Carey Chesney7-minute read
UPDATED: May 23, 2023
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To say that technology has become a critical, even pervasive, presence in our lives would be a serious understatement. How we socialize, how we purchase things, how we work, and how we spend time with our loved ones have all been fundamentally changed as technology advances at an ever-increasing rate.
Our homes are not impervious to this phenomenon either. Smart home technology has allowed us to take advantage of conveniences previously unavailable. Even unimaginable.
Not only do smart home features make our lives easier, they can also increase our home’s value and freshen up an older style property like a colonial house. Here, we will look at the concept of smart home value by defining what it is, what features you should consider, how to make sure it is safe, and why it increases the value of your home.
Smart home upgrades can mean different things to different people. For the purposes of this article, we’ll define smart homes as residences with at least one connected device that’s intended to automate or make easier some portion of your life. This is a broad definition that encompasses a myriad of technologies – more on those later.
At their core, smart home devices are a form of home automation, meaning they make an everyday task easier by automating one or more steps in the process.
For example, let’s say you have a smart fridge that shows a video feed of the refrigerator’s contents on the outside of the door. This allows you to see what’s inside without opening the door of the fridge and perusing all the various options for dinner. It also allows you to make your grocery list without letting all the cold air out of the refrigerator as you stand with the door open taking inventory.
Technology removes a step in the process – opening the refrigerator door – by automatically showing you what you have inside at all times. It may even have sensors in specific areas of the fridge that can tell you how close you are to being out of a specific food item.
This connection between technology and physical objects is often called the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT describes items that are embedded with sensors and software that connect and exchange data with other devices over the internet.
For example, that sensor in your fridge might detect that you are almost out of milk and automatically add that to your shopping list or send you an email notification or text message. It can even automatically order more milk from the store for delivery. Pretty cool, right?
Smart Home upgrades can save energy and time, which means saving you money, though some upfront costs will be incurred.
Smart home technology comes in many shapes and sizes … and prices. Here are some common smart home devices that will improve your daily life and add value to your home when you are ready to sell.
A smart home assistant can come in the form of a physical device in your home or software you can use on your smartphone. It enables you to use voice commands to activate a number of different smart home devices like smart lighting, smart thermostats, smart security systems, smart appliances and more.
Connected to the internet and activated by voice commands, smart speakers can stream audio content, relay information, and communicate with other smart devices. They are also often wireless, enabling you to place them anywhere throughout your home.
Smart speakers represent the ultimate in smart home convenience. If your whole home is connected with smart devices, smart speakers allow you to control pretty much everything from everywhere.
Remember the Clapper? No? Well, it’s a sound-activated electrical switch created in 1984 that allows users to clap to turn the lights on and off. You could argue this was one of the first smart home features ever created. Since then, smart lighting for your home has gotten a bit more sophisticated and is considered one of the most-cost effective smart home upgrades.
Smart bulbs are essentially the new technology equivalent of the Clapper. They offer the convenience of controlling your lighting preferences with simple voice commands, instead of just clapping your hands together. This is especially useful when watching sports, as it avoids the inconvenience of a strobe light show in your living room when the home team scores.
In addition to using your voice to turn smart bulbs on and off, you dim them and change their color, among other things, just by asking for it out loud using a smart home assistant.
Smart plugs are similar to smart bulbs but work with electrical outlets instead of light fixtures. These affordable smart home devices will turn almost any wired appliance with an on/off switch into an automated smart device that can be controlled by using an app on your phone or by using your voice with a smart home assistant device.
Smart thermostats use your Wi-Fi network to connect to your phone or smart home assistant device to allow for you to control the temperature of your home with the tap of a button or the sound of your voice. This can be especially useful when you’re away from home and can't physically access the thermostat on the wall.
These devices can also be set to schedules that fit your lifestyle. For example, they can be programmed to turn the heat or air conditioning down while or aren't home to save energy costs. Some energy companies even offer integrations where your thermostat can be set to use less energy during peak usage times across the grid your home is on, further increasing the savings.
