The limit of smart energy efficient homes is only the extent of your imagination. A smart home can essentially incorporate any element of technology. Anything that’s electric can be made smarter by experienced smart home builders. What’s really meant by a smart home, and what makes it all work in a streamlined way?
What Is a Smart Home?
Let’s tackle the first part of that question. A smart home can utilize a smart thermostat, locks, lighting, and screens and music. These are worth breaking down:
Smart Thermostat – A smart thermostat goes several steps beyond programmable. It can be adjusted remotely via tablet or phone. It can adapt its cooling and heating according to which rooms are being used. It can learn your habits and adjust its schedule to them. It can also provide you with analysis that helps you save on energy costs.
Smart Locks – These are locks that can use codes, fingerprints, Bluetooth proximity, or other customized factors in order to unlock. This allows you to open the door with your hands full or give different codes to different people. You can make sure codes only work during certain times of the day – useful for house cleaners and contractors. If a relative needs to get in and you’re at work, you can remotely unlock and relock the door for them on your phone. You can check when each different code was used in case something goes missing.
Smart Lighting – This is programmable lighting that goes way beyond dimming. Its color temperature changes across the day. This is the quality of light our bodies respond to most. If you have trouble sleeping, program it to reflect the daylight outside. Your body will respond much more readily to sleep.
Smart Screens/Music – If you get up and leave the room, the program you’re watching can switch screens automatically. You don’t even have to touch a button. You can request music anywhere in the house by voice and it will play, also keeping up with you room to room if you like.
These are just a few examples, but they give you an idea of how many different elements smart energy efficient homes make easier and more enjoyable. From leisure to security, they’re more efficient. A smart home removes many stresses from your life.
Automation Builds on Familiar Tools
Automation is a relatively simple concept. It becomes harder to see how everything works when so much of this automation is new. Chances are you’ve used a coffee pot with a morning timer. Or perhaps you’ve used an automatic sprinkler or automatic lights to make it look like you’re home when you’re on vacation.
Smart home automation just adds layers of extra function to this. Instead of an automatic sprinkler that will go on and off at certain times, now you can voice command it as well and remotely control it via phone. You can adjust the length of time or volume of water used or only use certain sprinklers instead of others with a swipe of your finger or a spoken word. Smart home automation simply adds two things to the automation you already know and understand:
- Additional precise layers of control.
- Easy, streamlined ways of accessing that control.
The Science Behind the Magic
Smart home builders use applications that function along something called Z-Wave. If you think of a home security system, it has various sensors. These sensors are connected to the security system, to smoke detectors, to locks, perhaps even to window sensors and cameras. You’re already familiar with how these work.
Now, a home security system like this is mostly or entirely hard-wired. There are elements of smart home technology, such as an advanced security system, that will be thoroughly hard-wired. There are other elements that may not be. Smart home builders also leave room for expansion and new technology, which means some elements will be hard-wired (often for redundancy), and many elements will be installed with a more networked approach.
Flexibility is key. Just about every smart home tech out there has both hard-wired and network option, so you can pick and choose as you like. The advantage of remotely networked technology is that it’s often easier to plug-and-play newer, additional, or expanded options down the road.
Making Access Easy to Control
Smart energy efficient homes put a ton of control options at your fingertips. That seems like it could be overwhelming. That’s where step two comes in. In the past, if you had a dozen different smart elements in your home, you might need a dozen different apps to control it. That’s ridiculous, especially with today’s technology.
App platforms exist now to roll all your controls into a single app. The UI, or user interface, makes everything very easy and simple to control. You have specific categories all in one app and can dive into each in order to call up specific options. This simple approach is designed to be controlled by phone, which means ease of use is the primary goal.
Technology Should Give You Your Time Back
This goes hand-in-hand with the goal of smart home technology. The goal is to take many of the overwhelming, stressful, uncontrollable aspects of home ownership and life and make them easier and faster to deal with. After work, for example, it’s frustrating to come home and struggle to manage some element of your home that should be easy. It takes time that you want to spend relaxing, with your family, enjoying a hobby, watching a movie, whatever it might be.
Technology makes things more efficient, but too often that equates to more burden rather than less. Technology should exist to lessen that burden. Technology should exist to return more of your time to you. It should exist to save you money in efficient ways, to conserve energy in effective ways.
At the end of the day, smart home technology exists to give you a real end of the day, not some rush to the next morning where you don’t know where all your time went. Technology should allow us to slow things down and live calmly, not rush us and make us feel more stressed. Making things easier and giving you your time back is the ultimate goal of the smart home. Remember this when planning your technology with smart home builders.