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Smart home technology trends: 8 ways homes are changing in 2021

22 February 2021 | Aimee Tweedale

Smart home technology is all the rage right now. Whether it’s a thermostat or a lightbulb, there’s scarcely an object in your home that you can’t upgrade to a “smart” version.

But what does “smart home” mean? It’s a pretty broad term, but usually, it means devices that are connected, or that automate some common household actions (in other words, they do boring tasks so you don’t have to). For example, a smart meter can send automatic meter readings to your electricity supplier, so you don’t have to. Simple!

For more, read our complete guide to smart homes for beginners

A family using a laptop to manage their smart home heating

These kinds of devices don’t just make life easier, but they can really change your home’s impact on the environment, too. Not to mention, they could add as much as 38% to the value of your home

Wondering how to make a smart home? Keeping reading, to learn about 8 key smart technology trends. These are the devices that you’ll be seeing a lot more of in 2021 and beyond.

1. Smart meters are here to stay

We’ll start with the most obvious: smart meters aren’t a new trend for 2021, but you’ll definitely continue hearing a lot about them this year. The UK government is on a mission to get all homes fitted with smart energy meters by mid-20211.

All energy suppliers, including OVO, are helping customers upgrade their meters for smarter heating. The benefits include:

  • They come with a snazzy In-Home Display, which lets you see exactly how much energy you’re using in real-time
  • Tracking your energy use can help you pinch pennies, and lower your carbon footprint
  • Meter readings are automatically sent to your energy supplier, so you don’t have to lift a finger
  • This helps your supplier give you more accurate bills

Have you got your smart meter yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Find out more about how smart meters work, and how to get one. 

2. Control your heating with a smart thermostat

Likewise, smart thermostats are not a new trend for 2021, but they’re one that you’re certain to see more of. 

Imagine this: you’re out late on a cold night, and you want to make sure the house is toasty when you get there. If you had a smart thermostat, you’d be able to whip out your smartphone and turn your heating on from wherever you are.

Smart thermostats are different to smart meters – while meters help you track your energy use, thermostats help you control it. They’re an amazing tool for energy efficiency, and if you use them wisely, you can save a lot of cash. 

One study of the brand tado° found that you could cut your energy use (hence, your bills!) by as much as 31% using a smart thermostat2. Read all about smart thermostats and how they work, in our complete guide

Are you an OVO member with a smart meter? Click here to find out how you could get a smart thermostat, too. 

Find out how to install your tado° Wireless Smart Themostat in 5 easy steps, without the need of an engineer. 

3. Home zoning: giving you control of individual rooms

Smart homes of the future won’t just give you more control of the house. They’ll also allow you to focus your controls on specific rooms. “Home zoning” is a trend firmly on the horizon of home technology. 

Zoning thermostats, for example, will allow you to set different temperatures in different rooms. Some of these smart gadgets use AI to learn your preferences for various areas of the house. Then, they can adjust the different environments just the way you like them, without the need for fiddling with settings. 

That’ll help you achieve the ideal room temperature for each room of the house.

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4. Home energy storage is the key to a renewable future

As homes get smarter, giving people more control over their heating, heating sources are changing, too. With the government planning to ban gas boilers in new houses by the mid-2030s, there are more and more low-carbon options appearing on the market, to help you keep warm without contributing to global warming. 

Among the cleverest options are storage heaters. What’s so smart about them, you ask? If you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff, they can charge up when energy demand is lowest, and the price of electricity is cheapest. Then, they can use that electricity to give you heating when demand is high.

Read more about innovative ways to store energy at home

5. Better connectivity for a harmonious home

The smart home technology industry is evolving rapidly. As WiFi gets faster, and 5G rolls out to more and more homes, the possibilities are only growing. Devices like smart thermostats will get faster, more reliable and more efficient as their connectivity improves.

Plus: more and more smart home device manufacturers are offering centralised hubs, which help connect all the devices in your home, for a seamless experience.

Couple using a smart thermostat

6. Smart lightbulbs: a bright idea

Did you know that only 10% of the energy used by a traditional lightbulb actually becomes light? The other 90% is lost as heat3! It’s plain as day that we need a more efficient option. 

Enter: the smart lightbulb. These greener alternatives usually have LED technology, which uses far less energy than a conventional incandescent lightbulb. There’s an array of different types of bulb entering the market right now, most of which can be controlled from your tablet, phone, or In-Home Display. 

You could sync your lighting with your TV, so that you’ll always have the perfect ambience when you stream a home movie4. And if you’ve ever wanted to feel powerful by entering a dark room and commanding the lights to switch on, you’re in luck.

Smart lightbulbs can even be voice-activated. The rise of voice-activated assistants in the home means that soon, you’ll be able to control the whole house, just by speaking!

Find out more by reading our complete guides to smart lightbulbs and energy saving light bulbs.

7. Robots aren’t as futuristic as you might think

Artificial intelligence is already playing a role in smart home technology. If you use a voice-powered home hub, or even the facial recognition feature on your smartphone, then you’re interacting with AI daily.

In the near-future, it may become more common to see robots actually moving around our homes. In 2020, Forbes noted that multiple manufacturers are working on developing autonomous mobile robots to help with chores like cooking and cleaning. There are also products like smart fridges that use AI, for example, to identify items that you need to put on your shopping list.

These could be especially useful for elderly and disabled folks, and anyone else who could really use an extra pair of hands (or, you know, sensors). 

8. Smart grid technology will help you heat your home the green way

The smartest thing about smart homes is that they won’t just make your life easier. They also have the potential to change the way we use electricity as a country – which could drastically affect our carbon emissions. And that’s vital in the fight against the climate crisis. 

How? Well, as we’ve outlined above, when smart devices work together, they can use energy even more efficiently in your home. This means savings (both of money and carbon) for you. 

But it also means putting less pressure on the National Grid. Future home technology isn’t just about having fancy gadgets. It’s about creating connected homes that work together, to make the best use of the energy we have. 

Kaluza, an OVO company, is exploring the full potential of smart homes. It’s a cloud-based platform powering the future of energy. They launched a new service in 2020 designed to create maximum flexibility. It allows users to import energy during the quietest, cheapest times and store it in home batteries. Then, they can export any energy that they don’t use. 

Find out more about Kaluza’s grid flexibility service here

Why upgrading your home is a smart decision

Here at OVO, we’re always excited about pioneering new technologies. We’re passionate about not only helping our members to save money, but also reducing our collective carbon footprint. Smart homes are an essential ingredient of a net zero carbon future.

Whether we’re installing smart electric car chargers in our members’ homes, or trialling heat battery storage, we’re on a mission to make homes greener in the UK.

So far, we’ve:

Join OVO Energy on our journey to net zero carbon

If you’re interested in cutting the carbon footprint of your home, consider switching to OVO to get:

  • 100% renewable electricity as standard5
  • A tree planted in your name for every year you’re with us
  • 3-5% Interest Rewards when your account is in credit 
  • An award-winning smart meter experience (USwitch 2020)
  • A £50 gift card every time you introduce a friend to us
  • Customer service rated “Excellent” on Trustpilot

Ready to save money and cut carbon emissions? Get a quote in less than 2 minutes via the link below.

Sources and references:

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/gas/retail-market/metering/transition-smart-meters

https://www.tado.com/img/content/press/releases/Study_Fraunhofer_Institute_for_Building_Physics_tado_en.pdf

https://www.mrsec.psu.edu/content/light-bulb-efficiency

https://www.realhomes.com/news/smart-home-trends

5 The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.

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