Just because your house is already built doesn’t mean its not a candidate for some great electronic systems. Wireless options are widely available in just about every category of smart home products, and most are simple enough for handy homeowners to install themselves. Plus, they are affordable. Here are a few ideas you can incorporate today.
There’s an app for that
Nearly every smart home device and system available today can be controlled from a mobile app. You probably already own a smartphone or a tablet, so save yourself the expensive of an expensive touchpanel or keypad for control by using the free app that most manufacturers offer with their systems.
Buy new bulbs
Sorry incandescent light bulbs, but your just plain dumb. A new generation of LED light bulbs are not only more energy efficient; many of them are built with technology that allows them to be controlled from yes … you guessed it … a smartphone app. Start your bulb rehab with one room. It shouldn’t cost more than $50 to do, and no more than a few minutes of your time.
Situate some sensors
You walk into the closet: the lights turn on. A guest leaves the powder room: the fan turns off. Hallway lights brighten as the kids approach for a midnight sprint to and from their bedrooms and the bathroom. A motion sensor can automate the lights in any area of your house whenever the notice that someone has walked into its detection zone. They are easy to install and most cost no more than $50
Detectors do damage control
One of the most damaging things that can happen to your home is flooding. Be it from a leaky pipe under the sink or a malfunctioning sump pump, water can wreak a huge amount of havoc on your homestead. Fortunately, there’s a simple, affordable way to minimize the damage. Smart battery operated water detectors sell for around $50-$70, and can ping your smartphone immediately, giving you time to react to and hopefully fix the problem before things turn ugly.
Survey the property
A favorite smart home feature among many people is the ability to see what’s happening at home while away. There are scads of Internet-connected surveillance cameras that support this capability, and most are designed to be installed by do-it-yourselfers. They deliver remarkable peace of mind, whether you want to check up on the kids when they’re home alone, see how much snow is on the driveway while you’re on a tropical vacation, or monitor the well-being of an elderly parent. You can find IP surveillance cameras for less than $100.
Under electronic lock and key
A nice complement to a surveillance camera is an electronic door lock. It retrofits onto an existing door, and like an IP camera, lets you monitor and control if from anywhere via a smartphone app. Most let you use the app to set up unique entry codes for a number of different people, review a log of who has entered and exited the house, and receive notifications whenever the door is unlocked. One of these handy door locks will set you back about $200 and a 30-minute’s worth of installation time.
Those shades you bought for the living room windows are have an IQ of a rock … and they always seem to be up when they should be down or vice versa. For less than $150 (check out rollertrol.com), you can rig the roller tube with a motor that can be controlled to raise and lower the shades on command from a handheld remote. It’ll take some a little tinkering to get the job done, so if your free time is limited, you can always spend an extra hundred dollars or so for a turnkey roller system with the motor preinstalled, like the Sivoia QS Wireless system from Lutron.