What is a Smart Home? Your Home in the Age of Technology
What is a smart home? That seemingly simple question has many different answers, depending on who you ask. In short, a “smart home” is a residence equipped with a number of devices that automate tasks normally handled by humans. Some are built into the structure itself and some added later, and homeowners operate them with voice commands (through devices such as an Amazon Echo device, Google Home device, or smartphone app).
For some home owners, turning a house into a smart home can be as simple as buying a connected speaker. For others, it can involve linking several different products, including speakers, cameras, computers, smartphones, televisions, security systems, appliances, and more; and creating a smart home hub of sorts.
This has the potential to make your home safer, more energy efficient, or just more entertaining to live in. Utilizing integrated technological systems in your home is one of the most significant new trends in digital innovation.
Why Should I Have a Smart Home?
Manage All Of Your Home Devices From One Place
The convenience factor here is enormous. Being able to keep all of the technology in your home connected through one interface is a massive step forward for technology and home management. Theoretically, all you’ll have to do is learn how to use one app on your smartphone and tablet, and you’ll be able to tap into countless functions and devices throughout your home. This cuts way back on the learning curve for new users, makes it easier to access the functionality you truly want for your home.
Automation and Pre-Set Tasks
Smart devices and appliances have the capability for full automation of pre-set tasks. The full range of customization for these tasks is limitless and based on your individual needs. The tasks can be as simple as turning on one device or more customized to enable or disable multiple devices with one command. These pre-set commands can be triggered through your actual device or the app on your phone. There is no limit on the number of tasks that you can have or the number of devices controlled by the task.
Some examples of automated tasks include:
- Setting up an automation command that will automatically lock your doors, lower your thermostat, and turn off your lights before you go to bed. This can be triggered through your Amazon Alexa or Google Home device with the simple command “Goodnight.”
- Turning on the lights before you arrive home through your device’s app.
- You can have your home automatically detect when you leave the office (or pull into your driveway) and that can trigger various pre-set tasks.
Save Energy (and Money)
For many people, the driving force behind creating a smart home is the potential to save energy and money with automated heating and air conditioning systems. Smart thermostats, such as those made by Nest, quickly and precisely automate the heating and cooling of a home. This usually reduces the owners’ electric bill. In a study done by the US Environmental Protection Agency, it was reported that users of smart home technology for thermostat control alone saved anywhere from 10%-30% on their energy bill. Over the course of a year, or 5 years, those savings add up quickly.
Other products such as connected lights and appliances can use less energy by powering down when not in use.
Better Security and Safety
While you can buy alarm systems to protect your home, smart homes can offer added security. Connected lights, motion detectors, door locks, cameras, and even doorbells can help make a home that much safer. If you’re home alone and someone is checking out your house to see if they can break in, having these kinds of devices might scare them off.
You can also choose to receive security alerts on your various devices depending on the time of day an alert goes off and monitor activities in real-time whether you’re in the house or halfway around the globe.
Handle Regular Household Tasks
If you want to take some of the tedious tasks of home care out of your hands, connected and automated devices have you covered there too. The most obvious device is the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner from iRobot, along with similar products. However, appliances can also come with smart home functions. Picture a laundry machine that automatically starts a wash cycle, or fridge that orders milk online when it senses that you’re low.
You can read our article on robot vacuums here.
Make Your Home More Entertaining
What is a smart home if not also a place to hang out and relax? This technology can also keep you entertained and informed in new and exciting ways. Connected speakers, combined with AI-based digital assistants, can play music, offer news and sports scores, and can even help you control other connected devices as well. Wireless speaker systems, such as Sonos, allow you to listen to music in any room of your home. Connected devices can also find a good film to watch, either at home or in a real movie theater.
You can read our article about Sonos speakers here.
Flexibility For New Devices and Appliances
Smart home systems tend to be wonderfully flexible when it comes to the accommodation of new devices and appliances and other technology. No matter how state-of-the-art your appliances seem today, there will be newer, more impressive models developed as time goes on. Beyond that, you’ll probably add to your suite of devices as you replace the older ones or discover new technology to accompany your indoor and outdoor spaces. Being able to integrate these newcomers seamlessly will make your job as a homeowner much easier and allow you to keep upgrading to the latest lifestyle technology.