Back in 2015 Barclays Mortgages commissioned a study on the top technology that attracts homebuyers. Earlier this year they partnered with YouGov for a follow-up survey on attitudes to the smart home. Some of its findings are pretty surprising.
The Battle for the Smart Home
There are definitely some wins for the home tech industry in the latest research, for example there are now fewer people who claim not to understand what a smart home is…
Only 22% of UK homeowners surveyed in 2017 claim they’ve heard of smart home technology but don’t really understand what it means, compared to 33% in 2015.
This shows a decent swing in the comprehension of the concepts around the smart home and can probably be attributed to the amount of marketing in the sector over the last couple of years.
Anyone shopping on-line or in their local electrical super-shed can’t have failed to notice the raft of home tech that has crept in over the past half-decade or so. WiFi light bulbs, home IP CCTV cameras and smart thermostats that all promise a utopian lifestyle.
How Many of Us Actually Use Smart Home Tech?
So then, what would you guess is the actual percentage of owners using this technology in their own homes?
The report also shows that uptake is surprisingly low, with just over 1 in 10 (13%) of UK homeowners claiming to currently use smart home technology in their home.
I think that’s probably not far off what I would have guessed, and if anything it’s maybe a little higher (I’d probably have guessed around 5% to 10%).
And the Rest?
So how do we get the other 87% of the population on board? Well It’s not good news for the home tech industry this time. It seems an increased understanding doesn’t automatically translate to an increased lust for the products.
In fact the 2017 survey shows that the appeal of all this smart technology is lost on many. It seems there’s been a significant rise in the proportion of people who have no interest in installing the tech at all in their own home.
Over twice as many UK homeowners in 2017 (30%) expressing no interest in installing connected or smart home technology in the future, compared to 12 per cent in 2015.
Pinning Down the Reasons
This one is harder to explain. Have people had bad experiences with early versions of the tech and decided that a smart home is not for them? Lets face it, there have been plenty of poorly executed new products and failed (crowd funded) startups.
The Barclays surveys points to another reason that may be the single biggest issue that’s putting potential customers off.
63% of UK adults asked expressing concern around cyber crime related to smart home technologies
Certainly the more ‘Internet of Things’ devices we add to our homes the more we open ourselves to the risks associated with hacking and cyber crime.
This year saw the worlds biggest DDoS attack when various IoT devices were hacked to be used to build a huge botnet. Concern is growing and most normal home owners or renters have neither the ability, interest, time or inclination to spend their Saturday nights updating firmware or troubleshooting the security issues of hardware around their homes. And who can blame them.
It’s time for the smart home industry to clean up its act in this area.
The Need for Speed
Perhaps unsurprisingly the most popular form of home technology is super-fast fibre optic broadband.
Of the smart home technologies listed in the survey, fibre optic broadband proved the most popular, with 32% of UK adults saying they would be interested in installing the technology
I’m amazed it’s not a higher proportion to be honest and I imagine this number will only climb rapidly in the future as more and more of our communications, shopping and entertainment relies on our Internet connection.
Northern Ireland leads the way on interest in Solar PV renewable energy.
Northern Ireland is strongest when it comes to solar panel uptake, with 44% of adults there interested in installing them in the future – 46% above the national average.
For general smart home uptake, the top regions are the North West and East Midlands.
The North West and East Midlands of England have the highest uptake rate of all UK regions.
And it’s Scotland that’s leading the way on overall awareness.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of those surveyed there said they’ve heard of smart home technology and fully understand what it means
The final word comes from Craig Calder, director of Barclays Mortgages, and provides an insight into the range of budgets and the need for technology that provide a genuinely better user experience, and is not just there for the sake of the technology.
“Our previous 2015 Smart Home report stated that on average, UK homeowners who would spend more would be willing to pay an extra £3,310 for a new home that comes fully equipped with the latest technology, such as smart heating systems and appliances. Some stated they are willing to spend more than £10,000 extra to own a property that is ahead of the curve. When it comes to choosing technology to invest in, homeowners are putting practicality first.”
You can read the full report here