Innovative Smart Home Technology that will Make Your Life Easier
How Smart Is Your Home?
Envision arriving home from work and rather than rummaging for your keys; you unlock your front door with your smartphone. Upon opening the door, your lights come on by design and your favorite musical artist begins to perform over your speakers.
Once inside, your voice-activated virtual assistant serves as a universal remote —running your TV, lights, HVAC, blinds, home-security system and more.
The next morning, it’s another workday, and as you touch a button, your shower begins to heat up by the time your feet hit the floor. Once you’ve showered and made your way to the kitchen, your coffee is brewing, and a morning traffic report plays through your speakers advising you to head out a tad early due to heavy traffic. If UPS tries to deliver a package while you’re at work, you can program your smart doorbell to tell them where you want it left.
Plus, there’s no fretting whether you left the stove on, or the front door unlocked; you can double-check remotely from your workplace, again via your smartphone.
No, you’re not in George Jetson’s home of the future. Rather, you’re in a smart home of the present day.
Smart technology for the home has everyone talking. Homeowners now have more control than ever before over the systems and features in their home. And these technologies can be built into nearly every aspect of the home.
Interested in learning more about smart home technology? To help, we’ve found some great tips, techniques, and advice that should enable you to set up a smart home or start the research into the best smart home devices for your specific needs. We’ll zero in on your HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.
Really Cool Innovations in HVAC
Maybe you’re considering adding some home automation, but not quite ready to dive headfirst into a fully automated home. A good place to start might be your heating and cooling systems.
Everyone is talking about smart homes these days, and HVAC is a significant part of it. From remote access to your air conditioning settings to data about energy usage in real time, these smart upgrades could help promote your home comfort and possibly save energy.
Start with a smart thermostat
Smart home thermostats assure the ideal temperature within every room of your home. The heating and cooling system “senses” when it needs to turn on to start heating or cooling the room so that it reaches the right temperature at the right time.
If you need to change the temperature at any time in any room, you can adjust it easily from your smartphone or tablet. Your smart home knows exactly what the heating and cooling requirements are; it knows if you are away for an extended period or how many people are in your home at any given time.
But a smart thermostat is only the beginning of a truly smart HVAC system that includes automated controls and advanced equipment that upgrade performance and efficiency and give homeowners more control over comfort. The system adjusts intuitively or remotely to match your preference and needs. And you can control the system with your smartphone.
Components that make your HVAC system smarter include an optimized compressor and air handler, sensor-driven ventilation and air supply as well as the smart thermostat.
Moreover, a lot of smart thermostat brands have evolved to offer other home automation features for your home. Many now have options to include locks, security alarms, surveillance cameras, and smoke detectors.
Increase the value of your home
Improvements made to your home boost its price if and when it’s time to sell. As energy efficiency is a big concern these days, a smart heating and cooling system will greatly increase the appeal of your home and the price you can command for it.
The licensed technicians at J&A South Park are available to upgrade your electrical services and reconfigure wiring to support any home automation upgrades you might be considering.
A Revolution in Plumbing Technology
We described this briefly above — You wake up in the morning and stagger around the shower, waiting for it to warm up. It sure would be great to be able to snuggle in bed for a few extra minutes instead. With a smart shower controller, you can use a device to turn on your shower and set the desired temperature. You climb out of bed, undress and hop in without having to waste your time waiting.
If you’re skeptical about the smart home – or the plumber’s role in it – you shouldn’t be. Many of the products that plumbers deal with every day like washing machines, dishwaters, water heaters, toilets, and showers are all part of the shift toward a smart home.
About waiting for that shower to heat up. You’ve heard of “on demand” when it comes to your favorite TV shows. Now you can have it for your hot water! Some companies are offering “on command” pumps for the water lines in homes. These pumps circulate unused cold water back to the water heater.
What’s the point? Well, the average home wastes about 12,000 gallons of water waiting for it to warm up.
Burst pipes, leaky toilets, broken water lines, and other water-related issues cost American homeowners more than $2000 for each repair, according to Home Advisor. To address this concern, there are leak detectors that sense when a leak has occurred within your plumbing system. It detects the flow or presence of water and alerts you as soon as it happens. These detectors can also be programmed into your central home automation hub to notify you about a flood while you’re away.
The dollars paid for one of these detector systems is worth considering given the amount of damage it can prevent inside your home.
