Consider this scenario: You’re leaving work. The geotracker in your phone tells your thermostat at home to turn up the heat in preparation for your arrival. When you approach the house, the garage door opens, the lights come on, and music starts playing. You go into the kitchen and check the screen on your fridge door to see what recipe it recommends you make with the foodstuffs you have on hand. You notice that the dishwasher has ordered more detergent since it’s running low. Your automatic vacuum has made the living room look great, so after popping dinner in the oven — which the fridge has preheated and set a timer for, based on your recipe choice — you relax in comfort after a long day, until dinner is ready.
Does that seem farfetched? In reality, nearly all of those things are possible, right now. That’s the power of smart home technology. Let’s take a crash course on the latest smart home trends and see how these features can help improve your home’s comfort, safety, and energy usage.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is the term applied to the collection of gadgets, appliances, vehicles, and devices that are able to connect to the internet, collect information from you, and provide information back to you and to other connected devices. The items that make up the IoT are generally referred to as “smart” and can range from refrigerators and lights to washing machines and dog collars … the list appears endless.
What Else Can IoT Do?
Besides increasing your personal comfort, there are other benefits to having items throughout your home connected to the internet and each other.
Remote energy management
Thermostat: Your phone can notify your thermostat that you’re on the way home so it turns up to a comfortable level. You can also turn off the system when no one will be home for a while.
Windows and doors: They can send a signal to your HVAC to let it know it’s not needed if their sensors register they’ve been left open.
Lighting: Lighting that turns on and off as you enter and leave a room will also help cut down on your energy bills. Plus, you won’t need to yell at the kids about leaving every light in the house on!
Daylight harvesting: The shades will open when sun is needed to warm the home or provide light instead of using electric lights, or close to keep the sun out and reduce the amount of energy your A/C needs to run.
Energy monitoring: Turn off the power suckers in your home during peak usage hours or when they aren't being used. Bonus: Saving energy is also environmentally friendly!
Increased home safety
Camera-connected doorbells: See who is at your front door — whether you’re home or not — right from your smartphone.
Alarm systems: Set them or turn them off remotely, get notifications when they go off, and have a signal sent directly to the local police.
Locks: Program them to open or lock at certain times, by usage, or by your approach to or departure from the house.
Appliances: Never worry that you’ve left the coffeepot or oven on again!
Doggie doors: Can be programmed to open and shut at certain times of the day.
Treat dispensers: Many are toys that engage your pet in play to prevent boredom (and the destruction that can accompany it).
Feeders: Program food and water dispensers to fit your pet’s feeding style. Food dispensers can keep a bowl full or mete out a set amount at a specific time.
Pet cams: Keep an eye on your fur baby during the day. Some allow you to speak to your pet, and still others allow your pet to activate them and give you a call!
With our days getting so busy, it just seems smart to take advantage of the many ways the IoT can make our lives easier and more secure. Do you need every feature available? Probably not. But you can pick and choose the smart appliances and devices that make sense for you and your home. Once you realize the extra convenience it can add to your life, you might wish you had tried it sooner!