Technology is changing how we interact with daily life—how we communicate to one another, how we travel (think of the emergence of self-driving cars), and now…how we manage and control items within the home. When thinking of smart home gadgets and accessories, you automatically think of how that makes everyday tasks easier. And with that comes 3 great advantages: home automation, enhanced home security and greener living.
Here’s how each is a key advantage of having a smart home—with examples of products available to homeowners.
Home automation enables the remote access of household products using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. This means that anywhere you go, things such as thermostats, lights, door locks, garages and appliances can be controlled and monitored. With an app and a centralized home hub (such as the Amazon Echo, Lenovo Smart Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, etc.) homes are being quickly transformed. The following products provide a small example of home automation devices.
The Ecobee3 is a smart thermostat that connects via Wi-Fi. It also comes with room sensors that individually read and can adjust the temperatures in various rooms—unlike your run-of-the-mill thermostat that only reads one home temperature. What’s more is that when no one is occupying a room, the Ecobee3 automatically sets a temperature that will help enhance energy savings (such as increasing the A/C temperature during the summer, rather than keeping it cooler).
Much like many smart devices available, the Ecobee3 is compatible with Amazon Alexa, for hand-free voice control—you just need a device that supports Alexa (such as the Echo or Echo Dot). It is also compatible with Apple HomeKit (a home hub that operates through Apple TV). Temperatures can also be remotely adjusted via the Ecobee app. So this one device not only has remote accessibility when away, but it also operates via voice command while at home.
• Wemo Light Switch
Get home, go turn the lights on; leave the room, turn the lights off—it’s a process everyone does…until now. The Wemo light switch allows you to remotely automate lights anywhere you are. Whether it’s a living room lamplight, porch light or hallway light, you can remotely turn them on or off with the touch of a smart screen.
Imagine getting home late at night; rather than fumbling around in the dark, you can turn your lights on before leaving the car. The Wemo also has additional features, such as: light schedules for both day and night & an “Away Mode” that essentially replaces traditional light timers for the instances that you are out of town. In addition to the app for remote accessibility, this device also works with Amazon Alexa. So it’ll respond to voice commands while you are at home.
There are times that you question whether or not you’ve closed the door—usually after you’ve driven off and are away. The NEXX remote garage opener can be managed remotely via an app (as long as your smartphone or tablet has a Wi-Fi connection). You can even monitor the history of your garage door opening and closing—a great security feature. A particularly great thing about this device is that it can be easily installed yourself and it’s compatible with most garage door openers.
Enhanced Home Security
Smart devices help enhance home security by allowing homeowners to view and monitor what happens both inside and outside their homes. Some devices are even compatible with home security providers, but you’ll have to check to see what devices are compatible with various security systems. The following devices help boost home security protection.
• Ring Video Doorbell Pro
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro combines the simplicity of a doorbell yet adds a security camera and 2-way voice. So any time anyone approaches and rings the doorbell, the homeowner is alerted on their smartphone/tablet of the visitor. They can both see the visitor with the built-in camera AND be able to speak to them. If the homeowner is unavailable to answer, the Ring Video Doorbell has an away feature that delivers customized away messages.
• Nest Cam Indoor security camera
Devices such as the Ring Video Doorbell provide remote security outside the home, but other devices, such as the Nest Cam Indoor security camera, monitor what’s occurring within the home. The device can be mounted nearly anywhere and features 2-way audio for voice communication. The Nest Cam Indoor security camera also has a motion detector; when it detects motion, it will take snapshots of the detected area. Alerts are then sent to the homeowner’s phone via text or email.
In particular, home automation capabilities greatly help homes cut down on energy consumption. Since devices can be managed and controlled anywhere using a smartphone or tablet, it’s easier to program the thermostat to a specific temperature or turn lights on/off. Just as a reference, home heating is 40% of an energy bill. Each degree lowered (in the cooler months) or increased (in the hotter months) saves about $5. A light bulb accidentally left on during the night costs over $20. So home automation is a great component when it comes to green living. Your energy bill will thank you with this smart home technology.