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Planning your Smart Home?

How do I know if smart home devices are compatible with one another?

Before setting up a smart home, make sure that your devices can communicate with each other through Bluetooth or WiFi. While companies are actively discussing the creation of a communication standard for all smart home devices, manufacturers (such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung, among others) currently have their own platforms. When buying a new smart home device, verify and make sure it works with the products you already own. Fortunately, when buying a new device you can consult a "compatibility guide" that can help you select devices that will work together. And most of the time you will find this information on the package.

Are smart home devices expensive?

They are not necessarily expensive, the costs for smart home devices vary considerably. You will find that many smart home devices are not much more expensive than their “regular” counterparts, and several smart home hubs can be found for around and even under $100. Smart light bulbs, cameras and plugs or power strips are relatively inexpensive (+/- $30) and can help you start enjoying the benefits generated by your smart home. Do not let high price tags intimidate you – there are plenty of budget-friendly options on the marketplace. Eventually, you can also upgrade larger items such as your appliances. In addition, many power companies offer rebates, discounts and coupons to help customers save, it is always a good idea to verify with your local power company, who knows you could not only enjoy using a smart device in your home but also save on energy cost.


Will I be able to set up a smart home by myself?

This all depends on your comfort level and ability with using technology and how willing you are into spending the time and energy into doing it yourself, for some people, especially when it implies a home project! If your answer is yes I am able and capable of doing so, of course, you may be able to set up a smart home entirely by yourself! If you regularly download apps and connect devices to your home’s WiFi, you may be familiar enough with the basic process for many smart home products. They all come with instructions and many of them can even be "plug and play". Installing a smart thermostat is a bit more complicated since you will need to connect some wiring, but most people find it easy to do themselves. Most products come with instructions and graphics and do not necessarily require professional installation. One other smart option would be reviewing videos from the manufacturer or on YouTube, and if you need more help, then you should contact an electrician or a professional company. Also, we suggest, you may verify with your power company, they may also have a referral list of professional technicians. If you prefer to have someone set up your smart home from scratch, look for an accredited home automation specialists in your area. Before selecting the "specialist" make sure they know what they are doing, there is nothing like having your smart device being acting tricks on you!


What are the privacy and security concerns with the smart home?

Privacy is understandably a concern for some when it comes to the smart home, same concern we have with the smart phones, internet access and all new technologies of our days. What if you had a smart home device left unsecured? a hacker could be able to access private information about your home. While there have been several well-publicized data breaches of smart home device manufacturers, usually most providers and manufacturers have layers of security to protect the privacy of customers. We strongly suggest that you improve the security of your devices by using strong, unique passwords, also you should turn on encryption or two-factor authentication (if available) and of course, before anything, make sure that your home’s WiFi is secure. Some people will even install a firewall or VPN to their internet access. Be cautious, as with smart devices your are now opening the door to your home.


Where should I get started with setting up my smart home?

A good first step is to select your smart home assistant ; Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Once you have your smart speaker or smart home hub in place, you can start looking for compatible products that fulfill your goals, such as energy monitor and savings, convenience, home security and entertainment. If reducing your power bill and carbon footprint are your goals, then a smart thermostat, smart light bulbs and smart plus, even smart power strips can be ideal devices to start with. Smart blinds, ceiling fans and home energy monitors are also good efficient and cost effective options. If you are more thinking of a home security system get started with a smart home security system, a smart doorbell and outdoor smart cameras or indoor smart cameras.


Will I save money using smart home products?

You should, a few factors may have an incidence on the savings you may make along the way. While convenience, comfort and entertainment value are all big factors, it is possible to save money with a smart home. For example, using a smart leak sensor, a smart sprinkler controller, a smart dishwasher or a smart shower head can reduce your water usage significantly. Home security devices can also save you money by reducing theft and lowering insurance premiums. Another major area of potential savings is through a home’s energy usage device.


How can I reduce the energy consumption with my smart home devices?

Smart home devices can play a major role in helping you create a more energy-efficient home. For example, smart LED light bulbs use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. They can also be dimmed or turned off remotely to save even more energy. Smart thermostats can save you between 10 to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs, which represent a major source of your home energy use. You can also identify potential issues with your HVAC ( Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), sparing you significant costs. In addition, smart plugs and smart power strips can reduce standby power (when your appliances are on sleep mode, they are still are using energy, even when your turn them off). In most cases, did you know that "standby power" can account for up to 10 percent of your home’s total energy use?


Are there other ways to lower my power bill with smart home devices?

Your power company may have a program where you can earn bill credits for not using power during times of high electricity usage (typically between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.). They also may offer an electric rate where electricity is cheaper if you avoid the high usage part of the day. If you participate in one of these rates program, smart devices can help shift your energy use to another time when prices are lower. For examples you may chose to schedule in advance when your electric car will charge, or you may schedule when your pool pump will be running or even you can pre-program and schedule your washing machine to do the laundry outside of the peak hours. A smart thermostat may also be able to automatically shift energy use, the smart thermostat can be easily programmed and will assist you in the task of saving energy and money! You may add an energy monitor device or even verify with your local power company, some of them offer tools that show your energy use in real-time and let you maximize energy efficiency with smart home devices. In general, Adding an energy monitor device will show you how to shift your energy use so that you can save money.


What is offered by power companies around the smart home?

Many power companies now offer products and services to help their customers take advantage of the smart home. For example, many power companies offer Free guides to help you select and purchase smart home and energy-efficient products. Some power companies may give you a significant rebate if you enroll in a program to move your energy use away from times of high electricity usage (for example, the early evening on a hot summer day). These programs help power companies avoid using costly energy, and those savings are passed along to all customers, as well as the extra bill savings if you participate.


How Much Energy Can You Save?


Source: Energy Impacts of Smart Home Technologies from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

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