A recent report shows a huge increase in the sale of “smart home” gadgets in the last twelve months, compared to the year before. These gadgets include things like smart fridges, smart air conditioners and smart heating systems. And with an increase in smart meters for gas and electricity our homes are more connected than ever.
How smart homes improve efficiency
There are now over 3 million smart meters installed in homes across the UK. By 2020 the government plans to have replaced all traditional meters with these modern versions. Smart meters can be read using wireless signals, meaning a meter-reader won’t need to visit your home to get an accurate reading.
This lets consumers keep a close eye on how much money they’re spending on gas and electricity. The idea is that by seeing the relationship between energy use and spend, it’ll encourage people to be more energy efficient and having closer control over the central heating could mean less waste.
Some studies suggest smart meters only cut energy consumption by 2 to 3%, how these figures change in the long term remains to be seen. Combining these new devices with the right understanding and awareness could improve efficiency.
The data generated by many smart devices could, in theory, reduce insurance bills, as they would let insurance companies make better predictions about what might go wrong with your home. Things such as smart thermostats or moisture sensors could be used to detect when you’re likely to have a burst pipe. By fixing things at risk of breaking, you could potentially save a lot of money on repairs and replacements. This also means insurers would save on pay-outs which could lead to lower premiums for smart homes.
Smart gadgets and security
One thing all of these smart devices have in common is that they have to be connected to the internet or to a Wi-Fi network. This means devices can become the target of hackers as many smart devices are less secure than laptops, smartphones or PCs.
This doesn’t mean that they’ll be taking control of your fridge and defrosting your weekly shopping, instead these smart devices are used to overload networks and stop popular sites from working.
As they aren’t usually password protected, or have default login details, these gadgets can potentially be accessed far more easily. Hackers will use the device to send lots of traffic to a network, overloading websites to the point that they slow down or stop working completely. A recent attack took down popular services like Netflix, Spotify and Twitter for the best part of a day.
As more homes begin to install smart technology, manufacturers will come under pressure to improve the security features of these devices. In the meantime, if you do own a smart device, make sure to change any default passwords or login information. If you don’t actually use the smart functions of a device, then don’t leave it connected unnecessarily.
Technological improvements are quickly changing the way we consume energy to heat and power our homes. Saving energy at home reduces the dependence on energy and helps you to save money on your bills. It’s worth checking the efficiency of your current boiler or installing a new energy efficient boiler to replace an old model that can help reduce energy use.