We haven’t quite managed to invent futuristic robot butlers to cater to our every need – but here in the real (not movie-version) year 2020 you can buy a range of affordable, impressive home gadgets to automate tasks and make living easier.
Most require no technical knowledge to install and no specialist equipment except your smartphone. Here’s seven clever solutions that are worth checking out.
Smart Home Alarms
Cheap to buy and easier to install than a hard-wired alarm of old, these new security systems are wireless and come with a range of features to suit every budget and property.
Choose one with motion detectors if you have windows or other entry points in vulnerable locations, or with video and imagery capability if you want pictures of possible intruders sent directly to your phone.
Although not essential for it to work, many smart alarms come with dummy boxes that you mount on the exterior of your house to deter criminals.
As an added bonus, approved (and properly maintained) alarms will get you a discount off your home insurance – ask your broker what’s on offer!
See who’s knocking at your door even while you’re out of the country with smart doorbells from Ring and Aquarius.
It will notify your phone when someone’s at the door, and some send you live video while others can alert you even if the doorbell is not pressed by using an in-built motion sensor.
Google’s smart doorbell even has facial recognition, so it can recognise friends and relatives (subject to their permission, of course! You always have to comply with GDPR).
The Nest Hello includes pre-recorded messages – like an answer machine – that mean visitors get a response even when you can’t access your phone. This provides extra security, as it will seem like someone’s at home at all times.
Lightbulbs from Philips Hue, LifX and now even IKEA make it easy to control your home’s lighting on the go. You can set up groups for rooms with multiple lights, and create a romantic mood without even getting up to dim the switch.
Smart lightbulbs can also display a rainbow of colours and cycle from cool to warm light, unlike traditional bulbs. While a little pricey they will last a lot longer than traditional bulbs, and you can set up routines to make it look like someone’s in the house – or just wake up to a gentle (simulated) sunrise.
The Netatmo thermostat is one of several smart solutions on the market that make it easy to control your heating from an app or virtual assistant. It interacts with your boiler to control when your radiators turn off and on, and can send you energy reports.
Netatmo also make smart radiator valves which display the temperature of each radiator in your home and can be controlled by the main hub, making it easier to keep your home above freezing while you’re away.
The Lloytron stay warm heater plug is a super little device that’s very useful for unoccupied homes during cold spells. Plug it in, and the little ceramic fan assisted heater provides instant heat and acts as a thermostat feature for maintaining a minimum ambient temperature. This retails for only €39 – much cheaper than burst pipes!
Whether you just need a little extra heat in a cold home office or need to keep plants happy while you’re away, you can combine the heater plug with a timer plug for maximum control on the go.
Why invest in smart devices when you can make all your existing home gadgets smart with one purchase? Smart plugs plug into mains sockets, and can themselves be plugged into – letting you switch it on and off from your phone or virtual assistant.
An update of the old clock-type timer plugs, smart plugs make it possible to turn lamps on and off, or even your television or Christmas lights. Better yet, you can swap the plugs and don’t have to commit to making one device “smart”.
Motorised Blinds and Curtains
Yes, even your window fittings can now be smart – providing the ultimate in remote home security. Motorised blinds and curtains you can control with a remote have been around for a little while, but now you can find ones that work with apps as well as Google Home and Alexa.
Set up routines for morning and evening, and you’ll never have to worry if your home looks “lived in” again. And when you’re back from holiday, you’ll be able to wake up well-rested and see the sunrise with just a simple voice command, without ever leaving the duvet.
Smart home technology needn’t be intimidating, and while most solutions are geared towards modern comforts they will make your home more secure. Whether deterring burglars with voice messages or making your home appear occupied, these gadgets are a smart investment to keep your property and loved ones safe.
Talk to us in QuoteMe.ie with any of your house insurance queries.
If you have any questions regarding home insurance and whether using any smart appliances affects your home insurance cover feel free to call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover. We look forward to hearing from you.