Do Smart Homes Save Money?

smart homes

I was thinking about adding some smart technology to my home. I had been visiting a friend who had Alexa set up to control all sorts of different things in the house. I got a kick out of saying, “Alexa, turn on …” and choosing the lights I wanted on and off, the music I wanted playing, and so forth. I’ve seen those commercials with the refrigerators and ovens that practically do everything themselves with just the sound of a voice. We’re all moving towards having some version of smart homes. However, when I looked into the costs of just a few of those things, I wasn’t so sure anymore.

Do Smart Homes Save Money?

I’ve always figured that smart homes generally cost money to set up but have the potential to save money in the long run. However, I think that type of thinking primarily comes from the type of smart technology that makes a home more energy-efficient. When it comes to all of the technology available today to make a home more convenient, it may not actually save money. In fact, setting up a smart home can probably cost a lot of money that you don’t recoup. So, I’m trying to figure it out; do smart homes save money? Or do they at least have the potential to pay for themselves?

Energy-Saving Technology Can Save Money

Doing my research confirmed what I expected. It is possible for smart homes to save money if you’re talking about smart technology that saves energy. In other words, if you update your house to reduce energy waste then over time you can save a lot of money on energy bills. I found a helpful infographic that showed how some of this technology pays for itself then saves you money over the long run.

In fact, that research reminded me that I can make small investments that could make a difference. For example, I never thought about getting smart power strips. I use tons of power strips in my home already. Smart power strips monitor energy usage and turn the power off when it’s not in use. That could be really convenient. It could save energy. I like the green aspect of saving energy in addition to the fact that it helps me save money.

A smart thermostat is another really popular device in smart homes. It seems to also pay for itself in terms of quickly offering cost-effective energy savings. Of course, one could argue that simply setting your own thermostat to appropriate temperatures would achieve the same effect. So it’s not that we need the technology to save energy, necessarily, but it might be a small investment to make doing so more convenient.

Convenient Technology Doesn’t Necessarily Save Money

Some of the other technology in smart homes doesn’t seem like it pays off, though. For example, that same infographic shows details about smart refrigerators. A smart refrigerator can actually show you when items are about to go bad. Arguably, you might then use more of your food in time, and not wasting it could save you money. But it doesn’t save you that much. According to the infographic, it takes thirty years for a smart refrigerator to pay for itself. That’s before you would even start saving money thanks to it. Technology often needs frequent updates and repairs so it’s unlikely you’d keep that refrigerator much longer than thirty years (if you even make it that long).

Will I Invest In Smart Home Technology?

So, here’s what it boils down to … it doesn’t make financial sense for me to buy most types of smart technology for my home. The things that are most fun and add convenience generally cost more than they save. However, there might be a few small changes (smart power strips, smarter lighting) that could actually save me money in the long run. I don’t need them. It’s not something I’m going to get at this time. But as the technology keeps changing, I’ll keep reviewing the costs and benefits. It may make sense for me to look at smart homes again in the future.

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Dyson V7 vs V8: Which is the Better Buy?

dyson v7 vs v8

If you want to get a new vacuum cleaner, then Dyson may be the way to go. In fact, you might have narrowed it down to the Dyson V7 or V8. Which one is the better buy? Obviously, the Dyson V8 is newer. Therefore, it might have some better features, but it also might be more expensive. Is it worth the extra cost?

Dyson V7 vs V8: First, the Similarities

These are both cordless vacuums. They’re both made by Dyson. Moreover, they are both designed to be an improvement over the earlier Dyson V6. Therefore, there are a lot of similarities between Dyson V7 vs V8. If you’re just looking for a basic cordless vacuum that has excellent power, then you could do well to get either one of them.

Both vacuums are similar in terms of body design. Each has a suction trigger as well as a max mode for more power. Both can be used as a stick vacuum or in a handheld mode. They can both clean hardwood floors as well as carpets. While the Dyson V7 has significantly improved battery life when compared to the V6, it’s not significantly different than the V8 battery life.

If you aren’t that particular, then there is no significant reason to spend the extra money to get the Dyson V8. They’re similar enough to one another that the lower price of the V7 is a good reason to go for that one.

Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges

One of the most important things to understand when comparing Dyson V7 vs V8 is that there are different versions of each of these vacuums. For example, you can get the Dyson D7 Motorhead, which is the basic version, or you can get the Dyson V7 Total Clean, which has a soft roller for hardwood floors (among other advanced features). Make sure that when you compare Dyson V7 vs V8 that you’re comparing the same versions of them. In other words, you can’t comprae the Dyson D7 Motorhead to the Dyson V8 Total Clean. You have to compare “apples to apples.”

Dyson V7 Animal vs Dyson V8 Absolute

One of the most common comparisons that people make when determining which of these vacuums to buy is the Dyson V7 Animal vs. the Dyson V8 Absolute. These have more features than the basic V7 Motorhead version described above. They are fairly comparable to one another and give you a good sense if one is better than the other for your needs.

