The benefits of smart home automation and what it can do for you
Smart home automation has been the talk of the town for the last few years. But what is the benefit of a smart home? What can a smart home actually do for you? In this guide, we briefly break down some of the many benefits smart home automation can offer.
Broadly speaking, the benefits of smart home automation can be broken down into a few overlapping categories: Security & Safety, Energy Efficiency, Wellness & Comfort, and Convenience.
Security & Safety
As living beings, aside from our physiological requirements such as food and water, safety & security are at the top of our hierarchy of needs and smart homes can go a long way to ensure peace of mind.
Whilst technologies such as intruder alarms and cctv cameras have been around since forever, it is the implementation of smart features into these devices and systems that provides the real benefit of Smart Home Automation. With realtime notifications alerting you to changes in state instead of an alarm simply sounding, one has the power to react in realtime and glean insights over and above whether there is simply an intruder or not.
Working together, door/window contacts and motion sensors can alert you to various states depending on the time of day. For example, knowing that the front door has opened at 4pm might tell you the kids got home ok; that they opened the door again ten minutes later might give you reason to check in remotely on the external camera; that there was motion in your dressing room says they were looking for treats and you need to hide them better (ok, so that’s not security but it’s important!).
Aside from them being opened when you’re not there, knowing that windows are open after you’ve left is also useful, maybe you need to go back or maybe that window is actually ok for the day and you’ll get it later. It’s not just windows you can be notified about, smart plugs can inform you if you’ve left home with the straighteners on and turn them off for you, averting a potentially catastrophic disaster.
All of this motion, door/window and electrical appliance monitoring can also provide a brilliant means of monitoring loved ones non-intrusively, such as a vulnerable relative. Knowing they are up and moving about and that the kettle has been turned on can really give some peace of mind.
Another trending feature is mockupancy, which is useful when you are away. Your home can simulate your presence, opening and closing motorised shades; turning lights on and off; even playing music. Any would-be intruders keeping an eye on your house are sure to think again and if they do take the next step and approach your property, you can be alerted by your intelligent CCTV cameras that have detected a presence.
Finally, securing the actual entrances to your home are video doorbells and smart locks. Video doorbells provide an easy way to answer the door whether you are home or away, adding to the mockupancy effect and deciding what action to take. Smart locks then let you unlock the door remotely (or not as the case may be) and also allow you to remotely check you’ve locked them in the first place. As a bonus, a simple means of letting in visitors such as guests, the cleaner or tradesmen (or even allowing couriers access to a safe place) can reduce disruption to your day too.
Energy Efficiency, Comfort & Wellness
These three benefits go so hand in hand that we struggled to separate them in a way that made sense. Instead, it’s easier to think about the systems, such as lighting and heating.
LED lights have been around for a while and already offer huge cost savings, not only on the electricity to power them but also by not having to replace them so often. They can be even more efficient though: reducing their usage is the most effective means. One way to do this is by automatically turning them off if a room is not in use for, say, ten or twenty minutes. This can be done with the same motion sensors that provide you with notifications so you’re not doubling up on devices.
Lighting can be so much more, though, especially when combined with other smart home elements. Dimmable lights can provide different mood settings throughout the day, yes, but dimming lights in itself is nothing new. Having readily accessible scenes or recipes however, adds a level of convenience: instead of turning each light on and then adjusting the brightness to get it all just so, a simple touch of a button can activate your ‘Evening’ scene. If you get out of bed in the night, your ‘Night’ scene can illuminate the way to the bathroom just enough so you can see, without jarring you awake or disturbing others. Pretty handy. But there’s another level yet still: Human-Centric Lighting. As we discuss in our dedicated post on Human-centric Lighting & Wellbeing, the colour temperature of light throughout the day can have a huge impact on our sleep pattern and general wellbeing.