Smart home features make our lives easier, save us time and money.
Consider the light bulb, invented some 150 years ago, it revolutionized how we live. Light bulbs could be considered were one of the first smart products. They make our lives easier and save us time and money on candles and building fires. Over the years other smart products came along. For example, a little over 100 years ago refrigerators, then 50 years later, microwaves. While these products took some time to become adopted by the masses, they are now commonplace. Today, most people don't know what it was like to live without these smart products. I see the new crop of smart home technology features as being in that same position now.
I wouldn't say my own home is smart. I recently installed two Alexa’s in my house and use an Apple TV, but that's as close as I get; for now. I can be a little bit tech-phobic, but I’m curious. There are a lot of different products out there, and I have many questions.
Through networking, I met the president of VU World who was kind enough to introduce me to Heather. Heather is the Director of Marketing at VU World. To do her job well, she has in-depth knowledge about the products and services VU World offers. I sat down with her to ask my questions and get answers to my concerns around smart home features.
I started my conversation with Heather by asking my tech-phobic concerns about smart home devices.
1. Susan: Do I have to use a smartphone?
Heather: Smartphones are the most convenient since you can carry them with you. You can also control your system using a tablet or computer. Savant also offers a remote that is very similar to a TV remote. There are a lot of options.
Brand Featured: https://www.savant.com/product/remote
2. Susan: Is there an ongoing investment?
Heather: After installation, there are no anticipated costs beyond the core systems. These systems allow for add-on’s which would be the only ongoing investment.
3. Susan: How difficult is it to program a smart home device? Part of me is a little leery of setting it up and keeping it running. I'm afraid I'll come home one night and none of my lights will be working.
Heather: There are DIY products, but typically, trained technicians do installation and programming. You won't have to worry about it. If something happens to your smart home system it won’t affect lights or other things like security or shades. You’ll still have light switches and remotes to control everything independently. If you do encounter an issue, call your service provider to get your system running.
4. Susan: What happens when technology advances? Do I have to update the system like I do my phone?
Heather: The homeowner gets regular update notifications that are easy to keep up with. The same way you do on your phone or computer. Over time technology and operating systems can become antiquated. The products themselves won’t need to change in the foreseeable future. They’ll be updated to stay up to speed.
5. Susan: What happens when the power goes out? Does the system have to be reset? Will I have to reprogram it?
Heather: If the power goes out, the system will reboot and come back on when power returns. We always recommend using battery backups for any computer-based devices. That way, you’ll never have to deal with the system going down due to a power outage. You won't need to do any reprogramming unless damage happened to a physical piece of the system.
Now that I could put my worries aside, I wanted to know more about how smart home features can make my daily life better. When I read my notes, I realized the benefits of smart home features break down into five distinct categories.
Creating a Comfortable Environment
Saving Energy and Money
Greater Peace of Mind
5. Susan: Can lighting can make us feel better, happier, or sleep better? For example, every year I suffer from a bit of the winter blues. What lighting would you recommend that could lift the spirits of everyone in my home?
Heather: Natural light is one of the best defenses against things like the winter blues. No matter the time of year, natural light helps us maintain our sleep cycles, mood, and energy. It’s rare that people get the amount of natural light they need. That’s where a brand like Ketra comes in. Ketra products accurately imitate natural light inside your home. They fill your it with beautiful light and keep you balanced, energized, and in good spirits.
Brand Featured: https://www.ketra.com/
6. Susan: I want to install a whole home audio system. How does that work with the music that I love? Can I ask it to play the radio? Can it play soothing sounds to help me sleep?
Heather: Audio systems can connect with your devices such as phones and computers to play any music you want. Including ambient sounds and the radio. You can use in-wall speakers or put a few free-standing speakers around your home. With smart audio, you can even choose which rooms you want the music to play in. There’s a great audio brand that works with Wi-Fi called SONOS. They provide the same quality sound and features as in-wall speakers without having to open walls for wiring. They’re a significant first step into smart audio.
Brand Featured: https://www.sonos.com/en-us/home
CREATING A COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT
7. Susan: I’ve seen a lot of smart thermostats. Is it possible to set different temperatures in different rooms? Is it possible to heat the bathroom warmer than the master bedroom?
Heather: Smart Thermostats such as Avant or Ecobee adapt to your lifestyle. They are also more flexible than traditional thermostats. Most include a feature that allows you to set the temperature in different zones of your home. If you want your bathroom warmer than your bedroom you have that option by putting wireless sensors in the rooms you’d like to set at different temperatures.
9. Susan: Aside from thermostats, are there other smart home devices to regulate temperature in our homes?
Heather: Radiant heating under your flooring, warms your body from the ground up. As opposed to forced air which is dry and leaves you with cold patches. Radiant heat’s warmth rises from the floor to the ceiling. It’s healthier and more consistent heat.
SAVING ENERGY AND MONEY
10. Susan: How can automation save money and help stay on budget every month?
Heather: Smart products make your home more efficient by adapting to your lifestyle. There are a few smart features that come to mind that save time, effort, and money.
Lighting sensors turn on the lights when you come in and go off when you leave. No more fumbling for a switch or wasting money on lights left on.
Window shades can complement your home’s design while controlling light. They keep your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Smart thermostats are easy to install and conserve energy. They lower the temperature and reduce energy usage when you’re away.
When programmed to work together, lighting sensors, window shades, and smart thermostats will save money and increase the enjoyment of your home.
GREATER PEACE OF MIND
10. Susan: If I wanted to add security to my home, is there a product that doesn’t need major wiring or installation?
Heather: Video doorbells are great for adding an extra touch of security to your home. They’re easy to install and work with your phone. You can . You can see who’s at your door from anywhere, whether you’re home or away.
11. Susan: What makes smart security different from a regular alarm system?
Heather: Compared to traditional security systems, you can do a lot more with smart home security. You can open or close your garage door, turn your alarm on and off, view cameras, and more, all from your phone.
12. Susan: Is there a way to make things around the home more accessible?
Heather: There are a lot of custom installations we can do depending on your needs. If you have trouble reaching high shelves, we can motorize cabinets to lower down to you. If you’re low on space or would like to adjust the angle of your TV without straining, a motorized TV mount is perfect. TV’s can also stow away under a bed or in the floor, then accessed with the touch of a button. These installations are custom designed to your exact specifications and needs.
13. Susan: Is it possible to control window treatments with a remote?
Heather: Window shades and drapes, such as those from Lutron, can rise and fall, open and close, with the touch of a button. You can use a remote, smart device, sensor or virtual assistants like ALEXA or Google Home.
14. Susan: What else can a smart home devices control?
Heather: Smart home devices like Savant and Josh AI allow you to control all the smart features of your home in one place. That means TV, media, ceiling fans, lights, window treatments, audio, security and more. Nothing is out of reach with a smart home control system. You can control anything if it you can turned on or off. They provide so much convenience you never have to leave your chair.
Brand Featured: https://www.savant.com/interfaces
15. Susan: I'm familiar with using an Alexa, are other smart home devices similar?
Heather: You can tell them to “turn on kitchen lights” or lower living room shades”. Voice assistants control these features by working together with smart home control systems.
An innovative system called Josh AI, combines the voice command of Alexa with a smart home system. It's an all-in-one with no syncing or extra devices. You can speak normally to Josh AI instead of the robotic way we talk to current voice assistants. You can say “please” and “thank you,” and it won’t get confused. You don’t have to be over-precise, and over time it adapts to your way of speaking and knows exactly what you’re asking.
16. Susan: It sounds like there are different types of smart home tech for security, money saving, comfort, etc... Is there crossover, are there products used for several things?
Heather: Most smart home products cross between categories. The only universal product in smart home control is Savant Pro or Josh AI. These systems interact with all your smart home features, bringing them neatly together. Like the control center of your home.
All smart home features add convenience or save time. Time is a valuable thing. If you can save time by turning a tedious task over to a smart product; why wouldn’t you? There are products with narrow uses like motorized TV mounts and heated towel bars. Or as broad as smart light switches and climate control systems.
One of the features my clients ask for most is a comfortable home. After talking to Heather, I understand smart home features add a layer of comfort beyond what a cozy couch can do. They can provide a whole environment experience centered on making our lives easier. By adapting to our needs and desires, they can bring wellness, safety, pleasure, and peace of mind closer to home.
These products may take time to be in the majority of homes. I think there will come a day when it's more unusual if they're not. I'm surprised by how much I enjoy having an Alexa. Do you currently use any smart home devices?
What smart home features would you consider for your home? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Leave a comment below.
Has this article been helpful to you? If you'd like to incorporate smart home features into your home. Contact Heather by calling (215) 537-8800 number or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you'd want to talk about an Interior Design project you have in mind, call me at (267)-606-0408 or send me a message by filling out my contact form here.
Susan Rains, is the owner and Interior Designer at Susan Rains Design, in Havertown, PA. She is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist and focuses on working with clients 55 plus. She creates homes that work for her clients now and well into the future. Susan combines traditional Interior Design services with the skills and knowledge necessary to design for the unique needs of people 55 plus. She'll helps her clients make the right choices to create a delightful, comfortable, and customized home all of their friends and family can enjoy.