With technology being so prevalent in our lives today, it’s easy to forget that “smart homes” are only a recent phenomenon. While it can be said that the history of the smart home dates back to the invention of home appliances in the early 20th century, it’s the 21st century where things started to really pick up steam.
These days, a smart home might feature automated or remote-controlled air temperature, lighting, entertainment systems, and locks. Essentially, the idea is to create a more comfortable, secure, convenient and energy-efficient home.
With advances in technology – combined with greater Internet connectivity – it’s little surprise that the smart technology market is growing fast. The idea of having machines run your home appliances may make some people uneasy. In fact 2 in 3 of Australian parents feel pressured to keep up with new technologies.
However these advancements are the norm in the housing industry, so it’s best to embrace the new technologies to increase the value of your home. To get you up to speed, here are few ways to take advantage of new trends and integrate smart technology into your home.
Heating and cooling
Whether you’re an Australian resident or someone living across the world in a pricey city like Chicago, one of the simplest ways to smarten up your home is with a smart thermostat. Unlike normal thermostats, smart thermostats regulate temperature in a more convenient and energy-efficient way over your home Wi-Fi network. The main smart options available on the market include:
- Algorithm thermostats – these can be set up to fit in with your presence and schedule, and even automatically adjust to your lifestyle and seasons.
- Remote sensor thermostats – these regulate the temperature in your home based on motion and proximity sensors.
- Geofencing thermostats – these work by tracking the geofencing feature on your phone to figure out when you’ll be home.
Unfortunately, many of the big brand names in smart thermostat systems such as Ecobee, Nest, and Honeywell aren’t yet available in Australia. That said, iZone, Advantage Air’s MyAir System and Telstra’s Zen Smart Thermostat are great entry-level solutions.
These local options are both compatible with a range of heating and cooling systems, are easy to use and integrate, and most importantly, can help keep your home comfortable and reduce heating and cooling costs.
Saving energy the smart way
Sustainable energy is often top of mind for new home builders. Tesla provides residential batteries like the Tesla Powerwall and solar power to give homeowners the environmentally friendly option of utilising self-powered utilities while saving money on electricity bills. The Powerwall can provide power to a home for 7 days during a continuous power blackout and is entirely self-reliant, even at night by using stored solar energy from the day.
On the other hand, smart meters offer remote energisation, de-energisation and appliance control. They can also link up with household devices through a Home Area Network (HAN) and In Home Display (IHD), which can give you an instant read on your electricity usage. The more advanced systems can even estimate costs, usage history and predicted price hikes.
With greater access to more real-time data, a smart meter can help lower your energy bill through managing your account better. By tracking how much energy you’re spending at different times of the day and throughout the year, you can better plan your usage more efficiently.
To really take control of your energy usage, it’s worth using a smart meter in combination with a power meter (also know as an energy meter) or a smart switch. Smart meters are the standard electricity meter in Victoria, while other states are giving homeowners the choice of whether they want a smart meter installed or not.
Increasing your security and safety
Smarter technology is making it easier to secure your home and feel safer under your own roof. It might have taken a while, but there are now many simple and affordable ways to go about it.
For starters, a smart home security system can be as basic or comprehensive as you like. You might want to include security cameras, motion sensors, remote door locks, sirens, smoke detectors, water sensors, and more.
Either way, these systems work by connecting to your home Wi-Fi network and allowing you to monitor and control whatever smart devices you’ve installed. The best systems are the ones that connect your devices seamlessly and allow you to create customised rules.
For example, if movement is detected outside your home, a light might turn on. Or if the smoke alarm goes off, the doors of your house will unlock. The more advanced your security system is, the more you’ll pay. But if you’re not ready to fork out for a full-blown system, there are many individual smart products that you can easily integrate.
If you have a home automation hub, you can add in a smart lock to the system. Other products such as Nest Protect Smoke + CO alarm can connect to your Wi-Fi, allow you to hush the noise from your phone, and can actually tell you where and what the danger is. But these are just two examples – the best way for you to decide on how to approach smart security is to do some research, work out a budget, and determine what you really need.
Electrical safety first!
Remember, never do DIY electrical work. If you need rewiring or other electrical work done hire a qualified electrician. If your property is an older building, hiring a professional electrician to help rewire your home to accomodate your new smart technology is a good idea. The experts at Platinum Electricians recommend rewiring for home upgrades in order to improve electrical safety, seperate circuits, make your living space more convenient and to improve the value of your home.