In the last three years, smart home technology—the ability to control devices or appliances via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth—has become one of the most important upgrades for your house. Why? One word: millennials. The up-and-coming generation represents the largest share of potential homebuyers, and recent surveys suggest they’re willing to shell out more for houses equipped with smart tech. This is not a market to ignore. As a matter of fact, I’ll go out on a limb and predict buyers will consider smart tech standard within three to seven years.
So where do you start in a world with everything from illuminated, vibrating toilets to Bluetooth-enabled showers? The best investments are simple and don’t break the bank. These first three steps total less than $600 and can bring returns in more than one way.
Smart thermostats take all of the thinking out of heating and cooling your house. They can learn your behavior automatically, sensing whether you are at home or away and adjusting the temperature accordingly, saving you an average of $145 per year. One of the most popular smart thermostats is the Nest, which currently costs $249, plus installation. It doesn’t take long to pay for itself.
A smart smoke detector can cost $100 or more, but the value is priceless if it saves a life. Nearly two-thirds of all home fire fatalities occur in residences where the smoke detectors are missing or disabled. I have been guilty of disabling my detector while cooking. Some smart products signal fewer false alarms and monitor smoke as well as carbon dioxide and air quality.
High-tech locks are one of the most functional upgrades in the smart-home market. How many times have you come home late or with your arms full, fumbling to find your keys? For around $250, these Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth- enabled devices can automatically detect when you arrive home and unlock the door, thanks to your smartphone. You can even program them to allow access to selected guests.
This article originally appeared in our Winter 2017 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.