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Once Futuristic Smart Homes Now a Reality

Not that long ago, the 1999 movie Smart House — which featured a fully-automated dream home run by a computer named Pat — seemed futuristic and farfetched. Fast forward to today, and they are not only on our country’s radar, but seem to be around to stay.

So what, exactly, are they?

Smart homes boast a number of interconnected devices and home appliances that perform certain actions or functions. While some of the smart devices could save you money, others simply enhance your home’s cool factor.

Don’t have the budget to make all the devices in your home smart and interconnected to create an all-inclusive smart home? Consider these stand-alone items that could help you save money on your utility bill:

  • Smart thermostats usually cost in the $200 to $300 range, and rebates are often available. With an estimated savings of around 10 percent of your energy bill, this smart device could pay for itself in just a year or two depending on where you live and your indoor comfort preferences. (Actual savings depend on heating and cooling habits prior to installation and how you use it after the fact.)
  • Smart plugs allow you to plug in an appliance and track its energy use. You may decide cooling a case of pop in that old garage refrigerator isn’t worth it after all. These intelligent plugs are relatively inexpensive compared to other smart gadgets (they cost around $30 to $50) and they also allow you to control an appliance or gadget remotely.
  • For a little more money, higher-end energy monitoring devices give real-time feedback on energy consumption and track your energy stats (kind of like a fitness tracker for your home). They typically cost $200 and up but they can make a real difference in your energy bills if you make adjustments based on their data.
  • Smart Lighting allows you to take advantage of higher tech motion sensors and dimmers, which means using less energy to light (or should we say not light) your home.
  • Smart bulbs help save money because they are internet-capable LED bulbs that allow lighting to be controlled remotely. If your teen or spouse is always leaving the lights on in an empty house, you can turn them off from your phone.

While smart homes (and semi-smart ones with fewer devices) don’t have a higher IQ, they could allow you to use less energy. They’re also convenient, fun to use and can give you peace of mind when you wonder if you shut the garage door.