Smart Homes: Using Technology for Safety, Comfort & Efficiency
Smart phones, smart TVs, smart clocks, smart electrical plugs… Almost everything you can buy for your home these days comes with capabilities beyond its most basic functions. That’s great news for those of us who have embraced what the 21st century offers. We’ve talked a little bit before about smart options for our homes, and since last year, there’s even more to consider. Have you been thinking about integrating technology into everyday living but feeling intimidated by the prospect? It doesn’t have to be difficult or too expensive.
When it comes to home security, it’s not just for the rich and famous. While professional alarm systems, such as Brinks and ADT, have been around for decades, consumers now have additional easy-to-install options, including a popular system from SimpliSafe. Basic video surveillance also is more affordable than ever. Cameras, like the ones offered by Arlo, Nest, and Wyze, provide high definition pictures and even quality sound. You’ve probably heard about or seen of the video doorbells that provide excellent video surveillance. Nearly all of these DIY options require some sort of subscription for video viewing or monitoring.
If you’re ready to go keyless in 2020, then consider putting smart locks on your entry doors. When you forget your keys, if you need to let a friend into the house while you’re at work, or if you’ve already gone to bed but forgot to lock up, a smart lock that works via wireless network and an app is a great convenience. Don’t forget to be careful with your PIN and give access codes only to people you trust.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a must for every home. The loud sounds of conventional alarms should wake you if there’s a problem, allowing your family to safely escape danger. But smart alarms do more. They can send alerts to your cell phone, or even turn on the lights. Those smart phone notifications can be a big advantage if you’re at work or out of town. You can call the fire department or a neighbor to check on things.
We all want to find ways to save money on utilities and other expenses in the home. Smart technology can help. For the appliances and devices that stay plugged in and use up power even when they’re not “on,” there’s a way to curb energy use. Smart plugs and smart power strips for your outlets cuts off power when electronics are in standby mode — such as TVs, laptop and cell phone chargers, and other non-essential appliances.
Climate control can also be managed more efficiently through technology. A smart thermostat can become more precise with heating and cooling your home at certain times of day or night by learning your habits. Most models will allow you to control the temperature in the house remotely when you want to. Coming home from a week’s vacation during a cold spell or heatwave? Turn up the heat or AC to a comfortable level before you even walk through the door.
And bright idea: smart lighting. Not only do those bulbs require less energy, but an app connected to the lighting can provide electricity consumption data. And, instead of those old-fashioned timers, you can schedule a light or two to go on to deter would-be burglars.
Smart vacuums are not new to 2020, but more options and upgraded technology are. And now there are even robot lawnmowers! Other high-tech appliances such as refrigerators, countertop ovens, and coffee makers offer various features and levels of artificial intelligence. Most of them are connected to devices like Google Home and Alexa — responding to voice commands. In fact, nearly all smart technology can be integrated with smart home hubs.
It’s worth the time to do your research to choose what devices will work best for your home and serve your family’s needs. What’s your favorite or must-have smart technology item? Let us know!