Think about it. How much easier would your life be if all the electronic devices you use every day could be connected and controlled with one touch? Not only would your smartphone and laptop be integrated, but also your appliances, water heater, lights, thermostat, security system, and even the clocks, window blinds, and the entertainment system in your house. They would take your commands, send you information, and communicate with each other. So, what are the best home automation ideas?
For example, as you drive home after a long workday, you message your HVAC to change your home’s interior temperature to 72 degrees. You send a signal to the house to turn on the living room lights, lower the blinds, fill the bathtub with hot water, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and play your favorite music. Shortly before you arrive, the exterior lights and security system activates, then the front door unlocks as you step out of your car.
Does this sound like something from a science fiction movie? Not anymore. It’s now possible to connect just about everything with the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s also a key component of smart homes and the best home automation ideas.
What is Home Automation?
First, the term “smart home” refers to the home’s state of all its devices. The entire house is controlled through information and communication technologies (ICT) protocol and an Internet connection.
Home automation is the ability to control and monitor home electronics and attributes with a simple voice command or the push of a button. Some automation, like lowering window shades and turning lamps on and off, is fairly inexpensive and simple to set up. However, other abilities, such as controlling security cameras and lights around a house’s exterior, require a bit more time and financial investments.
Energy Savings with Home Automation
Complex home systems like these typically connect devices to a gateway or a central hub. The user can use a wall-mounted terminal, a desktop computer, a tablet, or a cell phone to control the system. The system can also be made accessible off-site through a web interface and the Internet. Best of all, home automation has the potential for sharing data among individuals or family members. This can lead to energy savings, adding more security, and having a positive environmental impact.
According to ABI Research, in 2012, there were 1.5 million home automation systems installed in the United States. By the end of 2018, there were more than 45 million smart home devices in US houses and they project more than 4.5 billion worldwide by 2022.
Impacts of the Best Home Automation Ideas
More and more adults are searching for a healthier balance between their work and home life. They value their time at home with their families. Smart homes can expedite and automate devices, giving people more money and time to focus on what matters most to them.
Using the best home automation ideas can also lead to more intelligent and efficient techniques to save energy. By integrating renewable energy systems such as wind or solar power with information and communication technologies (ICT), homes can “make decisions” about expending or storing energy for a particular appliance. This will lead to lower energy bills for consumers and less drain on the environment. Sensors within a smart home can use the data it gathers to balance energy consumption with homeowner needs.
Additionally, using a home automation system is incredibly useful for the independence of those with a disability and can offer assistance to the elderly. Having the opportunity to stay in their own homes instead of living in a group home or an assisted living facility can save money and also give them a more positive outlook on life.
Finally, the best home automation ideas offer a focus on family safety. The number one concern for homeowners with smart homes, according to a 2015 study by iControl, is personal and family security.
Smart home automation can include a variety of surveillance and security systems. While away, these devices allow consumers to monitor what is happening and forward information to law enforcement or family members in case of an emergency.
Technology and Applications
In what other ways can the best home automation ideas be used? Homeowners can choose to connect everything in their homes or just a few appliances with systems. Here are some examples of how they might be used:
- Leak detection with CO and smoke detectors can alert homeowners and first responders of danger.
- Home automation assists the disabled or elderly with everyday tasks such as cooking, reminders to take medication, and turning on lights.
- Indoor positioning systems (IPS) localize and follow people or animals’ movement indoors and sends the information remotely. Parents can keep track of their teenagers when they’re not home!
- Pet and baby care – Using the IPS above, controlling pet access and monitoring babies’ movements give new parents and animal lovers peace of mind.
- Use HVAC remote control to adjust heat and cooling while at home or away.
- Lighting systems incorporate communication between areas of the house to turn lamps on and off at various times.
- By using occupancy-aware systems, lights and HVAC can also be triggered by movement in the home or individual rooms.
- With an appliance-controlled “smart meter,” a dishwasher, washing machine, etc., will take advantage of the best time of day to run. For example, with solar energy, mid-day has the highest output of power. With electricity, off-times, such as late at night, are better.
- A security system integrated into a smart home will supply additional services like remotely locking all doors and windows, sending surveillance videos via the Internet, contacting the police or fire department, etc.
- Voice control systems like Alexa, Siri, or Google Home are used for activating home appliances.
- Smart kitchens can assist with cooking by turning devices on and off with voice control or a single button push.
- For those with asthma and lung disease, they can monitor air quality with the Air Quality Egg. Being aware of pollution levels helps them know when it’s safe to be outside.
Consumer Concerns of Implementing Home Automation
According to Consumer Reports, potential customers have some significant concerns regarding home automation. First, homeowners worry that if their network is connected to the Internet, it might be hacked, making it vulnerable. Does that mean a thief can get into the house if their security system goes down?
Second, because this technology is still in its early stages, consumers are concerned that if they invest in a system, it may soon become obsolete. For example, in 2014, Google purchased a company that sold a home automation system. Google integrated it into their product called Nest. By 2016, Google shut down the servers that the acquired original system depended on. That meant everyone who owned it now had a useless system.
Third, home automation may involve:
- A high initial financial cost.
- Difficulty managing the system.
- Inflexibility in changing out the devices.
