How can you know, then, which improvements might be beneficial to your household’s budget? Your best bet is to look at where your family’s expenses are highest and seek ways to diminish those expenditures. If you pay through the nose during the summer trying to keep your house cool, then investing in a smart thermostat might make sense, but a smart oven might not – it’s all about what you’ll use and what technologies have advanced far enough to be effective, financially and functionally.
Before installing smart home technology in your home, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of what these appliances can accomplish. Most pieces of smart home technology cost a few hundred dollars, minimum – one of the most popular devices, the Nest Learning Thermostat, costs $250 dollars, as does the August Smart Lock. If you plan to fully modify your home, then, you’re likely to be looking at over $1000 in devices before you’ve saved anything.
On top of the high entry price for smart home technology, we need to add only modest savings expectations. Most companies producing these devices say they can save homeowners about 10% a year on energy costs (a smart lock is unlikely to save you anything other than some worry). At 10%, that means at peak you’ll be saving around $100 a year. That’s not a lot especially when compared to what it will cost to save that little bit of money.
Holding these statistics in mind, we have to ask if it’s worth retrofitting our homes to include these devices. In a few cases, we can say that yes, the cost is worthwhile.
Case #1: The Avid Travelers
If you spend large portions of your year on the road and away from home, smart devices may make a lot of sense. A smart lock system coupled with internet streaming-equipped surveillance cameras can help you feel assured that your home is safe. And if something does happen, your smart home security devices are more likely to have recorded the perpetrator, alerted the authorities, and informed you about the breech. That kind of security is worth investing in.
Case #2: The Tropics Dwellers
People who live in very warm, humid areas, will benefit from installing energy saving smart home technology on a greater scale than those who live in cool or temperate areas. That’s because these devices can take humidity into account when cooling your home and are highly attuned to your home’s temperature regulation needs. Residents in more temperate areas are better able to save on energy costs because they aren’t threatened by extreme temperature conditions and high humidity. Those in the tropics, however, need more nuanced tools to save on energy expenses.
At the end of the day, installing smart home technologies is unlikely to save you money in the short term and may not benefit your finances much at all. What these tools can do, however, is improve your peace of mind and make you a better steward of the environment. Ultimately, you’ll have to balance your priorities – and your budget – before you buy in to the smart home movement.