In the last several years, tech companies have begun releasing more advanced, useful and affordable technology than ever before. With the internet of things (IoT), we can connect and exchange data with other services thanks to the embedding of sensors, software and other technologies. It’s no wonder that smart home renovations are becoming more and more popular.
Home renovations made simple
Transforming your house into a smart home with the devices available offers many benefits when it comes to convenience and connectivity. However, there may be a few drawbacks to making these changes in your home. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular smart home renovations, then weigh the pros and cons of taking the plunge.
Getting to know common smart home devices
Before you consider whether smart home renovations are for you, it’s helpful to learn about what kind of devices currently exist and what they have to offer to see if they’re for you. Most of these devices can automate simple tasks for you, which helps free up your time. However, it’s important to consider whether they’ll fit in with your home’s environment.
There are a large variety of smart appliances to consider adopting, including:
- Smart doorbells with cameras to see who is at your door
- A cloud camera that streams a live feed of the inside of your home
- A Google, Echo or Alexa speaker that can answer questions, play music or make calls
- A smart toilet that can flip the seat and lid automatically, reduce your toilet paper consumption by including a bidet wand, and flush the bowl for you.
Another smart home renovation that people often make is installing renewable energy sources. Switching to renewable energy offers many benefits in the long term, such as lowering hydro bill costs, increasing the value of your home, and reducing your environmental impact. Although this may have a high initial cost, solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps could qualify for reimbursement during tax season. Note that tax incentives for clean energy equipment will vary by province in Canada.
The pros of smart home upgrades
Smart home renovations are a big change, and there are several benefits that come with updating your home. However, these changes aren’t for everybody, as some people may consider simple and domestic tasks as a valuable part of their day. The following are a few benefits that come with making your home a smart home.
Prevent and minimize damage
There is a lot of technology designed around preventing and minimizing the damage that occurs regularly in homes. These technologies include:
- Water leak detectors that can shut off the water if they detect moisture
- Smart thermostats that can prevent your pipes from freezing
- Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, which can notify you through an app if they detect irregular amounts of smoke or CO2, respectively
Support for those living with disabilities
Another area of technology that people invest in is appliances that help increase the safety of homes. This is especially important for seniors or people with disabilities. These folks often need a little extra assistance, which safety technology can provide through:
- Smart locks that can be unlocked via Bluetooth or a code if someone forgets their keys
- Smart lighting systems, which switch lights on and off by learning your daily patterns
- Home healthcare equipment that can monitor a person’s health, ensure their safety, and notify authorities if needed.
Improved home safety
Livestream cameras and smart cameras that record different areas of your home are very popular now that they have become more accessible. These give homeowners peace of mind if they need to leave their home for a few days by allowing them to make sure everything is safe and sound at home. These cameras can also help ensure that your pets are safe while you’re away, and they can alert you if anything at all goes wrong while you’re out of the house.
Better energy efficiency
Along with green energy installations, several smart home devices can help reduce the energy used by your home. For example, smart thermostats are expected to be one of the most commonly used home devices. They can create energy-saving schedules that reduce heating and cooling energy by up to 30 per cent. This can provide a big relief for people that are concerned with the amount of money they’re spending on their heating and cooling bills.
The cons of smart home upgrades
Although there are a great number of benefits to smart home renovations, every big change and new technology has a downside. These are a couple of the concerns that people have when investing in smart home devices.
High startup costs
Smart home devices are still relatively new, which means some options are not yet financially accessible to many people. Although the market is expanding, causing prices to drop, many systems and appliances are still costly. Some smart home devices can cost a few hundred (and sometimes thousands of) dollars, and when making a complete smart home renovation, the overall cost could take a toll on your bank account.
Due to smart devices’ high startup costs, it can be a good idea to invest in homeowner warranties, which will protect your devices if they ever break down and need to be fixed or replaced. Wear and tear is a pretty standard and normal occurrence in any appliance, and protecting your investment with insurance can save you money in the long run.
Internet devices can be hacked
Internet connectivity provides a high level of convenience for its users. However, IoT devices still face many challenges in regards to security. While tech experts develop smart home appliances, they’re still made by appliance companies that don’t often have background knowledge in security. And since these devices are so new, there are not yet industry standards for how secure these devices need to be before they hit the market. Although it may seem unlikely for anyone to care enough to break into your home’s smart devices, the risk is there.
What does the future hold for smart homes?
It’s too early to know what the future of homes will look like as smart appliances become more widely adopted, but there’s no doubt that the world we know today will be very different a few years down the road. We are stepping into a futuristic and IoT environment, and as more progress is made, these renovations will become the new norm.
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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.