Top 10 smart home devices to help make your home greener
16 June 2021 | Celia Topping
It seems the future has landed – and it’s ringing your (smart) doorbell. It’s time, if you haven’t already, to boost the brainpower of your home! How? By setting up an interconnected network of smart home devices, to make life easier and safer.
These days, more and more devices are capable of being connected and controlled through a central point, such as your phone. Lights, locks, music, heating, security cameras, even your lawn mower can be instructed remotely, at the touch of a smartphone button, or verbal command.
How can you make your house smarter?
It may seem like a daunting task – as the market is overflowing with smart devices, from water heaters to window blinds . But chances are, you already have at least one smart device, like your phone, TV, watch, or speaker. So where do we go from here?
Smart homes, or smart home automation, relies on all the smart components being able to communicate with a central hub. So before you begin building your smart home, it’s practical to decide which smart assistant platform you’re going to frame it around. Amazon’s Alexa is the leader of the pack, but there’s also Google Assistant, Apple’s Homekit, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, ZigBee and Z-Wave.
Smart thermostats are an excellent entry point to the smart home world. You can check and adjust your home’s temperature and energy use in real-time, and use the app to crank up your heating before you get home, or turn it off if you’re staying out – meaning you’re saving energy and money.
In some cases, you don’t even need a smart device – just a smart plug. This plugs into your normal sockets, and you can plug non-smart appliances like lamps or fans into it. Connect the smart plug to your WiFi, and hey presto, you can control your lamps and fans from wherever you are. If you connect them to your smart hub too, you could switch them on just by asking!
5 best smart home devices
Raise your home’s IQ with a few of these smart home gadgets, and you may start to feel like your home’s even smarter than you!
1. Best smart lightbulb, the Phillips Hue
- Benefits: As a smart home beginner, a smart bulb is the smart choice. Easy to install and set up, the Phillips Hue bulbs can be controlled through an app, or a voice-enabled smart speaker. Functionality includes dimming the lights, changing bulb colour, and timing lights to turn on or off while you’re away from home
- Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant.
- Price: Around £130 for a starter kit with 4 bulbs
Read our practical guide tohelp you to choose the right bulbs for your home.
2. Best video doorbell, Arlo Essential
- Benefits: with HD video direct to your mobile, night-vision, 180 degree viewing angle and 2-way audio, this doorbell offers you convenience and security. It's also a super-easy to install wireless device, needing no electrical expertise.
- Compatible with: Amazon Alexa.
- Price: £175.
3. Best door lock, August Home
- Benefits: fed up of fumbling with your keys on the doorstep? The August WiFi Smart Lock will unlock the door for you as you arrive home. And you can send secure keys to your friends and family too. Easy to install and with various uses, this is one smart device you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.
- Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.
- Price: £415 for 2.
4. Best robot vacuum, Dyson 360 heurist
- Benefits: all the powerful Dyson suction, with none of the manual labour. This nickel blue mini-robot learns its way around your home, cleaning as it goes. The only thing it doesn’t do is climb the stairs.
- Compatible with: Dyson app via Bluetooth.
- Price: £799.99
5. Best smart fridge-freezer, Samsung Family Hub
- Benefits: this fridge could become your new BFF. It’ll check if you’ve got enough milk while you’re in the supermarket, play music, show you photos, and even tell you what meals you can make from the ingredients in your fridge.
- Compatible with: Amazon Alexa.
- Price: around £2500.
Read more about energy efficient fridges and freezers in our practical guide.
What smart home devices should I get if I’m on a budget?
Connecting a fully smart home is not cheap. But you don’t have to go the whole hog straightaway. Of course, the best smart device is a free smart device – and you could order yours today!
In order to hit the net carbon zero target of 2050, the UK government is pushing for all homes to have a smart meter by the end of 2021. So all energy suppliers, including OVO, are installing smart meters to help their customers save energy, reduce their carbon footprint, and cut their bills. Smart meters come with a handy portable device called an In-Home Display (IHD) that gives you real-time insights into your energy use.
