The easiest "smart home" upgrade
This article is reproduced at: https://lifehacker.com/the-easiest-smart-home-upgrades-you-can-install-yours-1848552936
Making your house "smarter" with automated controls and voice commands can simplify chores and save on energy costs. If you've ever dreamed of living like a Jetson but thought the smart tech was too complicated or expensive for your budget, you can make some upgrades yourself.
Smart locks provide peace of mind and allow you to remotely lock or unlock your door or let guests in. The best types of these locks will be operable through an app from your phone or tablet, and range in price from $150 to $300. Some smart locks are also able to use facial recognition or read your fingertips for access. Most smart locks on the market come with a wireless hub that plugs into a wall outlet, and the lock itself runs on battery power. They are easy to install and can be done with just a screwdriver.
A smart thermostat can be a great upgrade that can help you save on heating and cooling costs. Smart thermostats range in price from about $100 to $250. There are several types with features like "learning" thermostats, which use your habit data to automatically change the temperature in your home based on activity, and energy-efficient thermostats that adjust the temperature to help you save money.
Once you've selected the right thermostat for yourself, installing and using the device is pretty straightforward - you'll need a small flat-blade screwdriver for low-voltage electrical wiring, a drill, and a screw gun. Make sure the HVAC system is powered off before starting the installation. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for wiring installation and use the screws provided to fasten it to the wall. This is a simple project, but it does require some basic wiring.
Basic smart bulbs start at about $8 and go up to $50 for fancy models. The advantage of smart bulbs is that you can pre-program them, control them through an app on your phone, and in some cases, they respond to voice commands. Some models have features like color changing and a "vacation mode" that lets you control your lights even when you're away from home. They don't require any extra hardware and simply screw into the light socket paired with your device via the app. No tools are required for this project, and you can start saving on your electricity bills by simply replacing your old light bulbs.
Smart Water Sensor
If you're worried about leaks or flooding, smart water sensors are a great way to give you peace of mind. They range in price from around $40 to $400 depending on the area you want to monitor. Placing sensors in your basement or near appliances or sinks that may leak can help you avoid disaster. In addition to sensing water, some models can also sense extreme changes in temperature to help prevent problems like freezing of pipes. They're great for washing machines, water heaters, and other appliances that can leak and are easy to install. Some models need to be plugged into an outlet, but there are also battery-powered models that can be used in areas without outlets. You don't need any tools for this project, but you may need to install an app to get alerts from your sensor device.
Smart outlets are a great way to monitor energy usage and turn appliances on and off remotely. You can install them directly in an existing outlet, or choose varieties with voice commands and remote functionality. These are convenient and great for saving on electricity bills. They don't require any tools to install, and they range in price from $12 to $60.