21 Things to Know About Smart Homes

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Having a smart home can save you £450 per year

Smart home devices save most people an average of eight days per year

There are 2.22 million smart homes in the UK

Smart homes can improve your life in a multitude of ways, from saving you money and time to saving energy in the fight against climate change.

They’re becoming increasingly popular, so much so that the UK now contains millions of smart homes – and that number’s going up every year.

So it’s worth taking a look at the most crucial information about smart home technology, especially if you’re thinking of jumping on this high-speed bandwagon to the future. Let’s begin by defining what a smart home is.

woman on her phone

1. A smart home is a connected home

Smart homes have at least two devices that are able to connect wirelessly, allowing you to control aspects of your living space remotely and interactively – meaning they communicate with you too.

For example, when an Amazon Echo and smart plug are connected, you can talk to the Echo, and it’ll send a wireless command to the plug.

2. Smart homes can save you hundreds of pounds

Turning your house into a smart home can reduce your energy usage by about 30%, according to the Connected Devices Alliance.

For the average UK household, this reduction would mean an annual saving of around £450, which we calculated using data from Ofgem and Water.org.uk – and you could potentially save even more.

One of the ways in which you can put this into practice is by replacing all the bulbs in your home with LEDs, which will save you £40 per year on average, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

If you use smart plugs and power strips to set scheduled times that your TV, laptop, and other electronic devices turn off – instead of just putting them on standby – you could save up to £35 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

And a smart thermostat can save you 31% of your heating costs, according to Tado. This would mean a £180 per year saving for the average UK home, which spends £582 on heating annually, according to a 2021 government report.

3. Smart homes are worth more

65% of people would pay more for a smart home, according to a John Burns Real Estate Consulting survey of 22,000 people.

You may be able to ask for a higher price when selling your smart home to a younger market, as 72% of millennials would reportedly be fine with paying $1,500 (£1,120) more for a smart home.

And nearly half – 42% – would part with $3,000 (£2,240) more.

4. You’ll have more time

57% of people save around 30 minutes every day by using smart home devices, according to a study by CNET and Coldwell Banker.

Over a year, that’s 182.5 hours – or to put it another way, eight days.

That’s right, you could create more than an extra week for yourself if you create your own smart home.

5. They help you fight climate change

If just one third of households were turned into efficiently run smart homes, the UK would cut its energy usage by three million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe), according to the Connected Devices Alliance.

That’s 2% of the country’s total energy consumption, which is a huge reduction, with none of the sacrifices generally associated with shrinking a carbon footprint.

6. They make it easier to use renewable energy

Fighting climate change isn’t all about reducing your usage, either – it’s also about making sure that your consumption doesn’t harm the planet.

Smart homes are excellent in this regard, as they can seamlessly fit solar panels in particular into their network.

You can control your panels remotely, ensure the solar energy you generate is used to power certain devices, and use your smart meter to get paid for any electricity you send to the National Grid.

7. A quarter of Brits own a smart home device

23% of British households own at least one smart home device, according to a YouGov survey.

8% contain at least two smart appliances, making them smart homes. When you consider that there are 27.8 million households, that means there are 2.22 million smart homes in the country.

man looking at his smart speaker

8. Smart home tech is an economic powerhouse

In 2019, revenues from sales of smart home technology reached £3.4 billion in the UK, according to Statista.

By 2025, the industry is expected to more than double in size, raking in £8.6 billion in revenue – and there’s plenty of space to expand even further.

9. Smart speakers win the popularity contest

Smart meters are the most common smart home device in the UK, as they’re owned by 18% of people – but as they’re given away for free by companies, we’re not going to count them.

Smart speakers are therefore the most popular smart home device, with 11% of consumers owning at least one. They’re increasingly being used as the hub – the central device that controls all the others.

69% of smart speaker owners have an Amazon Echo, while a comparatively meagre 19% went for a Google Home.

10. Satisfaction rates are high

An overwhelming 98% of people who own a smart device are satisfied with their experience, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

11. Their best feature is making your life easier

When asked to choose smart appliances’ most appealing features, “they make my life easier” was the most popular choice among YouGov survey respondents.

12. They dissuade burglars from targeting you

89% of burglars said a smart home would immediately put them off targeting a property, according to a Co-op survey.

13. They’re most popular with young people – but not that young

25 to 34-year-olds are the most likely to own smart home devices, according to Statista.

