The Internet of Things is a term you’ve probably heard before, and it’s certainly a term that describes the way technology is advancing so much that things that were never considered ‘smart’ before are beginning to connect to the internet to potentially enable a whole new way of living. Over the past year or so, we’ve seen an influx of new gadgets that can help you make your home smart, from thermostats and light bulbs to switches and door locks. Here, we talk you through how you can make your home a smart home and start living in the future today.
In this article, we talk about smart objects that you can buy and use today, but before long our fridges and freezers will be smart, able to order food and other supplies as you need them, and even that’s just the beginning. The aim of the game is efficiency: maximum comfort for minimal cost to you – and the environment.
How to make your home a smart home: Lighting
Installing smart lighting is a simple first step on your way to a smart home. Smart lighting can be pretty cool. Some of the bulbs we’ve tested allow you to set mood lighting for the different rooms in your house, control your lighting from afar from your phone or tablet, and schedule them to turn on and off at pre-set times. You can even use them as an alarm, gently waking you up in the morning. One of the smart bulbs we’ve tried can even blast out tunes from your ceiling.
How to make your home a smart home: Heating
You can also turn your home into a smart home by investing in a smart thermostat or smart heating system. You’ve probably seen the adverts for Hive with its quirky song about how great it is to control your heating from a laptop, smartphone or tablet. And yes, it is a cool thing to be able to do. But more than that, smart heating is likely to be a key part of every home going forward. As fuel costs rise and supplies run dry the ability to heat our homes in an efficient way will stop being a nice bonus, and become an essential part of every home’s economics.
How to make your home a smart home: Switches
Just as smart thermostats are muscling in on old boiler timers, today’s smart switches are having a good go at yesterday’s twiddly timer switches. A smart switch is basically a switch that you plug into a power socket and then plug another device’s plug into so you can control it via an app on your smartphone or tablet. With the best smart switches, you can set schedules, monitor energy usage on electronic devices and find out which devices are used most often and when. Armed with such data you can start saving on your home’s domestic electricity usage.
How to make your home a smart home: Smart doorbell
Yes, you read that right. Next on the list is the smart doorbell. Combine it with a security camera and you’ve yourself a clever entrance system for your home.
In the past, video-enabled entrance systems required a lot of money and expertise to install and maintain. They were the preserve of swanky apartment complexes or spit-drenched local authority housing tower blocks, often in a state of disrepair. But now everyone with a smartphone can have a smart security camera and entrance system.
How to make your home a smart home: USB power sockets
These aren’t necessarily smart in the same way as the other gadgets in this article – they’re not connected to the internet – but they do make life easier. We’re talking about wall plates with both power sockets and USB slots. With a daily need for charging, smartphones and tablets end up causing more USB and Lightning cable mess than old-fashioned rotary dial phones with their curly cords. Wall power sockets in every room of the house are being taken over with plugs for USB cables, meaning you need to disconnect the lamp just to charge your smartphone or tablet.