What the Heck Is a Smart Home?
May 11, 2020Goodtimes
When you can control your furnace with your phone, you've got a smart home?
By Wendy Haaf
No doubt you’ve noticed the term “smart home” being bandied about, but exactly what does it mean? As it turns out, there are a variety of definitions. One popular take is that it’s a home equipped with Internet-connected devices (usually using wireless technology such as Wi-Fi) that can be controlled remotely by a smart phone, computer, or tablet.
“That’s what most people are thinking when they think ‘smart home,’” says Gavin Taylor, a technology consultant with the Information Technology Services department at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London (ON). “Then there are ‘intelligent’ devices that monitor and track information about you, which is a little bit different.”
The number and type of these gadgets and the tasks they’re capable of performing seem to be proliferating by the day. Here’s a glimpse at some of them.
From “smart plugs” that allow you to control an electrical device via an app to lighting systems that can be programmed to turn on and off according to a schedule or daylight levels, there are any number of options for managing the environment in your home.
With a smart thermostat, you can regulate and monitor the temperature in your home remotely, generate energy-use reports, and set reminders for changing your furnace filter. Some are capable of building their own schedules by learning your habits, and others incorporate sensors that detect whether your home is occupied, allowing them to adjust the temperature accordingly.
By cutting down on human error, smart thermostats can help you cut energy use by anywhere from 10 to 23 per cent. Smart water monitors can detect problems such as burst pipes and running toilets soon after they occur and send an alert to your phone.
Security and Home Access
Home security is a rapidly expanding category of smart technology, from locks that you can operate remotely so a family member can get in without a key and cameras that allow you to keep an eye on your front porch from anywhere in the world to entire systems that incorporate motion sensors, smoke and heat detectors,
and video cameras.
Many household appliances now feature smart technology. If you tend to forget the washing in the machine, you can get a washer that sends your phone an alert when a cycle is finished. Some smart devices have sensors that can remind you when the detergent in the dispenser is running low or tailor water levels to load sizes.