Smart homes and home automation have been the subject of science fiction stories for decades. Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains,” published in 1950, tells the tale of a smart house that continues it’s daily routine long after it’s owners passed on. It isn’t until recently that we’ve had the technology to truly create the kind of automated home that Bradbury and others dreamed of so many years ago. Home automation will continue to increase in popularity over the next decade, experts predict. Why are these smart homes becoming so popular and what can you do to make your house a little more intelligent in the meantime?
Renovations on the Rise
American’s are remodeling their homes more often than ever before. The reasons might vary — some homeowners plan a remodeling project to make their home more comfortable while others are trying to make their property a little more environmentally friendly. Whatever the reason, homeowners spent a collective $340 billion on home improvements in 2018 alone.
Smart home upgrades are becoming a popular addition to these projects because they can save power, reduce utility costs and make your home more comfortable and convenient. More than half of renovating homeowners include at least one smart device in their newly remodeled property, and one out of every 10 have at least five tools in their home.
Why are these smart renovations becoming so popular? Simply put, it’s because they make our lives easier — but there’s so much more to it.
Why We Need Smart Homes
Why do we need smart homes? There are almost too many reasons to list, so we’ll just hit the highlights.
- Security — Thieves and burglars only get smarter, which means we need to increase our home security. Networked security cameras can upload their footage directly to the cloud, and you can access them from your smartphone. Smart storage lockers can prevent thieves from making off with your latest Amazon purchase. Wi-fi enabled garage door openers can send you an alert when the door is opened and give you the ability to open or close it remotely. The possibilities are endless when it comes to smart security.
- Convenience — Smart thermostats don’t need programmed. They automatically adjust the temperature when no one is home, saving you money but keeping you from coming home to a warm house. Alexa or Google Home can order things for you with a voice command, and give you access to all the information the internet has to offer. Smart fridges can tell you when your food is about to spoil or when you’re out of something. Smart ovens can regulate temperature, shut off when your food is done and send you an alert to come to take dinner out. Most of these devices are designed to make your life easier.
- Health — For patients with a chronic or terminal diagnosis, IoT enabled homes could allow them to live more independently by providing their physicians with real-time vital statistics and behavioral data. Wearables can track heart rate, pulse ox, galvanic skin response and more, while smart pillboxes and motion sensors can send an alert if they haven’t taken their medication or moved around enough. Remote patient monitoring could also be a boon for caregivers who are responsible for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Sustainability — One of the biggest reasons to build a smart home is sustainability. LED lights can be wi-fi capable, using less power while providing the user with lighting customizability. Smart power strips prevent power ghosts from inflating your utility bills by shutting off things that aren’t in use. Thermostats can automatically adjust the temperature according to the outside temperature and weather conditions, and shut off or turn down the A/C or heat if there’s no one home for a while. They even make smart toilets to help you reduce water usage.
The goal of a smart home is to make your life easier, but that doesn’t mean it can’t create a safer and more sustainable environment too.
Building a Budget-Friendly Smart Home
Even if you’re not remodeling your home anytime soon, you can start adding smart devices to improve your quality of life — and you don’t have to break the bank to do it.
Start with a smart hub. This will sync all of your smart devices together and give you the ability to curate them to your tastes.
You can replace your current lights with smart alternatives without spending too much money, and the money you’ll save on your monthly power bill will surprise you. The same goes for a smart thermostat — you can hook those up to any standard A/C unit and start saving money by reducing your utility costs.
Video doorbells let you know who’s at the door, even if you’re not home, and smart locks eliminate the need for keys — all you need is your cell phone in your pocket to open the door.
You can install all of these without making any major changes to your home.
The Future of Homebuilding
While we won’t reach the level of automation that KB Home ProjeKt featured at this years’ CES for a while, the technology is there and becoming more readily available. You can turn any existing home into a smart home, and it looks like this technology will continue to evolve in the coming years as it gains popularity. We’re a long way off from Bradbury’s smart home that does everything from cook breakfast to light your cigar, but the potential is there.