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New tech for your home

5 pieces of smart technology for your home

Want to upgrade your home? We spoke to Amanda Lamb about the newest, and smartest, tech out there.

The Digital Homes report 630 KB

For years, the mantra among homeowners has been 'location, location, location', but that may well change to 'connection, connection, connection', as TV property expert Amanda Lamb, and tech guru Stuart Miles reveal.

A Digital Homes Report released by Barclays Mortgages also shows that demand for the latest 'smart home' technologies is on the increase, with nearly a third of homeowners (according to The Digital Homes report 630 KB ) believing that a property with connected technology is worth more than one without.

Here are the top 5 technologies that homebuyers are looking for:

1. Fibre optic cabling

The survey revealed that homebuyers now view a fast broadband connection as more important than a big garden when purchasing a property [1]. "Over 4 million of us are now working from home, [2]" says Amanda, "so having fast fibre optic broadband is necessary for us all to do our jobs as effectively as possible."

Fibre optic cables allow for 'superfast' Internet connections, with speeds of up to 300Mbps or above being the norm [3]. However there are certain factors to take into account such as the distance from your home to the nearest junction box, and the area's contention level – the number of people being serviced at any one time [4].

"If I were to buy a new house, I'd want to make sure it had fibre," agrees Stuart Miles, founder of tech website Pocket-lint. "The more demand you put on your house with connected heating, lighting, media streaming, tablets, smartphones and all the other stuff, the more important a decent broadband connection becomes."

For more information on fibre optic broadband and to check if your house can get fibre, visit uSwitch .

2. Smart security alarm

Security was the third most popular technology homeowners would invest in, according to the report [1]. The latest digital security systems provide a range of cameras and detection sensors, plus the ability to monitor the system and receive alerts via your smartphone.

"I'm really interested in the new home security systems that have indoor/outdoor cameras and door detectors," says Amanda. "Some even have facial recognition, so they'll know the people that come into your home a lot, and if there's someone in your property that they don't recognise, then you'll be alerted."

The Panasonic Smart Home system consists of sensors connected wirelessly to a central hub. The starter kit costs £129.99, and you can add other sensors, cameras and alarms as you need them.

Stuart recommends the Netatmo Welcome home security camera (€199/£142) which features facial recognition and no subscription fees, so all of your home's footage is free to access at any time.

3. Sensor technology

The report shows that more than a quarter of homeowners are interested in sensor technology, which has the ability to automatically activate lights and monitor room temperature levels [1].

Stuart predicts that over the next decade you will be able to program your home to adapt to your lifestyle and daily routine, ultimately making everyday tasks quicker, easier and more efficient.

"Using sensors, your home could know where you are in the house, how you like to heat your house, how often you have a shower or run a bath," he says. "By pooling this data we can make our lives more comfortable and more enjoyable."

He recommends Samsung SmartThings , which can run on batteries for 10 hours if a home's power is cut and has one of the most advanced connectivity systems on the market. The starter kit costs just £199.

4. Smart thermostats

"One of the interesting things in the report is this appetite for people to have more control over their heating," says Stuart. "That industry has gone stratospheric, with Hive and Nest , EvoHome from Honeywell, and tado˚ . There are lots of players now in that market."

Smart thermostats give you better control over your home's heating and provide you with key information on your energy use. You can then use this data to change your energy use and potentially save hundreds of pounds a year on your bills [5].

Both Hive and Nest provide a way of controlling your heating via your mobile phone and use smart thermostats that communicate with the boiler. Kits for both systems start at £249, including installation. The tado˚ starter kit costs £199, but you can also rent it and start offsetting the cost right away.

EvoHome goes a step further and enables you to control individual radiators using wireless controllers. Stuart also suggests using online service If This Then That to set up actions triggered by time, the weather or even your location, so your home is always being heated when you need it.

5. Solar panels

Solar panels could not only reduce your fuel bills, but when you're ready to sell up, they could be a desirable addition for homeowners, and have the potential to add up to £2,000 on the value of a property [1].

"Nowadays you can incorporate solar panels into your roof tiles, so you don't even notice that they're there," says former estate agent and property TV presenter Amanda Lamb. "As well as saving money, solar panels help you do your bit for the environment as well."

The average cost of outfitting your home with solar panels is between £5,000 and £8,000 [6], although there are schemes that offer free solar panels in return for selling spare electricity to the National Grid. To help you weigh up the benefits against the cost of the initial outlay, the Energy Saving Trust has information on the hardware, benefits, costs and potential savings you could make.

If you're thinking of making some improvements to your home, our Premier Barclayloan could help, with unsecured loans of up to £50,000.

If you hold a Barclays current account, you could see your personalised price quote by logging into Online Banking or on your Barclays Mobile Banking app [7]. You won't need to apply in full and there will be no effect on your credit rating. You'll need to register if you haven't used Online Banking or Barclays Mobile Banking before.

Use our Premier Barclayloan calculator to get an idea of the cost of repayments on your personal loan.

If you have any questions, you can call us on 0800 716 5982 to speak to a lending specialist. Or, you can ask us to give you a call at a time that suits you [8].

Loans are subject to status and you'll be charged a fee if you repay your loan early [9].

To qualify for Premier Banking, you need a minimum of £100,000 saved or invested with us – or an annual gross income paid into a Barclays current account of £75,000 or more.

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Important information

  1. Barclays Digital Homes report 630 KB
  2. Office for National Statistics, 'Record proportion of people in employment are home workers'
  3. uSwitch, Fibre-optic broadband, 'What is Fibre?'
  4. Ofcom, 'Broadband the basics'
  5. uSwitch, 'Should you invest in a smart thermostat'
  6. Energy Saving Trust
  7. Not all current account customers can see their personal loan rate in Online Banking or the Barclays Mobile Banking app. If you can't see your rate, please contact us to discuss your options. Terms, conditions & restrictions apply to Barclays Online and Mobile Banking. You must have a Barclays current account and be aged 16 or over to use Barclays Mobile Banking.
  8. Lines are open daily 8am-10pm except for UK bank holidays. To maintain a quality service, we may monitor or record phone calls.
  9. Loans are available to customers over 18.