Your home is your castle, and while you may not be able to find a remote-control drawbridge for your moat, there are a host of other automated devices on the market today to make your life easier.
Here is a look at four hot trends in home automation that might be of benefit to you.
Smart home security
High-tech security used to be the purview of luxury homes and commercial enterprises. Now it’s possible for every homeowner and renter to have high-end security devices at a reasonable price point.
Smart locks are a simple way to add security to your front door. They allow you to open your door remotely, see images of visitors on your mobile device and lock your door from a distance.
For even tighter security, an alarm system is the way to go. New home alarms from NorthStar Alarm Company and others can be controlled via your cell phone from anywhere on the globe, as can lights, locks and surveillance cameras.
While you can install any of these devices yourself as individual components, it may make more sense to integrate them via one system set up by a professional alarm services company. If you’re considering bringing in the pros, here are some things to look for:
- 24/7 service
- warrantied products and labor
- history of superb customer service
- use of the latest technology
- availability of major brands
Smart smoke detectors
Smart smoke detectors allow you to program them remotely via mobile device. They not only detect smoke and fire, but deadly excess carbon monoxide, too.
If the alarm is activated, you can receive an alert by text or email on your mobile (great if you have pets at home alone, for example), and there are also in-home voice alerts and flashing colored lights (ideal for the hearing impaired).
A smart smoke detector can also be connected to your smart thermostat (see below) to shut off your furnace in the event of high carbon monoxide levels.
It makes sense that with so many other areas of the home being automated, heating and air conditioning would follow suit. Programmable thermostats are known to reduce energy use and costs, and smart thermostats take that one step further.
Now you can control your thermostat from far away via your cell phone or tablet, which is a nice solution to an unpredictable schedule that makes traditional set-back thermostats impractical.
Some smart thermostats use motion sensors to detect when no one is around, so your heat will be automatically lowered. Others use geofencing—a type of monitoring that knows when you’re within a certain distance of your home and activates your HVAC system.
Smart window air conditioners use geofencing, too. With a low price point, quiet operation and modern design, they are the perfect solution for small living spaces with no central AC. Like other smart appliances, they can be programmed via your mobile device, and some models even have a budget-tracking feature.
Smart cooking devices
Don’t worry about your kitchen being left out of the smart appliance revolution. There are now ranges with screens for displaying cooking tutorials and recipes, and they’ll send you a text message when your food is ready.
On your way home from work and thinking about baking a batch of cookies? Just turn on your oven with your cell phone so it will be ready when you walk in the door. If roasts are your thing, try a meat thermometer that will message you about the progress of your dinner and shut off the oven when it reaches the perfect temperature.
In the future, home gadgets are certain to become increasingly more automated, and most will likely be linked via Wi-Fi and mobile devices. Another control option is a central home automation panel or tablet-sized remote for multiple functions. With so many automated services, you’ll be safer and have more free time to spend with family and friends.
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