Remember the days when the only option for making your home look occupied when you were on vacation was to leave the lights on all the time? Not only was it a waste of electricity, but front porch lights blazing at noon are more of a dead giveaway than a security measure in the eyes of thieves.

Fast forward to today. Your home has gotten a lot smarter. Or at least the technology being used in and around your home has. Everything from locks to lighting to sprinkler systems can be controlled from a smart phone whether you are at home or not.

Smart home

Bringing together all of the desired home safety features and controls is easier than ever. And it can all be controlled from your smart phone!

Brad Dobson, showroom manager at Hermitage Lighting Gallery in Nashville, says there are a number of ways to make your home safer, smarter and more energy efficient than ever before.

“Not only do we have products that you can control with a smart device, you can manage the settings in your home locally or remotely,” Brad says. “And it’s getting easier than ever to use. What used to require hours of programming by an electrician can now all be done from the comfort of your couch via an app.”

Not since the dimmer switch was invented by Joel Spira back in 1959 has there been such innovation in home lighting technology. Inventing the solid-state electronic dimmer made the technology small enough to make it viable for homeowners, since the old technology was suitable primarily for movie theaters and large venues. One controller available at Hermitage has an “away” setting which actually mimics your daily routine lighting when you aren’t home.

“It’s a nice safety feature to enable the lighting in your home to change just like it does when you are home,” he adds. “Also, you can light a pathway for someone. Maybe someone is coming over to water your plants and you don’t want or need to light your entire home. You can light a path for them that will turn itself off after they are gone.”

Lighting technology can control lights in different rooms, changing brightness or helping to set a scene. Let’s say you just finished dinner and want to move your guests into the den, you can set an entertaining lighting scene that will dim certain lights and maybe highlight lights on artwork or different features in your home.

These controls work with Alexa and Google Home so that all it takes is a voice command to control the lighting scenes.

Smart home

Google Home plays well with other smart home products to create a fully integrated and connected home.

The smart functionality doesn’t stop with lighting. How many times have you left your home and second guessed whether or not you remembered to shut the garage door? With these smart features, you can check it and close it remotely. But it can actually outsmart you by sensing when you drive a certain distance away from your home and alerting you if the door was left open.

There’s also similar technology available for temperature control. Companies such as Nest are making thermostats incredibly smart as well. Nobody wants to come home to a cold house because the heat was turned down while away. Now you don’t have to.

Smart home

The Nest thermostat makes controlling your home’s temperature easy and efficient.

“The Nest thermostat actually learns your preferences and adjusts your HVAC system for you,” explains Brad. “Over a period of days, it learns your preferences, and through sensor technology, it can tell whether people are home or not and adjust accordingly.”

The thermostat can also be programmed so that 15 minutes before you arrive home in the summer, the air conditioning will come on and make your home feel fresh and cool when you walk in without using the energy it would take to keep it that cool all day long when nobody is home.

The next feature that has gotten smarter with technology is security cameras. Also from Nest, Brad says technology has made indoor and outdoor surveillance really smart.

“We have motion detection-equipped cameras that send you notifications if they detect movement before it alerts the authorities. This is important because 90 percent of home alarms are false alarms. As opposed to sending first responders to your home for no reason, this technology allows the user to see what the movement is and then act on it if necessary,” Brad says.

Smart home

Hermitage Lighting Gallery carries the Nest Alarm starter kit — getting your home super-safe is easy!

Smart home

When the Nest outdoor camera detects motion, it sends an alert with a photo of the activity to your smart phone.

There’s also a “nanny-cam” feature that allows parents to keep an eye on their children, their housekeepers or pets.

Smart locks are gaining popularity as an added safety measure. Set a code for someone to gain access to the home, or if your child comes home and uses his or her smart code to unlock the door, the lock can send a notification to your smart phone telling you that your kids are home.

“Basically, you set these up with a code that’s valid for a period of time and then expires,” Brad says. “This is great for repair men or cleaning service folks who don’t necessarily need a key to your home, but need to gain access. This allows them entry without having an actual key that can be duplicated.”

Brad says the next evolution of security technology on the horizon will be available this spring.  It’s a connected doorbell, complete with a camera, two-way microphones and speakers so you can talk to the person at your door – even if you aren’t home. But the best part is, your guest will never know the difference.

“Convenience used to be one of the most expensive things you had to buy, but today it’s making us more efficient and allowing us to save money. Everyone is learning to adopt new technology whether it’s the iPhone or Google Home, and it is spanning generations,” explains Brad. “Your home is going to be more connected than ever. People are becoming more and more accustomed to these types of conveniences, and people want to be more and more connected.”

Smart home

Yes, even sprinklers can be controlled from your phone. No more over- or under-watering your lawn!

Brad says this technology isn’t inexpensive, but it is bringing features once only available to the luxury home market within reach of most any homeowner.

“As recently as five years ago, houses had to be wired in the framing stage to have some of these technologies,” Brad says. “Now with wireless technology and the advancements in these home products, it’s made it affordable to anyone who wants to have some added functionality, efficiency and connectivity. Peace of mind and security are things you can’t put a price on.”

Give someone the gift of added security and efficiency this holiday season by making their home smart with programmable locks, smart lighting and temperature controls or added security cameras with remote technology. All of these exciting technological advances in home security and comfort are available at Hermitage Lighting Gallery in Nashville, located at 531 Lafayette St., Nashville, TN 37203. Learn more at (615) 843-3300 or at hermitagelighting.com.

This article is sponsored by Hermitage Lighting Gallery.