Sure, so you've emailed, watched videos, surfed the web, and posted status updates from your phone. Maybe you've even gone as far as requested a ride, searched for a dating partner or spouse, or even transferred money to your savings account while on the go.
It's no surprise to anyone the phones in our pocket can control our TVs, lights, and stereo systems just as easily as they can call you a pizza. Old news.
But while primitive forms of home automation have been around longer than smart phones (remember The Clapper?), the current set of technologies available to homeowners extends beyond using our cellular devices as in-house remote controls.
So why should you install a full, robust home automation system? Is it all worth it?
Here are five reasons all homeowners should strongly consider outfitting their homes with the latest automation technology.
For many, home security is reason number one to consider home automation. Buying a home is a huge investment, and having the peace of mind that your family (and property) is safe and secure justifies the investment.
New systems can offer more than your standard security camera setup, and provides a deeper level of awareness of your property. Aside from video cameras, door monitors and glass-breaking sensors help cover all access points into your home. With information accessible through a tablet or smartphone app, you can tune into your home's "eyes and ears" when you are traveling on business, away on vacation, or just down the street. In many cases, you don't even need to have the app open to know all is well on the home front; breaching an alarm usually results in an automatic text being sent directly to you, and a corresponding call to monitoring professionals and local law enforcement.
Break-ins are not the only security-related issues homeowners worry about, especially during extended time away. Home automation can keep you updated during heavy rain or snow (no one wants to come home to a flooded basement), or in the terrible event of a house or property fire. Every second counts, and you need to be in the know.
But home automation also has you covered even when the unthinkable doesn't happen. How many times have you wondered if lights are left on? Or did you leave in such a rush and the front door is unlocked? How about if a friend or visitor will arrive at your home when you aren't there? No need to hide a key under a mat, or leave your visitor with detailed instructions on how to open the second window from the left on the west-facing side of your house. Reach for your phone, and unlock the front door from thousands of miles away.
Other door-locking features allow you to provide unique keyless access codes to members of your family, or employees of your business. With this in place, it is easy to monitor who is entering and leaving your home, and when.
2. Automation Improves Property Value
A close second to security is comfort, which is an obvious reason to invest in "smartening" your home. But while your day-to-day routines are improved and your worries lessened, home automation also raises the value of your property.
Sure, there are gimmicky products out there, but there are also some serious game-changers available to even modest homeowners. Many sophisticated systems are available to help keep your home green, and your carbon footprint low.
“The last home I sold, the purchaser came out and told me that his decision to purchase the property was based largely on the technology that was incorporated into the home,” Zachary Vichinsky, a real estate sales agent in the Hamptons said in this New York Times article. “As a second home, it was very appealing to the purchasers to be able to be coming down the highway and turn the air-conditioning and lights on in their home, or raise the temperature of the pool.”
The technology you've installed in your smart home can work in your favor when the time comes to sell. “It distinguishes a seller’s home from the competition" Vichinsky would go on to say.
3. You Can Start Small
A common misconception is home automation will involve a full renovation, tearing down walls and installing sensors, gadgets, and control panels. The truth is, you can transform your home into a smart home without putting your hands on a drill.
Many who are new to home automation and are looking for a cost-effective solution find Leviton Security & Automation as an excellent first choice. Levitron has dozens of excellent products to meet your security, energy consumption, and entertainment needs. The best part of Levitron's automation features is you can to expand when the time is right.
For lighting needs, the Lutron Radio Ra2 lighting control system is a total home wireless control system which solves a variety of needs. With an emphasis on energy-savings, you'll learn to love the convenience of centralized lighting, and a the joys of a lower energy bill. Other popular products for entry-level home automators are the Lockitron locks, Petnet pet feeders, Withings home and air monitoring systems, and Quirky air conditioners.
Starting small lets you tackle what's important for you now, and allows you to continue to improve your home in phases, whenever convinent.
4. IoT Is A Real Thing
IoT? What the heck? It's the Internet of Things (IoT), "the network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to collect and exchange data" as Wikipedia would describe it. Every object in our home, our refrigerator, coffee maker, washing machine, etc. will soon have sensors to tell us when things are running low or needing repair. However, more remarkably, these devices will be able to talk direclty to each other, and allow for a more integrated living environment. The IoT is a transformative shift in how we will gather data from household objects, and will redefine business and protocol in every industry imaginable.
As it concerns homeowners, the possibilities seem obvious. Your coffee maker can already be programmed to brew at 7AM. But soon, when you get out of bed and turn the light on in your bedroom, your light system will tell the coffee maker to start brewing, the heat panels in your tiled kitchen floor to warm up, and the radio on your counter to turn on. When you come home from work, the intelligence of the IoT will know the same light switch now does not need to tell your coffee maker to brew again, but instead queue up some evening music, or heat the jacuzzi if you usually take an dip to unwind after a long day.
Daniel Burrus, one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts, provides excellent insight on the IoT in a recent two-part Wired article (found here, and here). What's important to realize, is the IoT is going to be change everything; it's the next technological revolution. Outfitting your home (sooner than later) and familiarizing yourself with the latest home automation technologies will help take advantage of all the conveniences we're about to grow used to.
5. Big Corporations Are Investing
Apple, Google, and Microsoft don't *technically* run the world, but their strategic moves are important to keep an eye on. Although the three tech goliaths have their hand in many pies, each are deeply invested in the possibilities of home technologies.
At this point, nearly everyone is at least remotely (hardy har har) aware that Google bought Nest last year. The deal was Google's second largest acquisition, a fact which is significant to mention, considering other acquisitions include DoubleClick, YouTube, and Waze. Apple dedicates an entire section of it's website to the elegant home automation products it's partnered with. Microsoft has taken a bold approach by investing in ten startup companies strictly focused on home automation development.
There are many industries and markets to keep your eye on, but when (not only one, but all three of) these mega-tech corporations are spending valuable resources on home automation, it's something you should consider as well.
Interested in discussing a home automation solution that is right for you? Contact us for a free consultation!