Posted by Lewis Painter 19 February 2015
A smart home can save you time & money. Here's how
A smart home can save you time and money. Find out why…
We’re in the midst of a technology revolution. Ten years ago, the thought of having a kettle that connects to your WiFi and can be remotely boiled seemed pretty far fetched. Fast forward 10 years and we have the iKettle. We’re now able to interact with our homes with our smartphones, from tweaking the thermostat to opening your front door. A future with a fully connected home isn’t so much science fiction as science fact - but where do you begin?
Smart thermostats - Nest
The Nest Thermostat is a great example of a smart thermostat for your home, not to mention that having one could save you up to 20 percent off your heating bills each year. It learns exactly what temperature you like at particular times of day, and after a few days of learning, it takes things into its own hands.
If you like to wake up to a warm house, Nest will make sure that it’s warm by the time you wake up by using its True Radiant technology. The technology measures how long it takes your house to warm up and uses that data to make sure your home is hot when you want it to be, not half an hour after.
It has a “Nest Leaf” feature where a green leaf will appear on the thermostat when you select a temperature that’s energy efficient, alerting you to the fact that you’re saving money on your heating bills. Once a month it’ll also supply you with an Energy Report, showing you your heating systems usage and comparing it against previous months, explaining why it was more or less. It gives you a fresh opportunity to understand your heating bills and become more efficient.
Another great feature is “Auto-Away” which uses sensors that are built into the Nest Thermostat to notice when you leave the home. When this mode is activated, it’ll automatically adjust the temperature of your home so you’re not wasting energy heating an empty house.
Smart lighting - Philips Hue
Philips Hue bulbs are an example of first rate smart lighting - one of the first major brands to enter the smart bulb game, they are still going strong three years after launch. You may think that having bulbs that connect to your WiFi will use more energy than a ‘dumb’ bulb, but that’s not entirely true. Philips Hue claims to have 80 percent less power consumption than a standard 50W bulb and will last for 15,000 hours, meaning they’ll need to be replaced roughly every 15 years.
Having a smart bulb such as Philips Hue makes your home environment much more personal, allowing you to choose the exact intensity and colour of your lighting system. Having a gathering? You could have a room filled with vivid red and blue lights, creating a great party environment. You have complete control of Philips Hue via a smartphone app that lets you customise just about every element of the system.
That includes geofencing your home - when you leave home, you can set up the system to automatically turn off all your lights, saving you money. Then when you return home, they turn back on. You can also utilise IFTTT (If This Then That) for the small things such as ‘If it begins to rain then change the light colours to blue’. It’s like coding magic!
Smart switches - Belkin WeMo Switch + motion
The Belkin WeMo Switch is a great addition to the home, especially when coupled with the Motion kit. The Belkin WeMo acts as the middle man between an appliance and the wall socket, enabling it to control power to the device. It’s completely modular so you can add more sockets and motion detectors (as well as light switches) to control more of your home if needed. It’s all controlled via a smartphone app, allowing you to label different switches so you always know what you’re controlling.
It also works with IFTTT so you could get creative with your recipes - one example being ‘If sunny then turn on fan’ for the summer months or ‘If motion detected then text me’ for a more security focused recipe.
The Motion Kit can detect motion from up to 10 feet away and wirelessly signals the switch to turn the appliance on/off. For example, you could leave the motion kit near your front room door. That means every time you leave the front room your TV could be turned off, saving you money on your electricity bill. It doesn’t have to stop there, though - the motion kit can activate & deactivate more than one switch at a time so you could theoretically walk out of your front room and have all devices and lights turn off on the way out, then turned back on as you walk back in. Cool, eh?
Security regulations on connected devices
With a predicted 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the only real issue with the connected home is the issue of security. Cybersecurity experts claim that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) could enable hackers to get into these interconnected systems. While they claim that it’ll mainly be businesses at risk, with connected devices making their way into major markets like the transport and healthcare industries, this is an issue that needs a lot of thought.
The answer? A standard for security that all connected devices have before being allowed to put their products on sale. That would give businesses and the public the reassurance that their devices and homes are safe from unwanted cyber activity. While there have been discussions around the world for one standard for all to follow, nothing has yet been implemented.
With that being said, for the general public there’s little risk from hackers - most hackers wouldn’t be interested in controlling someones home heating system. Go for it, invest in smart tech and bring your home into the 21st century - it makes sense, doesn't it?