If the first thing you think of when you hear the term "smart home" is a programmable thermostat, it's time to update your concept of what makes today's homes so, well, smart. Today’s smart home technology has evolved to be accessible, adaptable and portable, making it perfect for renters.
Here, we'll take a look at how you can outfit your apartment with smart essentials to make renting significantly more convenient and safe.
If you're not already using a digital assistant (also known as a virtual voice assistant or smart speaker), these devices may be one of the easiest ways for you to introduce smart technology into your home. Digital assistants, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, respond to voice commands and are designed to make your life a little simpler.
You can ask your digital assistant to perform a number of tasks, such as play music, read you the news, order groceries, place a phone call or add appointments to your calendar. When synced with other smart devices in your home, digital assistants allow you to adjust lighting, turn appliances on and off and even activate security cameras.
Smart plugs are an inexpensive, easy way to integrate smart home tech into your rental. These devices allow you to remotely control anything that plugs into a wall socket — all with a tap of your finger on your smartphone or tablet. At home, you can even use your smart speaker to activate smart plugs with a voice command.
When paired with lighting, smart plugs make your apartment more secure. Plug in your lights, then program the plugs to activate them at random times while you're away. This gives the appearance that you’re home and helps deter would-be thieves from breaking into your apartment.
Smart outlets can also optimize energy savings by turning off appliances — such as your washing machine or television — when not in use. With smart plugs, you never have to worry about leaving a light on all day or forgetting to turn off the oven, since you can manage all your devices and settings from your mobile device.
Smart locks allow for keyless entry into your apartment. With so many different types of smart locks to choose from — including Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled locks as well as simple keypad styles — you can find the option that works best for you. It's worth noting, though, that Bluetooth-enabled smart locks are often the best option for renters, since they don't require any additional wiring or invasive installation.
Once the smart lock is installed, you can play around with settings. Set your door to immediately unlock whenever your phone is within a certain range, or program your locks to recognize familiar faces like friends or family members. You can even lock the door remotely if you forgot to do so when you left for work.
You may not be able to hardwire a smart thermostat in your rental unit without your landlord’s permission, but you can have more control over cooling costs with a smart window air conditioner unit. The smart AC units are controlled by Wi-Fi. You can activate them remotely and program them to fit your schedule — meaning you can walk into a perfectly cool apartment after work without running up your utility bill.
Ready to go to smart apartment extremes? Consider a smart mattress. These futuristic beds provide sleep tracking, so you can keep track of how many hours you slept. They can also detect optimal wake time based upon your sleep patterns and set an alarm for you. And a smart alarm is only the beginning — smart mattresses can also regulate their temperature throughout the night, adjusting constantly to keep your body as comfortable as possible.
If you connect your mattress to a smart home hub or digital assistant, it can kick off your morning the right way. For example, you can set your coffee maker to begin brewing as your smart alarm goes off, and program the lights to turn on as you step out of bed.
The best part? You can take all of these devices with you when you move — meaning you’ll have a smart apartment no matter where you live.
Jon Snyder is a Product Manager at Esurance, where he oversees countrywide design of property insurance products. Jon draws on his 25 years of industry experience in product management, design and management roles to write about a variety of topics, including smart home technology, renters insurance and the intersection of the two. To view Esurance’s homeowners rental insurance options, click here.