Smart homes are becoming increasingly popular with new homeowners, but you don’t have to buy a brand new house to have one. In fact, with a few smart upgrades, you can turn your existing house into a convenient and energy-efficient marvel of modern living. A lot of people who own older homes are intimidated when they hear the words “smart home”, but there’s no need to worry. Many of the most effective changes you can make are actually fairly modest in scope.
The following are seven of our favorite strategies for transforming your house into a smart home. Find the ones that fit your budget and schedule—then embrace life in the 21st century.
- Add a home automation system.
Home automation systems can control many of the more complicated systems in your home, from your sprinklers to your HVAC. Insteon produces software that can help you get started, and their newest versions are compatible with Google Assistant, making voice activation easy.
- Install smart lighting.
Philips Hue smart lighting allows you to have unprecedented control over the colors and tones used to illuminate your home. Best of all, their bulbs last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, making them particularly energy efficient.
- Use steam-powered laundry machines.
Using steam to clean your clothes helps save water, and brings your utility costs down as well. A steam washer can use 9 gallons per load less than a conventional washing machine.
- Try a learning thermostat.
Learning thermostats adapt to your behavior and adjust themselves automatically to keep your household at a comfortable temperature. They also work to make sure that your HVAC isn’t using energy needlessly, which helps you keep your heating and cooling costs at reasonable levels.
- Buy a water saver.
Waterpebble is such an innocuous device that you’d hardly ever think of it as state-of-the-art smart home technology, but that’s exactly what it is. This small unit detects the length of each shower you take, and tells you when it’s time to stop. The trick is that it cuts down your shower time by a small fraction each time, so that you ultimately end up taking shorter showers and conserving water. Best of all, this one is only about $12, and it’s incredibly easy to add to your bathroom.
- Secure the home with smart locks.
Schlage and Honeywell are just a few companies that make excellent smart locking systems. Smart locks can do anything from connect with your smartphone to open at the touch by reading your fingerprint.
- Conduct DIY energy audits.
Adding gizmos and gadgets to your home will help you save energy, but for best results you should always track your progress. Apps ask you questions about your energy usage, then produce reports that tell you where you’re improving and where you could still afford to cut back. These kinds of DIY energy audits allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your new smart home, so to speak, and continue improving so that even more energy can be saved.
With the abundance of available technology currently on the market, anyone can have a smart home. Purchase an entire home automation system, or start with a water saver and a home energy audit. Either way, you’ll be making a difference for your house and the planet.