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Using an Apple iPad to control smart home technology

Your Guide to Smart Home Technology  

Summary

Smart home technology is seemingly everywhere—these interconnected devices can make your life easier and safer, and might even save you money on your home insurance.

  • Some devices marketed as smart home technology can save you money on your insurance. Look for devices that operate as early warning systems alerting you to water leaks, fire, or potential break-ins.
  • Smart home devices can be even more helpful as people age.
  • You will need some specialized equipment including high-speed internet and wireless connectivity.

If you’ve had to shop for just about any home appliance or new fixture lately, you’ve probably come across a “smart” version. Smart light bulbs, smart speakers, smart thermostats, smart televisions — even your washer, dryer and stove can come equipped with smart features.

Smart home technology trends are rapidly evolving. These devices can make your life easier, safer and can even potentially save you money.

Here’s everything you need to know to bring your home into the 21st century.

Get your free quote and see if you could save

What Is a Smart Home Device?

The simple definition of a smart home device is that it’s an electronic device that connects through a wireless protocol (such as Bluetooth, WiFi or 5G) and contains features that can be controlled and modified by an app from a smartphone or tablet.

Frequently, smart home devices are designed to either alert you when something is amiss or to automate tasks around your home according to your preferences.

Smart home devices usually offer one or more of the following three benefits: 

  1. Comfort
  2. Efficiency
  3. Peace of mind 

Programmable thermostats are an example of a smart home device that offers both comfort and efficiency. Motion-detecting exterior lighting that is tied in with a home safety system offers peace of mind.

How Could Smart Home Technology Potentially Save Me Money on Insurance?

Smart home devices aren’t just about convenience. Some of them could even save you money on your homeowners insurance.

A lot of smart home technology systems work as early warning systems. This means they could save you money — and that could lower the cost of an insurance claim. Reducing the cost of a claim means a lower risk for your insurance company, which could mean lower premiums for you.

Talk to your agent or connect with an Expert Agent today to see if you could save*!            

Water-Leak Detectors

 Sudden flooding can cause a lot of damage, and the faster you know about the problem, the quicker you can respond. Smart water-leak detectors alert you as soon as they detect a problem. Some can even notify you when your pipes are at risk for freezing, giving you time and notice to address conditions before your pipes burst.

Home Security Systems and Video Doorbells

Similarly, adding a smart home alarm system can protect your house by making it less of a target for burglars. Lights that turn on when they detect dusk, rather than at a set time, make a home look lived-in even when no one is there. Smart security systems can offer comprehensive protection to your home, from window sensors to security cameras and remote door locks.

Video doorbells are one of the most common and popular smart home devices. They are easy to install and can allow you to see and communicate with visitors to your door — even when you’re far from home.

Smoke Alarms and Fire Detectors

Fire alarms and smoke detectors alert you to get out of the house if you’re home when a fire starts, but what if you are away? A smart home fire detector will send a notification to your smartphone, enabling you to quickly contact the fire department (some devices even do this for you) and potentially reducing the losses associated with fire damage.

If you are considering adding smart home features, talk to your insurance agent and find out what kind of discounts might be available.

What Are the Best Smart Home Devices for the Elderly?

Smart home devices can provide many benefits to seniors. As people age, home safety can become a big issue. Trips and falls can cause significant injuries, while break-ins and other emergencies are a concern as well.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries for those over the age of 65. Older adults are at greater risk for a variety of reasons, including balance issues and dizziness that can be caused by some medications.

Wearable smart devices like watches can detect falls, but there are also smart home devices that can help to reduce the risk of injuries. Smart lighting that comes on automatically when detecting motion in a room can help, as can smart bulbs that brighten dark corners.

In the event of a medical emergency, smart home devices can notify emergency contacts and first responders and even remotely unlock a door to allow paramedics into the home. A truly connected smart home can also provide medication reminders and turn off appliances that might have been left on.

Smart home devices and systems intended to assist the elderly are by design monitoring systems, and they should be installed only with informed consent.

What Equipment Does a Smart Home Require?

Smart home devices have become very popular as people begin to see the benefits of a connected home. If you’ve ever left the house and wondered if you left the garage door open or the oven on, there’s probably a smart device that can now answer that question — and then close the door or turn off the oven if needed.

A smart home does require some specialized equipment, and some planning and design work so that your devices work together seamlessly. Here are the three categories of equipment you will need.

A Wireless Connection

The first and most important thing you will need to have in place is a wireless, high-speed internet connection. This is what allows smart home devices to communicate with outside services, such as notifying the fire department if smoke is detected or contacting a loved one in an emergency. A mesh Wi-Fi network ensures that your internet connection can reach all of your smart home devices.

A Smart Hub

You will also need a smart hub, which is a central control system that allows your smart devices to work together. Some newer mesh systems can also act as smart hubs for your smart devices. 

Amazon’s Eero and Google’s Nest are mesh routers that also operate as smart hubs. Importantly, they work best within each company’s product lines (Amazon with Alexa products and Google with Google Home devices). Parents might also like the smart hub feature that allows them to remotely turn off gaming — just in case homework needs to get done.

Smart Devices

Finally, you’ll need the specific smart home devices you want to connect to your network. The list of programmable devices is a very long one, so you can be as limited or as comprehensive as you’d like.

  • If your main concerns are home security and energy savings, the smart devices you’ll be interested in include a video doorbell, security cameras, a smart thermostat, and sensors for windows and doors. Installing a smart home thermostat is quick and easy — and with energy prices on the rise, this simple change could start saving you money almost immediately*.
  • If you’re caring for an older relative, you might want to make sure their smart devices are set up with notifications that can alert you when something is wrong.
  • If you’re just a fan of how technology can make daily chores easier, you might be interested in connected appliances that monitor what you are cooking so that food is never over- or under-done, fridges that send you a text when you’re almost out of milk or audio systems that allow your favorite music to follow you throughout the house.

Whatever your objectives for a smart home are, there are likely devices that can make your vision a reality.

Get your free quote and see if you could save

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of choices available to you to build your ideal smart home system. It’s important to think through your objectives, since some devices will “play best” with the operating hub that they were designed to work with — which means that you’ll have to do some homework up front when choosing a foundational smart hub.

Whatever you choose, make sure that you talk to your insurance agent if you’re adding devices with alarm and security features to your smart home, as these could qualify you for discounts on your insurance premium. 

Talk to your agent or connect with an Expert Agent today to see if your smart home devices could help you save on your homeowners insurance*!      

Disclaimer: 

*Savings, if any, vary based on a consumer’s profile and other factors. Contact your insurance agent for more information. Restrictions apply. 

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