June 25, 2022

Be smart - upgrade your home

Now is the time to invest in your living space with connected home products.

With mortgage interest rates on the rise, now is the time to invest in your home. “Smart” products increase efficiency, safety and the value of your residence. Appraisers make adjustments when they compare tech-enabled homes with similar but tech-deficient houses. Smart homes command higher prices and may be easier to sell as a result.

Tessa Stoffer, a realtor with Our Town Realty, said she started purchasing smart home products for security, convenience and fun.

Upgrading a home to a smart home sounds labor intensive, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. “Buying the products and installing is generally pretty easy,” Stoffer said. “A lot of the younger, techie generation really like homes with smart products.”

Starting with the outside of the home, an outdoor security camera or smart doorbell is a great way to increase security and peace of mind. The Ring Doorbell retails for under $200, is battery operated and easy to install. “The Ring Doorbell is a lifesaver,” Stoffer said. “I travel quite frequently, and I can just pop on and check the live feed anytime.”

Stoffer said she’s even been able to assist her neighbor to see if a package was stolen. “It adds an extra layer of security,” she said.

Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer said the city goes through periods where many cars are broken into and items stolen. They also have people report houses being broken into. “We have used it in the past where people have Ring cameras and we’re able to review the footage,” he said. “We’re not going to make an identification every time, but it gives us some clues of what we’re looking for.”

Ver Meer himself owns a Ring Doorbell, and said they are a good thing to have. “Ring has a neighborhood setting where you can hook them together,” he said. “If we know who has them, we can request to look if we have a crime reported in a certain area.”

Additional outdoor options include connected Wi-Fi garage door openers, automated lights and smart locks for the front door. All of these products can be accessed from an application on a smartphone.

There are many options for in the home - from cost-saving gadgets to fun, quirky items, the possibilities are endless.

Stoffer’s favorite product is the Litter Robot which she said has cut her litter usage in half. “It auto cycles after the cat goes in. If it doesn’t cycle for some reason, it sends me an alert on my phone and I can push a button and cycle it from there,” she said. “It also gives me alerts when it’s full and needs dumped.”

Another trending cost-saving option is a smart thermostat. A popular option is the Nest Learning Thermostat. The system, controlled from the device or from an application, is able to be adjusted from anywhere. For travelers like Stoffer, you can turn the air conditioning off while you’re gone, and then turn it back on remotely when you’re headed back home.

Alliant Energy even offers rebates up to $100 for customers that purchase these products.

Stoffer said she absolutely loves her connected home products. “Some of them save a great deal of money on insurance or utility bills,” she said. They pay for themselves.”

Cheyenne Roche


Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.