The best smart home innovations—and why you want them

Reader's Digest Editors

The phrase “smart home” is one we are hearing with increasing regularity as the Internet of Things makes our lives and homes ever more interconnected

But just what is it, and why should we want one? Here, we will take a look at the benefits smart home innovations bring, along with examples of some of the best gadgets. 

 

What do we mean by a smart home?

Essentially, a smart home is one fitted with gadgets that automate some of the tasks that would ordinarily be carried out by people. Some might be hard-wired into the house itself, and this will be an increasing trend with new build properties, but there are many that can be easily added later. Smart gadgets can be operated either by artificial intelligence that “knows” when to switch things on or off, or by voice command. Some can also be remotely managed and monitored via your smartphone.

Turning your home into a smart home, or at least adding aspects of smart technology, can deliver a number of benefits, and they go beyond that great feeling that you are in command of the Starship Enterprise. 

 

Saving energy and reducing bills

One of the biggest benefits that smart tech can bring is to reduce your household costs. Smart thermostats optimise the heating and cooling of your home by making subtle adjustments, depending on the ambient conditions. But it is not just here that you can save money and resources. 

Garden sprinklers can be hugely wasteful, and whenever there is a water shortage, they are the first things to be banned. A smart home irrigation system uses the same type of solenoid valve used in the automatic control of your home heating system. The system can either be pre-programmed or will use a combination of inputs such as temperature sensors and even weather reports for your area to decide when to water the garden.

 

Improved security

As our home security gets more effective and sophisticated, so do the burglars. There is a constant battle to stay one step ahead, and smart tech brings some tools that can make our homes far safer. 

Technology that closes the blinds and turns on some lights around the house during the evening gives the impression that someone is home while you are away, but perhaps the best innovation is the smart doorbell. This allows you to answer the door remotely and see who is there, all from your smartphone. If you are home alone it means you can speak to anyone at the door without having to open it, and if you are away, you can say “no thank you,” politely but firmly, and they will have no idea the house is unoccupied. 

 

Reducing the mundane tasks

There are a growing number of robotic vacuum cleaners on the market, but these are just the beginning. Imagine a fridge that can automatically reorder items when they are getting low—the advent of smart labels will make this kind of convenience commonplace. Or how about a washing machine that can assess its content and decide the best wash cycle? The smart home is something that is just in its infancy, and the possibilities are endless.