With Brits now spending an extra eight hours per day in their humble abode, 2021 could be the year that investment in smart home technology explodes. Virus aside, you could argue that this ‘remote living’ culture started back in the 1950s, with the invention of the Lazy Bones TV remote control, but it’s taken 70 years to develop wireless technology that can control almost every device in our homes.
Over half of homes in Britain already have some sort of smart device installed and with 45% of homeowners intending on making their homes even smarter, we thought we’d take a look at some of the steady favourites and rapid risers to help you identify your home technology essentials this year.
Whole home efficiency
Although not new in the energy efficiency category, smart heating is still gaining in popularity. Digital thermostats from the likes of Nest, Hive and Tado° allow you to control the temperature inside your home from anywhere, by connecting the thermostats to your mobile smart device.
This technology is advancing at a rapid rate and some solutions can monitor the weather or even your own habits to adjust the heating to suit your routines or the climate outside. Wake up to snow? Turn up the heating on your ground floor without leaving your bed.
There are whole house lighting systems that work in a similar way but they can be expensive to install – a cheaper alternative is to buy smart bulbs. They are pricier than your standard light bulbs but use less energy, last longer and enable you to turn the hallway light on without fumbling for the switch in the middle of the night.
You can also purchase smart plugs for devices that aren’t smart themselves. By simply plugging in any appliance, you’ll be able to turn them off and on from an app or remote control – great for boiling the kettle whilst you soak in the bath.
I spy with…
…several little eyes, dotted in various locations inside and outside! You no longer need expensive CCTV systems and cabling installed in your home to keep an eye on it.
Smart cameras aren’t just for managing home security but also for answering the door remotely, checking the contents of your fridge, minding your pets and even feeding Fido treats.
If security is your priority, then there is no reason to stop at cameras. Some security systems come with ‘open and close’ sensors too (or you can buy them standalone) and it is predicted door keys will soon become a thing of the past with the like of August Smart Locks – perhaps not a good option if you’re always forgetting your pin!
While having your own robotic butler is still a few years off, there are plenty of gadgets available that are the next best thing to hiring human help.
Coming in at double the price of an average oven are smart ovens that you can control from an app, check on food without opening the door, and let the technology decide the temperature and cooking time based on the weight of a joint of meat, for example.
For cleaning, there are now a range of robotic mops and vacuums that vary in price and effectiveness – some even empty themselves! You can also buy a driverless lawn mower so you can lie in the sun instead of labour over your lawn.
Big ticket blowouts
If all that money saved during lockdown is burning a hole in your pocket, there are plenty of smart home technologies that require serious investment.
Always wanted a bigger TV but don’t have anywhere to store it? Try LG’s rollable OLED TV for a whopping £66,000. Or how about a bed that lights up in the right places if you get up in the dark? For the more health conscious, smart mattresses can monitor sleep using biometric sensors or how about a virtual reality home gym system like the Tempo Studio and Peloton Bike+?
The most accessible home tech, however, remains the smart assistant. Devices such as Google Home Assist or Alexa are voice controlled and are compatible with an increasing number of devices. Just ask your smart assistant to do the work for you and they will communicate with the relevant appliance or system on your behalf!
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