home and lifestyle.