Smart Homes: The Benefits of Using New Technology

By Dotty Brothers | May 13, 2024
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Smart Homes: The Benefits of Using New Technology

Smart home construction principles remain mostly the same as they ever were: strong foundations, straight walls, well-insulated, built to last. But these days, a “Smart Home” is one that leverages the internet and modern technology to put control of your home’s features on your smartphone.

Any home can be made into a smart home using wireless smart devices. There are also wired smart home systems, which have to be planned for and included in the construction or as part of a large-scale gut remodel.

For already-existing homes that aren’t looking to be torn up, wireless connected devices are an easy answer. And as the internet of things expands to include more and more, well, things, many aspects of our homes and the things inside them can, in fact, get smarter.

Door locks, doorbells, lighting, thermostats, home monitors, security cameras—all of these have smart versions that can be added to an existing home to smarten it up. And this can be a really beneficial thing: a thermostat that learns your schedule can save energy by heating and cooling a home less when no one is there to appreciate it. Lights that turn off when there’s nobody in a room save electricity.

Almost all of these smart devices can be installed as stand-alone upgrades, but if you opt for more than a couple, you’ll probably want them all to be compatible with a single smart home hub, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit, to name just a few.

COMFORT

As we already mentioned, a home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can be greatly improved by using smart devices. There’s the thermostat, of course, which can learn the routine comings and goings of the people in your home, but those thermostats typically just read your home’s temperature wherever they are installed. Newer smart thermostats have sensor options that can be placed or installed around the house, and you can program them to get finer control over the HVAC.

For instance, if you have a guest bedroom that isn’t occupied often, there’s no need to heat or cool that room as much as your bedroom or the living room. Some of these systems also detect the humidity levels and control whole-house humidifiers or dehumidifiers that can make a big impact on personal comfort.

A smart lighting system can be built into a smart home from the very beginning, but it’s also something that’s easy to retrofit. Smart LED bulbs can be turned on or off, dimmed or brightened, even have their colors changed, and all of that can be programmed to happen at specific times or when motion is detected. The same goes for smart outlets, or smart outlet adapters that can be plugged into regular outlets. You can customize almost anything that you control with a switch or plug.

SAFETY

Some of the safety aspects of the smart home are simple, like the deadbolt on a door. It locks the door just like any deadbolt always has, but you can control it when you’re not home. You can program single-use codes for deliveries or repair people to gain access to your home when you’re not there. If a family member or relative needs to drop by, you can unlock the door for them.

You can get much higher-tech about home security, too. A home security system can include door and window sensors that detect when they’re opened or damaged, and a security camera (or series of cameras) can detect motion, record video, and upload it to a cloud server. All of these notifications can be pushed to your smartphone, too. These are all ways you can increase the security and safety of your home.

MAINTENANCE AND PREVENTION

Smart household monitors can be connected to your home’s plumbing and electrical systems. A smart water sensor can detect a leak or a frozen pipe and turn off the main water supply before you come home to a flooded house. It can also tell you if the flapper on your toilet needs to be replaced, or if there are unusual demands on your water supply. Monitoring the electrical system can help detect a power surge and protect your appliances, TVs, and other home electronics from damage.

CONCERNS

There are some problems and challenges to having a smart home. For one, it can be a pain to track the various passwords necessary to access the different smart devices. If they are all compatible with a single hub, this problem more or less goes away, but the software and hardware are still relatively new and are prone to change.

Smart devices are also more expensive than their “dumb” counterparts, and while prices have been coming down, it’s a worthy consideration.

Software bugs and security risks have always plagued the Internet of Things, and continue to do so. Poor encryption or a programming hole can leave smart devices open to being hacked.

Finally, there’s a data risk. Smart devices learn a lot about you and the people who are in your home, and the manufacturers of the devices are not always up front about what they do with all of that data, where they store it, and how secure it is.

Living in a smart home can be a really terrific experience: lots of tasks and home features can be automated, even curated to your exact requirements, and you can smarten up your home even if it was built before smartness was something that devices could have.

Some degree of smart home characteristics are built into every home now, especially the type of custom dream homes we build. If you have questions about making your home smarter, or designing it that way in the first place, contact us to get your design/build project underway.

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