Kara Parlin is a writer, editor, and content strategist who has regularly covered business technology during her 20-year career and is currently focused on IoT and remote access technology.
With the growing popularity of smart devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, home automation has become a hot topic among homeowners and property managers. In addition to helping you maximize efficiency, comfort, and safety; home automation devices can also alert you to potential system failures.
What Is Home Automation?
Before diving into the many benefits, let’s take a step back to really understand what home automation is—and what it isn’t. When some people hear ‘home automation,’ they envision Tony Stark’s computerized right-hand man, Jarvis, from the Iron Man movies. While this may be where technology is headed, today’s applications are a bit more practical, though no less impressive.
According to TechTarget, home automation is “the use of one or more computers to control basic home functions and features automatically and sometimes remotely.” This can encompass a wide spectrum of systems and devices, from climate control to entertainment to landscaping and more.
Basically, anything that has a sensor or can be connected to the internet can be tracked and controlled from a central source—either on-site or remotely. This is where the term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) comes into play. It may sound like a complex subject, but it really just encapsulates the idea that any physical object equipped with the right technology can connect to any other and share data among the connected objects.
How To Make Your Home ‘Smart’
In a residential setting, you can automate just about anything. Some of the more popular applications include:
- Keyless entry
- Climate control
- Appliance management
- Fire detection
- Irrigation systems
And while there’s been an increase in homeowners and property managers entering the smart home market, IHS Markit predicts 28 percent of North American homes will have a smart home system installed by 2020. If you’re wondering how to get started or feel overwhelmed at the idea of automating your entire home, you may want to dip your toes in the water by selecting a single application and building from there.
For example, keyless entry has become a game-changer for vacation rentals. On a recent trip to California, I booked an apartment through Airbnb that was part of a multi-unit building. The host provided a unique code to enter the building and another to access the apartment. We never had to meet up with the host and he could change the codes after our stay from wherever he was. For a more turnkey approach, he could also have check-out notifications synced to his housekeeping service to automatically get the room turned and ready for the next guest.
If you foresee adding different types of smart tech into your home, you’ll want to consider whether you want to manage each separately via an app or website, or control everything from a central hub. If you’re managing multiple properties, a hub can give you a bird’s eye view of all your holdings and alert you instantly to any potential issues.
The Benefits Of Smart Home Automation
Although a small percentage of early adopters may have moved to automation simply for the coolness factor, there is growing data that shows a variety of ways in which smart home technologies provide a return on investment (ROI).
Energy and resource savings – Managing and tracking heating, cooling, lighting, and irrigation systems can help you optimize settings and use resources only when they’re needed or when the cost is lowest.
Accessibility – Providing voice-activated systems can enable elderly or disabled residents to live more independently and retain control over their home environment.
Convenience – From listening to music in any room to seeing who’s at the door when no one’s home, smart home technology has made day-to-day living easier.
Resale and rental value – Smart homes, apartments, and vacation rentals can fetch top dollar and attract increased interest over other properties on the market.
Whether you’re planning to go ‘all-in’ or make a few smart upgrades, it’s easy to see how the investment now can provide growing future return.