Wouldn’t it be nice to turn lights on or off without getting up off the couch? Or set the temperature of the house remotely when you learn that no one will be home all day? Now you can do all those things with smart home technology.
Whether you’re a homeowner, renter or landlord, smart home technology can make running the home easier and save a little money in the long run. Here’s how to make your house a smart home — even if you’re a smart home newbie.
What is a smart home technology?
Smart home technology is a type of technology that helps automate and simplify tasks around the home. These devices are usually operated by an electronic device, usually a phone or tablet, or more commonly now by voice control. When smart home technology is used, the home can better regulate itself, saving the homeowner money on utility bills.
This type of technology also allows users to operate around the home even when they’re not at home. Smart thermostats, for example, can be controlled through an app on a phone. If the user is working at an office, he or she can program the thermostat to turn on 30 minutes before the user arrives at home. The user then returns to a warm home and doesn’t need to keep the thermostat on high all day to achieve this.
Smart home technology is also adaptable and will learn based on the user’s actions. If the same homeowner programs the thermostat to turn on every day at 5 p.m., about 30 minutes before he or she will return home from the office, then eventually the smart thermostat will begin doing this without needing to be programmed. The more the homeowner uses the technology, the more it will learn.
Smart home devices can be found all over the home and include:
- Appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and dryers
- Pods such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa
- Lighting fixtures such as ceiling fans or even light bulbs
- Security cameras and lights
You don’t have to turn your entire home into a smart home, but by focusing on areas where you would like a little more control, then you can build a smart home that fits your needs.
How to turn your house into a smart home
With smart home technology improving every year, now is the perfect time to start building a smart home. Even though some products may not be right for you just now, there’s a good chance the technology will get better in the coming years. By then, you’ll have a solid smart home foundation, and you’ll be able to add products as needed.
The best way to start a smart home is to build it little by little. When you get used to your first few products, then you can add more and more. Here’s how to turn your house into a smart home without overwhelming yourself.
Step 1: Choose a home pod or device
A home pod is a type of smart home device that is voice activated and can interact with all types of other smart home products.
The most common home pods today are Amazon Echo and Google Home. Both are voice activated and will answer just about any question you ask. Want to know the weather? Say, “Alexa, what’s the temperature today?” Forget how many quarts are in a gallon? Ask, “Hey Google, how many quarts are in a gallon?”
When connected to your Amazon or Google accounts, these devices can help you shop and keep you informed about upcoming deliveries.
Because a home pod is basically a speaker, it can also play music or podcasts when connected to a user’s account. All users need to do is speak up and ask for specific songs, artists or podcasts.
Both Amazon Echo and Google Home can connect to hundreds of other third-party smart home devices, which means you can control those devices by asking Alexa or Google. Lights can turn on and off, fan speeds can be lowered and oven temperatures can be set all by asking these devices.
Of course, there are other similar home pod products from other companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Before you purchase one, do your research and determine which device offers the best features that fit your lifestyle. You can always mix and match (many homes have both Amazon and Google products), but that will make some programming a little more difficult.
Step 2: Choose your other smart home products
Buying too many smart home products at once can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to smart home technology. It’s better to choose one or two products that you think you will use the most and learn to use them efficiently. When you get comfortable with them, then you can add more products in more categories.
Here are a few popular categories that are both functional and easy to use.
Being able to turn the lights on and off without getting off the couch is just one benefit of smart lighting. Smart lighting can help you save money on your electricity bill, and it can help set the right mood. When used remotely, smart lighting can also help your security efforts. If you’re away from home, you can make it look like someone is home by turning lamps on and off.
Here are a few smart home products for lighting:
Manufacturers are now integrating smart home technology into ceiling fans that can be controlled through a switch on the wall and an app on a phone. The user can turn fans on and off, adjust the speed and dim the lighting.
Smart light bulbs like the Philips Hue can be controlled via app, and they can change color with just the touch of a button. For lighting fixtures that aren’t otherwise smart devices, these bulbs can turn them into smart devices.
Smart wall plugs can be controlled through an app or a home device like Amazon Echo. When a floor lamp is plugged into the smart wall plug, the user can then turn it off and on through the app or with his or her voice. It’s another way to turn a non-smart device into a smart one without replacing any lighting fixtures.
Smart home appliances are becoming more and more popular each year. As technology improves, these devices are finding more and more relevance in homes.
Here are just a few of the most popular smart home products for the kitchen.
Smart refrigerators are internet compatible and often come with Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home already integrated. Many now offer “instaview” options, which allows the user to simply tap the door several times to see what’s inside. That way, you don’t have to stand there with the door open, wasting energy and letting cold air out, to decide what to eat. Some refrigerators also have companion apps that let users see what’s in the fridge remotely. If you can’t remember if you have mayo in your fridge while you’re at the store, you can tap the app to see inside.
Isn’t it nice to wake up to the smell of fresh coffee in the morning? With a coffee machine connected to your phone, you can set timers and turn on the coffee pot remotely from your bedroom. By the time you’re out of the shower, you have freshly brewed coffee.
Washers and dryers
These kitchen-adjacent appliances can help you start and stop loads of laundry remotely. Some will help you gauge how to wash new pieces of clothing, and many will send alerts and updates when the clothing is done. This can help you stay on top of laundry wherever you are.
A popular smart home category, security has gotten a much-needed boost, thanks to smart technology. Smart cameras and lights help you track who is coming and going around the property, and because most burglars are really looking for the easiest target, they tend to ward off would-be criminals who would rather reduce their risks of getting caught.
Most smart home security systems include a doorbell camera and two or three other cameras that can be installed around the property. All of the cameras can be connected remotely via an app, allowing you to see around your property and watch for anyone that shouldn’t be there. Some systems also come with lights and smart locks for further control of the property.
Another favorite for smart home newbies, smart thermostats can help you control the temperature of the house remotely. The console installed on the wall is user friendly, and many will connect to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, making them voice activated.
Smart thermostats can be controlled through an app, which means you can raise and lower the temperature of the house when no one is home. As mentioned in the earlier example, smart thermostats can also set the temperature for when you plan to arrive at home, which means you can keep the temperature low all day when no one is around and then raise it before you get home so you don’t walk into a cold house. This will help you save money on your electricity bill and stop you from wasting heat or cool air.
Smart home technology is only improving and will continue to get better every year. If you’re new to it and you want to add it to your rental property, contact the professionals at Atlas Lane. We can show you how smart home technology can save money and make tenants feel safer.