Now that spring has arrived and you’re ready to delve into spring cleaning, it’s the perfect time to add some innovative technology to your house to make it “smarter.” You probably lacked both the opportunity and the inclination to make upgrades to your residence during the dark, dismal winter season but those frigid months are over and done with. Take advantage of the spring weather and create more comfortable, smarter living spaces with a number of improvements without breaking your bank account.
Spring Cleaning Tip 1: Switch to LED Lights
If you’re tired of replacing broken or worn-out bulbs, then it’s time to make the move to LED lighting. You’d have to try really hard to break one of these lights and they tend to have useful lifespans significantly longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Other benefits include reduced energy expenditures and lower in-use temperatures. Insteon is one of several manufacturers that produces a bulb that can be controlled wirelessly and dimmed from 1 to 100 percent either on the fly from a smartphone app or according to a preset schedule. Now you can make your lights turn off by themselves when the sun is shining.
The Insteon Bulb retails for about $30 apiece.
Spring Cleaning Tip 2: Install a Smart Hub
A modern smart hub, like an Amazon Echo, can do pretty much what past generations of hubs could – and more. Because it contains the Alexa digital assistant and “her” advanced speech recognition abilities, Echo allows you to communicate with other smart devices, so that you can control everything from a single interface and search the Internet merely by speaking your desires aloud. With its voice control, you can even order goods through Alexa and pay with your Amazon Rewards Card.
Alexa is easy for third parties to add onto through the Alexa Skills Kit, which Amazon has released publicly. Alexa already plays nicely with smart home gear from a variety of recognized brands and the list of compatible hardware will only grow more extensive with time.
Amazon Echo and Echo Dot costs about $180 and $50, respectively.
Spring Cleaning Tip 3: Get a Smart Water Faucet
Wasted water isn’t just costly but it also contributes to a host of environmental problems, like desertification and greenhouse gas emissions. A smart faucet will allow you to cut down on the amount of water you use. The key features to note are an IR sensor for hands-free operation and a digital interface, which makes it a breeze to adjust the water temperature to your liking. Delta makes a variety of both sink and shower fixtures that are smarter than your average faucet. Featuring Temp20 Technology and TouchO Technology, the faucets turn on with just a touch and the shower head displays the temperature of the water.
Models start at around $250 and can go much higher depending on the exact features you’re looking for.
Spring Cleaning Tip 4: Go Solar in Your Garden
Your garden receives a lot of light in the daytime, so it only makes sense to put some of it to use at night. Solar-powered garden lights automatically collect energy from the sun when it’s bright out. They then illuminate at night for safe, comfortable paths through your greenery. There’s no wiring involved because the photovoltaic cell-battery system is a closed one.
You can buy all the supplies and complete the installation of solar lights for well under $100 and perhaps less than $50 if you shop around for the right deal.
Spring Cleaning Tip 5: Add Door and Window Sensors
If you’ve ever worried all day because you couldn’t remember if you left your front door open, then door and window sensors may be ideal for you. You’ll be able to check on the apertures of your house remotely through your cellphone. Whenever any activity is detected, you’ll get an alert notifying you of it. Most experts recommend getting sensors that use Z-Wave for ease of installation and configuration. However, tech-savvy consumers might wish to instead purchase ZigBee-compatible hardware for greater customization options.
This affordable home upgrade will set you back between $20 and $50 per sensor.
Spring Cleaning Tip 6: Dress Your Windows With Smart Blinds
You can cut your energy usage by letting the sun’s natural rays into your interior, and smart window blinds make this process hassle-free. You can program them on a schedule and adjust the settings remotely. Whether you wish to read in a brightly illuminated room or want to set the mood for a romantic evening with your partner, these blinds will help you do so.
They tend to be priced around the $350 – $400 range. Be sure to find a model with at least a three-year warranty to protect yourself against motor failure.
Spring Cleaning Tip 7: Install a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat means no more having to fiddle around with awkward knobs. It will learn your schedule over time and manage your heating and air conditioning equipment to keep your temperatures cozy throughout the day and night. Of course, you’ll be able to adjust the settings on the fly, and it will incorporate this new information into its future operation.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, available for about $250, is probably the most popular. There are many other models, though, that are worth consideration. Many smart thermostats are able to access the geolocation functions of your phone to determine when you’re away and activate a special “Eco” mode that conserves energy.
Putting time and money into home improvements can allow you to reap large dividends in energy savings and in greater property resale value. You’ll also have more pleasant and relaxing quarters to live in. There’s a wide range of price points involved in the various possible projects, but whatever your budget happens to be, there’s bound to be an enhancement for your house that you find irresistible and cost-effective.
Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance advice for Millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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