Once you have your smart meter and IHD in place, you may have saved enough money to buy one of these smart home devices. All these devices are well under £100, and are just as good as some at twice the price.
- Amazon Echo Dot with Clock. At just under £60, this spherical speaker offers you so much more than just a thumping bassline. Alexa helps you control any other smart devices you may have at home, call your friends, and even tells you jokes!
- Arlo Q security camera. Of all the security cameras on the market, this one offers you peace of mind, without breaking the bank. At under £90, the Arlo Q is super-easy to use. It has full 1080p high-definition, motion detectors for quick alerts, and night vision. Works with Amazon Alexa.
- Wemo WiFi Smart Plug is another top pick because of its low price and wide range of uses. This £24.99 smart plug lets you control your electronic devices either by voice, or from your phone or tablet, Works with Apple Homekit.
- Wyze smart light bulb. At under £10, this bulb does pretty much everything the more expensive bulbs do. You can change its brightness, as well as colour temperature, and set schedules like “holiday mode”, for timing lights to come on so that it looks like you’re home when you’re actually on the beach. With around 20,000 hours of light-emitting power, you won’t have to change it for a while, either. Works with Alexa, IFTTT or Google Assistant, as well as the Wyze app.
- Eufy Smart Scale C1. One of the best budget smart scales on the market today. Fast and easy to set up, this diminutive scale fits in even the smallest bathroom, and can track up to 16 different users’ weight and body statistics. It only connects by Bluetooth, but can memorise your stats should your phone not be nearby, and update when you next connect.
How OVO is innovating in the smart home space
On our journey to net zero, OVO are ahead of the game when it comes to innovative smart homes. Here are a few of the products we offer:
- Wireless tadoº Smart Thermostat. You already understand the benefits of a smart thermostat, but we’ve teamed up with tado° to make their thermostats even better for OVO members, with a special price of £1201. To get the most out of it, you’ll need a gas smart meter. Doing that will give you personalised heat-saving tips, and you’ll see how much your heating is costing you per day..
- OVO Greenlight. Through the magic of your smart meter, this handy green tool gives all OVO members insight into the energy you use, with useful tips and advice to cut carbon and save money. 75% of OVO Greenlight users say that it helps them cut their carbon emissions2.
- EV smart chargers. This clever device works out the cheapest and greenest time to charge your EV, which puts less pressure on the grid, and saves you money too.
- Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology. Although not available in the mainstream yet, we’re working on V2G trials around the UK. V2G is a game-changing new technology that not only allows your car to charge at the greenest time, but can feed the energy stored in an electric vehicle’s (EV) battery back into the National Grid at times of peak demand.
Join OVO Energy on our journey to net zero carbon
OVO is not just an energy supplier. We’re on the path to net zero, by not only cutting our carbon footprint across operations and supply, but also by encouraging our members to reduce their carbon emissions too. If you’d like to join us, we can offer you:
- 100% renewable electricity as standard3
- A tree planted in your name every single year you’re with us4
- 3-5% Interest Rewards for every year your account has a positive balance5
- Access to OVO Greenlight: free energy-saving tips
- An award-winning smart meter experience (Uswitch 2020
- A £50 gift card every time you introduce a friend to us
A 5-Star TrustPilot rating by 30,000 members
Sources and references:
1. Pricing: if you install your tadoº yourself the price will be £120. If you opt for an engineer to install for you, there will be an additional £60 fee for the installation bringing the price to £180. You can pay upfront and if you're eligible you will have the option to pay monthly (the price will be spread across 12 months and added to your monthly bill.) See terms and conditions for more information on eligibility and pricing.
2. Based on a survey of 196 OVO members using OVO Greenlight during May 2021
3. 100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.
4. Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.
5. Interest Rewards are paid on credit balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit. Interest Rewards are paid monthly based on the number of days you have a positive balance and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply