Smart technology has evolved beyond the simple timer-regulated thermostats and keypad door-locks of previous decades, into something so much more inventive. And don’t think for a second that only houses can benefit from these upgrades; more and more systems are designed with apartment dwellers in mind, and renters are discovering that they don’t have to be millionaires to enjoy technological innovation. Here are some areas where you can incorporate smart technology in your apartment without breaking the bank. Remember to talk with your apartment manager and double check your rental agreement before making any enhancements or changes.
1. Climate control
Perhaps the oldest form of home automation is the automatic thermostat. Today, it is fairly easy for apartment renters and owners to utilize improved technology to go beyond your standard temperature changes. The Nest Learning Thermostat (now in its 3rd generation) not only fulfills the function of keeping your home a comfortable temperature, but it also learns your habits and automatically adjusts itself to suit your needs. Say you leave the apartment for eight hours a day during the week to go to the office or if you prefer that temperatures be colder at night while you’re sleeping, Nest will learn from the temperature adjustments you make and begin to mimic them at the appropriate times. With built-in Wi-Fi that can be controlled by any device and additional sensors, the 3rd generation you’ll be able to change your temperature from miles away. Although the $249 Amazon price may sound expensive, you’re likely to reduce your monthly heating/cooling bill by up to 20%.
2. Lighting automation
As anyone knows who’s in the habit of leaving lights on, wasted electricity can be very expensive. By automating home lighting, you can make it easy to activate or deactivate the lights in your apartment with the push of a single button. There are any number of possibilities when considering home lighting automation, but Philips Hue offers starter pack options to help you save. Hue uses smart LED bulbs (which are up to 80% more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer), and a simple iOS app that allows you to control the entire system. You can easily turn lights on and off remotely, change their color and intensity, flash to signal incoming email messages, and so much more. Perhaps best of all for apartment inhabitants is the fact that the bulbs screw directly into existing light sockets, for easy installation. You can find the simplest kit for under $35 and additional bulbs prices vary depending on where you look.
3. Smart television
Home is a place where you should be able to relax and unwind, and nothing accomplishes this better than zoning out in front of the television. But, honestly, do we even need cable anymore? With a smart TV you’ll get internet capability and web-based features built directly into the television itself. With a smart TV you can access computer media files, enjoy online services, visit web pages, record videos, and play streamed games. With Netflix and HBO GO, you’ll pretty much set to binge watch your favorites way longer than you should. And with devices like Google Chromecast and Roku, any TV can be a smart! With so many options and brands, it’s easy to find a TV that fits your budget and preferences.
4. Automated door locks
Home automation for entertainment and comfort is all well and good, but ensure the safety of your property is even more important. The lock on your door is the first line of defense against potential home intrusion, and can be majorly upgraded with home-automation security. The August Smart Lock is an iPhone-controlled deadbolt that can be easily installed onto most single-cylinder deadbolts locks. Now with an improved design and Siri integration, the simple software interface provides a top-notch performance. The lock can also be manually operated with the use of a key, just in case something goes wrong. The system also keeps a complete record of who has been in and out of the house. On Amazon you can find the smart lock for under $200!
5. Home Surveillance
Security goes further than having a safe lock. If you want to know exactly what is happening in and around your home when you’re not around, you have many options in security camera surveillance. Topping the charts for best in home security is a product also made by Nest, the Nest Cam Indoor. It retails for $200, but will provide you with peace of mind in a clear 1080p picture. Also, since many apartments don’t have the capability of installing doorbell cameras, the Canary Flex has your back. This camera functions inside and out, costs the same as the nest, and has two months of battery life. Both of these set ups will allow you to monitor who is coming and going without worrying about what your lease allows to be installed.
Of course if you’re looking for the best centerpiece that will likely play nice with all of your gadgets, the Amazon Echo is the perfect central control point for your smart home devices. With it’s voice-activated smart speaker, Alexa, you’ll be able to find it on Amazon for $179.99. Remember, just because you’re living in an apartment and on a budget, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t also enjoy the home of the future. Affordable smart technology is available today, you just have to take the first step.
Do you have any other suggestions or tips when it comes to automating an apartment on a budget? Share them in our comments section!
This ForRent.com blog post was updated on April 11th, 2017m by our team to bring more up to date information on the world of renting for our audience.