Turn your house into a smart home – on a budget

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If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Jetsons, you’ve no doubt longed for some of the space-age home tech enjoyed by George and his family. Push-button meal dispensers? A car that folds into a briefcase? Rosie the robot-maid? Yes, please.

Alas, much of that stuff remains science fiction, at least for the moment, but there are plenty of high-tech tools available right now that can help turn your house into a smart-home. And you don’t have to be president of Spacely Sprockets to afford it. In fact, if you already own a smartphone, you’re halfway there. Let’s take a look at some of the surprisingly affordable ways to raise your roof’s IQ.

Smart Door Locks

Keys? What is this, the 1800s? For a decidedly more modern entryway, install a smart door-lock system like the Kevo Smart Lock or Okidokeys. Products like these let you lock and unlock your door using either a fob or your smartphone. Even better, you can program “virtual” keys for other visitors -- friends, relatives, the cleaning service -- that activate only at certain times. Prices are typically in the $200 range, and installation is often as simple as putting hardware atop your existing deadbolt.

Smart Home Network

Adding a network-attached storage system like the QNAP TS-x51 Series NAS to your home network can boost your home’s intelligence in ways you probably never considered. It consolidates, centralizes, and syncs all your music, movies, photos, documents, and other data, then makes it all available on-demand to just about any connected device: phones, tablets, TVs, and PCs. QNAP is also the first NAS manufacturer to be fully compatible with leading home automation systems like Control4 and Crestron, allowing you to integrate tons of exciting smart home operations into one convenient portal. To aid in security, NAS can even integrate with supported IP cameras, allowing you to toggle between surveillance footage from your home and movies or videos on the same screen right in your living room. And because everything resides in a “personal cloud,” everything you store, from documents to media files, is accessible outside the home as well.

Smart Thermostat

There’s a reason Google’s Nest went from obscurity to (sorry) household name almost overnight: It’s way smarter than the average thermostat, learning what temperatures you like and when (during the day, at night, etc.), and automatically adjusting itself based on whether you’re home or not (thanks to built-in movement sensors). Plus, you can monitor and control everything right from your smartphone -- great for those times when, say, you’re headed home from the airport and want to walk into a warm house.

Smart Light Bulbs

Farewell, Tungsten -- we hardly knew ye. Well, actually, we knew ye for over 100 years, as your soft glow powered our light bulbs, but from here on out it’s all LEDs. And that’s cool, because LED bulbs can change colors, connect to apps and the Internet, and much more -- all while consuming considerably less power and lasting for decades. GE’s $15 Link, for example, hops online the moment you screw it in, and can be controlled via an Android or iOS app. Same goes for LIFX bulbs, which also let you adjust the light’s color. On second thought: good riddance, Tungsten!

Needless to say, the smart money’s on smart gear for your house. Luckily, you don’t need deep pockets to get the home-tech ball rolling.

This story, "Turn your house into a smart home – on a budget" was originally published by BrandPost.