Many of the newest technologies in the bathroom and kitchen are designed around adding personal comfort. For example, more and more products are being introduced that allow users to stream live music to their showers through wireless technology. One system even allows users to control lighting and water pressure through a digital interface.
Not only is the bathroom music emerging in the plumbing category, but LED lights are also being integrated into plumbing products. Examples include lights in toilet bowls which illuminate the commode for nighttime use. Also new on the scene are LED light rings in bathroom sinks that glow red or blue to indicate water temperature.
One eco-friendly product that continues to gain popularity in the plumbing category is the tankless water heater. A storage water heater is an insulated tank holding 20 to 80 gallons of water. Tankless water heaters provide constant hot water and energy savings. A Consumer Reports’ article found that tankless water heaters use about 22 percent less energy than their storage-type counterparts.
Another example of appliances that integrate both technology and eco-friendly functions can be found in dishwashers. Manufacturers are continuing to develop products that meet higher energy-efficiency standards and save water, with some using water from the rinse cycle for the next wash. An average family who washes dishes four times a week could save 700 gallons of water through the use of a smart dishwasher.
Plumbing Innovations lead to a healthier home
Keeping a healthy home can be done in a variety of ways and several plumbing products aid in a more hygienic living space.
Touch-free faucets are becoming an option as they allow users to have hands-free experience while avoiding the spread of germs and contaminants.
In the bathroom, a touchless toilet allows the user to wave their hand above the toilet to flush it. After they’re finished, the toilet lid will automatically close sans the slam.
Truly Smart Electrical Devices
Most homes already have a precise amount of electrical “smartness” because many appliances already contain built-in sensors or electronic controllers.
As a prime example, nearly all modern washing machines have programmers that make them follow a distinct series of washes, rinses, and spins depending on how you set their different dials and knobs.
Or maybe you’re really hi-tech, and you have a robotic vacuum cleaner that regularly snakes around your floors sweeping the dust?
These things are examples of home automation, but they’re not really what we mean by a smart home. That notion takes things a step further by launching centralized control. In the most advanced form of a smart home, there’s a computer that does what you ordinarily do yourself: it continually monitors the state of the home and switches devices on and off accordingly.
For example, it checks light levels coming through the windows and automatically raises and lowers blinds or turns the lights on at dusk. Or it senses movements across the floor and reacts accordingly: if it detects you’re home, it switches light and music on in different rooms as you walk between them; if it knows you’re out, it sounds an intruder alarm.
Smart plugs and switches
If you’re thinking about having your electrical box and wiring updated, ask about incorporating smart plugs and switches. These constantly improving, tech-savvy mechanisms allow you to remotely turn off electronic devices and other appliances at any time, from any place, with a simple touch of a button.
What about home security?
While there are smart locks on the market, home security really begins as people approach your door or entryway. That’s why smart doorbells feature cameras that record activity and audio. Such features permit homeowners to check on deliveries or get a picture of what happens around their home when no one is there.
The newest generation of smart home applications goes one step further. When it gets dark outside, the smart home system switches lamps on and off, raises and lowers the shutters, plays sounds from loudspeakers (e.g., dogs barking), etc.
More and more older people wish to stay independent as long as possible. Home automation technology provides seniors and their family members with necessary support. Motion sensors, door and window contacts allow family members, friends, and nursing services to timely detect emergencies, e.g., in case the person has fallen.
What about the future of smart homes?
These smart home solutions just described help with overall energy efficiency, cut costs and improve a home’s comfort level, among numerous other paybacks. Many of these technologies are still on the drawing board, but there are some that you might be able to take advantage of sooner rather than later.
- A company in California is engineering an A/C system that is powered by ice. It freezes water in a tank overnight which is then used to cool the building the next day. While not perfected, the system has been able to successfully cool a commercial building for six hours.
- An Australian-based company has successfully created a low-cost A/C unit that runs on solar energy, supplemented by natural gas. Although not widely used, it’s unmatched efficiency and the fact that it eliminates the need for electricity should make it exceedingly popular.
- A group of MIT engineers have fashioned a new A/C concept that employs sensors hung from the ceiling to identify movement, then activates the system.
- An ingenious product unveiled several years ago includes sensor-driven vents that replace a home’s existing ceiling, wall or floor vents. Controlled by a smartphone app, it employs these sensors to monitor a home’s temperature, air pressure and other indoor quality factors while offering clear-cut, room-by-room temperature control.
And the list goes on…