Smart home systems can help with home security, energy savings and everything in between.
Imagine a home that can predict your every move. It’s as much a home as it is a personal assistant: It knows what television channels your family watches and when, how hot or cool you each like to be when you’re asleep, and the time of day you head for the garage to drive to work.
Okay, we’re not quite there yet. But when it comes to smart home technology, we’re well on the way.
“These systems have actually been put into homes for many years,” says Dave Pedigo, senior director of learning and emerging technologies at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. “It’s just over the last few years we’ve seen a shift toward more of an entry-level, DIY home automation system.”
And with that option, the smart home is becoming less futuristic and more accessible.
“The concept of the smart home has really downscaled in terms of cost, but upscaled in terms of functionality,” says Ken Erdmann of Erdmann Electric Inc., in Springville, Utah.
Especially with self-installable smart home systems, it’s as simple as inserting batteries, placing the central hub wherever you want and connecting it via broadband to your various devices.
Mobile devices have been key in making smart homes accessible, because they offer a familiar format through which you can control the system. Using a smartphone application, you can remotely lower the temperature on your thermostat, check in on pets or receive texts when the kids get home from school.
“There’s not that barrier of entry that there used to be,” Pedigo says.
And home automation systems are simple to operate, so it’s easy to add more devices into the package. Smart homes have always offered a convenient central hub from which to control lights, HVAC systems, garage doors and locks, but homeowners today are also choosing smart homes for their safety and energy savings options.
As Erdmann explains, smart homes can be set up to send the user a text or email if there’s a break-in. Many smart homes also come with carbon monoxide detectors, so the system can respond accordingly if it needs to go into an alarm state.
“It’s gotten more complex, but in many ways it’s also a lot simpler,” he says.
Smart homes can also save energy and money. Advanced home automation systems can recognize when no one is in the house and turn down the temperature.
In addition to these applications, there’s still the convenience of being able to turn off your lights remotely, change the television channel without getting out of bed, and shut the garage door from anywhere.
“We are in a time of incredible growth,” Pedigo says. “There are lots of people out there who want to be able to say, ‘Oh no, did I leave my garage door open?’ and then fix it. It’s going to be very cool, as well as very practical.”