Smart homes. The Internet of Things. Fridges that order your groceries for you. This is all stuff for the future, right?
Well, while we’ve been sleeping, smart machines have snuck into to our homes, and promise to revolutionize how we live. Is it true and does the tech live up to the hype? Let’s look at four devices looking to move in next year.
- The smart key
Forget fumbling about for keys, now your smartphone can open your house for you. Companies such as August offer smart entry technology. You can give your friends, family and cleaner (should you be so lucky) access to the app on their phone, too. Plus, your doorbell has a camera, so you can see who’s there and let them in if you’re running late. Oh, and if it’s someone who you don’t want in your home, there’s an alarm, too.
- Voice assisted PA
While Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can tell you what you need to know while out and about, the Amazon’s Echo does the same for your home environment. You can ask ‘Alexa’ to play your favourite tune, add something to a shopping list, or give you a weather update before you head out. It’s basically like having a butler without the snooty remarks.
- Smart water meters
Already a fixture of homes in London and making their way up North, smart water meters let you monitor your usage online 24/7 – giving you greater control of your bill. You only pay for what you use, they find and fix leaks before you notice them, and you can even see how much your laundry your flat mate does compared with you. Thames Water, says, “Our metered customers tend to use 12% less water on average.” Just remember, there are plenty of low-fi ways to keep down household costs before wiretapping your housemate.
- Smart thermostats
Instead of an on/off switch to control your home’s temperature, a smart thermostat lets you heat your house from a smartphone, schedule temperatures for different rooms and times of the day, and they show you how you use your heating.
Some devices even sense if anyone’s home, adjust room temperature to local weather changes, and use GPS to detect when you’re on your way home – turning up the boiler.
There are already a few on the market, so do a bit of research to find the right one for your home. According to Trusted Reviews, “Tado says that its ‘will pay for itself within a year’ by cutting your heating bills by between 14% and 26%. On average ‘the Nest Thermostat saved 10-12% on heating.’ That’s $131 to $145 per year according to them, and payback in under two years. British Gas says the Hive ‘could save you up to £150 a year’ while Netatmo claim a 37% drop in energy use. Honeywell estimate a whopping 40% saving with their advanced Evohome multi-zone system.”
Before you get too excited, there is a lot that can go wrong with smart technology and home automation, so don’t rush in without doing your homework.
Worried that smart technology will invade your home and take away from its, well, homeliness? Thankfully, these devices are discreet and you’ll only notice when you want to. Whether that’s picking up pre-ordered groceries from your doorstep, walking into your home without fumbling for keys, or sitting down to a nice cosy room.
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