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5 "smart" ways to lower home (and home insurance) costs

smart home lower home costs

According to projections from the 2014 Internet of Things study by Acquity Group, a digital marketing company in San Francisco, Calif., 69 percent of consumers will own a "smart" home device by 2019.

A smart home device is a lighting, heating or electronic device that can be controlled remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or automated time schedule.

Not only can smart home devices help save you time and protect your home, they can also save you money on your utility and insurance bills.

Here are five ways getting smart can protect you -- and save you money.


smart home lower home costs regulate electricity

1. Regulate electricity use.

According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly electric bill for U.S. residents is $110.20 ($1,322.40 a year). Therefore it may be worth it to install a $100 to $250 smart home device like one of the following that could save you 10 percent or more on your electric bill.

The Zuli Smartplug

This device allows you to plug in lights or appliances and control, monitor and automate them directly from your smartphone. "Zuli works similarly to an indoor GPS and can adjust lights and appliances based on your presence, identity and preferences," says Taylor Umphreys, CEO of Zuli.

If you’re not in a room, Zuli can automatically turn off the lights to help you save energy. The product is available for preorder for $145 for a three-pack and $55 for a single unit. The product started shipping March 2015.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Another option for regulating electricity is the Nest Learning Thermostat. According to a February case study released by Nest Labs Inc., the thermostat may save customers up to $145 a year on utility bills. The cost for a Nest Learning Thermostat is $249.

Nexia Home Intelligence

This automation system allows you to control all of your smart home devices from a single dashboard on your phone, tablet or computer. The Nexia Home Intelligence system is powered by the Nexia Bridge, a small device that connects to any Nexia-compatible device, like a Trane or American Standard thermostat.

For example, the system can schedule a connected thermostat to turn off or run automatically at a lower temperature during the day while users are at work.

You can also turn on your heat or air conditioning from your mobile device. For example, if you’ve been away on vacation, you could turn your air conditioning on when your flight lands so your home is cool and comfortable when you arrive.

The Nexia Bridge can be purchased for about $67 on Amazon, and the Trane thermostat costs about $100 on Amazon.


smart home lower home costs prevent burglaries

2. Prevent burglaries.

One in every 36 homes is burglarized every year, with the average loss amounting to $2,230, according to 2012 data from the FBI. However, new smart door locks and devices can help reduce your risk of burglary.

One new device is the Ring Video Doorbell. The smart doorbell cost $199 and features:

  • Live streaming audio and video of your home's front doorstep to your smartphone or tablet.
  • Ability to speak with visitors on your front porch from anywhere in the world.
  • Motion sensors that activate the doorbell's camera.
  • A taped record of every activity detected by the motion detectors.


smart home lower home costs water heating bill

3. Lower your water-heating bill.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water-heating systems are the second biggest user of electricity in the home, accounting for an average 18 percent of electricity costs.

Chun Liew, founder of, a website focused on smart home devices, says one smart water-heating device is the EcoNet from Rheem, a water heater manufacturer based out of Atlanta.  

EcoNet connects a home's heating, cooling and water-heating systems through a central hub. An app allows you to set schedules for your systems based on your usage needs. For example, you can set your system to "vacation mode" to save energy while away.

The EcoNet Home Comfort device costs $99 and is available on the Home Depot website. The EcoNet app is available for free on iTunes and Google Play. Compatible Rheem water heaters cost between $400 and $775.


smart home lower home costs water leaks

4. Detect water leaks early.

One of the most common and expensive home insurance claims is for water damage after pipes freeze and burst.

According to a November 2014 analysis by The Hartford, the average claim for frozen pipes was $18,000.

These claims are so costly is because often homeowners don't realize a pipe has burst until it's too late, such as in a vacation home that's vacant most of the year.

This is a problem innovative smart home manufactures, such as Nexia, are seeking to solve.

The Nexia-powered FortrezZ water valve (about $400 on Amazon) is used in conjunction with a Nexia-powered FortrezZ water and temperature sensor (about $50 on Amazon) to automatically shut off water if the pipe temperature is in danger of freezing or if the unit detects even a small amount of water -- preventing potentially catastrophic breaks.


smart home lower home costs home insurance discounts

5. Get home insurance discounts

Smart-home technology is new, so there aren't many insurance companies offering discounts for such devices yet. That's likely to change as this technology becomes mainstream.

One insurer, Pure Insurance, already offers several discounts for homeowners who use smart-home devices.

"These discounts vary and can be as high as 10 percent of the homeowner's insurance premium," says Tim Arone, vice president of risk management at Pure Group of Insurance Companies.

To see if your insurance company offers special discounts for smart home devices, contact your agent today. 


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