A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Tips to turn your home smart

You don’t have to spend a fortune on the latest appliances – small changes can make a big difference

Installing a smart meter will give you control of your heating and hot water, anytime, anywhere. Photograph: iStock

Installing a smart meter will give you control of your heating and hot water, anytime, anywhere. Photograph: iStock

 

Turning your home into a smart home doesn’t have to mean making big changes all at once. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference, says Colin Bebbington, retail director with Bord Gáis Energy.

“Everyone, from homeowners to renters, young or old, can contribute to a more energy-efficient home and a better planet for generations to come. We’re at the stage where homeowners can control things like their electronics, heating and lighting not only at the touch of a button but through voice command, helping them to truly ‘connect’ with their homes,” he says.

Through Centrica Home Solutions, Bord Gáis Energy offers new technologies such as Hive Active Heating, which gives customers control of their heating and hot water, anytime, anywhere.

“The optional geo-location feature means that customers are alerted when they’ve gone out and left the heating on – no more ‘Have I left the heating or hot water on?’ when you’re at work or on holiday,” says Bebbington.

“The benefits of this are clear – Hive helps customers be more efficient because they are able to heat their home only when they need to, which means a lower carbon footprint and lower bills for our customers.”

In addition to its smart thermostat, Hive now offers a range of smart home devices such as light bulbs, motion sensors, smart plugs and a video camera which allows customers to keep an eye on their homes remotely.

“With the help of big brands like Hive, Amazon and Google, the smart home market is growing. New products are regularly being introduced, all of which connect together through the internet of things. The true smart home experience with what we offer with Hive is that all products can work together from the same app, and integrate with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant – allowing customers to customise their home to their needs.”

Ten steps to a smart home

1. Get a voice-controlled system such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant

2. Buy a smart cooker such as Siemens Home Connect Oven and download Recipeworld for smart cooking

3. Get a Samsung Family Hub smart fridge with expiration-date tracking, food lists and view inside

4. Upgrade non smart appliances with Samsung SmartThings, allowing you start stop, track usage and voice control

5. Choose a smart washing machine such as Hoover OneTouch, which lets you download new wash cycles, usage reports and remote diagnostics

6. Get Wi-Fi-enabled speakers, such as Sonos, to stream music all through your home

7. Install a smart thermostat like Nest or Hive

8. Put in a smart doorbell, like Ring, on your door to get phone notifications, motion detection and remote answering

9. Use Philips Hue smart lighting to control colour and timing remotely, including by sunrise and sunset

10. Get a robot to cut your lawn