2020 Homeowner Resolutions: Making Your Home Smart(er)

an Amazon echo next to a smartphone

Not all homes are built smart. In some homes, you can’t turn your TV on by voice command. You manually need to flip on your lights, and you might just have to keep track of your refrigerator’s dirty filter.

Get out of the Dark Ages of Appliances and step into a better way to “home.” Make your home a smart home in 2020 with the help of this five-minute guide from our smart tech experts!

Smarter than the average home

smart home camera in a window of a townhouse
Is your home smart?

The idea of a smart home means everything is “smart.” It means setting up cameras and sensors for security, sensors in the basement for water monitoring, a programmable thermostat for savings. It means not setting an alarm clock but asking Google Assistant to wake you up. (It also means groaning at Google Assistant when it wakes you up.) It means not monitoring your energy usage but allowing Nest to do so by connecting a hub to your utility closet.

Smart appliances can abound in your kitchen. While we love turning on our ovens with voice command, our favorite appliance is the smart refrigerator. It comes with a giant screen to play music from Spotify or to stream your favorite TV shows. With the Samsung Smart Fridge, you can peer inside your refrigerator from the supermarket to see if you need more ketchup.You can even change the temperature of one of the freezers to become a wine cooler.

If you are not a fan of curdled milk, tag your groceries when you put them away, so when your milk is nearing its expiration date, your fridge will remind you to buy more via push notifications. The unit itself will also send you reminders when it’s time to replace your built-in water filter (and you can even order it right from the fridge, along with your groceries).

While smart homes can add complexity to your home, it also can make the experience so much more enjoyable.

Smart security features

A smart lock with a cell phone next to it with control app on the screen
Security system vs. smart tech

Traditional security systems are expensive. While they are a deterrent to burglars, hardwired system can cost upwards of $5,000, but a smart home is like having a smart security system. The most popular feature (and a soon-to-be staple in everyone’s home) is the smart lock. With a keypad, you’ll never have to worry about locking yourself out of your house again. You can also program a temporary password to give your mother-in-law when she’s watching the dogs.

Couple your smart lock with a door cam. From your desk at work, you can get real-time notifications sent to your phone, and see and talk to the UPS delivery person on your doorstep.

Smart tech can also help dissuade burglars while on vacation. Through the app, you can turn on and off your lights at home from hundreds of miles away.

No pain, no gain (with smart tech)

an iPad with the time, located on a kitchen counter
To pro or not to pro?

Of course, there’s a bit of work to do when making your home smart. Tagging groceries before placing them in your smart refrigerator is time-consuming, and setting up a smart home requires more expertise than the usual DIY techie can manage. To connect the various hubs and devices necessary to create a smart home, we recommend hiring a professional. They’ll set up your hub(s) and connect your appliances and devices in no time.

Also, mind the glitches. The IoT devices are all linked to hubs, which can cause some issues. Any mishap in Wi-Fi or a forced update can cause all hubs and your devices to lose functionality. This means you can lose lightning and dimmers, Smart TV, speakers and headphones, and even heating and cooling equipment (thermostats).

Sometimes the hubs can get confused. When one person on a family Spotify Plan is listening in the car on the way home, music may start playing on the hub in the kitchen. (This may be a Spotify issue.)

Sometimes “smart” technology can be a little glitchy, but when tech is genius-ly integrated with your home, it’s a seamless, beautiful thing.

Project Connected Home over IP

If you haven’t heard, recent developments in the tech world will make creating a smart home easier. On Thursday, Amazon, Google, Apple, and the Zigbee Alliance announced a partnership to make home tech more secure, reliable, and user-friendly by enabling communication across their devices, apps, and cloud services. No longer will you need to worry that by buying an Amazon Echo, your smart refrigerator won’t be able to pull up your Google calendar.

Though it is unclear when the new devices will hit the market, the partnership will focus on safety devices first, such as smoke alarms, CO sensors, smart doors and locks, and HVAC controls.

But ultimately, the choice to buy Amazon Echo or Google hubs boils down to whether you want to hear you and your spouse say, “Hey Google” or “Alexa” constantly.

Learn more about smart tech and your home, including how to protect yourself from hackers, in our vipTIPS. Subscribe today, and 100% of all revenue associated with new vipHomeLink memberships will be donated directly to Make-A-Wish®.

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