The internet has touched almost everything we know. And while most of us have had an internet connection for many years, the way we use it at home – and what it can do for us – is changing, and fast.
First, there was an internet of computers. And now it’s the turn of homes to become ‘smart’. By that, we mean an ‘internet of things’ in your home is using technology to make your life easier, or at the very least save you money.
Chances are you already own a smartphone, and you may even have other smart items in your home without realising it. In fact, research indicates about 4 million British households – which equates to home for about 14% of us – have some kind of smart system in place*
What common household items can be ‘smart’?
One of the most common smart objects people have in their homes is a TV. Smart TVs are those that connect to your home Wi-Fi. They allow you to stream programming from Netflix and Amazon, or use catch-up services and browse YouTube, without the need for lots of separate boxes (and remote controls) cluttering up the living room.
The choices are seemingly endless, but the Samsung KS9500 Series was named 2016’s Best Smart TV by the all-knowing team at Techradar so might be a good place to start research if you’re thinking of buying one.
Another increasingly popular smart item is a thermostat. Having smart home heating means you can control your home’s heating from your phone, even when you’re out and about.
For instance, in winter you could delay the heating coming on at its scheduled time if you’ve decided to stay in the pub for a couple of extra after-work drinks with friends. It should mean the house is never heated when nobody’s at home, leaving a few extra pennies in your back pocket.
One of the best known smart thermostats is the Hive device. It was created by British Gas, but you don’t need to be with British Gas – or even have gas central heating – to install one in your home.
Other smart things include a kettle you can activate from an app, so the water’s already boiled when you want to make a cuppa during the ad break; and an oven with a camera inside so you can check how your Yorkshire puds are rising without having to open the door.
How does smart home technology work?
Smart objects rely on all sorts of different technologies. The most obvious is Wi-Fi, but some will integrate sensors, cameras, GPS, voice recognition technology and lots more. They use these to gather information about the world around them, then relay this to you or react to your inputs.
What items might be smart in future?
In a word – anything!
The possibilities are almost endless. Examples of smart technology that already exists or is already in the pipeline include:
- A fridge that automatically takes a picture every time you close the door, so you can check what’s inside from your phone when you’re at the supermarket
- Bathroom scales that connect to the web so you can track your weight loss progress on a chart
- A smart home security system that streams live CCTV to your phone if it detects an intruder
- A GPS-enabled cat collar so you know exactly where Mittens has wandered off to
- Smart home lighting that allows you to change the mood of a room with a voice command
And if you can dream up any others, someone, somewhere, is probably trying to invent it.
This sounds expensive…
And sometimes, it can be. Many smart objects are designed to save you money, and are mass-produced so they won’t set you back lots up front. Amazon’s Dash Buttons cost less than £5 each and allow you to re-order things like loo roll and fabric conditioner in an instant, getting the things your home needs delivered before you run out.
Some smart objects can be considerably more expensive, though. We all know that smartphones can cost a pretty penny, and – generally speaking – the larger the device, the bigger the price. Smart fridges, for example, can stretch to many thousands of pounds – the Samsung Family Hub starts at £2,999, and that’s before you upgrade to the supersized American-style version.
If you’ve invested in a next-gen TV or other piece of expensive wizardry, it pays to check that it’s properly insured.
Check the Unspecified Item Limit on your contents insurance. If what you’ve bought is worth more than the limit, you’ll need to let your insurer know so that they can provide cover. If you’re with Admiral, the limit is set at £1,000.
What if something goes wrong?
As with most things, smart products can be covered under your home insurance. If something is damaged and you’ve got cover in place, items can be replaced on a new-for-old basis.
If you’re insured with Admiral and want to make sure your policy covers a particular item in your home, check your policy documents or contact us today.