The term “smart” home refers to a living space that contains remotely controlled or preprogrammed “smart” devices. These devices can help a space function more efficiently and give occupants more direct control over their environment. Many “smart” devices have been introduced in recent years, and this trend will undoubtedly continue. A simple example is a coffee maker equipped with a timer. You simply fill the machine with water and coffee grounds the night before and set the timer, and your coffee is waiting for you when you get up.
Smart technology for home automation systems has come a long way. The idea is to link all of the devices in the home together as much as possible and provide centralized computerized control of the interior and exterior environments and the home security system. You can access and control many of these systems via the Internet even when you’re not at home. The system can monitor individual rooms and turn off lights when a room is empty, or indicate when a malfunction has occurred or routine maintenance is required on a system. Smart devices can help lower energy costs and can increase the energy and the efficiency of your home.
New generation thermostats now keep track of multiple settings. You can cut back cooling or heating during the week while you’re at work and school, but maintain comfortable temperatures in the evening and on the weekend without having to constantly adjust the thermostat. Next generation thermostats include touchscreen technology to monitor room by room temperatures to channel your HVAC unit’s efforts efficiently into specific areas. This further impacts your energy bill by eliminating the wasted heating and cooling efforts of frequently unoccupied spaces in your home.
Small motorized devices incorporated into your window treatments can be programmed to open or close blinds and drapes, depending on the season or time of day. Windows can be opened or closed automatically for air circulation. Ventilation fans can be programmed to draw hot air out of the attic or turned off to conserve heat, depending on the season.
Small refrigerators equipped with built-in Internet terminals are already on the market. These refrigerators can suggest recipes based on an inventory of currently stored food, keep track of expiration dates, create shopping lists as items are used, and maintain a calendar of appointments and important dates (to replace that calendar we all keep on the fridge).
In the bath, smart shower heads can store water temperature and pressure settings for each individual. Toilets can be equipped with self-clean settings.
We’ve all wrestled with handheld remote control units for audio and video entertainment components. Smart technology lets you combine all of the remotes into one touch-screen controller that controls channel selection, recording, programming, and even room lighting and temperature. Home television sets can provide PC-like Internet capability, convenient home shopping, and interactive capability. As smart technology continues to improve, more and more household tasks can be automated, giving us more free time and making life a bit easier. Consider ways to make your home a “smart” home.