For many in this age group, as they move out of their family home and find increasing independence in a new household – maybe even buying a place – one of their priorities is to create a smart home.

The second age group on the smart tech bandwagon is 35 to 44-year-olds, showing that smart home tech is for those setting up their permanent home.

14. They can make life better for older and disabled people

Devices like smart blinds, thermostats, speakers, bulbs, and video doorbells can make daily life much easier for people who are older and/or less able to get around.

The ability to control their home’s temperature and lights, switch various devices on and off, and answer the door without moving can give people their independence back.

And if they have carers who don’t live with them, smart devices make it simple for those carers to help remotely if anything goes wrong in the home.

mother and daughter look at smart speaker

15. It’s a great way to empower children

Most smart devices will either be boring for kids – they’re not going to order a latte from your coffee machine, for instance – or intuitive, like a smart TV.

But others will be wonderful tools for them to organise themselves, set reminders, play interactive learning games, and create a bit of magic.

Put a kid in charge of the shopping list for the week, and they can do it with just their voice and a smart speaker. Tell them to choose their own bedtime story or song to dance to, and again, they can do it simply by expressing themselves.

You could even get a smart lamp that changes colour to tell kids everything from when they can get out of bed and wake you up to when it’s time for them to do their homework.

There are countless possibilities, and don’t worry – you can make all your devices child-friendly, and switch off the purchasing ability on your smart speaker, so your kid isn’t able to use it to order a bouncy castle or a Swiss castle.

16. You can set up whole environments for yourself

If you like your home to fit your mood and what you’re doing, a smart home is perfect for you.

Imagine it. You wake up on Saturday to your smart alarm, which you tell to stop, prompting your coffee machine to pour you a fresh cup and the lights in your kitchen to produce a soft glow that eases you into the weekend.

Your speaker then tells you what you’ve got for the rest of the day, and sends directions for your first activity to your phone.

You can set unlimited modes like this with a smart home, from film-watching to gaming, from entertaining guests to having a mid-afternoon nap.

17. Let’s explode the gender myth

There’s an insidious myth that smart home items are the domain of men alone, but this simply isn’t true.

While the majority of smart home device users were men in 2020, 46% were women, according to Statista.

There’s no reason why saving money and energy, making your life easier and better, and increasing your home’s security level should be a gendered activity – and the public agrees.

18. Most people are polite to smart tech – but men are worse

81% of people say “please” and/or “thank you” to their smart speaker at least some of the time, according to YouGov – but there’s a significant gender gap.

25% of men have never said either phrase – compared to just 13% of women.

Add that to the fact that 45% of women said it was important to treat their smart speaker like a real person, compared to just 32% of men, and you get only one conclusion: men need to be better.

19. Getting hacked is unlikely – especially if you take precautions

The majority of people have never had any online accounts hacked in any form, according to Statista, and you can make the odds work in your favour if you take a couple of quick steps.

Set your devices to download updates automatically, choose passwords that aren’t on the National Cyber Security Centre’s most commonly hacked list, and set up two-factor authentication.

Using a single password to access your device is one-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is when you have another layer of security protecting your device. This could involve using your fingerprint or tapping a message on your phone to verify your identity.

You’ve probably already experienced this – when you make an online shopping order or log into an email account for the first time in a while, you’ll often be sent a code to your phone for you to input on the website. That’s two-factor authentication.

20. You’re probably already prepared to have a smart home

Chances are, you have a smartphone. You’ve probably had one for years, and feel pretty comfortable with using it.

In which case, you’re ready to have a smart home.

Your phone is the primary way you’ll control every smart device in your home, issue commands, and create schedules.

The other main way to manage your smart home is your voice – but you’ve probably used that for even longer than your phone.

21. This is only the beginning

Smart home devices are more varied and advanced than ever before, and that will continue to be true as we move towards an increasingly connected future.

The idea of getting smart blinds, a smart sleep tracker, and a smart air quality sensor may be foreign to most people, but these concepts will become broadly accepted over time.

In the coming years, it’ll be normal – and indeed, sensible – to have devices like a sensor that tells you when to water your plants, a smart litter box for your cat, and a smart fridge that lets you know what you need when you’re at the supermarket.

There’ll also be advancements we can’t see coming – new, exciting items that’ll make your life better in a multitude of ways. We’ll be ready, and now so will you.

Written by:
josh jackman
Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.
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