There are several benefits of home automation but also a few concerns that people rarely talk about.
Here is a list of both the problems and benefits of home automation so you can make the best decision for your home.
Home automation is not cheap or easy to install so before you go down this road, you need to clearly define your outcome.
Sorry to tell you that your life will not change too much. Your home will not turn into something from the Jetsons or Star Trek.
Home automation is still very early in its development and very clunky to get working and use.
As long as you have realistic expectations, then installing some home automation may be a great project for you to do.
Benefits of Home Automation and Smart Homes
I have spent a lot of money trying and installing different home automation items and have learned what works well and what doesn’t. Below are just a few of the items I have installed.
If you are wondering of the current price for some of these items, just click on the picture and it will take you to Amazon and show you the current price for each item.
I currently use everything below except the Amazon Echo Show. I prefer the Google Home and have invested in 10 of them so far. Amazon’s Alexa is further along in development then the Google Home but I expect Google will catch up soon and ultimately be a better product.
I use both Alexa and Google Home regularly..
One of the biggest benefits of home automation is the increased security you can deploy in your home.
You can arm your alarm system, lock all your doors, video record any activity inside and outside your home, and answer your door from around the world. You can also deal with false alarms quickly and easily.
If you are like me, you are probably saying “Sold”. Sign me up with just this one benefit and if you are, then I agree with you.
It is the main reason I installed a top of the line alarm system several years ago (Honewell Vista 20P) and it is the reason I got into home automation in the first place.
Security can be extended with fancy doorbells, motion sensor IP camera’s, and even play a recording of barking dogs when someone approaches your front door. You have limitless options here. If you can imagine it, there is probably a device that can do it.
There are parts of a home automation system that will make you less secure so before you pull out your credit card, keep reading and get the full picture.
Security and safety can be very different things but are also related. Lets say you fall in your house and cannot get up.
You can simply call to your Google Home or Alexa device to sound your house alarm and the police will be at your front door in minutes. You can unlock the doors to let them in and be sitting in your favorite chair in no time.
Have you ever experienced a water leak in your house? You can install water sensors in your home and even program your home automation system to turn off the water when the water sensor goes off.
The Aeotec sensor is a freeze, leak, and temperature sensor. This combination should tell you before you have a broken pipe and can still correct the problem before it becomes a disaster.
You can have your inside or outside lights come on when you come home so no more tripping on things or worrying about someone jumping out and attacking you.
Fire, smoke, and carbon dioxide sensors are also available and should be connected to your home automation system. Get alerts anytime something happens so you can deal with it quicker.
With the cost of energy today, we all need to be a lot more concerned about how we use our energy and reduce our carbon footprint.
A very large benefit of home automation is to be able to control your lights, heat and AC, or appliances better to save energy which will be a huge money saver for most of us.
Will it be greater then the cost of your home automation system? Most Likely!
I always laugh when I drive around the neighborhood and see a house with its sprinklers on while its raining.
I know a simple rain sensor will correct that but a home automation system can take that a step further.
If rain is in the forecast, your house can disable the sprinkler entirely.
You can even take it to the other extreme. If the weather is especially hot this week, you can automatically add additional watering to keep your lawn and plants watered and happy.
The biggest benefit of home automaton is when you get a smart or learning thermostat.
A learning thermostat will learn how you like your home temperature, know when you are home, and make adjustments as needed.
This means your house temperature will be perfect all the time when you are home and saving money when you are not.
I already talked about the temperature benefits which cannot be understated.
How about a house that wakes you up gently with relaxing sounds, gradual lighting, and can start making your coffee before you even get out of bed.
The benefits of home automation around comfort is limitless. Look for new innovative ideas in the years to come to take this even further.
Lighting is another area that can fall under comfort.
You can adjust your light temperature depending on the time of day.
Studies have shown your brain reacts differently to light temperature and it is very simple to tell your house to dim your lights at night or brighten them when you are working.
Home automation allows you to control your ceiling fans too which could save even additional money and make your house more comfortable.
Some people would say the the main purpose of a home automation system is convenience and it is hard to argue that point. When done right, it will definitely make your life much easier.
Imagine when you wake up you can get a report of the weather, stock report, or news in your industry.
Maybe a gentle reminder of your scheduled activities or maybe you want to make changes to your schedule. Just talk to your personal assistant (Alexa or Google) to make it happen.