The Dyson V8 Absolute:

  • Is more powerful
  • Has slightly longer battery power but also takes longer to recharge
  • Is a slightly heavier vacuum
  • Has a better filtration system
  • Costs more

The Dyson V7 can meet the average household’s needs. However, if you require more power than normal from your vacuum’s suction, then you might find it worth it to invest in the V8. Moreover, the filtration system on the V8 is better so if you struggle with significant allergies then you might find it worth it to pay more for the V8.

Dyson V8 vs V10

You can also take a look at the Dyson V10. It’s got slightly more suction power than the Dyson V8. It also has a larger dustbin. However, it’s not noticeably better in other ways. It’s also significantly more expensive. Nevertheless, it’s worth a look if you’re doing a comparison.

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2016 Real Estate Trends

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Real estate trends for 2016

Real estate trends for 2016 are looking great, which may come at a surprise to some of you considering how well the market did in 2015. Can the momentum really keep going? The short answer, according to various reports, such as Emerging Trends of Real Estate: Yes.

The last couple years were the best the housing market has seen since 2007. While 2016 is off to a slower start than 2015’s market, investors and buyers should not worry about another decline any time soon. The market does vary from location to location, year to year, but with a decreased unemployment rate, things seem to be looking up in many areas. If you are looking to buy your first home (or a new home), you will want to consider the local job market first. Furthermore, this slowed pace is just an indication of the market returning to normal conditions after years of suffering from the housing bubble.

Before we look at this year’s real estate trends, let’s look at some of the contributing factors of this growth in recent years:

  • First, millennials have different spending priorities than previous generations, and they will have a major impact on the economy, according to this report by Goldman Sachs.  As Gen Y becomes more financially savvy, they are choosing investments they can make money on. Luckily for the housing market, homes are one of those investments. Despite it taking longer for millennials to start families and purchase homes than Gen X and Baby Boomers, they are contributing to this rise in the market and actually make up a large portion of first-time buyers.
  • Locations like Austin, Seattle, Denver, San Diego and Portland are among Emerging Trends 2016’s list of top 20 markets for real estate and development. The report also attributes this to the fact that many of these locations doing well in the market are also on the Kauffman Foundation Study top 10 list for entrepreneurship. Because of this, they are seeing many young business owners relocate to these areas for more opportunities.
  • Baby Boomers are reaching or are currently in retirement age and looking to downsize. This means more real estate opportunities in both selling and buying.

While many other factors contribute to the recent rise in the housing market, such as technology and globalization, here are some key trends happening in 2016 for real estate:

  1. A great year to sell. We’ve already mentioned the impact Generation Y has had on the market, but as millennials are reaching their prime spending years looking to purchase their first home, Generation X and Baby Boomers are looking to decrease their cost of living, after already spending years as homeowners. This means their contribution is a double function on real estate. While your local market does still determine the supply and demand of homes, this seems to be a trend across the board that will impact suburban areas, especially from those looking to start a family.
  2. The spotlight is taken by 18-hour cities. Areas defined as 18-hour cities, such as Portland and Austin, are perfect for millennials looking to advance in their career. These second-tier cities are developing rapidly and typically have a lower cost of living, hence their attraction to the younger crowds. They also provide lower costs for doing business along with similar job opportunities as the big scale cities, such as New York City and San Francisco. The 18-hour cities are perfect for investors right now, and 2016 will see more real estate investment options. It’s a great time to jump on this bandwagon.
  3. More office space comes in demand. With the rise of entrepreneurship and job growth in recent years, office space is also becoming more in demand. This means less vacant rental space for realtors and an increase in rents. An open floor plan is the latest trend for offices in addition to co-working spaces, thus resulting in a change in layout and design. These factors have all been helpful in strengthening commercial properties.
  4. Mortgage rates will slowly increase. Although there is a decrease in distressed sales property, mortgage rates are expected to slowly increase. The increase will mostly seem to be manageable as homeowners will begin to get creative with alleviating the amount such as utilizing opportunities through Airbnb. It will need to be taken into consideration, though, as this could mean borrowing more money with higher interest rates. Areas with the highest mortgage rates will see fewer (or slower) sales in real estate; however, the good news is that the pressure for affordable housing is on the rise. This brings me to the next trend:
  5. New homes to be more affordable. In previous years, new-home prices have been rising much more than existing-home prices, which makes it difficult for lower- to mid-level income folk to purchase a new home. Despite the profitability of building luxury-style homes, it limits potential financial growth and entry-level sales.  This year should see a shift from this strategy as home-builders begin to create a more affordable product.
  6. Unaffordable rents posing a problem. The cost of rent is excessively high in most of the United States, which is pushing people more toward home-buying options. This may seem like a positive trend toward real estate, it is in fact a concern. Due to low credit scores, limited savings and the like, purchasing a home for renting households is not an easy solution. The housing market does depend upon multiple key factors, and affordability and the economy are among them. If individuals are spending half of their income on rent, it can predictably hurt the overall well-being of the housing market.

Whether buying or selling, you always want to pay attention to your local market to determine what is best for you. Overall, as an investor or consumer, these key real estate trends should help to guide you along and keep you in the loop of what is happening and what is to come. In addition, it’s important to stay updated on the housing market regardless if you are currently involved in real estate. Consider these, along with location, before making your next big move.