Smart homes have leaped from sci-fi stories into reality. Today, you can program your home to lock doors, turn on lights, and adjust the temperature – all without lifting a finger.
There are many exciting features that come with a smart home, but there are also some disadvantages that might give you pause. Before equipping your home with a network of smart devices, make sure a smart home is right for you.
Pro: Electricity savings
Energy costs are a significant drain on your finances, especially during the summer and winter months. Smart homes offer several ways to lower your electricity bill, including:
- Tracking your energy usage – Are you using more energy than you should? Your smart devices show your power usage, helping you decrease the amount of energy you waste.
- Optimizing heating and cooling – Stop heating/cooling an empty house. You can program your smart thermostat to run on your schedule to minimize costs. Adjusting your thermostat through the mobile app offers additional control and savings.
- Scheduling lighting – Tell your lights when to come on and turn off rather than leaving them on longer than needed. Motion-activated lighting ensures that your lights only use energy when required.
- Offering remote control for smart devices – Turn devices off when they’re not in use. Adjust your settings to lower energy usage. With smart plugs, you can also turn off any regular devices that are plugged into them.
Greater control over your home empowers you to optimize your power consumption and save money on electricity.
Have you ever wished you could open and answer the front door from the couch? What about turning the temperature up without getting out of your warm bed?
With a smart home, you can control all of your smart devices through your phone. You can use a video doorbell to see who is visiting and then unlock your smart door lock to let them inside. Plus, if you have smart devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, you can control your home with voice commands.
Whether you’re at home or in another country, your smart devices’ remote access places your home’s controls in the palm of your hand.
Pro: Stronger home security
Forgetting to lock the door or close the garage can leave your home vulnerable to thieves. Rather than going back home, you can use your phone to engage your smart lock and close the garage door.
Most home security systems integrate with smart devices as well. You can automate actions such as:
- Engaging the smart door lock when an outdoor camera senses movement
- Arming the security system when you leave the house
- Turning the outside lights on when the sun sets
You can also see live video feeds from your security cameras and get intelligent alerts from the security system on your phone. If you suspect someone of stealing your electricity, you can keep an eye on your surveillance footage to catch the thief.
Pro: Save time
Along with making your home safer, home automations can help you save time.
You can use your phone to customize the type of coffee you want your smart coffee maker to brew as soon as you wake up. Have your smart sprinklers automatically adjust their schedule when a rainstorm is coming in. Ask your smart assistant to set a reminder for a task so you’re not scrambling to take care of it at the last minute.
Building a smart home means doing less and getting more done.
All of your smart home’s fancy features and gizmos do come at a price. Paying a little more for one smart device won’t strain your budget, but creating a whole network of devices can get expensive.
Thankfully, the cost of smart devices has dropped over the years. You can slowly build your smart home to lessen the impact on your wallet. Or, you can prioritize more expensive products, such as smart washers and dryers, over items that aren’t as necessary.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who can decide whether a smart device is worth the price.
Con: Hacking risks
Internet-connected devices are more vulnerable to hacking. That said, you can protect your smart home and privacy by following these tips:
- Use strong and unique passwords
- Reset your devices’ factory settings with your own passwords
- Don’t reuse passwords or variations of passwords
- Don’t click on links in emails and text messages, as they might be phishing scams
- Keep your devices’ software updated to the latest version
As long as you keep your login information private and secure, hackers shouldn’t be able to break into your devices.
Con: Compatibility limitations
Devices made by different manufacturers aren’t always compatible. If your devices won’t work together, your smart home’s capabilities will be limited.
There are two main ways to make sure your devices will work together. First, you can buy devices made by the same company. These products are made to connect and will work seamlessly.
You can look for devices that operate on the same protocol as well. Products that operate on Z Wave protocol, for instance, can integrate with other third-party devices that use the same protocol. You can put numerous types of devices on the same network, enjoying the best prices and capabilities with each product.
Con: Internet and power reliance
Smart devices can only work when they have an internet connection. If you lose Wi-Fi or power, you won’t be able to use your full range of features, including:
- Remote access and control
- Smart functions, such as voice commands
- Automated behaviors
Along with being inconvenient, losing internet connectivity can create major problems. Your smart door lock, for example, won’t work without the internet. If you don’t have your key with you, you may get locked out.
Thankfully, outages rarely last long. You may also be able to find devices with a cellular backup. This connection ensures functionality until your power and internet are restored, though it may require an additional monthly cost.