Home Is Where The Smart Is

Smart home technology started in the 1980s, and it’s used to increase the comfort, security, and energy efficiency of a home. Things have evolved over the years, and I’m often asked by clients what makes a smart house a smart house. Adding a Ring doorbell or a learning thermostat certainly raises your home’s IQ by a few points, but five features make a home a smart house. 
Smart homes have central networking equipment that ties into wireless access points that are strategically placed throughout the home. Think of this as your home’s central nervous system that integrates all of the different technical components so they work together. Smart houses can centralize basic features like thermostats, lighting, doorbell cameras, and audio, or they can be more advanced and also cover door locks, speakers, security, and smart electrical plugs in each room. 
Another key component of smart homes is wireless access. The system is connected to the internet, so you can control it remotely from your office or two thousand miles away. Heading home after a weekend skiing? You can adjust the temperature on the way back so it’s toasty on your arrival. Running late, and someone needs to let the dog out? You can unlock the door for the dog sitter with a swipe on your phone. The possibilities are almost endless, and the convenience is hard to beat. 
Advanced security is the third aspect of a smart home. Back in the day, an “advanced” security system would sound an alarm and possibly call a security system if a sensor was triggered. New systems can record audio and video, send out more sophisticated notifications directly to you, and differentiate between unwelcome intruders and expected guests. They can also be customized specifically to your lifestyle. If you are the nervous type, it can alert you every time a door is opened. Have a house full of kids and pets? You can adjust the settings so they fit your lifestyle. 
The fourth aspect is the ability to control your lighting, including your window treatments. You can time when lights are on or off if they are dim or bright, and even pick a color to match your mood. Your entire house can be controlled from one spot. Ah, the power. Ever have that one friend that you love to death, but they will-not-leave-and-it’s-past-my-bedtime? Discreetly hit a button on your phone and the whole house fades to black in five minutes. Dang, I think I just talked myself into getting one of these babies. 
The last aspect of a smart home is advanced audio throughout the entire house. You can fill the whole house with the same music, or customize it floor to floor or room to room. Beck in the bathroom, Killers in the kitchen, and Greenday in the garage. 
Is it a smart home for you? If the answer depends on the cost, a low-end basic smart home system can start around $1,500 and run up to $7,000 for the full package. If you are not technology savvy, the learning curve may make you long for the simple days of avoiding windows as you run in your underwear from room to room shutting off your lights. There may be a learning curve, but I think it’s worth it. So do your neighbors.

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