Preparing meals or snacks have been revolutionized by smart home technology as well. Pretty much every appliance you can think of, from the fridge to the toaster, has a smart home model for the ultimate in food preparation convenience. We covered the smart refrigerator earlier, so let’s dive into some other smart appliances for your kitchen.
Have you ever been running late from work and wishing there was someone home to preheat the oven for you? Well, smart ovens allow you to turn the oven on and off and adjust the temperature from anywhere with the push of a button.
No need to leave the dinner table to put on a pot of after-meal coffee. You can simply use a voice command to your smart home assistant speaker or use the app on your phone to start brewing immediately. Or program your smart cappuccino machine to have fresh coffee brewed and ready to drink the moment your morning alarm clock starts ringing.
Prefer a smoothie to a cup of coffee in the morning? Smart blenders have you covered. Preload the fruits and veggies the night before and start the blender from the comfort of your bed the moment you rise in the morning.
Yes, believe it or not, there are even smart toasters. Touch screens allow for quick selection of a variety of toasting methods and connection to your smartphone or smart speaker allows for toaster activation from anywhere.
The days of just hearing a gentle chime when someone pushes your doorbell have long since passed. Now, you can look at them through a tiny camera and even talk to them before letting them in. You don't even need to be home to do this, as smart doorbell apps on your phone allow you to control everything remotely.
Smoke detectors are a great way of alerting you if there is a fire in your home while you are there with an ear-piercing alarm when they detect smoke. Smart home smoke detectors take this a step further by alerting you on your phone no matter where you are. They can even alert the fire department automatically, speeding up the response time and maybe even saving your home from a devastating fire.
Home security has never been more advanced, with comprehensive integrated security systems available from a number of different companies. In addition to the aforementioned doorbell camera, security cameras can be placed throughout your home and property and be viewed simultaneously and in real time from your smartphone.
Sensors on doors and windows can tell you every time any of the possible entrances to your home are opened whether you are at home or away. Smart home security systems aren't just designed to alert you, as they can also alert the police the moment a break-in occurs.
So, there’s a robot listening to everything I say … is that safe? What if someone hacks my Wi-Fi network and takes control of my smart home devices? Questions like these might pop into your head when learning about smart home technology. Luckily there are some steps and safety precautions people can take to keep their smart homes secure.
One way of protecting your information is setting up a specific network just for your IoT devices. This involves getting a new router and using a Wi-Fi management tool to create a separate network. This will make it harder for your smart home technology to get hacked.
Using strong passwords is another way to secure your smart home device network. Instead of using words and numbers like your birthday that might be easy for people to guess, try using a random password generator tool to make it more secure.
Change your router’s default name and password as well instead of just keeping the one it came with. The more times you change a name and password, the less likely it is that someone will be able to retrieve it.
Software updates often come with enhanced security features, so make sure you keep your smart home devices up to date with the latest software. You are probably used to doing this with your phone, so now you just have to remember to do it with your toaster too.
Pretty cool stuff, huh? Smart home technology adds incredible levels of convenience and automation to our lives. You might start feeling like you’re actually living in the future. This isn’t The Jetsons though, it's the present and technology is allowing your home to bring more value to you and your family each and every day.
The value of your home to potential buyers will increase with smart home technology as well. Many home buyers are interested in buying a home equipped with smart devices for the same reasons you might love installing and living with them in your home.
Safety and convenience appeal to most Americans, so finding these qualities in the form of smart home technology when house hunting will surprise and delight many potential homebuyers. Selling your home is all about getting people excited about the possibility of living there. Smart home technology can achieve this, resulting in more interested buyers and higher offer prices.
Smart home technology is something you and your real estate agent can feature to get buyers interested in your home when it comes time to sell. So, if you can afford to dip your toes into the smart home waters, it’s probably worth the investment.
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