When creating a home system, designers take several factors into account: the ability to diagnose issues, security, speed, affordability, ease-of-use and installation, how well devices can be monitored and controlled, and scalability. Although consumers recognize that home automation has a “cool factor,” homeowners prioritize ease over technical innovation. Therefore, they may not be quite ready to install entire systems in their homes.
In the past, this technology has been sold as a complete system, with the central hub, user interface, communications protocol, and hardware all coming from one vendor. However, there are now ways to incorporate several systems together with mobile phones through Bluetooth. This has allowed an increase in affordability and customization, easing the concerns of potential customers.
Things to Consider With the Best Home Automation Ideas
Even with the best home automation system in your home, sometimes there are problems. Consider these issues and the solutions you need to keep in mind.
1) Power Outages – During thunderstorms, tornadoes, and other bad weather, you may experience a power outage. To avoid problems, make sure your smart home has a backup power system. Keep your home running smoothly with a separate generator or battery. While most devices have factored in solutions to power outages, consider a manual backup to keep everyone safe and the system working.
2) Usability – The best home automation ideas and devices are designed to provide efficiency and ease. As you review smart home systems, check their compatibility with other devices you already own. Ask the salesperson questions such as: Is this easy to use? Will this save me money and time? Does this system connect to my other smart electronics? With so many options on the market, take your time to find the best one for your needs.
3) Network Security – Once installed, your smart home system will rely on an Internet connection to enable its features. It will help if you have something very secure to store your information, the system’s data, and control the electronics in your home. The network also needs to be strong enough to manage all your smart home devices and the daily activities with cellphones, internet games, laptops, tablets, etc., being used by family members. You may want to consider getting a unique home network system or home hub to manage everything.
The Best Home Automation Devices
You’ll find lots of smart home product categories, whether you just want to control the lights inside your home, manage the HVAC, add a home security system, or – on the other end of the spectrum – have complete control over the entire house. Here are some of the products and categories you might be interested in.
• Smart Speakers
Often seen advertised on television, Amazon’s Alexa is probably the most well-known system for smart homes. This handy voice assistant uses a Bluetooth speaker. With the sound of your voice, Alexa can directly work with several devices, and others you can interconnect. You can ask Alexa to play your favorite song, answer a question, set a timer, remind you to take your medication, make a phone call, turn on a lamp, start the coffee, and more.
• Smart Plugs
Would you like coffee waiting for you when you wake up? How about the lights turning off automatically when you go to bed?
Small appliances, such as coffee makers, lamps, and televisions, can be connected to versatile and energy-efficient smart plugs. These plugs can be controlled with a mobile app and work well through voice commands with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. The outlets also monitor energy usage and can save on utility bills in the long run.
• Smart Home Security Systems
There’s nothing more important than the safety of your family. Some systems can automatically lock all the doors and windows. Others have 24-hour surveillance both inside and outside your home. It all depends on what you want and need.
Some of the systems stream and record video in high definition. They also may have cool tech abilities like motion tracking, color night vision, automatic zooming, 180-degree field of view, 911 connectivity, face recognition, can differentiate between cars, pets, and people, and have an integrated spotlight and siren. Many systems are wireless and simple to install; others are subscription-based with a monthly fee.
• Smart HVAC Systems
Like home security systems, controlling the HVAC in your home can be as complex or as simple as you want and need it to be. Set temperature schedules, control heating and cooling using your phone or voice, and monitor your energy consumption through smart home heating and cooling systems.
Many of these automated systems can be accessed remotely, so you can change settings whether or not you’re home. Decided to stay an extra day on vacation? With a single touch, you can adjust the setting on your home’s heating system. Some devices will automatically learn your temperature preferences and schedules; with others, it takes just a few minutes to program the settings manually.
• Other Smart Items
Are you a pet owner? Do you worry about your furry companion when no one is home? There’s an indoor dog nanny and security camera that shows clear video of your pup, offers barking alerts and even has two-way audio so you can talk to and hear your furry friend. Even better, when you’re not home, it lets you give your dog a treat!
Smart counter-top ovens are also becoming more common. There are a variety that can reheat, sear, broil, and bake. These smart appliances can be preset to cook food in several different ways and even have built-in cameras for watching. No more heating up the entire oven for small meals or bending over to reach inside it.
Another smart home invention is the Roomba. Also often seen on television, it’s better at reaching difficult areas like under beds and chairs and uses camera-based navigation to find its way around the house to sweep and clean. Powerful suction and the ability to empty its bin make it a great help for those who have difficulty managing a vacuum cleaner or those who prefer to do other things with their time than clean.
Jewell Homes Builds Smart Homes
Are you interested in building a new home and integrating a smart system into it? Jewell Homes can help. Custom home builders in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, John and Jamie Jewell, will take your ideas and incorporate them into the home design of your dreams.
Some people may believe that building a custom home is beyond their budget, but with Jewell Homes, that may not be true. They use an “all-inclusive” price structure to determine the total cost before you sign the contract. That even includes fixtures and lighting, so there are no surprises. What you see is what you pay!
A custom home is ideal for creating exactly what you need – not just for right now but also for the future. Design the house with the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, space enough for entertaining, and completely wired for home automation. Start by looking through Jewell Home’s most popular floor plans and go from there. Add a covered porch, a back deck, a home office, or more closet space if that’s what you want.
Contact Jewell Homes today for a free consultation to find out how to make your new smart home a reality.