Make your house a smart house in six steps
Introduce some of the latest smart gadgetry into your home to make life easier now and for many more years to come
There are many benefits to smart home tech. From being able to control your heating, lighting and window blinds via an app on your smartphone to remotely monitoring who’s ringing the doorbell – installing wirelessly controlled devices can improve productivity, increase home safety and save energy and money all at once.
Whether you choose whole home automation or just a few key pieces to suit your lifestyle, the latest smart products will make life simpler now and in the future, and there are gadgets to suit every budget.
How to make your house a smart house
Install smart heating
Many people now have smart thermostats that enable you to control your heating and hot water any time, from anywhere via your smartphone or tablet. They work by connecting the heating system to the internet, so you can adjust the temperature, switch it on and off and select holiday modes when you’re on the move or away from home. It doesn’t matter which energy supplier you are with and it won’t affect things if you switch supplier in the future.
The thermostats cost between £150 and £280 with an additional cost for the installation. Most also work with voice control using Amazon Alexa or Google Home so you can voice command the heating if your phone’s not to hand. Try Hive, Nest, tado and Honeywell.
Smart home security
From being able to see who’s at the door and talk to them – by looking at your smartphone – to receiving notifications if sensors detect any movement in your home, smart security gives you peace of mind and can help to deter unwanted visitors. You can buy video doorbells, app-controlled alarms, sensor cams for outside and compact cameras that will keep an eye on things inside the house when you’re out.
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They’re also handy if you’d like to keep an eye on your pets while you’re out, as the motion sensors will catch their movements. Most won’t need professional installation, which saves hassle and cost, and you can be up and running within minutes. Check out brands including Ring, Verisure, Blink, Yale, SimpliSafe and Hive.
Smart curtains and blinds
Companies, such as Powered Blinds, Blinds 2go, 247 Blinds, Hillarys and The Smart Blind Company all offer a wide selection of remote-controlled electric window blinds and curtain tracks. As well as instant privacy and darkness when you need it, being able to open and close blinds or curtains from your smartphone or tablet also allows you to increase the security of your home, especially when you can programme the timings to make it look like someone’s at home. Selected designs can also be operated with Amazon Alexa voice control. By integrating with a home automation system, such as Somfy’s TaHoma, you can connect all your Somfy smart home devices directly with Alexa or Echo.
Another great way to make your home more secure – and welcoming after a night out – is to install smart lighting. Smart LED bulbs contain software that connects to an app or voice-controlled device so that you can operate your lights remotely using your smartphone, tablet or voice command; useful if you’d like to switch off the landing light as you leave the house.
Switching to smart illumination with the likes of Philips Hue saves energy, gives the illusion that you’re in when you’re not, and connects you to other devices, such as cameras, audio and thermostats. Lights can be set to turn on and off either individually or as a group, mimicking your presence at home even when you’re out or away
For those who love their music or podcasts, a smart speaker is controlled by voice command using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant and it can stream audio content as well as communicate with other smart devices. Look for brands, such as Sonos, Bose, Roberts Radio, Ruark Audio and focus on size, features and sound quality as well as price. Smaller designs are great for background music while larger versions fill the room with sound. Available as mains powered and portable options with a rechargeable battery, they don’t need mobile data and can usually be accessed via a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone or tablet.
Smart air purifiers
Smart air purifiers that use filters to remove airborne toxins from the air are ideal for allergy and asthma sufferers. They monitor the air inside the home, filtering out anything harmful before pumping out clean, particle-free air.
Not only do they help the whole family breathe easier but they clean the air while you are cooking, help you get a better night’s sleep and reduce pet dander and hair. You can also buy smart smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, which connect to your smartphone; if they detect any smoke or carbon monoxide, they will send you a notification, even if you’re away, so you can react accordingly.