How many times have you left the house, panicked that your oven is still on and returned home to find that you had actually turned it off? With a smart home, this could be a thing of the past, as you can control every electronic device or appliance from your mobile phone, no matter where you are. You could video call your dogs remotely, control the temperature of your fridge and even answer the doorbell when you’re not there.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, a smart home is “a dwelling incorporating a communications network that connects the key electrical appliances and services, and allows them to be remotely controlled, monitored or accessed.” In simpler terms, a smart home is one that allows you to control multiple appliances from anywhere in the world.

This definition goes on to state the three things a property needs in order for it to become a smart home. These are an internal network, an intelligent control and home automation. In the case of your home, this might be WiFi, an app to control an appliance and a smart appliance that can be controlled, such as a doorbell. 

This means that any dwelling can become smart if you have the right gadgets. Below, we’ve identified various ways that you can create a smart home on a budget and why a smart home is worth it. 

How to set up a smart home on a budget

You may think that a smart home will cost a lot of money to set up, however there are ways to do this on a budget.

Instead of replacing all of your appliances for new ones, you could simply add smart plugs to your current plug sockets. Connect the extenders and they can make all of your devices smart. Using a mobile phone or tablet, you can see which devices are using the most electricity and you will be able to turn the electricity supply off when it’s no longer needed. You can even set schedules and timers using the app. For example, it’s likely that you won’t be using your microwave at night, so you can use the app to set a timer so that the appliance isn’t using electricity when it’s not needed.

Although some smart home devices may cost money to purchase and install, they could save you money long-term, making them a worthwhile investment. For example, by installing an intelligent heating control such as tado°, you could reduce your heating bills. With this smart thermostat, you can control your heating no matter where you are and turn it off if it’s been left on when no one is at home.

If home security is something you want to increase, you could introduce some smart devices to help you do this. You might want to consider a video doorbell that you can answer from your phone. The camera shows you who is at the door and allows you to speak to the visitor, even when you’re out. You can view the camera at any time to monitor the outside of your home. You could also fit some smart LED light bulbs that give the impression someone is at home. Set your lights to come on and off on a timer, or control them from your phone whenever you want. 

How to secure your smart home devices

There have been reports of smart devices being hacked. While this isn’t something that should stop you from wanting a smart home, you may need to take some additional steps to ensure that your home and family are safe.

The most important thing to consider is the strength of your passwords. They should be longer than eight characters and should contain at least one number and one special character, such as an exclamation mark or a full stop. Avoid using your name, family birthdays or other obvious pieces of information that are frequently used for passwords. Be creative and think of something different. This password should be changed regularly.

You could look into authorising a two-step verification. Most apps and devices will allow you to turn on a verification setting. This will text you when someone tries to access your account. If this is you, you will be able to enter a code that has been sent to you. But it could also alert you of someone else trying to access your account.

Finally, you should keep all of your devices updated with the latest software. On some devices, updates might be made remotely by the manufacturer, but in other cases, you may have to do this manually. 

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