No doubt, you have heard the term ‘smart home’ used a lot recently. Right now, it is a hot topic, with people talking about the internet of things and home automation on social media, in newspapers and on TV.
Perhaps you are interested in the concept, but are still unsure of exactly what a smart home is, and whether it is for your or not. To help you to decide we have put together this page of smart home ideas. Below we give you some practical examples of how smart home design can potentially be used to improve your life, and help you to keep the ones you love and your property safe.
What is smart home technology?
The kind of smart home technology we are primarily talking about here is appliances and gadgets that can be hooked up to your home Wi-Fi network. Once linked up these items can be controlled remotely using a device like a smartphone, or tablet that is also connected to the internet.
In addition, many of these smart home devices can be set up to do tasks automatically. You will see examples of this as you continue to read.
Smart home security systems
Enhancing home security is by far the most popular way homeowners use smart home technology. You can opt to install a single device, or several, and use them in different ways.
To remotely allow access to your home
Smart home security devices come in many formats. One of our favorite examples is the Ring video doorbell, which enables you to see who is at the door, and speak to them if you want to. You can even pretend you are in, and have just got out of the shower. It is a great way to put a prospective thief off, and go elsewhere.
If you buy the Ring Plus, you can even lock and unlock your door remotely. This enables you to let tradespeople in if you are delayed, or to lock up if your teenager forgets to do so.
To keep an eye on family members
Security cameras that have been hooked up to the web can also potentially be used as baby monitors. If you want to use them in this way, you will need to choose a version with a good microphone, and can be set up to send you an alert when your child makes a noise or there is movement in his or her room.
You can also potentially use Wi-Fi connected CCTV cameras to help you to keep an eye on an elderly relative who wants to continue to live independently. If they are not answering the phone, you can turn on the cameras you have set up in their home, and see what is happening. Cameras that are fitted with both speakers and a microphone allow you to have a two-way conversation with someone in your home.
Smart thermostat to reduce your power bills
Sometimes keeping your home at the right temperature can prove challenging. Timers help, but are not the whole answer. These days we lead hectic lives, so, often, we do not know from one day to the next when we will be home. In that situation, if you have installed a smart thermostat you can use your smartphone to stop your heating from turning on while you are not there. This is an example of how home automation can be used as a way to save you money, and give you better control over your life.
Nest makes a great smart thermostat that we recommend.
Smart Light Bulbs
Smart home devices come in all shapes, sizes and forms. The technology is built into everything from fridges to kettles, and light bulbs.
Using smart light bulbs enables you to switch lights on and off using your phone. This gives the appearance that someone is at home, which is a great way to put potential thieves off.
Using smart technology to control non-smart devices
A couple of the companies we feature on this site also sell Wi-Fi power sockets that can be connected to your home wi-fi network. Potentially you can plug anything into them, and turn them on and off remotely. The list of ways you can use these power outlets is only limited by your imagination. Here are just a couple of suggestions.
Improve home security
If you are away from home, you could leave a radio plugged in, and switched on. At night, you could open your home automation app, and turn the socket off to silence the radio. In the morning, you can switch it back on, if you want to. If you use smart light bulbs, too you can make it look like your home is occupied, when it is not.
Switch your dinner on
You can also potentially plug cooking devices in to these sockets. Quite a few people load their halogen ovens with the ingredients for dinner, and use the smart plug to switch it on when they want to, so they can eat as soon as they get home.
Home automation hubs to control devices by voice
If you invest in a home automation hub like the Wink or Amazon Echo, you can potentially link up dozens of different items in your home. The Amazon Echo allows you to control many functions using your voice. For example, if you hear a noise outside you could tell a connected outside light to switch on, so you can see what is going on.
These are just a few home automation ideas. What we have covered above is literally only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ways you can use smart home devices to automate day-to-day tasks, save money and make your home a safer and more secure place.
New smart gadgets are becoming available every day, so now is definitely the time to find our more, and get involved. We guarantee that once you have bought and set up your first smart gadget, you will be hooked, and soon be wondering how you managed without this technology.