Everyday items are becoming more hi-tech but for a clever smart home, ditch the gimmicks and invest in improvements that’ll make a difference to your pocket as well as your lifestyle.
Build your own smart system
Smart thermostats allow you to turn your heating on and off remotely and set schedules using a smartphone. Several of them, such as Hive, Nest and Tado, learn your habits, know when you’re on your way home and switch the heating on for you or adjust to suit the weather. As well as being convenient, not heating your home when you don’t have to will save you money. You can control the temperature remotely if you’re running late and they’ll show you how much heating your home costs.
Image source: Hive
The Energy Saving Trust estimate that a family can save around £85 a year* for each degree the thermostat is turned down (if you’ve yet to get a smart thermostat, you can still turn your normal thermostat down a degree and pop on a jumper). If you’re not sure which thermostat will suit your current system, speak to a heating engineer for advice.
Several smart thermostats go one step further with other remotely controlled extras, so you can build a bespoke system. These include door and window sensors, plugs that can switch appliances on and off (great for anything from lamps to slow cookers) and lightbulbs that can be dimmed, change colour and be set to schedules. Switching off appliances and chargers and avoiding standby mode, together with switching off lights when you don’t need them also helps you save.
Save water and energy
There’s more to saving water at home than aerator taps and a WC cistern displacer – the latest smart products can help. Some will also save energy. For example, a digital shower allows you to control the flow and warmth of the water, so you won’t waste litres down the plughole while you’re waiting for it to warm up or adjusting the temperature. This Crosswater model can also be operated remotely and changes colour when it reaches the right temperature.
Image source: Crosswater
For the water you might not know you’re wasting, there’s Roost – a smart water and freeze detector that senses water leaks, humidity and freezing that sends alerts to your phone about potential problems, allowing you to catch them before a minor repair turns into a major one. Your local plumber will be able to help in either case.
Image source: Roost
Automate your appliances
An increasing amount of WiFi-enabled kitchen kit can be controlled by apps, such as Hoover’s Wizard appliance range. Beyond being able to check on dinner in the oven while you’re watching TV or being alerted that the fridge door is open, many appliances help you to be more energy efficient, offering usage reports or recommending settings. For example, Candy’s Smart Touch washing machine uses Near Field Communication (NFC) to send and receive data from a smart phone. Using the app, it’ll help you choose the most efficient or cost-effective setting, then tap your phone on the machine to connect and begin the cycle. You can also download new washing cycles and run diagnostic ‘health checks’ to make sure it’s working as it should.
Image source: Candy
Let there be light
Lighting accounts for about 18% of a typical household electricity bill so switching off lights will help you save. The latest LED bulbs use less but even leaving them on for hours more than you need can mount up over an average year. Standalone smart lightbulbs, and some light strips, are dimmable and can be controlled remotely by an app, so you can switch them on and off wherever you are and set schedules. Which is great for not coming home to a dark house or having to leave the lights on all day. Philips Hue and Lifx lights can also change colour. For a more affordable option, look out for Ikea’s new range of smart lighting launching later this year (April).
Image source: Lifx