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Can a Smart Home Really Help you Save Money?

Can a Smart Home Really Help you Save Money?

Smart homes and smart technologies have become popular buzzwords over the past few years. From basic smart appliances, to fully-featured smart home solutions, many people are buying into the promise of reduced bills and an overall cool look for the house.

    Aggressive marketing techniques have seen the smart homes market grow into a multi million-dollar outfit; Statista puts the revenue figures at around US$927 million in the UK alone for 2016. In the United States, the industry is even bigger, at a massive US$48 billion in 2014, according to this infographic. Even with such crazy numbers, the industry shows no signs of slowing down, and is expected to grow to about US$3.7 billion in 2021.

    Globally, the rate of penetration for smart home technologies is expected to reach 38.7% by 2021, up from 2016’s 8.2%. Part of the reason why the industry is growing at such a high rate is the expectation by smart homeowners that they will accrue massive savings by using smart tech. So, how much should you expect to save with smart tech, if you do manage to squeeze something out of your annual expenses?

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    How Smart Tech Will Help You Cut Costs

      Smart tech often includes devices such as thermostats, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other home equipment that come with Wi-Fi capabilities. This setup allows you to control these smart devices remotely via an app on your smartphone, and even monitor usage to control consumption to possibly save costs.

      These aren’t cheap, though, with some going for hundreds or even thousands of dollars for complete smart systems. It will be years, however, before you can recoup the costs of acquiring such systems. For example, an investment of about US$5,000 will usually yield costs savings of about US$100 each year, which isn’t feasible for most people who are renting an apartment.

      With their high initial capital outlay, smart tech usually works well for landlords and homeowners who stand to gain cost benefits for the life of the tech. Many tenants will get smart devices for aesthetics and to reduce their impact on the environment, but rarely for significant cost savings. For homeowners and tenants who want to save every penny they can out of their monthly bills, it pays to plan ahead.

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      There are many ways you can save money by installing smart devices, and here are some of them.

      Smart Thermostats

      Heating and cooling take a huge chunk of monthly bills, with individuals spending up to half of the average household budget on them. Smart thermostats can adjust themselves in response to someone’s presence in the house, ensuring they are set to low or turned off when no one is around. Programmable thermostats can help you save up to 25% of the heating and cooling bill.

      Smart Lighting

      Lighting is only second to excessive heating when it comes denting the monthly bill. A smart lighting system can dim, turn off, or change the color of your bulbs for maximum energy savings. LED bulbs often cost more than regular bulbs, but can help you knock off at least US$35 per bulb annually.

      The water bill is another little-known area where individuals can save cash. This water utilization infographic by bathroom accessories company Big Bathroom Shop shows just how important water is for everyday life. Smart sprinklers automatically adjust the amount of water they let through according to the weather report, which can shave off up to 50% of the water bill.

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      Smart Power Outlets

      Standby power use is a significant contributor to energy wastage and unnecessary expenses, contributing to about 16% of the electricity bill. Smart power outlets enable you to monitor and restrict energy drain via the sockets, which can save you up to 16% of the electricity bill.

      There are hordes of other energy-saving devices that you can use for your home. Each will give you varying levels of energy and cost savings, so plan wisely before diving in.

      If you are a tenant, sometimes the right energy savings can be achieved by moving into a house that already has the proper energy-saving equipment and gadgets already installed. After all, moving into a smart home is much easier than assembling one.

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      Application money Via Pixabay, Man making a roof gesture on piggy bank Via Freepik

      Featured photo credit: hswstatic via s.hswstatic.com

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      Last Updated on September 28, 2020

      The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

      The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

      At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

      Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

      One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

      When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

      So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

      Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

      This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

      Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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      When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

      Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

      One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

      Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

      An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

      When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

      Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

      Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

      We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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      By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

      Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

      While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

      I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

      You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

      Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

      When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

      Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

      Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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      Con #2: Less Human Interaction

      One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

      Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

      Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

      This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

      While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

      Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

      Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

      This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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      For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

      Con #4: Unique Distractions

      Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

      For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

      To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

      Final Thoughts

      Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

      We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

      More About Working From Home

      Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

      Reference

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