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Property Management Blog

Retrofitting your Units with Smart Tech: The Benefits


Levio Poletti - Friday, February 28, 2020
Property Management Blog

10 years ago, the first smart-home appliances were just being unveiled. 2010 saw the release of the Nest Thermostat. 2012 saw the release of the Ring Doorbell. Since then, these technologies – and others like them – have begun to take hold and are now being installed in homes and apartments at an exponentially increasing rate. If you are not familiar with these products, then their benefits are worth your consideration. In this article, we will cover four different smart tech appliances, and provide reasons for why a landlord may consider retrofitting their rental units with these technologies.

Smart Thermostats
Smart Thermostats allow for more than fixed heating and cooling climate schedules. Because these devices are typically connected to your phone via their app, you can adjust the temperature of your unit from anywhere; on the couch, in bed, or at work. What’s more is that the EPA’s Energy Star program concluded that homes with smart thermostats save up to $180 per year. While it is the case that smart thermostat installation costs can average at around $300, and the average cost of the thermostat itself sits at around $200, you would still make that money back in less than 3 years time. After 3 years, the money saved goes directly into your pocket.  


The most popular smart thermostat on the market today is the Nest Learning Thermostat. Since its inception in 2010, Nest has been acquired by Google, and its current repertoire of devices is diverse. Nevertheless, Nest is still best known for its thermostat; it is high quality and reliable. The Nest Learning Thermostat costs $249.
 

Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot


Video Doorbells
Traditional doorbells are slowly being replaced by video doorbells. These are doorbells that allow you to see who is at your front and back doors, via a smartphone app. The footage can be recorded, and you can set up your device so that you receive a notification every time a person is detected outside your door. These doorbells also feature an audio speaker system that allows you to speak to whoever is there, regardless of where you are at.
The security benefits of this appliance are tremendous. You can spot potential intruders and record footage of them. It also gives you 24/7 access to a live feed of your front and back entrances.


By far, the most popular option among video doorbells is Ring. Like Nest, Ring is well established, and has defined its field. The baseline Ring Video Doorbell 2 costs $199.
 

Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot


Smart Bulbs
At first, smart bulbs give off the impression of novelty. The idea of controlling your lights from an app on your phone seems intriguing, but not necessary. However, depending on the size of your unit, these bulbs can save you a lot of money.


First thing is first: these are light bulbs that, when screwed in, are controllable from an app on your phone. You can turn any light in any part of your home on or off from the touch of a button. What’s more is that these lights can be dimmed from the app, so there is no need to install dimming switches. One other feature of these bulbs is that most of them can change colors; they can emit red, blue, yellow, green, purple, and more.
Typically, a 60w incandescent bulb costs $4.80/year (per energy.gov). By contrast, a 12w LED smart bulb costs about a dollar per year. A 30-bulb home outfitted with the older incandescent lights would cost homeowners around $144/year. By contrast, a 30-bulb home with LED smart lights would cost $30; that’s a savings of $114.


At the same time, the average cost of 1 smart bulb is $15 (contrasted with $1 per incandescent bulb), so a 30-bulb home would put you out of pocket ~$450 with smart lights vs ~$30 with incandescent. The cost would be covered by the savings within less than 4 years (for a 30-bulb home), and money saved after that date would go right into your pocket. So it is up to you if the amenities of a smart bulb are worth the short-term cost of installing them.


A popular smart bulb choice today is the Phillips Hue Bulb. Phillips offers a reliable bulb that will last up to 15,000 hours.
 

Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot

Smart Locks
Smart locks are not as well known, but still worth your consideration. Like every “smart” appliance, it is a piece of tech that features a dedicated app for your phone. These are tools that allow you to lock and unlock your home from wherever you are at. If you are out of town and need to let someone into your unit, you can press a button from the dedicated app on your phone. This also takes away the hassle of figuring out the logistics of physical keys; who has what key, and how they will get it.


A traditional lock will set you back anywhere between $100-$250. Unlike smart thermostats and smart bulbs, smart locks fall within the same price range of their older counterparts; they sit at around $200. While they aren’t designed to save you money on your electricity bills, they do give you control over the security of your unit, from wherever you are at. Additionally, the dedicated apps let you know which doors are locked and which are unlocked at all times.


A popular option is the August Smart Lock Pro, currently selling for $199.
 

Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot


If you are a landlord who is looking to save money on electricity bills, then investing in a smart thermostat or smart bulbs may be worth your consideration. In terms of home security, there is a strong case to be made for video doorbells and smart locks as well. If we were to recommend any one smart device from the list covered in this article, it would be the Ring Video Doorbell 2; the security benefits of the device are well worth the $200 price tag.


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