What is a Smart Home and What are its Benefits?
770 views | February 12, 2021

What is a Smart Home and What are its Benefits?

Learn how through home automation and voice and mobile control, homeowners can add convenience & reduce energy consumption to their daily routines.

What Is a Smart Home?

As the name suggests, a smart home is one that is outfitted with one or more devices that conduct a task formerly performed by the homeowner. Household chores are made easier through smart technology. The user controls the smart devices in a number of ways; mobile device apps, artificial intelligence, automation, IFTTT, or voice assistants. The devices communicate through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a centralized hub.

Creating a smart home can start with a smart TV or a voice assistant. From there it may move into smart kitchen appliances, light bulbs, video doorbell, a thermostat, or smart home security cameras. The fun part is the integration of the smart home devices, like using voice commands on the voice assistant to change the channel or turning on the lights or adjusting the temperature.

How Much Will A Smart Home Cost

A smart home can be a large investment depending on the size of the project. If however, the smart home consists of a voice assistant, some smart bulbs and a smart thermostat, the cost may well stay under $150. The smart home cost will vary per the customer’s needs. If a budget does not allow for a complete smart home makeover then starting with inexpensive smart devices and then upgrading later may be a good option. But smart homes are growing in popularity, 81% of Americans either own or are interested in purchasing a connected home product in the next year1. Here are a few examples of lower cost smart home devices that could be considered.*

  • Smart switch - Sengled Smart Light Switch
  • Smart light - Philips Hue White Single E26 Bulb
  • Smart plug - Philips Hue Indoor Smart Plug
  • Voice assistant - Google Nest Home Mini Smart Speaker

* FirstEnergy Home’s review of this product is solely opinion. FirstEnergy Home did not receive compensation for the review. FirstEnergy Home, and any FirstEnergy affiliates, are not affiliated with the manufacturer of the product, nor is there any endorsement or sponsorship between the product manufacturer of the product and FirstEnergy Home or any of its affiliates. Prices may differ depending on various sales or promotions.

Where Should I Begin?

This is the most common question when considering a smart home. But where to begin will often come down to necessity. If replacing a kitchen appliance, consider a smart refrigerator over a traditional model. Need a new TV? Take a look at Smart TVs.

A popular option is starting with smaller devices and gradually adding devices when replacing outdated versions. Here are a few devices to consider when starting small.*

Smart Lights

Smart lights are high on the list of smart home devices. The reasons why many choose to create a smart home are convenience and the potential energy and money savings, all of which are a benefit of smart lights. Some smart bulbs require a hub while others connect to Wi-Fi. Once connected, control the lights via smartphone or tablet. Many smart light bulbs are also compatible with a variety of smart devices. The most popular integration being voice assistants. This allows users to control the lights with voice commands. And a smart bulb will still work like a traditional bulb because it can be turned on or off at the switch.

Smart light product examples:

  • Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED Soft White A19
  • Sengled Smart LED Multicolor A19 Bulb
  • Sengled Smart Edison Filament Bulb
  • Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED Multicolor A19
Smart Plugs

These smart devices are small, inexpensive, and effective. Smart plugs are a great spot to begin home automation. The device is an adapter that plugs into an outlet, allowing the homeowner to plug ‘dumb’ items like lamps or appliances into the smart plug, essentially turning the items into smart devices. When the plug is connected to a hub or Wi-Fi, it allows for mobile control on a smartphone or app. Some plugs include functions that allow for schedules to be set. This type of feature is convenient for many appliances. Many plugs are also compatible with voice assistants and allow voice control of items attached to the smart plug.

Smart plug product examples:

  • Philips Hue Indoor Smart Plug
Smart Switches

Smart switches replace traditional built-in wall switches. The switch will still operate as a traditional switch but includes smart functions for convenient control of lights, fans, fireplaces, or anything else wired to that switch. The switch can be controlled from a smartphone app, through an automated schedule, or voice commanded from a compatible voice assistant. The benefits of a smart switch are convenience and efficiency.

Smart switch product examples:

  • Sengled Smart Light Switch
  • Phillips Hue Smart Dimmer Switch
Smart CO/Smoke Detectors

A smoke detector should be replaced every 10 years. Instead of replacing it with a standard model, consider a smart CO/smoke detector as a replacement. These dual detectors are a bit more expensive than traditional models, but with that price comes enhanced functionality for security and peace of mind. Carbon monoxide is an invisible and odorless gas that can be deadly. The smart detectors include split-spectrum sensors to detect smoke, heat and carbon monoxide. It connects to Wi-Fi and alerts smartphones to any potential dangers as well as scheduled maintenance.

