Making Your Home Smarter
Do you remember the movie "The Brave Little Toaster?" Where all the appliances could come to life? Well your appliances can come to life now. Kind of. Smart devices and homes are hitting the market in a big way. They’re devices (like a thermostat or coffee maker) that are connected to your home’s wifi, so you can use your phone to control them from pretty much anywhere. Not only do many of these devices help save energy--and money--on your utility bills, your homeowners insurance will also usually give you a discount for having them. The future is here. And it’s pretty darn cool.
Smart Home Security Systems
Not sure if you locked your doors, or would you rather just leave your keys at home when you’re taking a walk? If you have a smart home security system connected to your doors, you can lock or unlock them right from your smartphone.
These security systems, like Scout Alarm, focus on more than just your doors and windows, too. They can connect with your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You can turn the lights on from your smartphone before you get home. You
Some systems can even be linked to a medical alert bracelet. If something goes wrong, you just push a button on your bracelet and talk to the security company through the main-base unit in your house. That can be a big relief for people who are aging in place or living alone.
We’ve all been there. It’s gorgeous out when you leave the house, so you turn off the air. One hour later is about 10 million degrees and you can just picture your house plants wilting, your candles melting, and your dog becoming more and more miserable. A smart thermostat, like the one offered by Nest, means you can just whip out your smartphone and turn down your thermostat so your home is nice and cool by the time you get there. Over time the thermostat can also learn what temperature you like the house and what your patterns are so it’s always keeping everything at the right temperature to save you money and make you comfortable.
When it’s dark out, having lights on when you get home can be a huge reassurance. With internet-connected lights you don’t have to worry about it if you forget to turn them on--or off. It also means you don’t need to leave your lights on all day just because you know you’re going to be home when it’s dark out. You can even program some of these lights to sync with sunrise and sunset. Not only is that saving you money on your utility bills, you’re also creating a more secure home.
There is such a thing as a coffee emergency. Thanks to smart coffee makers you can actually use your smartphone to start brewing a pot. Think of the possibilities! Have a pot ready when you get home from work if you need a pick-me-up before you go out. Or, just start a pot from your bed on Sunday morning, go back to sleep, and have it ready when you wake up. Okay, okay, it probably won’t save you any money or improve your home value, but it will make you happy (and more productive).
Some of these smart home systems come with a camera you can install in the house. You can use it to see when your kids get home or better yet--what your pooch is doing while you’re at work. You can even use the systems microphones to shout at him when he gets up on the couch or grabs a nice pair of shoes to use as a chew toy--again.
What you should worry about
If your internet service goes out, like during a thunderstorm, your smart devices aren’t going to work. So if you have spotty service or lose power a lot, it might not be the greatest option for you. And like anything on the Internet, there’s a chance they could eventually get hacked.