Smart home technology is set to explode in 2016, as the market is flooded with clever gadgets designed to make daily life easier. Even better, those gadgets are: becoming easier to use and cheaper to buy, making the smart home dream more accessible than ever before.
January 14 is National Organize Your Home Day, and smart technology is definitely the fastest and easiest way to keep your home organized. We caught up with Matt Powell from Broadband Genie to look at some of the ways smart home gear can help you to organize your home, and especially how this technology can be used to improve family life in particular.
Why Should Families Care About Smart Homes?
Smart home technology allows for remote or automatic control of devices and systems in your home. While most commonly this is used to manage central heating, lighting, and security, you shouldn’t think that smart homes are limited to that.
Smart home technology is starting to show up in all kinds of appliances. At the recent CES 2016, Samsung unveiled a “Family Hub” fridge (pictured above) with an integrated 21-inch display and internal camera. As well as using the screen for watching movies or displaying recipes, it can be used to check the contents of the fridge without opening the door. The fridge will even text when it detects food nearing its expiration: date—no more going to cook and realizing the ingredient you need has gone off.
Of course, creating a smart home is not just about convenience. It can also save money and help the environment by efficiently managing appliances and systems to ensure they’re only activated when required.
Saving Your Family Money
Central heating control is a hugely popular use of smart home technology. You don’t need to be technically adept to understand or use it and the benefits quickly become apparent.
Smart thermostats like the Nest: (pictured above) or ecobee can learn routines and preferences, maintaining temperatures at a comfortable level automatically and switching off the heating when nobody is home. They can be remotely controlled with a mobile app, and some will even check the weather and make appropriate adjustments without any input. Smarter management of heating can add up to a nice saving on energy bills throughout the year, as well as prevent children from refusing to get out of bed because it’s too cold (well at least hopefully minimizing their complaining).
Smart home tech can also help to reduce energy usage beyond central heating. A good entry-level gadget for getting started with smart homes is an inexpensive WiFi power socket, such as the Belkin WeMo range.: This: allows any electrical device plugged into: the socket to: be controlled via a smartphone app. That way, when you’re out at work and suddenly realize that you forgot to turn off the television, : you can turn it off with a few quick clicks. Lighting can also be made smart, either by replacing the light switches with WiFi-enabled models or even plugging in smart light bulbs, which can be controlled via automation or a mobile app.
In addition to saving money, smart lighting controls have also been used by some advanced smart home systems to create specific moods by dimming or brightening the lights. In the morning, a gradual increase in the lighting can be a gentler wake-up call than an alarm—perhaps useful for encouraging the family to rise on time. Then when the children are in bed, you can use more subtle lighting for a well-deserved rest.
Keeping Your Family Secure
As well as remotely powering off anything you’ve left switched on, a WiFi power socket can also improve home security. Connect a WiFi socket to a lamp and you can have the lights come on whenever you please without using a predictable timer. For example, you can turn the lights in the house on when you’ve just parked in the garage or switch the corridor lights on when you hear your child crying for you in the night.
But smart home security systems can be a lot more advanced than that. A CCTV system with a hard drive and internet connection can send text alerts and stream video to a smartphone so you can monitor your home remotely—which is great for those times when you’re working late. The recently announced Netatmo Presence: (pictured above), an outdoor smart camera which features an integrated floodlight, even has the ability to discern animals from people and cars so you’re not flooded with false alerts.
Smart cameras are increasingly being used indoors as well as outside the home. Because they don’t require weatherproofing or any sort of permanent installation, such cameras are fairly inexpensive and easy to setup. In addition to monitoring a home for security purposes, they can also be used to keep an eye on pets and children, or as an alternative to a typical baby monitor. This can really give you peace of mind while your children are at home if you’re out.
Door locks can be made smart, too. The Yale Keyless Connected Smart Lock can be opened with a mobile app, key card, or PIN, with the ability to set temporary PIN codes for visitors. It also integrates with some smart home security systems so cameras can be triggered automatically when the door is activated. That’s something parents might find reassuring if kids are coming home from school before they’re back from work.
All this smart technology can really help you keep yourself and your family organized, so when better to start your smart home than now?