Change is inevitable. Just as our ancestors made the switch from candles to gas and then to electricity, our homes steadily evolve with new technologies.
From doorbells to thermostats to refrigerators, a world of appliances and devices are available to those looking to automate their homes.
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can have a smart home. However, a smart home product is only worthwhile if it works for your lifestyle. Good Housekeeping says, “Look for devices that will genuinely enhance the way you live.”
Here is a look at products that could help you put your home to work for you.
Smart Plugs. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to branch into smart home technology. Plug a smart plug into an outlet and control any device from your phone—lamps, fans, coffee makers or more—anywhere and anytime.
Outdoor Plugs. Built to survive extreme weather, smart outdoor plugs can power a variety of devices—from holiday lights and inflatables to motors and pumps—with the click of a button. There is no longer a need to run around plugging and unplugging strands of twinkly lights.
Lightbulbs. Put smart bulbs in your lamps and control when and which lights go on and off—and dim them, too—all without having to leave the comfort of your seat. For security, you can set lamps to come on randomly when you are away. Some models, such as the Philips Hue smart bulbs, wake you gradually while mimicking the sunrise.
Light Switches. Wi-Fi-enabled buttons installed on or in your wall allow you to customize how you control lighting. Smart light switches can turn lights on and off and adjust brightness.
Locks. According to PCMag, “A smart lock is arguably the most important part of a truly smart, connected home.” It allows you to monitor who enters and leaves your home while you are away. Some models allow you to use your phone to open and close doors. Others let you assign special privileges to friends and family members.
Doorbells. Depending on the smart doorbell you choose, you can receive alerts on your phone if someone approaches your house and speak with any visitors who ring the bell.
Thermostats. Many smart thermostats are easy to use and cool to look at. But more importantly, manufacturers of products such as the Nest Learning Thermostat estimate they can save households $131 to $145 a year based on typical energy use. Depending on the model, a smart thermostat can learn your habits and adjust cooling and heating based on when you wake up and go to sleep.
Air Conditioners. Smart thermostats are great if you have central cooling, but if you rely on window units to cool your home, consider a smart Wi-Fi air conditioner. It enables you to control the temperature, scheduling mode and fan speed from your phone.
Refrigerators. They do more than just keep your food cold; they can help you create shopping lists and order groceries. Not sure if you have butter? That’s no problem when you own a smart fridge. Take a peek inside from your phone while you are at the store. That’s convenience.
Vacuums. Let a robotic vacuum handle the dirty work. Just set it and forget it. It may not have quite as much suction power as an upright vacuum, but its sucking power is enough to deliver clean carpets and floors with daily use.
Grills. An app connected to your grill tells you when to flip the food and when it has reached the right temperature.
Tips To Boost Your Security
Today’s market offers a plethora of gadgets that claim to make homes smarter, safer and more efficient. But with any new smart technology, consumers should take precautions to ensure those devices are secure.
Internet-connected cameras brought convenience to the way we monitor the security of our homes, children and even our furry family members. With the simple swipe of a smartphone, homeowners can instantly keep a watchful eye from afar.
However, in recent months, some consumers found themselves in scary situations when hackers tapped into internet-connected security cameras in their homes, viewing and speaking to the people inside—including children.
As connected devices become more popular, it is important to secure our digital lives. The U.S. Department of Commerce offers the following tips for protecting smart devices:
Get creative with passwords. Change your device’s factory security settings from the default password. This is one of the most important steps to protect internet-connected devices. Create the longest password or passphrase permissible. Use familiar phrases you will remember, such as the lyrics to a favorite song.
Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected devices use a smartphone application. Apps running in the background or using default permissions you didn’t realize you approved may be gathering personal information without your knowledge, putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense.
Secure your network. Consider putting internet-connected devices on a separate, dedicated wireless network.
Connect and protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game console, camera or other connected items, your technology devices are best protected when you stay up to date with the latest security software, web browser and operating system. If you have the option to enable automatic updates to defend against the latest risks, turn it on.
Convenient, connected devices are here to stay. Unfortunately, so are hackers. By taking extra steps to safeguard your network and devices, you can keep your digital life more secure.