First things first. What exactly is a Smart Home? Simply put, it is the ability to control and automate many of your household functions from a Smart device such as your smartphone, whether you are at home or away. It could include things like lighting, heating and cooling, outside watering, security systems, safety devices like smoke detectors and water sensors, pool equipment, door locks, garage door openers, video doorbells, window blinds and many others.
The secret to making this a reality is that all of these Smart Home products connect to your home network, providing a way for your smartphone to communicate and therefore control these devices. Years ago, this type of automation was exclusively in the realm of expensive custom installed solutions, but now it is fairly straight forward to do this all yourself, with the right guidance. If you have a home network with WiFi and a smartphone, you are one step closer to starting your Smart Home adventure.
The question of where to start is a good one. It is always a good idea to start small and build upon your success rather than going on a shopping spree and getting caught with a mix of things that don’t work well together. Many people start their first Smart Home product by asking the question about where they can save money the fastest. The three areas offering the most potential for cost savings are, electricity, water, and heating fuel, not necessarily in that order.
A good place to start for electricity savings is lighting. If your kids leave a trail of light behind them as they move from room to room, moving to lower energy LED lighting along with automating light switches with Smart dimmers or sensors is a simple way to start and then grow. It also offers the benefit of making your house looked lived in by turning lights on and off when you are not home.
Often, the largest water users is your landscape watering. Automated Smart Sprinkler controllers know when it is raining and by how much and will skip cycles to conserve water. They will also automatically adjust watering for the seasons to minimize wastage and avoid plant damage.
A smart thermostat can save heating fuel in the winter and electricity in the summer by optimizing the times your system is on and adjusting the temperature settings automatically when you are not home. They are so easy to use that you will want to take advantage of all these money saving features.
Keep in mind that iPhone users will mostly want to choose HomeKit enabled products so that a single smartphone app can be used to control all the different capabilities. This makes the most sense for lighting and thermostat functions that are used daily but it not so important for the sprinkler controller that you will likely program with its own app and then just let it run.
Once you get started with your Smart Home project, it may be addictive, so be warned. The nice thing is that you can grow your system as your budget and time permit.
A more comprehensive, yet simple guide “How to Make Your Home a Smart Home” is available on amazon.com that will help you choose the right products, ensure that you have the right kind of home network to make it all work, and how to make all these products work together.