Home Is Where The Smart Is…

The pace of technological change is nothing short of astounding. Technology has changed the way we eat, order clothes, travel, and communicate, and most importantly the way we run our homes.

As a recognised global consultant on PropTech, I’m always fascinated to explore how people are embracing technology – and the reasons why they’re not!

I was encouraged to see that new research by energy provider E.ON has revealed that almost three quarters of people have already adopted smarter technologies into their homes – things like smart thermostats, smart TVs and voice control smart hubs – and that a third are planning further tech upgrades.

The research found many objects are set to be phased out as smarter solutions take hold – everyday household items like CD stands, photo albums, bookshelves and even cables –
could all become relics as we move towards a smarter future.

But with a quarter of people asked saying they’re still to adopt smart technologies and a fifth admitting to being uncomfortable using smart technology, what’s the best way to help people take the plunge into a smarter future?

It’s not surprising to me that people who’d already made smart upgrades said that saving money was their primary objective. But what’s perhaps more unexpected is that becoming more energy efficient was a very close second.

The research by E.ON revealed that when looking to introduce smart technology into the home, homeowners are leaning towards powering their homes with smart and clean technology. When asked which smart technologies they’d want in their homes by 2020, four in ten people said solar panels and/or an electricity battery storage system, a third said smart lighting and a tenth said a charging point for an electric car. Rather than ‘showy and shiny for the sake of it’, all these solutions offer practical alternatives to their more traditional predecessors and help people meet their key drivers of saving cash, time and energy.

A tenth of people who were surveyed already have solar panels, with three quarters saying they’re saving money and almost two thirds saying their home is more energy efficient because they’ve had solar panels fitted.

Another core consideration for homeowners is the impact installing smart tech can have on the value and ‘wow factor’ of their property. Almost a third of people questioned who already had solar panels said they’ve seen the value of their property increase as a result, and four in ten people said that having a solar panel and battery system would make a potential home more appealing if they were house hunting.

With so much out there, and so many devices, what can you actually do to start making your home smarter? Which devices are actually useful and which are overcomplicated or faddy? To try and help, here are five easy ways to start building your smart home:

1. Assistants
Right now, the core product of the smart home is digital, voice activated ‘assistants’. These devices vary from one to another in their services and capabilities, essentially depending on how much you’re willing to spend. Whilst it may initially feel strange addressing a voice activated ‘assistant’, many people who have incorporated them into the home feel that they’re an asset to family life.

2. Lighting
The popularity of smart lighting is rising, thanks in part to the ability it has to save money on electricity bills and the flexibility it gives people to create different moods within different areas of their home. Smart lights can be placed on a timer, or programmed to turn on and off at random, creating the illusion that you’re home when, which is great for tricking would-be burglars.

3. Food storage and ordering
The storing and ordering of food and household products has been an early focus for smart technology. We’re seeing rubbish bins with barcode scanners, re-ordering items whose packaging you’ve just thrown away – so no more arguing over who forgot to buy the milk.

4. Security
From doorbells, to burglar alarms, the Internet of Things is helping make our homes more secure. Doorbells can now send video and audio of your doorway to your laptop or phone, no matter where you are in the world.

5. Utilities
On a practical, everyday level, smart devices make managing energy and water usage a lot easier. You can control and monitor everything from your smartphone. For example, E.ON Solar and Storage allows people to generate their own electricity through solar panels, store the electricity generated for use when you need it, and with the Solar Manager app, you can see what you’re generating, saving, earning and storing at a glance.

For more information about E.ON Solar and Storage and the other solutions offered by E.ON visit eonenergy.com.

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