Always leaving the iron on? Or coming home to a cold house? Not to mention missing parcels and having to trek down to the depot? For every household woe, there is a smart home solution. Here are six of our favourites.
1. Problem: you left on the iron. Smart home solution: smart plugs/sockets
Admittedly not on of the coolest-looking gadgets around, a smart plug (or socket – they work in a similar manner) will provide peace of mind that you haven’t left on potentially dangerous appliances. Most smart plugs connect to Wi-Fi, giving you control over them (and accordingly anything plugged into them) through a smartphone or voice-controlled virtual assistant. Turn them on or off remotely, or use a timer function to set a schedule (especially useful if you want lamps to come on when you are away). You may also be able to track the energy use of the appliances that are plugged in.
2. Problem: I’m worried about my home when I’m away. Smart home solution: a camera security system
This is one area where smart home technology has improved considerably over recent years. Smart cameras can be fitted inside or out and allow you to monitor your home from your phone or tablet. Features available include sound and motion alert, two-way audio, night vision, zoom and pan, and live streaming (which can be recorded as well). Most cameras have an alarm which can be set off when you see something suspicious.
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3. Problem: the room lighting is too bright. Smart home solution: smart bulbs
Like the other smart home gadgets already mentioned, smart bulbs are controlled from your smartphone, and in some instances by your smart speaker as well (allowing you to speak commands). Bulbs typically have adjustable brightness levels and can be remotely turned on or off. If you set a schedule, the lights will come on at certain times – great if you don’t want to walk into a dark house, or if you are away. Some bulbs change colour, so you can switch up the mood in your room (perhaps to watch a movie, or to create a gentle glow at bedtime).
4. Problem: I don’t know who’s at the door. Smart home solution: a video doorbell
This gadget allows you to use your smartphone to see who’s at your front door. As the video camera is usually activated by a motion sensor, the person doesn’t have to ring the bell for it to work. Most devices also have a microphone so you can chat with whoever is at the door (particularly useful for when parcels are delivered). Because it works wherever you are in the world (as long as your phone has a data connection) it makes for a basic security system while you are away. It’s also possible for some video doorbells to do clever things like turn on a hallway light when it rings, or even let the person in remotely (if you have a smart lock – see below).
5. Problem: did I lock the door? Smart home solution: a smart lock
We’ve all done it – left the house or gone to bed and then wondered whether the front door is locked. With a smart lock you can check the door’s status on your phone and take appropriate action. It can also automatically unlock the door when it detects your phone is nearby (no more hunting for keys while trying to carry in the shopping), and you can send virtual keys by text or email that will grant access to friends, a cleaner or other workers.
6. Problem: the house is never warm at the right time. Smart home solution: a smart thermostat
This smart home solution has been around for a while — in essence it is a thermostat that can be controlled by an app on your phone. It can do the basics like turn the heating on and off remotely, but you can also set up a schedule. More advanced ones learn from your habits and routines – they can have the house heated when you get up or ready for when you come home after work. They also learn how long your home takes to heat up and takes this into consideration. Supposedly, these systems are more efficient — of all the automated home products, the smart thermostat is the one more likely to save you money. If you want a smart home to save you time as well, don’t miss our guide to how the connected home can reduce your housework.