July 1, 2016
Technology systems and devices
According to Energy Star, the cost of lighting your home amounts to about 12% of your home’s annual energy bill. While that may not seem like a lot, every little bit adds up. Smart lighting dimmer and sensor systems can allow you to easily turn lights on and off via your smart phone, and they can also be customized to perform certain actions like slowly growing brighter as you wake up or switching off automatically whenever you leave home. Smart outdoor lighting can also help increase security around your place, serving as a motion detector and also making it safer for you to venture out into your well-lit yard at night. One client of mine recently told me that by changing 50 regular bulbs (interior, exterior and lamps) they were able to reduce their home voltage from 3600 volts to 350 volts! And most LED bulbs have a life span of approximately 22 – 25 years. Imagine never having to change a bulb during your mortgage period.
Programmable thermostats are nothing new, but the problem is that most of the standard clock-type thermostats are confusing to figure out and difficult to use. The newer, smart thermostats take all of the guesswork out of the process, since they can sense whether you are at home or away and adjust your home’s temperature controls accordingly. One of the most popular smart thermostats is the Nest, which currently costs $249 but projects an average savings of around $173 per year.
Smart smoke detector
Another smart technology product, the smart smoke detector, could not only save you money (approximately 5% on your insurance premiums), but could even save your life. One 2014 CBS news report cites a figure of 2/3 of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled. Gone are the days of waving the tea towel under the shrieking alarm every time you try to fry up some bacon. Instead a simple warning allows you to press a button and keep cooking. The Nest Protect, will not only monitor smoke but also carbon dioxide and general air quality. They can even send an alert to your smart phone or tablet if anything is amiss.
Smart door locks
Hands full, forgot your house key? Smart door locks, automatically detect when you arrive home and unlock the door as soon as you’re standing outside. What’s more, you can also program them to allow access to selected guests such as family members, friends, and real estate agents. The August Smart Lock, even has one feature which could be of particular use to home sellers – a Guestbook function, which allows you to send a message through the app to any potential visitors or real estate agents with advice or instructions for showing your home. This function works both ways, so your Realtor® can also leave feedback for you in return.
Smart sprinkler control
Living in the Shuswap, where you regularly need to water your lawn during the summertime, a smart sprinkler system can save you a lot of hassle as well as money. These devices, can be programmed via computer or smart phone app, and automatically adjust your sprinkler system to account for the season and the weather. Some users report saving up to 2/3 on their water bills.
Keep your smart home safe
Basic steps that security experts recommend include: changing the password on your device from the default, protecting your WiFi network with a password and ensuring that your wireless router uses some form of encryption. If you have given a password to someone who should no longer have it (like a former dog-walker), it is important to change it immediately.