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These are the most popular smart home upgrades to make right now

These are the most popular smart home upgrades to make right now

Front of HGTV 2015 Smart Home
Smart entertainment trails behind upgrades in home security and safety. Photo courtesy of HGTV Smart Home

The average renovating homeowner is upgrading their home with smart technology, according to the 2016 Houzz Smart Home Trends Study.

If you’re picturing TVs that you can switch off from anywhere in the world or speakers streaming Spotify throughout your house, you have the right idea. Any system or device that you can control with your phone, computer, or tablet is considered “smart.” But you may be surprised to learn that smart entertainment is actually trailing behind upgrades in home security and safety.

The survey of nearly 1,000 homeowners found that 25 percent installed at least one smart home security device during renovation. Security cameras, along with fire and gas alarms, are the most popular, followed by motion detectors, glass breakage sensors, locks, and video doorbells.

Among homeowners who are using smart tech to improve their home’s safety, 67 percent were motivated to protect their home from intruders and 52 percent want to monitor their homes when they’re away. For the majority of homeowners, the price of this peace of mind is less than $1,500. You could of course spend over $5,000 if you wanted to, but less than 5 percent of owners do.

After security and entertainment, homeowners are investing in smart climate control in order to cut down on energy consumption, with thermostats claiming the top spot for the single most popular smart upgrade. Homeowners are either spending below $1,500 or over $2,500 on their climate upgrades, creating a gap that the study refers to as the $1,000 doughnut hole.

The goal for many upgraders is to boost their own quality of life while they’re living in the home, rather than increase its resale value. Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, says that “homeowners aim to improve the comfort, convenience, safety, and energy usage of their home during their renovations, and smart technology appears to address many of their needs.”

However, this trend comes with a steep learning curve. Whether investing in security, entertainment, lighting, or climate control, owners across the board said that their greatest challenge was educating themselves on the available options in an ever-changing market, and finding the right products to buy.

This learning curve remains a barrier for 55 percent of homeowners, who say they’re not yet ready to dive into smart tech. The price tag keeps over a third of interested owners from adopting the new technology, and nearly a quarter are concerned about their privacy.  

Deciding whether to spend your renovation budget on updating the guest bathroom or installing a smart alarm system? The study also found that homeowners who made smart upgrades were more likely to report high levels of satisfaction with their renovations than those who made non-smart upgrades.