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CONVERGE | Technology

Make Your Home Smart – And Keep It Safe

Thanks to interconnected devices and controls, a smart home is more comfortable, efficient and safe.

 

By: Natalie Holmes

When it comes to how the Internet of Things can transform our domestic lives, “smart” is more than just a buzzword. With the help of interconnected devices and controls, homes are becoming ever more comfortable, efficient and safe.

Is your house as safe and efficient as it could be? Probably not. And though the newest residential buildings are fitted some smart technology, the majority of homes do not yet benefit from the full array of available options.

The good news is that smart home tech is becoming more and more accessible, both in terms of cost and operability — and most can be retrofitted into almost any type or age of property. Another bonus is that, thanks to a range of devices and software that can connect to each other and a control panel, you can choose how smart to make your home, and put it together at your own pace.

What’s more, when you improve one aspect, it has positive knock-on effects to others: A smart thermostat makes your environment more pleasant while saving you money on your heating bill, and a camera can protect against intrusion while helping you keep tabs on your pet when you’re not at home.

So what might a smart home look like, and how can you create your own? First, it’s worth considering priorities. What is the most important change you’d like to make to your home: Is it protecting property, reducing your utility bills or making living areas more comfortable? Perhaps it’s a combination of two, or maybe all three.

Safety + Security

  • Carbon monoxide and smoke or fire detectors are not necessarily new. What is new is the “smartness” of such devices — they send digital information to your central control unit (usually a touchscreen panel or dashboard) and allow you to access them remotely, even when you’re miles from home. With the addition of a water sensor to raise the alarm in case of flooding, this suite of tools can add a significant layer of protection to your home and the people who live there.
  • Sensors that detect motion, the sound of breaking glass, or the opening of a window or door, combine to create a robust security system, which, again, can be controlled by a central digital interface. Amazingly, Cox Homelife motion sensors can even tell the difference between humans and animals up to around 70 lbs, so your pet won’t set off any alarms!
  • Digital video recording can also be added to your smart home security toolkit. High definition cameras with night vision work both inside and outside, and you can access the footage remotely via a compatible device.

Comfort + Efficiency

With peace of mind guaranteed, you can turn your attention to the smart home’s range of other benefits.

  • Smart plugs, for example, allow you to remotely control, schedule and automate the power going to a device or appliance. Whether that means charging your phone or taking the TV off standby overnight, the technology has a range of energy-saving applications that make things more convenient, too. Plus, because you can remotely check and control the plugs via an app, it can help with those moments of “did I leave the iron on?” panic.
  • Likewise, smart LED light bulbs let you control your lighting remotely and set schedules. Imagine waking to a subtle, sun colored light in the morning, whatever the weather. Then, when it’s time for bed, the mood automatically changes to sleep-signaling tones, helping you to maintain a routine and operate at optimal efficiency, just like your home.
  • Another staple of the smart home is a connected thermostat that lets you control the temperature of your spaces, in some cases right down to individual rooms. Heading off for a sunny vacation and can’t face coming home to a freezing house? Simply set your heating to switch on a day before you arrive back home. Rather than remembering to make such arrangements before you go, the smart aspect allows you to do this from anywhere with an internet connection. You can also program in your family’s schedule, so each room is always at its preferred temperature based on how it’s being used at a given time. On top of all that, you’ll likely notice a reduction in your heating bill.

A seemingly small yet significant innovation that ties all these aspects together is the smart door lock. This lets you lock or unlock doors remotely (or using a key), meaning if anything should go wrong while you’re away, you can grant a trusted person access to your home. No more hiding the spare key beneath a plant pot or under the doormat! And again, it’s the perfect antidote to worries about whether or not you forgot to lock the front door.

In our digital age, the smart home is a good place to start reaping the benefits of intelligent technology. It empowers people to truly personalize their property, and enjoy more convenience, savings and security in a completely customized way. All of the devices and smart tech featured in this article are available as part of Cox’s Homelife package. Start building your smart home today.

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