Women of a certain age will likely remember “The Jetsons,” the animated cartoon that aired off-and-on from the early ’60s through the late ’80s. The show featured a fairly traditional family living in the fictional Orbit City, where homes and businesses were set atop adjustable columns, far above the ground, and flying-saucer-like aerocars transported passengers about the futuristic, space-age environment in which talking dogs and robots were commonplace.
Certainly, while the show was on the air at least, the Jetsons’ lifestyle seemed far-fetched, which was certainly part of its allure. Really, how many ’70s- or 80s-era housewives would have loved to have Rosie, the family’s robotic housekeeper, come help with the daily chores? Today, though — in our world of smart-everything, where Apple’s SIRI technology turns every cellphone into a voice-activated personal assistant — a computer-driven life is actually our reality. And one area in particular that is seeing an increased focus on technology is within the home.
According to Ridley Wills, owner and design director of Nashville’s The Wills Company, a design, construction and remodeling firm, “A smart home is one in which its appliances and systems can be controlled remotely via technology.” Ridley notes that these types of features are attractive to homeowners for a variety of reasons, including “peace of mind that the lights are out, the stove is not left on and the children are safe,” — even when they’re not at home to double-check themselves. “Also,” he adds, “if you love having your home at your fingertips and are gadget- and/or technology-oriented, it can be fun to manipulate your world while relaxing on the beach!”
If there are any potential downsides to smart homes, it is that, with technology advancing so rapidly, it can be difficult to determine which smart upgrades are worth the time and expense to install, and which will be no more than a passing fad or, worse, rendered completely obsolete in no time. “The Wills Company recommends that homeowners start by asking themselves how important it is to remotely control or monitor various aspects of their homes,” says Wills.
Dave White, a client account manager at The Wills Company, agrees. “A 10-year-old home automation system is like a ’50s-era car when compared to what is out now, and like that ’50s-era car, finding parts to repair the system can be challenging,” he explains. “Before investing in a home automation system, really think about what you would like to achieve by doing so to make sure money is being invested wisely.”
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the latest, and most popular, smart home technology. With these features, there’s no need to keep up with the Joneses — you’ll be keeping up with the Jetsons!
3 Smart Home Technology Options to Consider
Smart Home Upgrade #1: Smart Deadbolt Lock
Keyless entry and ignition features have been on cars for some time, and now, with smart locks, including the Schlage Sense smart deadbolt lock, you can bring that technology right to your front door. Schlage users have the option to enter their homes by punching in a code on the keypad, or by using their iPhones (via Apple’s HomeKit). The two-fold purpose is convenience and security, as users can pre-program up to 30 entry codes and then designate the days and times when those codes can be used. Want to only allow the nanny access to your home on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.? That’s the only time her unique entry code will work. At a price point of $229, the deadbolt fits onto most standard doors and takes only a screwdriver to install.
Smart Home Upgrade #2: Wireless Home Security Cameras
You don’t have to have a $20 million mansion to invest in a home security system. In fact, based on the statistic that homes without security systems are 300 percent more likely to be broken into, it makes sense that every homeowner install one ASAP. And the beauty of wireless home security cameras is that not only are they easy and convenient to set up, but they can stream video to any mobile device and alert you if there is any suspicious noise or behavior detected. The best ones offer additional features, including programmable security modes and recordings, as well as cloud storage for those recordings.
Tomsguide.com, a tech website that features advice, reviews and recommendations, conducted an independent test of some of the most popular security camera models. They concluded that Nest Cam was the best option, as it was “the best designed, sturdiest and most flexible of the cameras tested, and also had the best software.”
Smart Home Upgrade #3: Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats are some of the oldest smart home technology, but because of their convenience and money-saving potential, they don’t appear to be going out of style any time soon. They allow you to preset the temperature inside your home, automatically adjusting if you’re going to be away or if the temperature and/or humidity outside the home changes. They can even learn and adjust to your personal preferences and show you real-time energy consumption, while allowing you to control the entire system remotely.
Based on another independent test, the folks at Tomsguide.com think the Ecobee3, available for $229, is the best smart thermostat option available because “its sensors let you deliver the right temperature on a room-by-room basis. It also knows which rooms are occupied and comes with an intuitive app.”
If you’re looking to make a few smart home upgrades, take the time to do your homework and make decisions that will go the distance for your home.