Our homes are reflecting the fact that the world is becoming increasingly digital and automated. And more of us are embracing the potential of smart technologies by investing to make our homes energy efficient, especially in view of rising energy bills.
Smart homes are set up with interconnected devices allowing the user to control appliances and functions remotely, managing multiple connected devices through a single platform using a smartphone. This offers convenience, cost savings, and better management of our everyday lives.
Let’s look more closely at some popular smart technologies.
According to a report commissioned by Samsung SmartThings, `Untapped: The Home Tech Evolution’, 56% of UK households have bought a gadget to help reduce energy usage. This report reveals the potential of connected living through technology and the ways it can improve our lives by saving money, reducing energy use, and making managing a home more convenient. You can now manage all your smart devices via one smartphone app, allowing you to monitor and control the way your home operates.
Move to sustainable energy
The energy crisis is predicted to have speeded up the transition to green energy by five to ten years: it’s driven interest in renewable energy solutions and more households are investing in sustainable energy technology such as solar panels and heat pumps.
Eco homes of the future will be all-electric, using heat pumps, solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles to power them, all of which can be controlled via an app on a smartphone or smart notebook to monitor and reduce usage. According to the Samsung report, approximately 20.45 million smart home meters were installed between 2012 and March 2023. The heat pump market grew by 26% between 2021-2022, and 50,700 solar panels were installed between January and March 2023, double the period of installations in 2022. Behind the uptake of green energy options is the government’s pledge to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
It’s recognised that a welcoming home environment is good for our physical and mental health. Demand for smart tech to improve our well-being at home is expected to grow, with health and well-being apps anticipating huge growth. And technology is advancing rapidly; smart home tech trends that we’ll soon see include smart mirrors that suggest a workout based on your mood, and smart speakers that play music according to your emotional state, based on the growing emotion detection and recognition market.
Heating and lighting options
These can be customised to your requirements and managed from anywhere via your phone or smart notebook, allowing you to turn the heating on and off to prevent wasting heat when you’re out.
Adaptive lighting systems can be set up to suit you and help meet your energy efficiency goals.
Smart kitchen appliances
Smart technologies will make kitchens more energy efficient, for instance, you’ll be able to use virtual reality (VR) headsets to guide you with step-by-step recipe instructions and monitor food cooked in your oven. An app will enable you to scan the contents of your fridge when you’re out shopping, provide additional information such as recipe suggestions and update you on what you’re running out of or what’s approaching its sell-by date. Fridges are being fitted with screens to watch videos and interactive displays to enable you to place grocery orders.
Appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers will be able to detect when energy consumption is lowest in your area and turn themselves on at the appropriate time.
Electric vehicles (EVs)
As electric vehicles may well be powered by solar in the future, drivers of EVs are more likely to install solar panels. Smart technologies are also advancing to allow you to power your home using your EV as a backup source and sell surplus power to the grid.
Health and well-being
Digital fitness and well-being apps are expected to reach a projected market volume of £722.30m by 2027 in the UK, according to the Samsung report mentioned above. The apps can track physical and mental health, help you to sleep better, offer light settings to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), monitor exercise levels and offer additional information.
Smart technologies can also help those living at home with illnesses or disabilities to be independent for longer: features include medication reminders and fall detectors. Devices with greater access for all are being designed to make learning approaches to the tech easier. Education software and lesson delivery are also being worked on. Health tech is set to play a key role in supporting our aging population; it will be used to track health and the progression of diseases such as Parkinson’s, and there is smart software to monitor blood pressure and heart rate, along with air quality sensors to improve the lives of those with respiratory problems.
Smart technologies can protect your home, enabling you to check on it from wherever you are and turn lights on if there’s a suspicious person nearby. Doorbells are available with cameras which allow you to have a video call with a visitor at the door. Other technology includes facial recognition, smart locks that can be operated from your phone or smart notebook, and internal motion sensor detectors to detect movement in your house when you’re out.
Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can sound an alarm and be synched to your phone or smart notebook.
While people want more connectivity, they don’t want it to create more clutter. New technology is being embedded in a range of designs and interfaces to make it unobtrusive. The future will see more hands-free tech and the use of voice-controlled assistants, increased use of facial recognition and gesture control, enabling touchless TVs and other equipment.
Advantages and disadvantages of smart technology:
- Improved security through alerts.
- Convenience: rather than controlling different appliances via different devices, you can control everything through a smartphone or smart notebook.
- Flexibility: as the smart software is connected to a portable device, you can get notifications on the move, for example giving you the ability to communicate with someone at your door.
- Set internal light and heat temperatures remotely.
- Cost savings through more efficient use of appliances.
- View security camera footage.
- Smoke and leak detection sensors.
- Make your home more attractive to buyers.
- There can be security risks as products are connected to networks that can be hacked: efficient security protocols are essential and smart home tech companies are improving features to protect users’ private information.
- Costs of installation.
- The need to learn how to use the technology.
Looking to the future
Smart technologies are designed to enhance your life by making your home easier to run and manage from your phone or smart notebook. A smart home can be more energy efficient as the technology can improve the effectiveness of its appliances. However, you need to calculate the potential savings against the installation cost and be prepared to learn how to use the technology.
It’s worth remembering that smart technologies are no longer just for high-end properties or a concept that’s way off in the future – homeowners and homebuyers want them today.
Smart technology is progressing rapidly and by embracing the changes it offers, you can save energy, increase security, and enjoy a well-managed home.