The concept of automation started becoming a more common discussion point with the advent of the Ford automation department in 1947. That work led to many of the production devices that we know today, such as welding robots, conveyor systems, and even pneumatic screwdrivers. Home appliances then came into the picture in the early 1900s, but they were far from the smart and intelligent appliances that we know today. In fact, smart homes didn’t come into our everyday vernacular until the early 2000s as new technologies began to emerge. These early smart homes had smart locks (designed to lock and unlock through instructions from an authorized device), lighting and environmental controls, and electronic closed-circuit security systems.
Today’s smart homes have taken it to the next level, providing remote mobile controls for just about any function you can think of, talking boxes that can tell you the weather and can turn on your lights, appliances and countertops that tell you when you are running low on milk or what to make for dinner, and so much more. And with the benefits that smart home technology can bring, it’s no wonder more and more homeowners are embracing the concept and building their homes to accommodate such technology.
Coincidentally, and according to Statista, it is estimated that over 33% of homes in the United States in 2019 have some sort of smart or automation system installed, and this number is expected to hit almost 54% by 2023. With increasing concerns about energy efficiency and home security, it is no wonder that more and more households are embracing this technology and making the smart home a staple of life.
How can smart homes benefit your life?
- Have the ability to manage all of your devices from one system. Smart homes bring convenience to our lives that can be extremely welcome in today’s hustle and bustle society. With the ability to do so much with just one tool, it is easier to embrace the smart home technology since you only have to learn once.
- Leveraging a smart countertop brings a great mix of kitchen practicality and technology. Smart countertops offer many advantages over a normal countertop. For busy homeowners that want a home-cooked meal at the end of the day, a smart countertop has the ability to recognize the items placed on the countertop and then can generate recipe recommendations based on those items. These countertops offer a convenient take on Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Splendid Table when she’ll tell callers what to make with the items in their refrigerator. Smart countertops are also great for our environment and for your grocery bill, as they can help you use up ingredients and supplies prior to an expiration date, allowing you to be less wasteful.
- Save money on your energy bills. With today’s smart technology, your various appliances and your thermostat can be controlled to improve efficiency in your heating and cooling systems, can ensure lights are turned off when rooms were not in use, can alert you if the refrigerator door is left open, and can even turn off your television after a certain time in the event you fall asleep.
- Secure your home to provide more peace of mind. With smart home technology, you can receive alerts when people open and close your exterior doors, ensure your garage door is closed if left open more than ten minutes, and even automate your lights at inconsistent times throughout the day and evening.
- The use of smart lights is becoming a popular trend for both security purposes and to help you save money. With the ability to control lights in your home from anywhere in the world from various smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers, changes can be made with the simple touch of a button. When adding in the combination of Energy Star certified LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, homeowners can experience 90% more lighting efficiency than with a standard incandescent bulb.
- Smart homes can help you to manage various behaviors as well as your home’s overall operation. You can track computer usage, television viewership, the type of food in your refrigerator including expiration dates and when you need to buy more of something, and you can even leverage this insight as a tie to your personal health habits. An indication that television is in use for more than an hour or so a day could be an indicator that you need to get outside and move more.
- Smart homes keep you informed. Not only can tell you when your kids are home from school, if a pet has escaped (or invaded) your yard, etc., you can also get insight into the weather for the coming week, or even a download on the news you need to know for the day when you are making your morning coffee. Not only that, smart home automation can have that coffee maker ready for you by the time you even make it to the kitchen in the morning, meaning less stress if you’re worried about getting to work on time.
Ultimately, the pros, or benefits, of smart home and automation comes in the way of energy savings, convenience, and security.
What are the cons of smart homes and home automation?
While smart homes can add tremendous convenience to our daily lives, some would argue that it’s simply not worth it to install these devices. There continues to be skepticism in the market about the true value that this smart technology really adds. And yet there are others that believe that smart home technology is just not there yet, and want to wait for the next big solution to become available. That said, in most situations, consumers have identified the following cons, or drawbacks, to home automation:
- Smart homes don’t come for free, and often require a serious investment, but with up-front costs and ongoing costs for operation. In many cases, these systems need to be installed by a third party due to their complexity, which can be burdensome for homeowners.
- For some homeowners, the complexity of the technology may feel too complicated. While automation systems are indeed becoming easier and easier to use, many older generations will find there is too much of a learning curve to adopt.
- With the number of smart home automation systems on the market today, there are instances where various components are not interoperable with one another, which can create the need to log in to multiple applications or devices for basic operation of one or more systems. The only true way to make automation as simple as possible is to invest in one overall system that can do everything (or almost everything), but this may mean going with a system that doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles included that multiple systems would have independently.