For all the negativity surrounding modern technology, there are plenty of ways it has made our lives easier. Whether you use your smartphone to get directions or video call your daughter at college, you can’t deny its obvious benefits. And it’s 2015—time to use that technology to improve your home too. Here’s how you can turn your house into a smart home without breaking the bank.
Automation is probably the most impressive way you can modernize your home. And it’s not as expensive as you think. The best part is you can control all of these from your smart phone or tablet—even when you’re not home.
$200 – Philips Hue System
The Philips Hue System doesn’t just let you control your lighting from your smartphone; it can change the color of your room based on your mood. You can automate the lights to sync with a movie, with a photo’s hues, or set to a timer for them to wake you up.
$50 - WeMO LED Starter Set
A cheaper option is the WeMo Starter Set. These light bulbs last for 23 years and let you automate your lighting, also scheduling them to be on, off, or dim.
$250 – Nest
You’ve probably heard of Nest, because it’s a Google product. Nest not only automates your thermostat but also saves you energy. It memorizes your habits and senses what temperature you want even without your having to program it. It claims to pay for itself in two years.
$190 – Insteon
The Comfort Kit from Insteon actually includes both lighting and thermostat. Insteon is great because you can guy the starter kit and add more home automation later, from leak detection to irrigation control.
Although automation could be considered a security feature, there are other ways to increase your security that don’t require you to install an expensive security system throughout your home.
$200 – August Smart Lock
Do you still use keys? Keyless locks sync to your smartphone to give you even more security. You can lock and unlock your home remotely or just by scanning your phone at the door.
$190 – Kevo
Kevo adds a smartphone feature to a traditional key deadbolt lock. The best part about Kevo is you can program “virtual” keys for visitors and make them active only at certain times.
$120 – VTech Video Doorbell
This video doorbell allows you to screen any potential visitors—and even video chat with them—before opening your door. Not home? The system takes a picture of the visitor each time your doorbell is pushed, so you’ll always know who stopped by.
I’m sure you’ve seen ads for Smart TVs, but not everyone can afford a brand new TV. Here are some cheaper options that are still technologically advanced.
$150 – Apple TV
If you use Apple products, this is definitely the best option for you, as it allows you to sync your Mac or iPhone to the TV. Apple TV can connect to your cable provider, if you have one, but also provides apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Store videos and games on it. And the new ones are even voice activated.
$35 – Chromecast
Chromecast, from Google, allows you to stream anything straight from your smartphone to your TV. You can visit websites or stream YouTube or Netflix with ease.
Having a home like the Jetsons is no longer a thing of the past. And it’s not as expensive as you may think. Plus any of these would make a better Christmas gift than another bottle of lotion. Take your home into the 21st century this year!