Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the techiest of them all? In a smart home, your very smart mirror provides perpetual natural light, offers a health check analysis, gives you the lowdown on the weather forecast and your day’s appointments, and pumps out your favorite music and streams YouTube on a mist-free surface. While functions like this fall into the “Wow, that’s cool… but do I really need it?” category, the reality is that moving to a smart home can solve many of the pains and frustrations of a traditional home. 

A smart home has the capability to make your life more convenient, streamlined, safe, comfortable, and enjoyable:

No More Wasting Energy — and Money

The average home uses 90 million BTUs of energy every single year: and if that’s not bad enough, much of it is completely wasted. While leaving lights on or not turning off our TVs may not seem like a big deal, these daily habits can be significant energy drainers (and you’ll see this reflected on your utility bills)! Add in inefficient heating and cooling systems, and we’re consuming, and wasting, more energy than we need to.

A smart home allows you to achieve precise control over heating and cooling systems. You can also automate your lights and shades to regulate temperature, turn off your lights automatically when you’re not in the room, automatically power down appliances, or set appliances like your washer/dryer and dishwasher to run during non-peak times, etc.

All of this adds up to increased energy efficiency, so you can stop throwing your money right out the window!

You Don’t Have to Worry While You’re Away from Home

Sure, you can install cameras and other security devices into a traditional home; a smart home, however, increases your peace of mind by integrating security functions right into your home network.

For example, motion detectors, cameras, remote door locks, and other capabilities can be accessed via your smartphone or tablet, and again, you can do so anywhere and anytime. Worried about your home while you’re on vacation? Check in via the cameras and receive real-time alerts. Need to let a guest in while you’re at work? Remotely unlock the door and see when they entered and when they left.

Let’s say that your child arrives home from school at 3:00. You don’t get home from work until 5:00. A traditional key can get lost or stolen. Instead, you simply give your child his own code. He lets himself in (and you can double-check he made it on time by accessing the data via your smartphone), and that’s that. If the babysitter is meeting him, she gets her own code, which you can set to work only from 3:00 – 6:00, for example. Again, this eliminates the risk of lost or stolen keys, and you can deactivate the code whenever you need.

With a smart home, you can also remove some common homeowner headaches. For example, it’s a scorcher, and you’re not looking forward to getting out of your air-conditioned car and entering Dante’s Inferno. Relax. Just set the AC to turn on before you get home and/or lower the temperature. You’ll save energy over running it all day.

Preheat the oven, start the laundry, turn the lights on or off… you can do all of this and more when you’re out of the house.

"According to the US Department of Energy (DoE), smart homes built after 2000 are, on average, about 30% larger than older homes. Despite this, they use only 2% more energy. Smaller smart homes, of course, use even less. And technology is only getting better - and smarter."

You – and Loved Ones with Special Health Needs – Can Rest Easier

If family members have health needs (e.g. an ailing elderly parent lives with you), you can’t help but worry. With a traditional house, you could set up a “nanny cam” or have a neighbor check in on your loved one. But there are long stretches when they are on their own, and this is not optimal for their health – or your peace of mind.

A smart home can include solutions to help you all rest easier:

  • Sensors can monitor when certain doors or parts of the home are accessed. They can also tell you when a loved one has accessed the medicine cabinet or refrigerator so you know they’ve taken their medication and have eaten.
  • Cameras send video and audio of real-time activity in your home. If your loved one needs you, you can also respond through a built-in microphone.
  • Smart lights can be programmed for their needs: for example, they can activate in the hallway at a dim level at night to make bathroom trips safer.
  • Voice activated assistants. People can control virtually every aspect of the home even if they have limited mobility.

Technology is also advancing and soon we expect more widespread use of solutions that monitor vital signs and help keep our loved ones as safe and healthy as possible.

You can also plan ahead: most of us want to age in place. With a smart home, you can integrate technology to meet your needs now – and in the future.

Homeowners’ Top Smart Home Concerns

According to a recent PGMag survey, the top worries regarding smart homes are:

  1. Privacy
  2. Cost
  3. Installing the Products
  4. Choosing Smart Products
  5. How and Whether They Will Interact with Other Devices

Given the push to create smart appliances and devices, there are a myriad of options from a variety of different manufacturers. It can be a challenge to ensure that they will integrate seamlessly with each other. This is an advantage of building new, however. Your home builder can help facilitate the selection and installation process, so you enjoy a system that works today – and tomorrow.

Privacy is far and away the biggest concern. From worries about devices recording, transmitting, and storing personal conversations and data to home hacking (i.e. hackers use a low-security device, like a smart light switch to gain access to your home – virtually and in person), it is important to be cautious when integrating and using smart home features.

There are some steps you can take to secure your smart home, including:

  • Naming your router
  • Choosing a strong password and using a dedicated secure network for your smart devices (guests can use a separate network)
  • Not using default usernames and passwords (this is what hackers want you to do!)
  • Choosing robust Wi-Fi encryption
  • Disabling features you don’t need
  • Employing two-step authentication
  • Keeping your software and apps up to date
  • Use of a VPN to access your smart devices remotely instead of a public Wi-Fi network

When you take these steps, privacy concerns are manageable, and you can enjoy the full functionality of your smart home.

Get all the details about G&G, our process and some exclusive behind the scenes on some of our recent projects. You’ll also find helpful tips on budgeting, design and how to build an energy-efficient home.