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Oh-so-easy: Automating your home with technology

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What if you could control nearly every aspect of your home with a few taps on your smartphone or tablet? From turning off the lights to cranking up the heat, it’s all possible with today’s technology — but the key is knowing how to use it.

From dishwashers to thermostats to security systems to ovens, there’s a growing number of appliances and gadgets designed to boost your home’s efficiency and comfort. You can attribute this techno-wave to the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a new term associated with the emerging technology that enables different systems and appliances to communicate seamlessly so they can be controlled through a handheld device.

In addition to satisfying your appetite for gadgets, turning your house into a smart home offers several great benefits.

A sense of security

What smart home devices do consumers want most?

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Self-adjusting thermostat: 72%

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Remote-locking doors: 71%

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Home entertainment master remote: 68%

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Home monitoring cameras: 65%

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Automatic adjustable outdoor lighting: 65%

Source: iControl Networks, “2015 State of the Smart Home Report”

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than finding out your house has been broken into. But with an app-enabled security system, you can quickly check what’s happening on the home front while you’re away.

  • Alarms – Be alerted to suspicious activity by pairing your home alarm with your smartphone, or use it to alert you when the kids come home.
  • Remote key – Your neighbor offered to water your plants while you were away, but you forgot to leave a house key. No problem. Using an app, you can unlock the door from the comfort of your lounge chair and receive a text or email when the neighbor leaves.
  • Live feeds – Real-time video allows you to use strategically placed, relatively inexpensive cameras to monitor your home, your children or professional help (babysitters, pet care providers, cleaning and repair crews, etc.) from afar.

Everything and the kitchen sink

Your kitchen is the heart of your home, so it’s only natural that some of the flashiest smart technology is happening there:

  • Command center – Built-in tablets let you control phones, videos and music from your kitchen.
  • Refrigerator – A connected fridge lets you check if your milk is nearing its expiration date or if your tomatoes are a day past ripe. It can even suggest what to cook based on the ingredients inside and give you a shopping list.
  • Oven – Control the temperature or humidity of your oven with your hand-held device. Using built-in sensors, some ovens can even tell the difference between a turkey and a pot roast to create ideal cooking conditions.
  • Dishwasher – Smart dishwashers can determine the optimal time to run a cycle, saving on water and energy costs.

A bundle of energy (efficiency)

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15%

Turning your thermostat back 10–15 degrees for 8 hours per day could save you anywhere between 5–15% per year on your heating bill.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

New homes are increasingly being built to be net zero — that is, producing more energy than they consume. Even if you can’t reach that lofty goal, smart tech can help you shrink your home’s carbon footprint:

  • Lighting – Smart bulbs and lighting systems let you control indoor and outdoor lighting from your mobile device. You can even program your lights to gently wake you in the morning, create the perfect mood for your next dinner party or give the appearance that someone is home when you’re away.
  • Heat and air conditioning – Heating and cooling account for 40% of all U.S. carbon emissions. New technology “learns” your habits and adjusts the thermostat to your preferences. Plus, monthly reports provide insights into your energy consumption. With a WiFi-enabled smart thermostat, you can adjust your home’s temperature from the sofa, the office or the other side of the globe!
  • Solar power – Solar panels are popping up on rooftops all over the country. The latest technology relies on the “passive solar” concept. Through careful window positioning and insulation, passive solar heats and cools homes naturally — reducing dependency on air conditioning and heating.

Water, water everywhere

Keep your money from going down the drain by using technology to address common water wasters:

  • Sprinklers – Do you have a “brown thumb?” Change your reputation with programmable sprinklers that take into account the condition of your soil and the current weather conditions (so you won’t waste water by running sprinklers in the rain).
  • Shower – The EPA estimates that showering accounts for 17% of indoor water use. Find out how much water you’re using with smart showerheads that track and report your usage over time.
  • Leaky faucets – Water detection systems, also known as “drip detectives,” can turn off leaky faucets.

Interested in automating your home? Start by picking one or two functions that will truly make your life easier. Whether it’s added convenience, higher savings, or greater peace of mind, chances are you’ll see the immediate benefits of making your home “smarter” through automated technology.

Learn more and take action

  • Home is more than a house. It’s where memories are made and value is built. Learn more >
 
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