Smart CO/smoke detector product examples:

  • Google Nest Protect - Wired
  • Google Nest Protect - Battery
  • Google Nest Protect- Battery – 3 pk
Smart Cameras

Smart indoor cameras are popular smart home devices. Both indoor and outdoor cameras include many of the same features. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor camera, the installation is simple. The view is crisp and allows for clear zooming, larger viewing areas, and night vision – all on 24/7 live feed. Check on the inside or outside from anywhere on a smartphone or tablet. Some smart security cameras include HD speakers and microphone for 2-way talk. Another significant feature is the activity alerts for motion and sound. Plus, the outdoor cameras are weatherproof.

Smart camera product examples:

  • Samsung SmartThings Cam
  • Google Nest Cam Indoor
  • Google Nest Cam Outdoor
Smart Locks

Smart door locks are great for convenience and security. Smart locks include sensors and geofencing technology. The sensor can send a phone alert if a door is left open or unlocked. Geofencing creates an invisible perimeter that can automatically unlock the door when the smartphone app approaches. They can also be controlled remotely on the app from anywhere, at the office or on vacation. The installation is DIY, and the designs are varied. Some models are keyless, while others offer a touchpad.

Smart lock product examples:

  • Google Nest x Yale Smart Lock
  • August Wi-Fi Smart Lock - 4th Gen
  • Yale Assure Lock SL - Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

* FirstEnergy Home’s review of this product is solely opinion. FirstEnergy Home did not receive compensation for the review. FirstEnergy Home, and any FirstEnergy affiliates, are not affiliated with the manufacturer of the product, nor is there any endorsement or sponsorship between the product manufacturer of the product and FirstEnergy Home or any of its affiliates.

What Are the Advantages of a Smart Home?

Energy efficiency can lead to savings

Smart home devices are energy efficient. It may be a smart thermostat that automates the temperature or LED smart bulbs that reduce energy consumption or maybe it’s a smart appliance that powers itself down when not in use. Smart devices are designed to use energy only when it is required. Whatever the device, the effects on energy and electric bills will be evident over time. This was seen more during the pandemic where more employees were working from home and consuming more energy. Smart devices may be one solution to the energy problem.

A secure and safer home

Security is a significant worry for homeowners. Home invasions are a reality. Burglaries can be devastating in terms of cost and constant anxiety. House fires may be another worry for families with children. To alleviate the stress, smart devices can offer peace of mind. Smart cameras include 24-hour surveillance and smartphone alerts. Smart CO/smoke detectors offer intelligent features that notify emergency responders as well as smartphone alerts.

Life becomes more convenient

It’s the little things in life. Perhaps it’s coming home from work and the smart door automatically unlocks. Walk in the house and turn on the lights with a voice command. The heat is at the perfect temperature because the smart thermostat is scheduled to activate when the sun sets. These are the little conveniences offered in a smart home. And with more devices, the conveniences add up. 57% of Americans say that having smart products saves around 30 minutes per day, which adds up to 182.5 hours a year, or roughly a week and a half. 2

Customizing daily routines

Smart technology is flexible and will adapt to routines – learning patterns and allow homeowners to set automated schedules.

Home entertainment

Smart homes can become an excellent place for entertainment. It’s not just the devices either; it’s the method for controlling the entertainment. Get rid of the coffee table full of remotes and the time-consuming setup. Smart home devices deliver the movie or music with a tap or voice command. Smart devices are intuitive, and this creates a more pleasing entertainment experience. There are smart projectors and smart soundbars or complete smart home theatres to enjoy. Or choose the less expensive smart speaker and smart TV with smart remote. Google alone sells 5 different artificially intelligent smart speakers, from the Google Home Mini to the Nest Hub Max. 3

Shop Smart Home Products

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Sengled Smart Light Switch

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Philips Hue Indoor Smart Plug

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Google Nest x Yale Smart Lock

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In Conclusion

Smart homes may become essential in the future. Research shows that the smart home device market is set to grow from $55 billion in 2016 to $174 billion by 2025.4 But right now, it is simply an alternative approach to living comfortably. Through home automation and voice and mobile control, homeowners can add convenience to daily routines. For the energy conscious, smart homes offer a fun and effortless way to reduce energy consumption. But whatever the reason, the homeowner will surely feel the positive effects.

© 2021 FirstEnergy Home

1 Business Wire. Over 80 Percent of Consumers Interested in Making Homes Smarter. Retrieved from https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160426006796/en/80-Percent-Consumers-Interested-Making-Homes-Smarter
2The National Council For Home Safety and Security. Smart Home Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.alarms.org/smart-home-statistics/
3 Business Insider. 19 of the coolest things your Google Home can do. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com.au/google-home-features-tips-tricks-2018-2?r=US&IR=T
4Forbes. The 5 Biggest Smart Home Trends In 2020. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2020/01/13/the-5-biggest-smart-home-trends-in-2020/?sh=322f5df0389b