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Smart Homes: How Automation is Making Life Better

Imagine a fully automated home, complete with virtual assistants to do your shopping for you, showers that regulate water usage, appliances that order their own replacement parts and a thermostat that regulates the temperature without manual adjustment. It may sound like something out of “The Jetsons,” but these innovations, as well as robotic vacuums, video phones, talking alarm clocks, smart watches and dog treadmills are no longer a fantasy, and there are more inventions on the horizon to help simplify our lives.

Smart home technology was once a luxury, but today it’s becoming more mainstream as more affordable options are rapidly becoming available. This technology makes life easier by providing comfort and convenience, often at the touch of a button or even through voice activated technology!

In addition to comfort and convenience, a smart home can also save you money on energy and insurance costs. Here are five ways that home automation is making life better while saving you money.

1. Smart Showerheads

Smart showerheads mitigate water usage, which is something residents in historically drought-ridden states like California should consider. Smart showers don't require extra energy and are designed to optimize water usage by increasing the surface area of water droplets. They also fit most shower pipes. According to Tree Hugger, a sustainability media outlet, this smart home device reduces water consumption by 70 percent1>, which can save you a lot of money.

A second type of water-saving showerhead regulates water flow. These types of showerheads use sensors to determine how close a person is standing to the showerhead and automatically cuts back water flow based on showering patterns and observations. 

2. Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are great for homeowners looking to reduce their energy costs and they’re environmentally conscious, too! Bought by Google and advertised as a thermostat that “pays for itself,” Nest can help homeowners save at least 10 percent on their heating bill.2

Homeowners can program this device to have different settings for when they’re home and away. It also comes with a built-in intelligent Auto-Away feature that monitors at-home patterns, tailoring settings to optimize energy savings while you’re out of the home. Better still, the device stores your energy use history and allows you to customize a schedule. The latest Nest can be operated by voice command and even includes a safety feature to alert you by phone if its built-in smoke alarm is triggered or the battery is low. All these features can be managed with an app you can download onto your smartphone!

3. Smart Lights

According to SaveOnEnergy, LED lights with dimming features are very efficient, long-lasting lightbulbs that maximize energy savings.3 There are even internet-enabled adjustable dimmers like Philips Hue, Insteon and iLumi you can control with an app on your smartphone. They allow homeowners and renters to control energy output remotely, and these smart lights can also add to a home’s décor as many of them have built-in color changing options.

If you or your family member neglect to turn off lights when you leave a room, there’s a smart light invention for you: occupancy sensors. Plug a bulb into this handy tool and it will automatically switch off the light when the room is vacant.

4. Smart Appliances

Did you know that it’s possible to use your phone to communicate with your refrigerator, dishwasher, dryer, washing machine and even your oven? It’s true – there’s a whole new world of smart appliances that can operate and communicate on what’s known as a “smart grid.” These grids allow appliances to establish user patterns, differentiate between peak and off-peak usage and access the optimal time to perform basic functions.4

These smart appliances are much more energy efficient, but the benefits go way beyond the money you could save on gas and electricity. Smart washing machines, for example, can diagnose malfunctions and allow you to monitor the machine’s cycle while you’re away from home. Smart ovens can switch from cooking to warming mode automatically when your food is ready, so you’ll never burn your cookies again. Interested in a smart grill? They now make models, such as the Lynx Smart Grill, that are capable of learning when a burger needs to be flipped and will even send you an alert to let you know.

5. Smart Home Security Systems

While there are many to choose from, consumers are abuzz about Scout Home Security System, which is customizable.5 The system operates off the “Scout Hub,” which plugs directly into your home’s WiFi router and includes an alarm. Consumers can purchase access sensors or key fobs for doors, motion sensors, live video monitoring cameras and other add-ons to tailor the security packages to individual needs.

Advancements in anti-theft technology are making homes safer than ever, and these home security systems could earn you a discount on your homeowners insurance, too. This is great for homeowners and insurers alike because home security systems help reduce theft and vandalism, which means lower rates for you. Mercury Insurance offers a homeowners insurance discount for home alarms, so check with a Mercury agent to see how much you can save.

1 “Two new entries to the smart shower device market claim huge water savings.” Tree Hugger, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

2 “New Data Shows The Nest Thermostat Can Cut Your Heat Bill By 10 Percent.” Wired, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 20, Jan. 2017.

3 “What’s the Deal with Dimmers?” SaveOnEnergy, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

4 “5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money.” 25 Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

5 “Scout Home Security System review.” 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.