Make Your Home Smarter on a Budget

Tod Caflisch
7 min readNov 14, 2023

November 14, 2023

The growing interest in smart home technology is driven by several factors. Some of these include the desire for convenience, safety, energy efficiency, and a more connected and personalized lifestyle. When Debbie and I started our smart home journey there was also a lot of curiosity, but convenience and the personalized home experience were top of list. But just as there are a huge variety of smart home technologies, the reasons for adopting these technologies are ten-fold that number. Smart home technology has the potential to enhance daily living in various ways:

  • Convenience
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Home Security
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Entertainment and Comfort
  • Personalization
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Accessibility and Inclusivity
  • Time-Saving

This list is certainly not exhaustive but these are the ones most people look to address with smart home technology. And as I mentioned earlier, we were curious but honestly overwhelmed when we started by the shear number of options. And the cost. So here, instead of covering specific technologies or solutions like I frequently do, I’ll focus on budget-friendly options for transforming a regular home into a smart one.

Understanding smart home basics is a great place to start in controlling costs. And beginning with a list like above to determine and prioritize what is most important to you will help. Ideally settling on a single platform like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Apple Homekit helps. As there are so many options when it comes to smart home technology, it’s also good to keep in mind it’s not an ‘all or nothing’ project. Our smart home journey has been an evolution as I did research, tried new technologies, established integrations between solutions and as smart technology has evolved itself. Having worked in technology my entire career, the simple understanding that technology changes literally every day made it easier to deploy technology in phases.

Setting a budget is another great early step to take. This one may seem to be a simple way to control spending on smart home technology but it takes some discipline. By either limiting spending or restricting spending to certain solutions or devices, this helps prevent falling victim to ‘shiny thing’ impulse purchases. Especially for items that may not align with your overall technology roadmap. Sticking to your plan and budget will save you a lot of money, time and frustration. Buying and deploying a lot of new devices all at once can be expensive and time consuming.

Debbie and I started with inexpensive smart bulbs. Perhaps a happy accident but those were the best first step for us into turning our home smart. It afforded us a the opportunity to make a very modest investment while also learning about and enhancing our energy efficiency and convenience. This lead to us incorporating budget-friendly options for smart speakers — Amazon Echo Dots — to give us voice control of the smart bulbs. We found relying on an app to spontaneously control lights didn’t meet the convenience expectations we were seeking.

There are other opportunities to integrate smart home technology into your home while maintaining your budget. Smart home security offers a lot of options from complete home coverage packages to DIY. I’ve been researching solutions to incorporate into our home build but have also deployed inexpensive DIY devices in the meantime. I’ve really liked the Wyze cameras and sensors as they are very inexpensive compared to other similar devices. The mobile app works well and the cameras include motion detection but they are limited from an integration perspective with other smart home devices we have in place.

Smart thermostats are another great smart home upgrade but can be pricey. Their real value comes with the bottom line savings through reduced energy consumption. We’ve used an Ecobee smart thermostat and really like the convenience, automations and integration with Amazon Alexa but they are not exactly a ‘budget’ option. A really good, inexpensive smart thermostat comes from Wyze. I’ve installed a couple of those for family and friends that are just getting started with smart home and they love them.

With a little planning and some cost-effective choices, you can enjoy the benefits of smart home technology without breaking the bank. As there are a lot of options to consider, the planning part is key. As I mentioned earlier, having a technology roadmap and sticking to it will help you also maintain your budget. Here are some tips for making your home smarter while staying true to your plan and budget:

Prioritize Essentials

  • Identify the areas where smart technology can have the most significant impact in your daily life. Start with essential items like lighting, security, or energy management.

Research Affordable Brands and Products

  • Many budget-friendly smart home products offer excellent value. Research and compare different brands and models to find the best deals.

Look for Sales and Discounts

  • Keep an eye on sales, promotions, and discounts from retailers. Special occasions like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day often feature significant price reductions on smart devices.

Buy Starter Kits

  • Many smart home product lines offer starter kits that include essential devices at a discounted price compared to buying individual items separately.

Repurpose Existing Devices

  • Transform existing devices into smart ones. For example, you can use a smart plug to make a regular lamp or appliance controllable through a smartphone app or voice commands.

Buy Refurbished or Used Devices

  • Certified refurbished or gently used smart devices are often available at lower prices and can provide excellent performance. Just be sure to buy from reputable sources.

Consider Smart Bulbs Instead of Smart Fixtures

  • Instead of investing in smart light fixtures, opt for smart bulbs that can be installed in your existing lamps and fixtures. This is a cost-effective way to add smart lighting to your home.

Use Voice Assistants as Hubs

  • If you already own a voice assistant like Amazon Echo or Google Home, you can use it as a central hub for controlling compatible smart devices, saving you the cost of a separate hub.

Start Small and Expand Gradually

  • You don’t need to automate your entire home at once. Start with a few smart devices and add more over time as your budget allows.

Leverage Free Apps and Services

  • Many smart home devices come with free companion apps and services. Take advantage of these to control and manage your devices without additional costs.

Watch for Local Utility Rebates

  • Some local utilities offer rebates or incentives for purchasing energy-efficient smart home devices, specifically smart thermostats. Check with your utility provider for any available programs.

Set Up Automations and Routines

  • Maximize the value of your smart devices by creating automations and routines to control them based on your preferences and daily schedule.

As you can see there are plenty of great ways to make your home smart on a budget. Possibly what I like best is that no two smart homes are alike as they reflect the wants and priorities of their owners. Flexibility is organically built into the process to support your unique needs.

By following these tips and carefully selecting budget-friendly smart home products, you can gradually transform your home into a smarter, more connected space without straining your finances. Smart home technology is designed to be accessible, making it possible for everyone to enjoy the benefits of a connected and automated home. If you’re new to smart home or just getting started, I’d encourage you to explore budget-friendly smart home solutions and take the first step in upgrading your home. And when I say home, it could be a house or apartment — there are a plethora of options for renters as well.

What do you think about building your smart home on a budget? It makes sense but there are a lot of interesting devices out there. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up later this month, it may be an opportunity to grab those devices you’ve been holding off buying. Make sure to keep your overall smart home plan in mind though. Obviously, there are a lot of things to consider here.

Let Debbie and I know what you think in the comments, DMs and emails as we really enjoy hearing from you. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’

SmartHomeOnTheRange.com

SmartHomeOnTheRange.com

In full disclosure, I’m not an affiliate marketer with links to any online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn nothing from the retailer. The links are strictly a convenience for my readers.

--

--

Tod Caflisch

Smart Home technology visionary with passion for out of the box solutions for home technology integrations, focusing on efficiency, safety and sustainability.