Smart Home Technology and Home Automation

smart home family room with tv

Smart homes are no longer an idea of the future. What you once saw in movies is now a reality in everyday households. With home automation you can make your life easier and safer. Not sold yet? Smart home expert Mike Prospero, reviews editor at Tom’s Guide, discusses what exactly a smart home is as well as five benefits of smart home devices.

What is a Smart Home?

A smart home is one that has electronic devices that are connected to the Internet and can be controlled from your smartphone or computer. These can include things such as LED lightbulbs, security cameras, thermostats, ovens, and even pet feeders.

While still in its infancy, the number of these connected devices is rapidly growing. Benefits include lowering your energy bill by being able to turn the heat down or lights off automatically when you’re not home, monitoring those who enter or exit even when you’re not around to simpler things, such as having the lights turn on automatically when you come home.

The biggest barriers to entry for most consumers are knowing exactly what you can do with a particular connected device, as well as how to link various devices together to make a truly smart home. Many times, it’s hard to know what products will work in concert with each other, requiring you to open one app to change the lights, and another app to change the temperature. A true smart home system will let you do everything from one interface.

Why Make Your Home a Smart Home?

Why all the buzz around smart homes? These five benefits will give you an idea of how smart home technology can add convenience to your life and safety to our home!

  1. Reduce energy waste and save money
  2. Even if they’re not “smart,” LED bulbs will save you money simply by the fact that they use less energy. However, smart bulbs can be turned off and on remotely, so, if you forgot to shut them off when you left for work, you can do so easily. And, when you’re at home, you can also adjust the brightness of the lights according to your needs.

    Similarly, a smart thermostat will know when you’re home and when you’re not, and adjust your heating and cooling schedule accordingly, so that you’re not wasting energy.

  3. Prevent damage to your home
  4. One of the most expensive accidents that can happen in a home is a water leak, be it from an old water heater, pipe, or even a faucet that’s been left on. A connected water leak sensor can alert you if one of your pipes burst, letting you get home in time before too much damage is done. Future devices will even let you turn off the water supply to your home.

  5. Protect your family
  6. Regardless of whether you have a smart home, a working smoke detector (or several) is a must. The advantage of having a connected smoke/carbon monoxide detector is that you can be alerted if something is wrong, even when you’re not home. Similarly, a smart lock can notify you of potential intruders. Smart locks also let you program different codes for individuals, so you can be alerted when your child comes home, and set up codes that only allow certain people access at given times.

  7. Control from a distance for the ultimate convenience
  8. Apart from energy savings and peace of mind, the best thing about smart home gadgets is increased convenience through home automation. It’s nice to know that, if you’re not sure if you left your lights on, you can simply open an app on your phone and check. Forgot to turn your thermostat to vacation mode when you leave for a trip? Open the app, and change the setting.

    Note: The best smart home devices will do this for you automatically, so that you don’t have to worry about any of this.

  9. Have fun and impress guests
  10. When it’s time to watch a movie, it’s fun to dim the lights to create a more theater-like experience. Connected lights let you adjust their brightness without needing to install a dimmer switch in your wall; plus, some can even be set to automatically dim when you turn on your TV or home theater system.

    Other fun connected products include pet feeders with built-in cameras, crock pots and coffee brewing machines, and soon, even your refrigerator, too.

The Future of Smart Homes

Currently, the most popular smart home devices are thermostats, locks and lights because they’re the easiest to understand by most consumers, and they’re found in every household. However, we’ll soon see just about every electronic device in your house offer a “connected” feature, whether it needs one or not.

As with any device, it’s important to remember security and privacy. If you don’t have strong passwords for everything—including your router—it will be much easier for potential hackers to get into your smart home devices.

When deciding to purchase products to make your home smart, think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to lower your energy bill? Know what your cats are up to while you’re away? Knowing the answer to that question will help guide your purchase, and keep you from buying something you don’t need.

Whether you’re interested in making your home a smart home or just want to learn more about smart home automation and smart devices, hhgregg has all that you need to keep your home connected.

Meet Mike Prospero
Mike Prospero

Reviews Editor,

Mike Prospero oversees audio, fitness and home automation reviews and news for Tom's Guide. An avid runner, skier and foodie, he's always looking for the latest gadget that intersects with his out-of-work hobbies. Read more of Mike’s reviews about the latest in smart home technology to keep up with the newest gadgets.

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