Smart home technology is on track to become standard among American homeowners. The number of U.S. households with home automation devices grew from 10 percent in 2016 to 15 percent in 2017, according to The NPD Group. The popularity of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home is fueling this growth, encouraging home owners to invest in connected smart home devices. Security, monitoring, video doorbells, and smart lighting represent some of the hottest home automation categories. By 2021, the number of U.S. households with smart home automation will reach 73 million, representing 55 percent of all American homes, Berg Insight projects.
One reason smart home ownership is growing so rapidly is that it’s becoming easier than ever to upgrade to home automation technology. Here are three simple high-tech home upgrades that are easy to install and affordable for home owners on almost any budget.
Use Your Smartphone and Smart Speaker to Control Your Home
One of the simplest ways to get set up with home automation is to start using your smartphone or smart speaker to control other home devices. An easy way to do this is to use your smartphone or smart speaker to enhance your home entertainment system. For example, if you have an iOS device and a Samsung smart TV or digital media player such as an Apple TV, you can set up your TV to mirror videos played on your iPhone 8 Plus or other smartphone. You’ll need to download and install the Mirror for Samsung TV app via the App Store if you have a Samsung smart TV; if you have an Apple TV, use the AirPlay Mirroring button found in your phone’s Control Center.
You can also pair an iOS device with a smart speaker such as Amazon Echo by using Bluetooth, allowing you to play your music over the Echo’s more powerful speakers. In a similar way, you can use a smartphone or smart speaker to connect with other smart home devices.
Use Smart Home Security Devices
Another easy way to automate your home is to install smart home security devices from providers such as ADT Pulse, Vivint Smart Home, and SimpliSafe Home Security System. A typical entry-level setup includes a motion detector, sensors for your doors and windows, and a hub to communicate with your security devices. You can expand on this by adding extra sensors to cover your entire home and yard, automated lights, wireless surveillance cameras, automated door locks, alarms, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Many smart home security systems allow you to create customized rules, such as having a door open automatically if a smoke alarm goes off. You can use your smartphone to remotely arm and disarm your security system, lock and unlock doors, receive alarm notifications, and view surveillance cameras. You can also control your smart home security features through a speaker device such as Amazon Echo. You can arrange to have your cameras monitored by a remote surveillance guard service.
Install Smart Energy Controls
Another easy way to start automating your home is to install smart energy controls. One of today’s most popular smart home devices is a smart thermostat from a provider such as Nest. A smart thermostat cuts your energy bill by automatically adjusting heating and cooling levels to your daily activity cycles and to weather conditions. You can install a smart thermostat by using a C wire, exchanging your current thermostat’s wall plate with that for your new thermostat, and connecting to your Wi-Fi system. Depending on whether your home’s wiring already has a C wire, you may be able to do this yourself, or you may want to hire an electrician. The same applies when installing smart switches or smart lights. Some manufacturers such as Ecobee include adapters to help you install a C wire if you don’t already have one. If you’re not sure how to do this safely, consult an experienced electrician.
Getting started with home automation can be as simple as pairing your smartphone with a smart TV or smart speaker. Smart home security devices are also easy to set up. Smart thermostats and lighting are also relatively easy to set up, although if you don’t have a C wire you may need to hire an electrician. All of these devices are reasonably affordable for home owners on any budget, making it easy for you to switch over to a smart home.