You can hardly shop for anything these days without encountering some kind of "smart" option – and that includes homes. As consumers seek to automate functions, save energy, and control their homes remotely, smart home devices, tools, and gadgets have exploded onto the market.
Buying a new construction home puts buyers at a definite advantage when it comes to adding smart features to a home. Retrofitting older homes to accommodate new technology can be tedious, difficult, prohibitively expensive, and, in some cases, downright impossible. Those problems all but disappear with new construction. In some cases, smart features are offered as a builder option, like smart thermostats or keyless entries. However, most buyers add tech options to the home after they move in.
Growing families are terrific candidates for adding technology to homes. Families are busy, kids are curious, and parents are exhausted. Smart tech makes managing your home easier, safer, and, yes, smarter.
What Is A Smart Home?
Before we take a look at some of the gadgets and tools being used in homes these days, let's define what a smart home is. According to SmartHomeUSA, the term "smart home" is used to, “Define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet."
The benefits of smart home features include increased comfort, security, operating efficiency/energy savings, and convenience. What family wouldn't love that?
Smart Tech Tools For The Family Home
1. Voice Assistants
Alexa, Google Home, Siri...they can all be configured to control different aspects of the home. From dimming lights to playing music, adjusting the heat or turning on an appliance, these voice-activated tools are readily available, making it easier than ever for busy parents to manage their households.
2. Robot Vacuum Cleaners
Part cleaning tool, part child entertainment device, robot vacuums like Roombas make it easier to keep your floors free of crumbs and dirt that can find its way into little mouths. Robot vacuums have been around for a while now and the tech has improved. Some models can now detect and avoid obstacles, automatically empty their dustbins, and perform better on all types of flooring. Presets allow you to schedule cleaning at certain times, all from your smartphone.
3. Smart Thermostats.
Smart thermostats haven't been around that long, Nest was first introduced in 2011, but interest in them has skyrocketed as homeowners realized just how sensible these products are. David Humphries of the Consumer Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) and principal and president of Atlantic Integrated in Rockleigh, N.J. agrees:
"Something I would certainly want in a new home would be some sort of control of the HVAC system. A lot of people now are gravitating to Nest, but you may want a more sophisticated system that you can operate from an Android or iOS device to control the heating and air conditioning, especially in multi-zone systems."
Originally intended to allow homeowners to control their home's temperature from their phone, new models are able to integrate with other products to control the temperature in individual rooms or different "zones" of the house. Heating and cooling a home has never been easier!
4. Smart Faucets.
What parent hasn't struggled with A) getting kids to wash their hands regularly and/or B) getting kids to remember to turn off the faucet when they're done? Smart faucets can help you get around both challenges. Most are engineered to conserve water in addition to featuring automatic, hands-free on/off functions. If your kids love the auto faucets at restaurants and other public places, thrill them by installing some in your own home.
5. Wireless Speakers.
Wireless speakers have become so common that we tend to forget they're a smart tech feature. Controlled with a smartphone app, wireless speakers can be set up in any room of the house, out of reach of little hands. When coupled with a voice assistant, you or the kids can have music playing whenever and wherever you want.
6. Motorized Window Coverings.
Does your morning routine include going around to each window, opening the blinds or curtains? And then closing them all up when the sun dips down? Worried about having all those window blind cords around your kids? Look into motorization window coverings. Like many of the other tech tools on this list, motorized blinds and shades can be controlled from your smartphone. You can operate the motors at will or create schedules so the window treatments open and close at the same time every day and there are no cords to worry about.Start Small When Going Smart
We could go on and on about all of the tech options that are available to homeowners these days. Shower meters, wireless bulbs, solar exterior lights, wireless door and window sensors or keyless entries, smart air filters … it seems like if there is an interest or need, there's a smart product out there.
What I love about all of these products is their ready availability. These are not things that you need to get your name on a waiting list for. This tech is here now. You can just head on out to Target or Home Depot or hop on Amazon and order what you need. What parent doesn't love that?
Rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed with all the choices available, start small. Think about what products would have the biggest impact on your family and incorporate them into your home over time. There's no need to smarten up your home all at once. As we've already witnessed with Roombas, Nest thermostats, and voice assistants, technology changes and improves over time, so if you're not sure that the current tech is right for you, just wait a bit and there's certain to be a new model or different product that will better meet your needs.