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An Introduction to Smart Home Technologies

Revenue in the US Smart Home market amounts to $27.7B in 2019 and is projected to reach almost $40B by 2022. The market is becoming more competitive as more companies step into the industry. Here’s a quick introduction to the technologies currently in the market.

What is a smart home?

A smart home refers to a home in which its devices and appliances are able to communicate with one another. In addition, the homeowner usually has the ability to control the devices in order to better fit their lifestyle and in some cases make their home more energy efficient save energy.

Featured Technologies

Smart Speakers By now you’ve probably heard about Amazon Alexa as well as Google Home from a coworker, the media, or through their intense advertising efforts. The two companies have been battling the last couple years to put their devices into US households. Owners are able to ask the devices to do anything from asking about the day’s weather or that day’s biggest news to ordering printer paper which you remember you are running low on.

Smart home speakers have become the cost effective foothold for companies to enter their customers’ homes beyond computers and smartphones. These devices also serve as hubs connecting other smart home devices, allowing users to convert voice commands intro actions and changes within the home (think turning on your coffee machine, locking the door at night or turning off the outdoor lights all from your bed).

Smart Thermostats According to Parks Associates, smart thermostats are one of the top three smart home devices boasting double-digit adoption figures in the second quarter of 2019.

Devices are able to create their own heating and cooling schedule by learning your routine and ensuring that your home’s temperature is adjusted before you get home, for example.

In 2011, the original Nest Learning Thermostat drew lots of attention with its ability to create a cooling/heating schedule based on your daily routine. Founded in 2007, Canadian-based company Ecobee is another well-known competitor in the space.

Networked Video Cameras Video camera systems have become more easily installable and integrated with bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities making it very accessible for any homeowner.

For example, homeowners are able to check in on their home right from their phones as they are going about their day. Video cameras can also work with smart lighting by detecting movement which triggers the lights to turn on. The cameras can also be connected to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant allowing homeowners to use voice command to pull up a live video feed of their front porch.

Smart Door Locks Using a number pad to unlock the door has been around for a while but locks now come with many more features and can go for a whopping $200-300.

Locks can be connected via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabling users to unlock their doors using their phones, voice command, and even proximity-detection (once you are outside of the perimeter of the home the door automatically locks).

Ring, a home security startup based in Santa Monica is a well-known company in the space that is integrating video cameras to doorbells and door locks. Ring was recently acquired by Amazon.

Smart Lighting Controls Smart lighting provided by products like Phillip’s Hue light bulbs are a fun and convenient way to help your home use less energy. Lights are able to automatically switch on and off as well as in some cases match the mood of the user.

Why should you go smart?

Saving Energy A smarter, better-connected home leads to efficient energy usage. Energy will be used when its needed and automatically reduced when it’s not.

Saving money Reduced energy usage translates to a reduced electricity and gas bill. Although going ‘smart’ requires initial investments and even subscriptions for some products nowadays, with smarter use of appliances throughout the house, in the long run there will be cost savings for users.

Awareness of energy usage A bonus-- having internet-connected devices throughout the house enables owners to keep track of how much energy they are using, or what we like to call being energy-conscious. Having access to this real-time data is powerful as it can translate to a change in residents’ behavior as it relates to energy usage. In the end, we don’t want to be carelessly using energy and continuing to living our lives when a couple small changes whether it is what time we turn on the sprinkler or what time we wash our dishes could not only be saving us money but the environment around us.

However, in the meantime there are some simple things you can do to save energy at little or no cost. Check out this list from Energy Star. In addition, there are many states that allow residents to choose their own electricity providers which could reduce your electricity bill. (Check out our last blog on how a deregulated electricity market works and came about)

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