Wayne Langley

Smart homes are all the rage these days, with many nearly constructed dwellings having built-in smart technology, such as connected thermostats, locks and lighting. For individuals or communities looking to retrofit existing structures with this technology, the price tag can be pretty high. However, there are ways to add these amenities to existing structures without breaking the bank. For less than $850 per home, an existing unit can be upgraded with smart technology. Here’s how.

Amazon Echo Show with an additional Echo Dot — $270

The Amazon Echo was an amazing device, but Amazon really upped its game with the Echo Show. This new piece of technology incorporates a screen, along with voice command capabilities.

The Echo serves as the hub for smart home technology, syncing seamlessly with key devices in your home. By using voice commands, the unit will turn lights on and off, change the temperature, provide reminders and much more.

We also recommend the addition of an Echo Dot, which will expand the systems capabilities by adding a satellite station. The Echo Show unit should be placed in a common area, such as a living room or kitchen. The Echo Dot is a smaller, voice-only-activated device that is perfect for the bedroom. The Dot can perform nearly all of the functions of the larger unit, but in a size more suitable for the bedside table.

Nest G3 thermostat — $250

Nest is the industry leader in smart home heating and cooling. This thermostat will sync wireless with the Echo unit, allowing you to raise or lower the temperature of your home with a simple voice command. The Nest also learns the patterns of your home, raising the temperature during key awake times and lowering it automatically when you’re sleeping or away. This automated learning helps to save money on costly heating and cooling bills, making it a no-brainer for inclusion.

Philips Hue starter pack with two additional bulbs — $110

Philips has developed a very sharp product with its Hue range of light bulbs and accessories. Each bulb fits into a regular, existing fixture, whether it be a table lamp or an overhead light. Once installed, the bulbs will sync with your in-home system so that you can order the lights on, off or dimmed with a simple voice command. If you want to get even fancier, you can upgrade your bulbs so that they can change color, providing hues from across the entire spectrum. One of the best features of these lights is that they can also be controlled from your smartphone, so if you’re coming home late, you can turn on all of the lights in the house before you even open the garage door!

Schlade Z-Wave Connect Century Deadbolt — $200

Have you ever settled into bed for the evening and wondered, “Did I lock the front door?” Of course you have! It’s at that moment that you have the conversation in your head about whether or not to get up from your cozy spot to go check. With the addition of this Schlade lock, however, you’ll never have to do that again. The lock connects to your Echo system, allowing you to open and close it with a voice command. It also offers the convenience of a keypad for an unlock code, in addition to the use of a regular key. Our favorite feature, however, is the built-in alarm system. It operates in three modes — alter, tamper and forced entry. This will allow you to know if someone happens to come through your door (such as a neighbor or maintenance worker) or if someone has tried to breach the lock through devious means. Oh, and it will send those alerts to your Echo and your smartphone, giving you around-the-clock notice of everything that is happening in the home.

So, there you have it. For a mere $830, any home can be upgraded to include the key features of modern smart homes. Plus, by offering the Amazon Echo as the key component of the system, homeowners can continue to add additional devices to the system. This makes a great marketing tool for retirement communities, as for just a small investment, they can advertise a modern (and expandable) product to potential residents.