Smart technology has evolved beyond the simple timer-regulated thermostats and keypad door-locks of previous decades, into something so much more inventive. And don’t think for a second that only houses can benefit from these upgrades; more and more systems are designed with apartment dwellers in mind, and renters are discovering that they don’t have to be millionaires to enjoy technological innovation.
What Is Home Automation, and How Can It Work in an Apartment?
Home automation is the term used to describe devices that use connectivity and embedded sensors to automate common household tasks. The concept has been around for a while, but it used to require spending thousands of dollars on a fully integrated, wired system (not something most renters would consider). Today, the advent of the DIY smart home, powered by smartphones and wireless communication protocols, has made home automation products far more affordable. Two examples are light bulbs that turn themselves on and off and door locks that open upon your approach. And a growing number of these products are designed to work with each other—when your door unlocks, it can tell your lights to turn on. When you amass enough of these gadgets, you begin to build what is known as a smart home: one that communicates with itself and acts on the occupants’ needs. A smart home can also act on a problem when the house is empty, like a smart smoke alarm that tells a smart thermostat to shut the heating off when it senses a carbon monoxide leak. This combination means that you can benefit from the security, convenience and energy efficiency of home automation, even if you don’t own your home.
1. Climate control
Perhaps the oldest form of home automation is the automatic thermostat. Today, it is fairly easy for apartment renters and owners to utilize improved technology to go beyond your standard temperature changes. The Nest Learning Thermostat (now in its 3rd generation) not only fulfills the function of keeping your home a comfortable temperature, but it also learns your habits and automatically adjusts itself to suit your needs. Say you leave the apartment for eight hours a day during the week to go to the office or if you prefer that temperatures be colder at night while you’re sleeping, Nest will learn from the temperature adjustments you make and begin to mimic them at the appropriate times. With built-in Wi-Fi that can be controlled by any device and additional sensors, the 3rd generation you’ll be able to change your temperature from miles away. Although the $249 Amazon price may sound expensive, you’re likely to reduce your monthly heating/cooling bill by up to 20%.
2. Lighting automation
As anyone knows who’s in the habit of leaving lights on, wasted electricity can be very expensive. By automating home lighting, you can make it easy to activate or deactivate the lights in your apartment with the push of a single button. Perhaps best of all for apartment inhabitants is the fact that the bulbs screw directly into existing light sockets, for easy installation. You can find the simplest kit and additional bulbs prices vary depending on where you look.
3. Smart television
Home is a place where you should be able to relax and unwind, and nothing accomplishes this better than zoning out in front of the television. But, honestly, do we even need cable anymore? With a smart TV you’ll get internet capability and web-based features built directly into the television itself. With a smart TV you can access computer media files, enjoy online services, visit web pages, record videos, and play streamed games. You will pretty much set to binge watch your favorites way longer than you should. And with devices like Google Chromecast and Roku, any TV can be a smart! With so many options and brands, it’s easy to find a TV that fits your budget and preferences.
4. Automated door locks
Home automation for entertainment and comfort is all well and good, but ensure the safety of your property is even more important. The lock on your door is the first line of defense against potential home intrusion, and can be majorly upgraded with home-automation security. The lock can also be manually operated with the use of a key, just in case something goes wrong. The system also keeps a complete record of who has been in and out of the house.
5. Home Surveillance
Security goes further than having a safe lock. If you want to know exactly what is happening in and around your home when you’re not around, you have many options in security camera surveillance. Smart cameras are the perfect simple, portable security solution for apartments. These cameras will send alerts to your smartphone if they sense motion or noise, and they will record footage of the event to the cloud or to an SD card in the camera. Both of these models also have two-way microphones, which are a huge help if your building superintendent needs to pop in or you have a cable guy that needs to stop by while you’re at work. You can to talk to them when they arrive, explain what the problem is and keep an eye on them while they’re there.