The new year is the perfect time to think about ways to upgrade your life.
Increasing your home’s safety functions and technological integration are great ways to make this year more convenient, secure and efficient.
According to Home Advisor, the cost of installing a home automation system can range from a low of around $70 to several thousand dollars. Individual components are also available to allow homeowners to automate specific functions both inside and out of the home.
The benefits to this type of technology include possible savings on insurance premiums, increased security and the ability to monitor what’s going on in the house when no one is home, and most technology can be controlled from a smart phone.
If you’re ready to step up your smart home game, here are the latest must-have tech and safety innovations to consider. Whether you own or rent, the six things on this list will transform the way you live in 2017.
Related: 7 homeowners trends for 2017
1. Smart lighting
One of the easiest ways to increase security inside and outside your home is to add some smarts to your lighting system. Smart outdoor lights help make sure everyone gets home safely and discourage would-be prowlers. BeON Security Lights stay on if the power goes out and keep burglars away by mimicking your typical lighting habits — even when you’re on vacation.
MAXSA Solar Security Lights are another option that offer protection and energy efficiency. They use solar power and are triggered by motion day and night. Or, if you want indoor lights that emphasize simplicity, check out the Philips Hue, which allows you to control lightbulbs with your smartphone and set up dimmers or motion sensors.
(Photo: P. Harman)
2. Smart doorbell
Keeping an eye on the door can feel impossible, especially with dinner to make and bath time to enforce. Smart doorbells, like the Skybell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, give you the eyes you’ve always wanted in the back of your head. Easy to install and fairly inexpensive, smart doorbells let you see who’s at the door through your smartphone or computer. Whether you’re relaxing on the back patio or sitting in a meeting across town, you can talk to a delivery person through the speaker or see exactly when the kids get home from school.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
3. Smart hub
It may sound intimidating to use a smart home control center, but smart hubs like the Amazon Echo make it easy and affordable to get started. This voice-activated speaker uses the Alexa digital assistant to help you control all the smart gadgets in your home. All it takes is a voice command for the Echo to play your favorite song, start the smart coffee pot, or let you know what traffic looks like for your morning commute.
Today's security monitoring systems allow homeowners to track what's going on from their mobile technology. (Photo: iStock)
4. Smart security system
Smart security systems seamlessly bring safety and technology together, and they usually provide remotely viewable cameras which you can access from anywhere on your smart device. No matter your needs and budget, there are smart systems to meet every security challenge, and many wireless security systems are easy to install yourself. Best of all, smart security devices like Canary come with home automation integration — so they can communicate with other devices on this list.
5. Smart detector
You need more than just a smoke alarm to sleep peacefully each night: carbon monoxide detectors are equally as important. Fortunately, the latest smart detectors are on the lookout for both CO and smoke. Find a detector — like the Nest Protect — that emits an alarm, tells you whether it’s reacting to smoke or carbon monoxide, and locates the threat. You may also want a smart alarm that sends text message alerts when it detects an anomaly.
6. Smart baby tech
Smart gadgets aren’t just for grownups anymore. New baby technology lets parents monitor everything from their baby’s heart rate to temperature. Wearables like the Owlet Smart Sock keep constant tabs on sleeping babies and send updates about breathing rates and movement.
Advanced monitors feature two-way communication, video, real-time alerts and remote viewing via smartphones. If you have a little one at home, checking out the latest infant monitoring tech is a must for your household this year.
As you prepare for the new year, make sure home safety is at the top of your list. It’s easy to upgrade your security with devices like smart lightbulbs or connect your whole home with a home automation system — and it can be affordable, too. What home safety and tech ideas are you excited about for 2017? Share your suggestions and questions in the comments.
Sage Singleton is a home and community safety expert for SafeWise. She has written for a variety of audiences ranging from government sites to lifestyle magazines. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.