Woman using tablet to control home lights and security

Whether it’s recording visitors on a doorbell camera or playing your favorite jam with a voice command, smart home tech is likely already part of your daily life. And signs are, it’ll keep becoming more so. In fact, according to one market research firm, the smart home market is expected to grow to 1.3 billion devices by 2022.

But how do you know which devices are a boon or a bust? Can you get back what you’ve spent on smart home upgrades when you sell? Here’s a list of tips to help you decide how and why to integrate smart home technology in your home.

You can keep smart home tech simple.

If the term “smart home” gives you visions of Rise of the Machines, never fear. You have plenty of ways to get comfortable with smart home technology that don’t require a big commitment or a lot of technical know-how. Several user-friendly devices out there give you a little extra convenience while remaining inexpensive and simple to set up.

Smart speakers allow you to play music with just a voice command as well as do things like set an alarm or even transfer money. Smart light bulbs let you dim the lights on demand (and put some energy savings in your pocket). Install a Ring security camera — in an afternoon — and you can see who’s at the door or whether your UPS package has arrived yet. And WeMo smart plugs allow you to control whatever you’ve plugged into them, like lights, fans, and more, right from your smartphone. And, if you get hooked and want more of your smart devices to work together, you can get a hub, like Samsung’s SmartThings or Apple’s HomePod, that connects them all.

The best part of any of these products is their ability to make your life just a bit easier. So, if you’re worried about something adding extra complications to simple tasks or having to deal with fussy technology, don’t feel pressured to buy it. It’s really up to you to decide what works best for your routine and budget. But a word of advice: Don’t get lax on security, especially if you’re setting things up on your own.

Whole-home systems are getting more sophisticated.

Forgot to close the garage door? Your smart home is already on it. Need to make sure every light in the house is off by 11 p.m.? Done. And that’s just the beginning.

If you get excited by the idea of controlling everything in your home with a single remote or app, a fully integrated smart home system could be something to consider. Ones like Control4 or Savant allow you to fully automate and control appliances, whole-house music, lighting, TVs, thermostats, cameras, security systems, and more.

These systems usually require installation and setup by a professional and will require a more significant cash outlay than a couple of Echo Dots will. But they’re growing in popularity as they get more sophisticated and easy-to-use. So, before you invest in any major system, make sure to do your research. Read and compare reviews from real people for several different products, so you can get a good understanding of their quality and usability. And if you can ask friends or family who have their own smart home system, even better. You don’t want to install technology that falters or glitches after a year.

Smart home tech can be good for resale.

For the most part, you know installing marble countertops and replacing that old carpet will get you a return on your investment when it’s time to sell. But what about the Nest thermostat or the Ring security camera you just put in?

Insiders agree that smart home technology can add value, depending on a variety of factors. A high-end, whole-house automated system can boost the selling price. And other smart home features, like automated window blinds, high-tech lighting, and smart appliances may also increase your home’s value.

In fact, according to industry statistics, installing smart home technology can increase the final closing price of a home by three to five percent. If nothing else, your smart home enhancements can give your house an edge against similar homes without tech improvements.

Wondering if smart home tech is a good investment for your home’s future? You may want to find out what other homes in your area have. If nearly every house in your neighborhood has a Ring camera, it might be a good idea to add one as well.

Be cautious of buying all the latest and greatest.

While builders aren’t rushing to install blood-pressure-monitoring shower systems just yet, it’s clear that smart home technology is here to stay and becoming more accessible all the time.

New technologies and the latest smart home tech trends are a lot of fun to explore, but it’s important to remember that the best ones save you time, energy — and money.  So, when trying to decide if a getting a new smart feature is right for you, start by asking yourself: Will this enhance my life or my family’s? Whether it simplifies your day-to-day or provides you extra peace of mind, a piece of smart technology should be something that provides you a benefit — not something you purchase just because it’s available.

If you find yourself stretching the limits of your budget to get ahold of every new automated thingamajig that comes out, you may regret it later on. Chances are, if you raid your savings for a bunch of smart pots, for example, you’ll be kicking yourself next year when they wind up at your garage sale for a buck apiece.

Choose what makes sense for your life, be patient, and watch for technologies that prove themselves over time. That way you can make smart decisions with your money that improve your life and add value — the way technology should.

Saving money to add smart tech in your home?

Use the buckets tool in our Online Savings Account.