Smart homes and reducing the cost of living

There are now hundreds of new high-tech gadgets available in the shops, all designed to make our homes smarter. A smart home, or smart house, is a home packed with the latest technology, providing residents with sophisticated monitoring and control over the building's functions. However, what are their benefits and do we really need them?

For a number of years now the media have been predicting the advent of the smart home, yet the fact that 80 million smart devices were sold worldwide in 2016, an increase of over 60% on the previous year1 shows that smart homes are no longer a twinkle in the eye of innovators, but are happening right now. Given that we’re all feeling our incomes squeezed a little, we wanted to help home owners understand the benefits and provide a quick tour of cost-saving technology.

Remote home control system on a digital tablet or phone.

The benefits and what you need to know

Technology is often designed to reduce the cost of running your home, for example through more efficient temperature control systems. Increasingly, manufacturers are building their products with smart technology already enabled. So whether it’s a heating system, lighting or alarms, it can all be linked to make control from one device possible. If you are thinking of buying a new home, or renovating your present one, it makes sense to think about how technology can help. Below, we take a look at cost saving measures that are available.

Solar technology

This July, the Government outlined a plan to support innovative technologies and give homes and businesses more control over their energy use2. The plan is to transform how homes and businesses store and use energy. It will deliver an improved, more flexible energy system by removing barriers to smart and battery technology, and reduce energy costs.

There are already different ways to power homes through solar panels, which supply energy and could provide you with extra income. By installing solar panels you could earn just over £8,000 tax free over 20 years, through the Government’s feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme3. The feed-in tariff pays a set rate for the electricity generated by your panels regardless of whether or not you use the energy in your own property.

Your energy supplier will pay a set rate for the electricity you produce but do not use, and which is automatically fed back into the grid. While the feed-in tariff for new installations has been reduced over the last few years, the cost of panels has fallen significantly in the same time, meaning you can still expect a healthy return on investment.

Lighting and Heating – cut the costs

The latest heating control products can increase the efficiency of heating your home. Most of us are used to setting a timer on the thermostat and leaving it over the winter months. However, with smart technology you can refine the temperature control in your home. Nest, the home technology company owned by Google, can sense when you're on your way to your house through the location tracking on your phone and put the heating on so the house will be warm when you arrive. Sounds very clever, but does it really help with your bills?

The answer is that it can. Imagine you set your heating to come on at 5pm, ready to warm the house for your arrival from work. However, if you’re stuck in traffic or have to work late, the boiler is pumping out heat into an empty property. A smart thermostat identifies when you’re on your way home and turns the heating on ready for your arrival. It also produces information about when you heat the house so you can tinker with the settings to make energy use more efficient.

Leaving a light on overnight doesn't seem like a big deal, but if you do it often enough you will burn through bulbs and notice a difference in your electric bill. Smart lighting enables the control of your lights through an app on your smartphone, from another room or even somewhere else altogether. So, if you forget to turn off the hallway light as you leave for your holiday, it needn't stay on the entire time you're gone.

Smart lighting and temperature control could cut your electric bill significantly. There are various claims on the cost saving but, according to USwitch research, you can save around 25% on your heating bills with smart thermostats4. Ultimately, the reduction in your bills depends on your house and the way you heat your home, but it is certainly worth exploring if you are looking for an alternative way to cut your cost of living.

Other ways to save money in the home

If you are looking for simpler ways to save money, we have lots of hints and tips on our website. We know that many people are looking for ways to save for a deposit and learn more about the costs involved in buying a first or a new home. As well as savings tips and advice, we have a range of mortgages designed for people with very specific requirements. For example, if you own a house and raising the money for your next home is taking a long time, we have a range of products which require a smaller deposit.

We also offer discount mortgages which give you a set discount off our standard variable rate for an agreed period, meaning lower initial monthly payments as you settle into your new home. We also have options that do not have an arrangement fee which helps borrowers reduce the costs of moving.

For more information please call us on 0800 072 1100.


  1. Smart Homes, CNBC.
  2. Smart Energy, GOV.UK
  3. Solar Technology, ECO Experts
  4. Smart Thermostats, USwitch

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