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With more time at home and a growing need for fast and secure internet and technology solutions, people are increasingly looking to the latest advances in smart home devices. 

A recent report shows the smart home technology industry will swell to $135 billion by 2025. Some estimates project the industry even larger at $174 billion. What’s more, from 2015 to 2017 the industry saw a 31% compound annual growth rate, according to research by Mckinsey.

Several factors drive the surge in people — particularly in the U.S. — looking for a more connected home. Saving a bit extra on monthly utilities appeals to many who spend more of their days at home, rather than the office, while others see the value in safety and security, temperature control, entertainment and other devices.

In the year ahead, some experts anticipate smart home devices to become smarter as machine learning proliferates, 5G comes on the scene, and manufacturers standardize devices and end-to-end systems. 

“As the technology underpinning this revolution in how we live continues to get faster and more powerful, we can expect home automation and artificial intelligence to offer domestic help in new and innovative ways,” writes Bernard Marr, a strategic business and technology advisor to governments and companies, in Forbes.

Keep reading below to find out how to outfit your home with smart devices that’ll help reduce utility costs, improve efficiency while working remotely, and make being at home more enjoyable.

Smart Devices Level Up At-Home Entertainment 

While the smart device industry will continue to grow at impressive rates in the years ahead, it’s expected that entertainment-driven devices will account for the majority of market share. 

Devices like smart speakers, TVs and more can make being at home more enjoyable. What’s more, these devices typically aren’t difficult to set up, with most requiring little more than a standard outlet, stable WiFi and a smartphone.

Even though simply plugging in a smart speaker can elevate one’s home, tech enthusiasts can take it a step further. Gadgets like smart speakers — like the Google Nest, Apple HomePod or Amazon Alexa — can help connect and power the rest of the house from turning up the heat, programming lights and many other household chores all with one’s voice.

Interconnecting devices takes a bit more time and skill, but the efforts create a wicked smart home to help make daily chores and tasks simpler and faster — and a bit more like Tony Stark’s lab from Marvel’s Iron Man series.

Smart Thermostats Can Save on Heating and Cooling Costs

Among the more popular smart devices is the thermostat. That’s in part because it pays for itself within a relatively short timespan. 

By some estimates, thermostats can help residents save 10% to 15% on heating and cooling costs, helping create an ENERGY STAR-rated home in no time. 

For those spending more time on their couches, at their kitchen tables — or for the lucky ones, a home office — utility expenses have likely creeped up. Installing a smart thermostat is a great way to cut down on those costs.

Paired with an app, smart home devices like these can also clue you into regular maintenance, heating and cooling trends, and — with machine learning — identify the best ways to help save some extra cash.  

Programmable Smart LED Lights Last Longer — And They’re Cooler Than Normal Bulbs

By replacing incandescent light bulbs with smart, LED lights, smart home enthusiasts open a door to money-saving lighting solutions. And, they are far more efficient.

“By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices,” according to Energy.gov. For some, the cost savings could be up to $75 a year, paying for the light bulbs themselves. 

Residents can control smart, LED lighting solutions using voice commands with a home device — think Amazon Alexa — as well as their smartphones by using an app that syncs with the lights over WiFi.

Not only are smart bulbs an excellent way to bring down electric bills but they’re pretty neat. During the holidays, some bulbs can change colors to reflect the festivities of the time. They can also dim for home movie nights, turn on or off at programmable times, and feature numerous other lighting effects. 

Looking for more ways to create an epic smart home? Try smart plugs. They help prevent technology from running while not in use and feature programmable options to further automate the home. 

Create Stronger, More Reliable WiFi with Routers and Extenders

WiFi powers remote work, streaming, lighting, coffee shops — everything. Without WiFi, a smart home is essentially four walls. 

More people at home means more devices accessing the network, slowing down speeds. What’s more, some areas of the house — typically those farthest from the modem — experience unstable internet connections or deadspots. As more people work from home long term, creating a smart home with reliable WiFi at the core means residents might just need a router or extenders. 

By connecting systems like Google’s Nest WiFi, residents can magnify the reach of their home WiFi (up to 5,800 square feet, in fact) far beyond what a lone modem can achieve. This system, and others like it, tie in directly with other smart devices in the home. In the case of Nest WiFi, the extenders — or, “The Point” as Google calls them — have integrated smart speakers that can play music, give weather updates and much more. 

Strengthen Security with Smart Security Cameras, Sensors and More

More than one-third of U.S. residents have had packages stolen from their homes — and projections during the holidays indicate as much as a 27% increase in so-called porch piracy. However, a key deterrent of porch theft are smart doorbells, along with several other devices.

These smart security devices can help improve security at home:

Up to 32% of people have an interest in devices like these as a way to curb would-be theft or burglaries. As online shopping increases, some of these devices might prove worthy of the investment.

Some smart cameras also feature local and cloud-based storage options, automated recording, and several other features to make the installation and operation a seamless experience for consumers. Other devices might require a more skilled hand, but if they help deter bad actors, paying for professional installation might actually save money.

Always Keep Cybersecurity in Mind When Buying Smart Devices

As with any technology, there are inherent risks to privacy, data collection and more if not installed and maintained properly. Building out a smart home takes special planning and execution, so it’s best to have a clear idea of how each device and system will work together, what network they will rely on, and the cybersecurity steps to take to keep hackers and burglars out. 

The installation of a single device might not require professional help, but certainly, the more advanced smart homes become, having skilled expertise can make the difference between a secure, well-functioning smart home and one fraught with vulnerabilities.

AV Hero employs a vast network of certified, skilled technology installers, technicians and engineers who stand at-the-ready to help customers with needs big and small. If you’re building a smart home, consider enlisting the help of an AV Hero. Learn how it works here.