It’s been said that very smart homes are just around the corner for decades and yet our homes still don’t look and function like the Jetson’s home. I’ll leave it to someone else to say if that’s a good thing or not, but some of the new technology can be helpful once you get it set up and learn how to use it. The following are some of the new “smart” items available.
The consumer robots that were supposed to take oven haven’t. Kuri and Jibo are two robots that came and then went- Ultimately they failed to capture the consumer’s fancy. But there is a new type of robot that is becoming much more popular- The headless robots that most people know as smart speakers. I have never owned one but I can see why they would be appealing. Smart speakers can do many of the same things as Kuri and Jibo but are much less expensive. To be really helpful, smart speakers need to be very smart, and they are heading in that direction. With these devices you can use your voice to ask for the latest news or sports scores, or ask where the nearest good Italian restaurant is located. You can also control smart home appliances, such as lights, thermostats, and even vacuum cleaners- One of the intriguing new devices is a vacuum bot. I’ve thought about getting one of these since I don’t exactly enjoy vacuuming. Some of these devices will not only vacuum your house by themselves under their own power, they will even empty themselves into the trash. I’m not sure my cat would know what to think with a vacuum bot roaming the house sucking up everything in sight but I imagine my carpet and floors would look a lot cleaner.
LED bulbs and smart LED’s are changing the way we light our homes. I recently replaced all of the light bulbs in my house with LED’s and I love them. LED bulbs use about 75% less energy that regular bulbs so if you install them in your home you could see some serious savings. And though they cost more to buy, they typically last much, much longer. Some Wi-Fi enabled LED’s can be set up on a schedule or remotely controlled by an app on your phone. They can also be voice controlled (via Google or Alexa).
I mentioned thermostats earlier. Smart thermostats can help you save money on heating and cooling and these costs are a big part of household expenses. You may be able to save up to one quarter of your heating and cooling expenses, especially if you and your family are away from the house for significant periods of time. Nest and Ecobee are two brands of smart thermostats that can help you do this. Some of these thermostats can be adjusted remotely. Also, some will learn your routine and will adjust themselves accordingly. There’s even a crazy thing called geofencing. A smart thermostat using geofencing can tell when you leave your house and when you are getting close to arriving back home. In this way it can adjust the temperatures based on whether you are home or not.
Other smart devices for your home are appliances that have the Energy Star logo, as
they will save you money. Wi-Fi enabled water sensors can alert you of a water leak even if you’re not home thanks to the phone app. Solar panels can help you reduce your electricity usage from the utility. And there are devices that act as a filter on your children’s online activity. You can set time limits and filter out inappropriate content.
Kim Christensen ACI, TREC 20358