The best in new smart home technology

Smart technology, such as the technology associated with our smartphones and smart TVs, has made our life easier and more innovative. These devices are all-in-one and intuitive, allowing us to handle our day-to-day tasks and entertainment options with a lot more efficiency and intelligence. So, too, do the latest in smart home technology — devices that can turn our home systems on and off or be adjusted from anywhere we prefer, from the comfort of our bedrooms, our workplaces, the local gym, shopping malls, or vacation spots. Smart home technology like smart plugs, smart locks, smart air conditioning (AC), and smart plumbing can increase our feelings of comfort, safety, and ease of use — most smart home technology can be set up with companion apps and voice control for adjustments to our home systems that are routine or unscheduled. It’s a growing industry, and according to Statista, 41% of U.S. residents agree that home safety and security is one of the key benefits of a smart home.

Let’s check out this new kind of technology with brand recommendations. We’ve focused on technology that makes your home more energy-efficient or safe, but there are lots of smart appliances out there that offer additional benefits.

Smart plugs, an easy entry point

Smart plugs allow you to control anything that plugs into a wall, including lights or space heaters from your phone. Some models include surge protectors, let you control more than one outlet, alert you to the amount of power being used, and include things like USB charging ports. There are outdoor models that are weatherproof and that feature built-in light sensors that automatically turn the lights on at sunset.

Recommended models:

  • ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2
  • TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300
  • Wemo Mini Smart Plug
  • Wyze Plug Outdoor

Smart security systems

With smart security systems, there are a lot of benefits. It is relatively easy and affordable to monitor your home from any location, and you can work within a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit or do something much more full scale with professional installation and monitoring. Smart security systems are also customizable to fit your needs. If you choose to monitor your own home, there are systems available where you can use a phone or tablet to do so with the help of indoor and outdoor security cameras, video doorbells, motion sensors, and smart locks.

Recommended models:

  • Vivint Smart Home
  • ADT Command
  • SimpliSafe Home Security System

Smart locks

Smart locks are generally part of a full smart home security system, though you don’t have to have a full security system to purchase one. If you already have an automation hub at home where you control other systems, like lighting, you can include a smart lock in that system.  If you don’t have an automation hub, you can simply purchase a lock with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capability that will have its own mobile app. And there are also a variety of smart locks to choose from including keyless locks, touch-screen locks, combination keyed and touchpad locks, and locks with a biometric fingerprint reader.

Recommended models:

  • August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
  • Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Wi-Fi Smart Lock
  • Kwikset Halo Touch Fingerprint Smart Lock
  • Z-Wave or Zigbee smart lock

Smart thermostats

Adding a smart thermostat to your home may be a big convenience. As with many smart home technology systems, you can monitor and adjust the settings of this system by phone or voice and set schedules, but smart thermostats offer features to help you save energy, too. Some models use occupancy sensors to gauge if you’re home or not so it can automatically adjust the temperature. Smart thermostats also feature innovative designs, such as rounded shapes, different colors, and touchscreens.

Recommended models:

  • Amazon Smart Thermostat
  • Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Resideo Honeywell Home T9 Smart Thermostat

Energy savings

If you take advantage of the energy saving features smart thermostats offer, you will see a benefit in lower costs; however, with some expensive models, it may take a year or more before you start to see the savings.

Smart AC

Smart ACs are very much like smart thermostats in terms of convenience, features, and energy savings. They are more expensive than traditional AC units, but the benefits have the capacity to save costs in the long term. Among some of the features of a smart AC are the ability to adjust the temperature, set a schedule, change the fan speed, turn the unit on and off remotely, energy usage reports, and the ability to cool down rooms. If you have a traditional AC, you can also make it smart by buying a retrofit device like Sensibo Sky.

Recommended models:

  • Hisense 350-sq ft Window AC
  • Midea Duo Smart Inverter Portable AC
  • Midea 8,000 BTU U-shaped Air Conditioner

Smart smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms

Smart smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms can give you a double layer of safety. These smart home technology devices will not only sound an alarm, but send signals to your smartphone, too. There are some models that can be connected to your home security system or perform their own self-checks. While there are some smart smoke detectors that stand alone, you can also use smart speakers to capture the sound of smoke or carbon monoxide alarms if they go off.

Recommended models:

  • Alexa Guard
  • Amazon Echo Dot
  • Nest Protect
  • Roost Smart Battery

Smart plumbing

Smart plumbing may be the biggest surprise of the smart home technology that is on the market, but it comes with a lot of innovative designs. This type of technology includes water detection systems that monitor your water use, identifies leaks, shuts off water automatically, and notifies you of any problems; shower and bath technology that automatically turn on the water; and a technology-heavy, hands-free toilet.

Recommended models:

  • Flo Water Detection System
  • Kohler PerfectFill smart drain and bath filler
  • Kohler Veil one-piece toilet
  • U by Moen smart shower controller

How to choose the best smart home devices for you

When choosing the best smart home devices for you, first consider what you are looking for in a smart home technology device. In the case of security systems, are you looking for a wide-ranging security system or would a DIY system on an affordable budget better fit your needs? Second, consider the devices you already have that would be compatible with any new smart home technology. Is it something that could be integrated into a current hub? Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant support most major smart home device brands. Are you considering technology that is not compatible with any of these? Lastly, what is the benefit you are hoping to achieve: is it safety, energy savings, or something else? And will the cost be worth it?

Potential savings on your homeowners insurance

In terms of savings to your homeowners insurance, with the installation of any smart home technology, potential savings are likely to come in a discount to your premium, a discount to the home technology device itself, or a discount to any professional services you’ve used with the smart home technology.

Are the savings worth it?

Savings will vary by insurance company and not all insurance companies offer a discount with smart home technology in your home. Estimates range from as low as 5% to as high as 13% in premium discounts, with 10% to 50% in discounts to the smart home products directly.

It’s a good idea to shop around and compare insurance quotes on potential discounts with the installation of any smart home technology.

While the potential is there to save on energy costs and increase safety, find out how you can save on homeowners insurance with Elephant Insurance.

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