Smart home technology is in its prime. The ability to control almost any device in your home (including lights, TVs, fridges, washing machines, speakers, air-conditioners and more) using either a centralised phone app or your voice is no longer science fiction – it’s a reality!
Set up doesn’t have to be daunting, either. Optus’s O-Team is one example of a professional smart home installation service you can call if you’re not confident setting up the devices yourself.
All you need to turn a plain old house into a smart home is invest in 5 basic smart home devices.
But before we get to those devices, let’s cover some smart home basics.
What can a smart home do?
There are so many reasons to embrace smart home technology, but here are three of the most important things a smart home can do:
1. Save power: The Australian Energy Regulator has estimated that domestic power bills could skyrocket anywhere from 19.5% to 23.7% by 2024. Automating power-hungry appliances such as heaters and air-condtioners will prevent make ‘Oops, I left the air-con running all day while I was at work’ a thing of the past. Home automation can also help you take advantage of off-peak power times. You can schedule your dishwasher to run at 4am, for example, or program cordless appliances to charge overnight only.
2. Prevent waste: Grocery bills are also on the rise. Make the most of every grocery shop by embracing technology that can a) help food last longer and b) help you remember which items you already have so you don’t buy more than you need to.
3. Relieve the ‘mental load’: Running a household and remembering which tasks need to be done when takes a lot of mental energy. Automating some of those responsibilities will free your mind for other, more important tasks.
Smart home automation ideas
Home automation ideas to relieve the mental load include:
- Setting a robotic vacuum to clean the floors twice a week
- Using voice command to set reminders for appointments and events that you can receive on the day via Smart phone or smart speaker by saying ‘Hey Google, good morning’
- Getting a smart fridge to alert you when expiration dates are approaching
- Scheduling lights to dim at 7pm every night to support a better night’s sleep
- Programming your heater to turn on every time you say ‘Hey Google, it’s cold.’
5 devices every smart home needs
1. Smart adaptors
Some appliances are smarter than others. Turn ‘dumb’ appliances into smart appliances with adaptors. You can opt for single adaptors for stand-alone appliances (such as a fan, or a lamp) or a smart power-board to power multiple items in the same vicinity (e.g. TV, smart speaker, wifi-modem and game console).
2. Smart light bulbs
There’s no need to hire an electrician to install dimmable light bulbs. Smart bulbs are energy-saving and easy to install. You can also customise the colour and warmth of the lighting from your smart phone.
3. Smart doorbell
If you’re not quite sure about whether you need to invest in an entire smart home security system, start small with a doorbell. A smart doorbell is useful for: answering unexpected knocks, receiving parcels when you’re not at home, and being alerted to visitors at the door when you’re gardening in the backyard.
Some smart door locks can even generate virtual ‘keys’, which is great for multi-generational families, baby-sitters or cleaners.
4. Smart speakers
Smart speakers are handy devices that allow you to access information without having to touch a button or look at a screen. They can tell you the weather, read the news, answer Google enquiries, set timers, reminders and play music, of course! But they can also help you control all of the other devices in your home.
Having a network of multiple speakers around the home can also help you communicate with everybody in the house – without yelling. Tell everyone it’s time to eat, no matter where they are in the house, by saying, ‘Hey Google, announce that dinner is ready’.
5. Smart hub
Smart hubs like the Google Nest Hub and Amazon’s Echo Show aren’t exactly essential (you can usually set up all smart devices to be controlled via a smart phone app) but they are handy if you want to be able to see and control all devices in one handy spot.
A smart hub will also help keep your kitchen clutter free, replacing everything from the impromptu fridge notice board to the family calendar, and more.