February 2019 Ed Yannett
It seems that everything is getting smarter these days. You’ve got your basic smartphone, your smart security system, your smart speakers and even smart refrigerators. It should come as no surprise that someone managed to make window blinds that are pretty smart, too.
On first glance, these things look like one of the least useful smart products out there. When you dig a bit deeper, though, it’s clear that smart blinds, much like smart thermostats, are actually a great way to save energy and make your home safer, all while you lounge on the couch conversing with Alexa and Siri.
What are Smart Blinds?
Smart blinds, like most things that are considered “smart,” are literally window blinds that can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app, and, in this case, by the voice assistant of your choice. You can use the app to open the blinds, close the blinds or set them somewhere in between.
While this doesn’t sound like much, if you think about the regularity at which you perform these mundane tasks, having smart blinds take care of themselves is a huge time saver in the long run. But, that’s not really what’s so cool about them. Here are a few things that are, though:
They help people with disabilities. People with a variety of disabilities are benefiting from smart homes in lots of ways. When it comes to blinds, it means making it easier for everyone to let the sunshine in or to shut the blinds at night for a little privacy.
They increase safety. Whether you’re going on vacation or you’re just working late, having blinds that are able to shut on their own makes it look like someone is home, even when you’re not. It helps to deter crime, which is a good thing, for sure.
They can save energy. By cleverly orchestrating the times that your blinds are open or closed, you can help reduce the use of your HVAC system all year long. More on this later.
There are few drawbacks to having smart blinds if you can get beyond the price point. Many manufacturers are still treating these devices as luxury buys, pushing the cost of a single-blind into the hundreds of dollars.
Ikea recently announced it would be releasing its own line of basic smart blinds in the US on April 1, 2019. They’re still not in everybody’s price range but are far more accessible with units starting around $135.
How Do Smart Blinds Save Energy?
Before you rush out to buy smart blinds because your electricity bill is out of control, keep two things in mind: first, not all blinds will perform the same or have the same features, so make sure to read the packaging or ask a knowledgeable person about those energy saving functions. Secondly, smart blinds are only as good as the person telling them what to do. So, if you don’t tweak your programs a little bit to dial in your settings, you’re not going to get great results.
Like any blind, smart blinds can be used to help reduce the strain on your HVAC system. This is done largely by blocking the sun’s rays that warm up your home. Other types of smart window treatments can act as insulators against the cold. Neither is perfect, but they do work pretty well.
When it comes to saving energy, you will have to tell the blind what you want it to do. If you want the smart blinds on the west side of your home to close entirely around 1 pm and stay closed until 4 pm, set it in the app. Some blinds, like those from MySmartBlinds, can automatically determine when to open or close, but you’ll need to enable this feature if you want your blinds to close in response to solar radiation.
Smart blinds are a great investment if you plan to stay in your house for a while. Not only are they neat and gadgety for anyone interested in the Internet of Things, but they can also really reduce your utility bills. It could take a while for them to pay for themselves, though — shop carefully!
Making Homes Smarter Every Day
Upgrading your home to a smarter version of itself can be tricky, but you don’t have to do it by yourself. Check out your HomeKeepr community, someone knows a smart home pro that can help you choose the right smart blinds and install them for you, too! There’s a reason that pro was recommended by so many other home pros and real estate agents — they’re just that good.