As a Construction project manager, or Owner’s Representative, I often get the opportunity to contribute information on the merits, or worth, of new electronic devices being marketed. Here is my current assessment and functionality of three products getting current notice, in order of “life-improvement” benefits.
Thermostats: The two main contenders: the NEST ($250),and the new Honeywell Lyric ($385?),which is hurriedly adopting the features similar to the NEST. We have installed over a dozen Nest stats since they came on the market. So far all are working well with the one exception of one.
These thermostats are self-programming based on your living patterns and monitor outside weather conditions via Wi-Fi and can adjust equipment functions accordingly. They will definitely add a touch of sophistication to your house and save fuel. The one exception was in an old victorian home where the wiring from the furnace to the stat location was incapable of supplying a consistent 12 volts.
Smoke and CO detectors: Again the Nest Protect is a good investment. They are great at detecting fires and will tell the Nest thermostats to turn off the heating equipment if it senses CO in the home. This literally could be a life saver. $130
Lighting controls: While the availability of options in these is growing rapidly, even simple addon ones that control a few lights are worth it, especially models that can be programmed to make the home appear occupied while you are on vacation. Connected is one brand that can be programed to operate various lights. $50