Smart homes offer a futuristic approach to living that promises a streamlined home life. With the right device installed in your home, you can easily control the lighting, blinds, gates, geysers, and many more functions while saving time, energy, and money. Some smart homes even have the ability to give you extra peace of mind by checking in with you and alerting you if your smoke detector is triggered or if your front or back door was left open. And better yet, if the door is suddenly opened after it was securely closed, you could prevent a break-in by calling your security company and the police. Your house could basically become its own security system.
So… How would you go about turning your home into a smart home? Well, it’s all about the smart, wireless system that you install. Or rather that you get installed, because there’s no way you can install it yourself for fear of hooking your motorised curtains to your underfloor heating. Who knows what that would even do. Maybe nothing, maybe world domination by the curtain overlords, so don’t risk it.
What you need to know:
- Research: There are a variety of products on the market, so make sure you compare the cost, the installation process, the ease of use, and support that the company offers.
- The installation process: This has to be done professionally, so don’t even consider systems that are DIY.
- Central control hub: This is usually an app that you download onto your phone or tablet so you can control all the devices hooked up to the system. Make sure it’s easy to understand and hard for criminals to crack.
- Systems available for your home: Typically, you can control thermostats (think underfloor heating, geysers, and home heating and cooling), lock systems, security cameras, speakers, motorised curtains and blinds, and lighting.
The benefits of a smarter home
While you might be dazzled by the convenience (and magician-like power) of turning off lights and adjusting the temperature to suit your fancy, many smart home devices are actually meant to reduce your energy costs. For example, heating and cooling systems that are connected to WiFi and can sense the outdoor weather conditions will then regulate the airflow inside the home. By constantly adjusting the indoor temperature, your home will use energy more efficiently.
Maybe what’s more relevant to the South African context is the security benefit. Using the app on your phone, you can control, manage, and integrate aspects of your home’s security system, including outdoor lighting and CCTV cameras. Essentially, you can keep tabs on your home from your phone and this provides an additional level of safety for you and your family.
A word to the wise about making your home smarter
Yes, there are perks that come with a smart home, but there are also some risks to be aware of. For instance, you’ll control your home from an app on your phone or tablet, and anything with an IP address can be hacked. But instead of planting a virus on your computer, cybercriminals could fiddle with your lights or dismantle your security system so they can break in.
Here are a few tips to secure your smarter home:
- Trust: Only buy products made by companies that are well established in the marketplace and take security seriously.
- Software updates: Treat your smart home products like you would any other device and ensure that you’re updating the software as updates are released and changing your password regularly.
- Cyber security: Do it. Invest in proper security and antivirus software.
- Get home insurance that’s affordable from a company who is up to speed with the developments in smart homes and cyber security. After all, break-ins occur to homes regardless of their preference for gadgets, so it’s worth it no matter how smart your home is.