Even though smart homes and various dedicated solutions are becoming more and more readily available, it still sounds like something straight out of a science fiction movie to many. We immediately think of some fancy hi-tech budget-swallowing black holes. Voice commands, apps, eye scanners, and futuristic home cinema room ideas. What’s the point of spending all of your hard-earned money just so that you don’t have to get off the couch to turn the lights on…?
If you’re not completely new to the world of smart home installation, you know perfectly well there’s so much more to them. Nevertheless, it’s still quite a common misconception. In this blog post, we decided to tackle some of these myths. Because the reality is, it’s not about tearing the whole house down to make room for a spaceship-looking house you can control by raising your eyebrows. You can start with a £20 app-controlled light bulb. You can just stay there, too. But more on that later.
As you’re soon going to discover, a smart home is not just about convenience, but eliminating unnecessary spending – also of your money.
Let’s start with the easiest and most basic part – the lighting. With just a few simple tricks you can easily build an affordable system offering a similar functionality to that of a high-end installation. Of course, to a certain extent. Automatic dimming, motion sensors, or adjustable intensity all sound quite impressive, but the fact is – you can do it all with a dedicated set of LED bulbs.
They save a considerable amount of energy, which is why they are very popular. On top of that, the average lifespan of a single bulb is around 20 years, depending on the specific model. They’re also a staple part of any home cinema room accessories, so if you’re a lucky owner of one of these, you should definitely consider adding them to your cinema room decor.
Along with energy, they obviously have a very desirable byproduct – saving money. If we assume it lasts 20 years, then we can expect to have about £4000 extra in our pockets. That’s something. So even with an initially higher cost compared to incandescent bulbs, LED still comes out on top while also being much easier to operate. If you ever decide you want to extend and grow your smart home, it’s easy to integrate them with plenty of different systems.
One more thing – your lighting makes up about 20% of your electricity bill every month. Think back to how often you or your family member just leave and forget about turning the lights off. Then you come back to the dire realization it’s been for the entire day. Do that a few times a month and see your utility bill eat up a big chunk of your budget. App-controlled lighting can take of that problem since you can your smartphone to monitor energy usage at all times and turn your lights remotely at will – no need to take the full trip back home.
It doesn’t really matter if you go for an app-controlled bulb or a model with motion sensors – if it has an ENERGY STAR, you can rest assured it’ll do its job. You get more light for less money. Consider installing them inside and outside of your house to get the best value for money.
Of course, the entire lighting system saves the most energy, but it does require a more substantial investment initially – especially one with more advanced features like an app control or voice activation. This might sound like a bad idea and an unnecessary purchase, but the reality is – it all depends. Generally speaking, for bigger houses it does make more sense, simply because you use more energy. And with more energy, the small savings add up fairly quickly. You’ll be able to tell the difference almost from the start.
Here are two other things we spend a considerable amount of money on every year. No wonder. Smart thermostats offer a great solution – and a quite affordable one at that. They can lower your bills by 10% to 15% a month, and while it perhaps doesn’t seem like much at first, it does amount to pretty sizeable savings in the long run. Especially if we consider cost per use and the added benefit of lower energy consumption.
There are plenty of different types available on the market. At this point, it’s probably not surprising any more – the price range of any solution is huge. We can just as easily spend £200 and £200,000 for the new smart home setup.
Apart from the obvious features like controlling the temperature with nothing more but your smartphone, there are also plenty of different functionalities like eco mode, shutting it off completely, and intelligent adjusting or scheduling – all that is very useful for saving energy. And less energy used equals more money saved. On top of that, an experienced and knowledgeable contractor knows how to make sure the entire system is properly optimized and tailor-made for the specific needs of your home to get the best value for your money. Efficiency above all.
Some models study your behavioural patterns and adjust everything according to them. They analyse when you leave the room when you go to sleep or leave for work, shopping, or the gym and then react accordingly. You could also consider getting smart radiator valves, which work in a very similar way.
Interestingly, air conditioning and fans alone cost a single US household about $525 a year. 10% or 15% off that is already something. Add it all up over the years, and you could probably take an extra vacation trip.
Another thing we can’t live without and pay for it quite handsomely every month for that very reason. Water. Simply irreplaceable. What we can replace is the total amount of our next month’s utility bill, which we would probably gladly do. But most of us accept it, pay the bill every month, rinse and repeat. That’s just the way it is.
Or is it? According to recent data, 460 million litres of water is wasted – courtesy of leaky taps alone. Just faucets. It’s literally water and money – down the drain.
All it takes is actually a few simple tweaks and investments. With so many options, it’s not unreasonable to expect considerable savings while spending barely anything in comparison. Of course, the more complex the device, the higher the price.
Let’s take basic smart leak sensors. These devices can detect any leaks, pinpoint them and send an alert to your smartphone through a dedicated app. There are a bit more expensive smart water valves, which when connected to the mains can detect even the smallest leak, like a drippy tap, around the house. They’re also incredibly useful when you’re facing some big trouble as well – bursting pipes, cycling toilets and more unfortunate accidents. You can’t really predict them and it’s hard to safe-proof your house against them. But a smart water valve can do that. It immediately shuts the water flow saving you from the catastrophe.
As much as we love them, our stunning lawns and beautiful gardens need water as well. Consider getting a set of smart sprinklers to automate the whole process and make it as cost-effective as possible while keeping your surroundings green and healthy.
Now, it’s time for the most complex element of our little puzzle. Let’s start with the most basic option, for someone who’s not really so keen on doing any extensive electrical and rewiring jobs around their house. It’s a much less complicated solution, so don’t expect you’re going to turn your house into a Control4 or Crestron smart home.
Be that as it may, they still work well, especially for someone looking for a beginner and a budget-friendly option. Let’s take Google Nest Hubs or Amazon Echo Dot. Simple, elegant and affordable. But what do they do? These all-in-one smart displays offer you control over all of the smart devices around your house.
They can be controlled with voice commands, which gives plenty of fun options to play with your house. But fun is not why we’re here – we’re trying to save money. So, while playing music, getting a daily weather update, answering your doorbell and plenty of other functionalities, it’s the heat management and lighting control we should be most interested in.
Of course, the specialised dedicated systems have a lot more to offer when it comes to smart home devices, so if you’re looking for a “one system to rule them all” kind of solution, consider the well-known Control4 or Crestron. They give full control over your house and hundreds of customisation options.
Cutting unnecessary energy consumption, also known as waste, is not just about controlling – it’s also about monitoring. Again, there are quite a few different options from specialized energy monitoring tools that help you identify any potential vampire loads to user-friendly app-controlled real-time energy trackers. Whatever you choose, these devices have one more amazing feature that often goes unnoticed. When you can clearly see so many bad habits or imperfections (especially costly ones), you’re more inclined to change them.
Not every smart device or installation has to be an expensive and complicated endeavour. We’re often put off simply by looking at the initial price and the amount we have to invest in what we think will make our lives more convenient and comfortable. It will – but the benefits actually extend far beyond that. In many cases, “these things practically pay for themselves” – to quote a heavily overused and cliché phrase. Remember, you don’t have to spend ungodly amounts of money – even small tweaks can help you save a lot. If you’re not sure what can fit into your budget or looking for specific ways to implement smart home solutions, get in touch with us. Our team of experts will be happy to assist you and help you find what you’re looking for.
The Micarta Team are based in Kent, England. We are specialists in professional integrated technologies and provide the highest quality design, installation and service to our customers.
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