Guide to Smart Home Technology

Whether you’re in the comfort of your own home or away, smart home technology offers efficiency and convenience at your fingertips — literally. At the touch of a button or voice command, you can control your thermostat, home security, electricity, monitor video cameras, turn your water on and off, and even add to your weekly grocery list. This evolving technology is helping to simplify our lives one gadget at a time, but it doesn’t come without risks. 

A popular gift during the holidays and perhaps a recent purchase for your own family as we all spend more time working and learning from home, keep these considerations in mind before you make your purchase. 

What’s considered a smart home product?

Unlike home automation, smart home products make your home smarter through the use of a cloud or another type of software component so they can function independently or based on intelligence. In other words, any product that doesn’t require you to manually operate it each time it’s used.

Assess your needs

There are a variety of brands making this new home technology and many different gadgets to pick from. Depending on the type of home you live in and your unique needs, you may not need the same types of products as your neighbor. Here are a few examples of individuals who may want to consider purchasing a product:

  • Frequent travelers — Whether for business or pleasure, you can benefit from smart home gadgets that allow you to control your thermostat and appliances from a distance. 
  • You have kids — There are a number of smart gadgets that allow you to monitor their technology use and even keep an eye on young kids through video no matter where you are.
  • Owning a second home — If you own more than one property, you certainly can’t be in two places at once. Smart home products can help you manage both at the same time and help keep them secure in your absence.

Benefits of smart home technology

Aside from convenience and efficiency, there are a number of benefits you can gain from the use of smart home technology:

  • Helps you save money — A recent study also found that smart home tech can end up saving you an average of $98.30 per month, adding up to an average of $1,179.60 per year
  • Reduces your risk of insurance claims — Smart home devices can enable remote monitoring and alert systems for what would otherwise be costly insurance claims. For example, an alert will pop up should your thermostat dip below a certain temperature which could result in frozen pipes. Or, water sensors would detect leaks that could potentially lead to severe damage to your floors, walls, and ceiling.
  • Maximizes home security — From smart locks to motion lights, security cameras, smart doorbells and garage doors, these products can help keep intruders out and alert you to suspicious activity immediately. 
  • Ability to manage devices from one place — Instead of walking through your entire home multiple times each day to turn lights on and off, adjust thermostats, and manage appliances, you can now do it all from one device such as a mobile device. 
  • Improves energy efficiency — Smart home products are intelligently designed to anticipate your needs and adapt accordingly. This reduces energy waste and can help improve overall appliance efficiency, ultimately extending their lifespan. 

How to make your smart tech more secure

Though there are a number of benefits from the use of smart home tech, there are also some risks. Cyber scams and attacks aren’t limited to your cell phone and computer but can extend to any tech device you have in your home that’s connected to a software or network — like a smart home product. If you plan to implement any of them in your home, be sure to implement these safety tips:

 

  • Assign a name to your router. Every router comes with a name from its manufacturer which can easily be identified by hackers. Use a new name not associated with your location or personal information to make it more difficult to find. 

 

    • Set up a guest network. When visitors come over, have a network already set up that they can connect to aside from the one you use for your smart home tech. This makes sure they can’t access your devices through the network. 
    • Change usernames and passwords often. Your devices will require login credentials which you should update frequently. Pro tip: if you come across a device that won’t let you make a unique username and password, return it and find a new product.

 

  • Check the factory settings on any new device. Some products come with low privacy settings when you initially purchase them. Make sure you turn on parental controls, set passwords, and turn on security settings before you use them. 
  • Disable features you won’t use. Some settings come automatically programmed, such as remote-access and location settings. If you don’t need these, turn them off. 
  • Keep software up to date. Some software updates include fixes for security flaws so be vigilant when it comes to installing them. 
  • Keep an eye out for outages. Device outages can result in unsecured settings and make you susceptible to an attack. If you do experience one, double-check all your settings and update passwords.

 

We hope these tips help keep you and your family as you install new smart home tech into your household. To learn more about your insurance policy options or to review your current plan, contact a local agent on our website. https://patrons.com/find-agent.htm