Home technology has advanced so quickly in recent years that it can sometimes feel like we are living in an episode of The Jetsons. We may not be parking our flying cars out front or sending each other hologram messages, but today’s smart home upgrades can give even Rosie the robot maid a run for her money. In our blog this month, we’re breaking down all of the top advances in home technology. We’ll look at what smart home features can help increase convenience, lower your electricity bill, and (of course) add to the value of your home.

Smart Thermostats

Simple to install and very cost-effective, a smart thermostat is one of the most popular smart home upgrades, and it’s easy to see why. A regular thermostat works by continually adjusting your home to match your set temperature. A tireless piece of technology, it will steadily heat and cool your entire home at all hours of every day. Smart thermostats understand that the ideal home temperature changes depending on the time of day, weather, or even how many people are currently in the home. They learn your household’s pattern and will adjust the temperature of your home to your exact schedule. Certain models can respond to even more detailed home conditions like humidity levels, and individual room temperatures. Nearly all can be programmed remotely, giving you control even when you’re away.

Beyond comfort, the obvious appeal of a smart thermostat is energy savings which is great for the planet and your wallet. Different models claim vastly different cuts off your energy bill each year, ranging anywhere from 8% up to 30%. In our experience, a safe baseline for most models is to expect about 10% off your bill.

Smart Smoke Detector

It is a nearly universal experience to have a fire alarm go off while cooking (or burning) a meal. It’s a singular moment of chaos full of dish towel waving, window opening, and sometimes just turning the dang thing off to get the sound to stop. However, that innocent move to turn off the alarm can prove to be a very dangerous one. According to a CBS news report, 2/3rds of all fatalities from fire occur in residences where the smoke detector has been disabled or is missing. Your smoke detector should be an essential piece of home technology built to ensure your family’s safety, not an out-of-date machine that lets you know every time your toast is slightly overdone. Recent technology has vastly improved the functioning of modern smoke detectors, giving them a heightened ability to monitor smoke, carbon dioxide, and general air quality. Many smart smoke detectors connect to your smartphone and send you reports on your home’s air quality and alert you if anything has tipped into an unsafe level. You can save yourself from kitchen-related false alarms and be totally in control of the safety of your home’s air by upgrading to a smart smoke detector.

Smart Door Locks

An extremely popular smart home upgrade that won’t break the bank is a smart door lock system. Installing one of these modern smart locks is a stylish and convenient way to increase your home security and add additional functionality to your home. The features of smart locks vary depending on the model and your budget but can range anywhere from remote locking and unlocking capabilities, front door cameras that enable you to see and speak to visitors without even approaching your door, unlocking via a fingerprint or voice activation, and many other additional security tools.

Smart Lighting

The glitchy “clap on, clap off” lights of the 80s look like ancient history compared with smart lighting options today. Smart lighting has revolutionized homeowners’ ability to control the light in their homes, conserve energy, and improve security. While fiddling with an app-controlled lighting system may seem far more finicky than a classic on/off switch, smart lighting systems actually work to be totally effort-free. With automatic settings that can adjust your interior lighting to the time of day and amount of natural lighting in each room, geofencing capability that will automatically turn the lights off when you leave and back on when you return, voice activation, motion-activated security lighting, and so much more, smart lighting can truly modernize your home.

Another major benefit to smart lighting is its ability to conserve energy. On average, the cost of lighting a home amounts to about 12% of a homeowner’s annual energy bill. Smart lighting can be tailored to maximize energy conservation, bringing electricity costs down significantly.

Smart Moisture Sensor

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are no stranger to moisture and the risk it can pose to homes. From flooding caused by excess rainfall each year to internal water problems like washing machine leaks, dripping pipes, improperly installed appliances, and so much more, water damage can be one of the most difficult and costly things to repair in a home. Even a mild leak can cause moldy walls, warped floorboards, damaged personal belongings, and so much more. The best way to prevent water damage from spiraling out of control is by knowing about it immediately. Smart technology in water-sensor systems can quickly alert homeowners of potential leaks, excess moisture in the air, and even shut off water systems automatically when problems are detected. Water sensors can range from as low as $50 to $500 depending on the desired features and capability of the sensor, but can save thousands of dollars in repairs and priceless personal possessions.

Solar Panels

Perhaps the largest smart-home addition available, solar panels are an increasingly affordable way to help the planet and save on your electricity bill at the same time. Beyond providing a source of clean, renewable energy for your home, the U.S. Department of Energy has found that adding solar panels to your home can increase your resale value by $15,000. With the average system costing around $10,000 and additional federal tax incentives that can offset installation costs by about 30%, solar panels can be an extremely beneficial investment for your home. It’s incredibly easy to see if your home might be a good fit for solar panels using Google’s Project Sunroof, which will allow you to look up your home and see how many hours of useable sunlight your roof receives per year and what that will equate to in energy savings.

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