Smart range shown in kitchen remodel

Everything from lighting, heating and cooling and appliances are becoming “smart.”

You keep hearing the term everywhere: smart home. But what exactly is a smart home? Creating a smart home, also known as home automation, is a term that describes using internet-connected devices to monitor and manage your home.  This includes things like security, lighting, heating and cooling, and appliances. The trend has been gaining in popularity for some time now, especially since home hubs or voice assistants, like Google Home or the Amazon Echo (Alexa), came onto the market. To some, it may feel like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but we’re seeing this trend taking over as most people are always looking for ways to live more comfortably and efficiently.  There are many ways these products can be incorporated into your home and lifestyle.

Making your home “smart” offers a more convenient, and potentially safer, way to live.  Home security systems are getting smarter. Brands like Ring and Nest make video doorbells so that you can see who is at your door, whether you’re home or not.  When the cameras are connected to wi-fi, you’re able to check the feed from your smart phone wherever you are. You can also set up to get alerts on your phone when someone comes to your door when you’re not home, helping give you peace of mind while you’re away.  These companies also offer indoor and outdoor cameras for added security. This is another way to monitor your home and make sure it stays safe while you’re away.

Nest, along with ecobee, also offers smart thermostats to help control the temperature and comfort of your home. Smart thermostats can learn your habits over time and automatically adjust your home’s temperature based on your schedule. They also connect to wi-fi in your home and integrate with your voice assistant so that you don’t even have to lift a finger to adjust your home’s temperature.  These devices can help your home run more efficiently by going to an energy-saving mode when you’re out of town or allowing you to adjust your home’s temperature from an app on your phone no matter where you are.

Smart lighting is a feature that’s really been gaining in popularity recently. Companies like GE and Philips offer light bulbs and dimmer switches that can be controlled from your phone or voice assistant.  Now, you can adjust the ambiance of your room or whole home with minimal effort. The smart bulbs come in different hues and the dimmers allow you to adjust the brightness with just your voice or the tap of a finger. Again, these devices just have to be connected to your home’s wi-fi to communicate. Another benefit of having smart lighting is that you never have to worry if you remembered to turn the lights off after you leave the house. Just open the app and double-check. Speaking of worrying about your home after you leave, you can also get smart garage doors, so you’ll never have to wonder if you closed the door again.

Smart appliances have been around for a little while, but they continue to evolve and improve.  LG and Samsung lead the way when it comes to smart appliances, but other brands, such as Bosch, Frigidaire, GE, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool also now offer smart products. Now, you can start your laundry from your smart phone or pre-heat your oven from work so it’s ready when you get home. You can even set your smart refrigerator to keep inventory of what you have and what you’re getting low on.  Or set up your Amazon Dash button with your smart dishwasher to automatically order dishwashing detergent when you’re getting low.

There are so many smart home innovations that make living easier, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  These innovations are becoming more streamlined and the designs are sleek so that they can easily be integrated into any home design. If you’re nervous or skeptical about going all “smart,” start by incorporating one feature that is most important to you: lighting, security, energy efficiency, smart appliances, etc. If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you’re already one step ahead. Smart home technology is still relatively new, so just be sure to do your research on products before you buy. Look for products that are simple to set up and use, because the whole point of adding these smart products to your life is to make living easier.

Photo: courtesy Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodel