Get practical tips to transform your home into a smarter living space.
There is no doubt that smart tech has taken the world by storm over the last few years. These products have managed to penetrate every aspect of our lives and simplify even the most mundane tasks. Smart hubs have helped us answer the burning questions that have driven dinner time debates, Alexa has played our favourite playlist whilst we’ve cooked, and Google Home has kept us safe with its integrated home security system.
This does beg the question however, “why should we incorporate smart tech in our day-to-day lives?”
The answer lies in pure personal convenience. (Also, it’s kinda cool to have. We won’t lie.)
If you’re open to technological change and would like to have a flashy cool gadget to show off in your home, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve come up with 6 ways to make your home ‘smarter’, and dare we say, more efficient.
1) Smart hubs: Amazon or Google?
Most of the world has become accustomed to saying “Hey, Siri..” But the tides have turned in recent years, and the playing field has evened out for being able to access AI that talks back. Amazon and Google have done a great job of this by introducing their respective Google Home and Amazon Alexa platforms.
This is where the magic begins because smart home automation starts with a smart hub. From fridges to doorbells to vacuums, a smart hub will automate everything on your digital wall hub, smart phone, or tablet. The question is, where does your loyalty lie?
Hey, Alexa… Find me the closest Pizza Hut!
2) Smart TVs
Anyone born after the 90’s may not know this, but we used to have to get up on a Saturday morning and turn on a big clunky box that had a screen attached to it. They were back heavy, quite deep and had a remote that was hard to lose because it was the size of a ruler. Ah, the good old days.
Nowadays, we have flat screens that are larger, lighter, relatively cheaper in price than their predecessors and almost paper thin. The best part is that they give us the cinematic experience we would have only dreamed about by going to a movie theatre. Smart TVs allow the consumer to base a decision on brand loyalty, picture quality, energy consumption and streaming access. If it looks good and has got Netflix, Prime, Stan, HBO or Disney+ built in, then there’s a fairly high chance that you will benefit from having one in your home.
(As a little extra, we’d recommend getting a Bluetooth sound bar if you’re looking to go the whole nine yards for an affordable cinematic experience.)
3) Security integration
An exciting element of the smart home experience is security integration. Not only are they being adopted by homes - both old and new - they offer a layer of safeguarding to give the homeowner peace of mind.
Smart intercoms, cameras and doorbells are all the rave now, most notably the Google Nest security and doorbell system. There are also competitors like Ring, Ecobee, Home8 and Swann who have a paired system to keep you safe.
For the moment, you’ll only need to use your doorbell to see which delivery driver is coming today, and that’s okay, but later down the track you’ll be able to manually respond to guests, unlock your door and get notifications on when there’s movement near your home.
4) Smart bulbs
A great entry point into becoming environmentally conscious and having a smarter home is through light bulbs. With activation now available at the touch of a button or voice command, smart bulbs are becoming increasingly popular in the modern Australian household.
But what are the benefits?
The beauty is that smarter light bulb integration is multi-faceted. If you’re looking to monitor the energy consumption of your bulbs and save on energy costs, then you all you need to do is link your smart phone or smart hub to the brand of bulb. You’ll be tracking consumption in no time.
Are you looking at hosting your friends and family for a hearty, home cooked meal when everyone can leave the house? Then you can adjust the lighting settings to an ambient, homey feel. Maybe you just want to chill on the couch with some chocolate and Netflix? You can adjust the lighting to a dim, cosy feel.
The choice is yours really, you just need to find a smart bulb retailer who has bulbs compatible with a smart hub. We’d recommend starting with bulbs like the Philips ambience bulb, the Wyze bulb, the Sengled Smart LED bulb, or the Lifx bulb range.
5) Smart power
For most of us, it’s been a learning curve adjusting to being at home. We’ve learnt a lot about ourselves and what our habits and routines are. We’ve also been able to pick up on some oversights in our households that we never would have thought would be an issue. What we mean by that is being conscious of the appliances in our home.
We recommend making a checklist of some old appliances that could be replaced with some smart tech. Who knows, they just might take some off the top of your energy bill and improve your general workflow. Let’s start with the golden egg for most homes – the internet. Are you getting a poor signal at the back of the house? We’d recommend a smart wi-fi extender or a Google Nest wi-fi system. You can connect your smart hub to the internet and improve the strength of your signal by putting the individual “nests” in different areas of your home to boost your signal.
How about that yellow power board that looks like it was manufactured the same year you were born? We’d say it probably needs an upgrade too. A smart power board will conserve energy, allow more ports to be sued and possibly reduce the risk of a small electrical fire. You can pick one up at most tech retailers like Kogan or JB HI-FI.
6) Smart heating and cooling
It goes without saying that heating and cooling in the home is just as essential as a couch. So why not make it smarter? All you need is a running c-wire and you’re good to go.
Not only do they look great, smart thermostats moderate temperature fluctuations, they go into conservation mode when you’re away from the house and they have a high energy saving rating to help you stay on top of your bills.
We’ve really pushed them a lot in this blog, but they’ve penetrated the market so well that their smart tech is nearly unmatched in this space – yes, it’s Google again. They have a smart thermostat; can you believe it? In an ideal world, you could just get all your smart home tech from Google, link it to your device and you’re ready to rock and roll.
If Google isn’t really your cup of tea, then we would recommend Ecobee, Honeywell and Bosch thermostats who are all just as affordable, practical, and uniquely designed. You can start your search on Amazon and find the best product for you.