You may have heard a lot about a lot of smart devices lately to go in your home. You can even purchase smart refrigerators and other appliances that learn your behaviors and adjust automatic. And if there is a problem, they will shoot you an email or text message, then call for repairs.

If you think your home is really dumb, then you might be considering on upgrading some appliances and other systems.

First, what exactly is a smart home?

A smart home is defined as one that is equipped with lighting, heating, and other electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by a mobile device or other computer. The devices are connected to the internet and send information to you and their manufacturers to update their own firmware.

Smart devices eventually learn behavior that enables carefree maintenance on your part along with saving some money in the process. A smart home can only give you peace of mind when you are away, allowing you to check the status of everything from your security alarm, and IP camera or even if you turned your coffee maker off.

With a smart home, you could quiet all of these worries with a quick glance at your smartphone or tablet. You could connect the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you.

The majority of the energy consumed in your home comes from a couple of appliances such as your air conditioner/furnace, your washer and dryer and your refrigerator.[2]

Several companies have developed smart devices to help control some of these energy hogs. Many newer appliances have green settings built in them that control how much water and energy they use.

Other devices have come on the market in recent years to efficiently control the temperature and these are some of the best investments because they can reduce your heating and cooling energy use by up to 15% a month. [1] 

After Google’s acquisition of Nest in January of 2014, the smart thermostat technology has been getting a lot of attention. So what exactly is a learning thermostat and how does it work?

What is the Nest Thermostat

Smart Home Technology: Do I Need Smart Devices in my Home?
Credit: Google

The Nest Learning Thermostat is installed like a normal thermostat and connected to your air and heating unit. It is also connected wirelessly to your router to access the internet to keep itself up-to-date on weather information for your area as well as update its software whenever necessary. You simply install it and put in some target temperatures

Over time, Nest learns your heating and cooling preferences so you never have to program it. The truth is, while many people have programmable thermostats in their home, many do not bother to set them up appropriately to save money by adjusting the heat or air during certain “zones” of time.

Eventually it will distinguish between weekdays and weekend patterns and adjust the temperature of your home to your liking based on whether you are home in the mornings or not. It will learn how long it takes your heat or air unit to reach the target temperatures based on how it did in the past.  

The Nest device takes all of that out of the homeowner’s hands so eventually you will actually recoup the large upfront investment. Yes, learning technology does not come cheap. You will have to shell out $229 for the Nest Thermostat.

Furthermore, if you have a really large home with multiple floors, you may have to buy two of them to get the most energy savings. Then again, if you own a 5000 square foot home, $500 probably is not a lot of money to you. But for most homeowners, one device will do.

You can control the Nest through Android or iOS apps on your mobile device. It provides a lot of useful information like the amount of energy you are using, or you can visit their website to get the details on how and when you use the most energy.  

Another type of smart device that promises to improve your air circulation in your home is something called a smart fan.

Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation
Amazon Price: $249.00 $191.45 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 25, 2016)

What is a Smart Fan?

Smart Home Technology: Do I Need Smart Devices in my Home?
Credit: Haiku

A smart fan works on the same principle as the Nest thermostat. It has built-in Wi-Fi for internet access to update itself.

It also features a motion detector and sensors to detect heat and humidity. 

One such device on the market is called the Haiku with SenseMe from a company called Big A$$ Fans. Yes, that is actually their name.

You can control the fan via an app available for Android or iOS. It allows you to remotely control and schedule the fan’s activities or you can put it on learn and it will learn the temperature you like, when you like it. It will even wake you up with a built in alarm.

It controls the climate by monitoring the temperature levels at the ceiling and at floor level using infrared sensors.

The problem for most home owners is with this type of smart fan is the price. The Haiku with SenseMe costs $1,045.  

Are these Devices Worth the Upfront Expense?

It is hard to imagine the average home owner shelling out more than $1000 for one ceiling fan. Over time, you could recoup some of the costs with reduced energy bills, especially if paired with a Nest thermostat.

However, it would take years to recover enough in cost for a fan at that price and I can only see the affluent in the market for that type of device. It looks great, but I will have to pass for now until they can figure out a way to get all of that SenseMe technology in a sub-$200 fan.

The Nest thermostat is a different story. Yes, it is still pricey at $229, but you can save as much as 15% off your monthly energy bill.[1]

Over the course of a year, you can see that it would only take a couple of years, maybe less if you have abnormally large home energy bills, to recoup your money.

SmartThings Know and Control Your Home Kit (OLD VERSION)
Amazon Price: $369.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 25, 2016)