Does the phrase smart home gadgets conjure images of sci-fi fantasy to your mind? If so, it might come as a surprise to learn that the homeware market has been slowly filling up with techno-toys that could actually be perfect for use in rental properties. There are numerous gadgets that could be useful to landlords and tenants alike, and they are more affordable than ever.
The smart home gadgets we will look at in this blog post fall into four main categories:
- Energy Saving
- Damage Prevention
They offer quick solutions that can make life easier and save time and money over the long run. They have a great novelty value, too, and may give your rental property the edge in desirability when looking for a new tenant. Let’s take a look at what is available….
Energy Saving Smart Home Gadgets
The first smart home gadgets we will look at are the energy savers. These can be particularly useful if you charge a rental fee inclusive of utility bills. Small changes add up to big savings over time.
Smart lights allow you to save electricity in several ways, ranging in budget. It’s possible to devise a full smart system with a hub, which will detect human activity and respond by turning lights on and off, room to room. This is, of course, not cheap; however, there is a more cost effective option that doesn’t require a hub and can be controlled from a smart cell phone. Bulbs, such as the LIFX model, simply replace your existing bulbs allowing you to set a lighting schedule from your phone, making it less likely for your tenants to fall asleep with the house illuminated, for example. These cost approximately $30 per bulb.
There are various phenomenal smart thermostats available to purchase that are sleek, smart, intuitive and energy saving, too. We like the Nest Learning Thermostat, which automatically adapts with your lifestyle and the changing seasons. It programs itself within a week and is quick and easy to install. It can be controlled with a smartphone which provides reports on how much energy has been saved each day. Costs are about $250.
Smart Water Heater Timer
Smart water heater timers, such as the Aquanta, are another fantastic option to save energy and money. “Heat water when you need it, save money when you don’t. The Aquanta retrofittable water heater controller brings your electric or gas water heater out of the basement and into the palm of your hand to heat water only when you need it.”
Again, this device offers the convenience of control from a smartphone and can be matched to the living schedule of your tenants to ensure maximum efficiency. These are rather affordable, starting at only $150.
A smart faucet is great for saving water, and it may surprise you just how much that might be! This SmartFaucet TM claims it could be a savings in excess of 15,000 gallons per unit per year. The smart faucet sets to your preferred temperature and works with a constant flow function, activated without needing to turn on the faucet valves … 100% of unused water is conserved. And, according to their website, the need for a contractor to fix leaky faucets is eliminated with this product!
“Installation of the Smart Faucet™ device will also instantly solve a leaky faucet problem, without the need to call a plumber, providing additional water and cost savings.”
A thermal leak detector, such as Black & Decker’s model detects wall surface temperature, enabling you to spot hidden energy leaks. It’s claimed that by fixing these leaks, a savings of up to 20% on overall heating and cooling energy costs can be achieved. This will cost approximately $26 and could be great value, especially if you own a number of units.
Damage Prevention Smart Home Gadgets
The smart home gadgets in the damage prevention section are the ones that could save you the most money in terms of avoiding costly repair bills. These products allow you to monitor water leaks, freezing and humidity, which are often hidden problems, until the real damage is obvious.
With a smart water detector, such as this one from Roost, you can stay ahead of the game.
Smart multi-sensor designed for home protection.
The Roost Smart Water and Freeze Detector is a Wi-Fi-connected, multi-function sensor that detects major home problems like water leaks, humidity and freezing/high temperatures.”
The beauty of this for landlords: you can be notified directly via your smartphone if water, humidity or a severe drop in temperature are detected. This will allow you to stay on top of issues, preventing costly damage due to frozen pipes, silent leaks or mold issues. This smart device is also very affordable and runs on batteries.
Security Smart Home Gadgets
As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to take reasonable measures to assure the safety of your tenants. The smart home gadgets in this section will help you to achieve just that.
Smart Home Lock
With a smart home lock, and/or doorbell camera, such as the one offered by August, you can lock and unlock your door, create virtual keys and see/speak with guests from your smartphone.
This could be quite useful for landlords, as it allows you to provide access to contractors remotely, when needed, but there is the potential for this technology to breach the tenant privacy boundary.
Smart Security System
A smart security system, such as this one offered by Canary, is the ultimate in security gadgets, described as the “all-in-one home security system you control from your phone. It’s built to learn and sends intelligent alerts with HD video and audio directly to your phone.” This option is pricey, but may be necessary if your rental unit is in a high crime area.
Safety Smart Home Gadgets
The safety of both your tenants and your property are of utmost importance, and the following smart devices can save a life or even just a trip. As a landlord, you should be always thinking about legal implications of not taking safety seriously in your rental properties, as well as the heartache associated with not installing devices such as these.
Smart safety devices, such as smoke and carbon monoxide from Birdi, pride themselves on reacting quickly to fires, carbon monoxide leaks and even natural disasters, while minimizing the case of false alarms. In the event of an emergency, loved ones and emergency services can even be notified.
“An elegantly-designed and powerful smoke and carbon monoxide alarm + air quality monitor that keeps you healthy and safe. Our proprietary smoke detection sensors minimize false alarms while our precision air sensors uniquely track pollution, including PM2.5, CO2 as well as temperature, humidity and ambient light.”
The devices can be controlled with a smartphone, and there is even an option to automatically receive new batteries through the post when the old ones need replacing. One detector costs about $119, and considering it’s long life span, could be money well spent.
The final smart device we’ll review is the lowest tech one on the list, but could save a fortune in legal bills. Solar powered path lights can prevent a fall showing you take the safety of your tenants and their guests seriously.
They’re affordable and so easy to install, usually a case of sticking them straight into the ground. These lights can be easily relocated and are, of course, powered by solar energy, meaning no wires are necessary and no electricity costs. Recent upgrades in technology mean that the light emitted is brighter than previous models.
It may seem unlikely at first glance, but we have seen here that smart home gadgets can prove invaluable to landlords for use in rental properties. The technology is becoming more affordable, and the money saving capacity can’t be ignored.
Many of the products offer intuitive, next generation solutions to old problems. They work simply, making life easier and keeping you in the loop about your investment property. Whether you’re looking to save energy and reduce your utility bills, stay on top of potential damage to pipes and leaks, avoid legal bills or ensure the safety and security of your tenants, there is a smart device for you.