Did you know you can make phone calls through Google or Alexa or control your home media (TV’s, speakers)? You are not limited to just watching Netflix on your phone or tablet.
You can easily tell your house to turn on the TV, tune to a channel or Netflix, and start playing something without ever touching your remote controls. The days of having 5 remote controls to watch the news are definitely over.
How about video conferencing?
Yes, you can do all that too from home with just a few voice commands. You can tell your house to call someone. Your house will automatically turn on your camera and TV’s and allow you to have a face to face conversation with someone anywhere in the world.
You are probably totally sold on the idea so far (I know I am as I’m writing this).
One drawback is all this technology is it’s very expensive.
Each part adds up and you can easily be in the thousands of dollars in no time but the good news is that money is not completely lost.
If you every sell your house, you can recoup some of that money in the resale.
People would love to move into a house that is already smart saving them all the time and effort of building it themselves.
You will also recoup some or all of that money in monthly energy savings too so a home automation system is a great investment.
Controlling your system is the fun part. The control you can have on house devices is only bound by your imagination.
There is a website called “If This Then That” (IFTTT) which allows you to customize pretty much anything you want.
This really provides almost limitless control of all your devices and services.
You can receive emails or text messages when things happen in your house.
You can record when anyone approaches your front door and record that information in a google spreadsheet. Maybe you are on a diet and want to record how many times your refrigerator door is opened or close the shades when the temperature outside reaches a certain temperature.
Maybe you want to have your lights go on when you open your front door.
You can have your favorite music playing depending on what room you are in.
You can have your lights turn off after you leave a room.
All this is possible and pretty simple to do.
Peace of Mind
Most people have jobs that demand they spend a lot of time away from the house.
With the crazy busy schedules we all have, I know everyone wonders if they locked the doors, turned on the alarm, or turned off the coffee maker. Well worry no more.
With a quick glance at your phone, you can know for sure if your doors are locked, alarm on, or status of your coffee maker.
Even better, you can control all of these things directly from your phone from anywhere.
Focus on the important things in life and let your home automation system take care of your home.
Issues You Need to Consider
If you made it this far, I am sure you are completely sold of the benefits of home automation. All the technology companies would hope you are completely sold on one.
In order to make this work correctly, you need to connect several different apps and companies together with several different accounts.
For example, in order to manage your security system, you need to expose it to the Internet where hackers will now be able to start hacking into it.
If you want to receive an email when something happens inside your house, you will need to allow someone access to your email.
In addition to granting access to all your accounts, you will be providing a ton of personal information to many companies. They will now know and collect every little bit of data about your life and keep it for their benefit.
Companies will learn when you are home, when you leave, where you go all the time. They will know who you talk to, what you write in your emails, and many other very personal things about you that even you don’t really know (because you haven’t really thought about it much).
How will companies protect your personal data? In my opinion, not well at all. Not only will it be available to the companies providing you these services, it can and likely be stolen because companies today are more concerned about profit then protecting your personal data.
What Can You Do About It?
Once you understand this, you will see the true cost of home automation.
Don’t be scared away yet because companies are collecting this data in many other ways and unless you plan to move to the mountains and get rid of all technology in your life, you cannot avoid this exposure (and you are kidding yourself if you think you can prevent it).
What you need to do is limit your exposure as much as you can.
Make sure your home automation accounts are unique and different from your normal accounts and passwords.
Keep the apps to a minimal. Try and pick larger companies instead of smaller ones who can afford to spend more on data security.
Change passwords often. Make them very strong, and apply common sense when protecting yourself online (like using virtual credit card numbers).
Here is the best way to deal with your person data on the Internet.
Treat the Internet as your public facing life. If you use a website to monitor your thermostat, then be OK with everyone knowing what temperature you like your house.
If you are not OK with people watching you in your living room, then do not connect your cameras to the Internet.
You may lose some features this way but you will gain privacy and added security. You get to make the decision on what data gets exposed.
When you must expose your date, then apply common sense.
I can talk more about the problems and benefits of home automation but I am sure you get the point. This is a growing business and with new IoT devices hitting the market everyday. This field will be changing a lot in the next few years.
This could be a really great thing in your life that can also be a royal pain if not done right.
Make sure you are just as smart with your accounts and personal data. Pay close attention to this so when your smart house does some dumb things, you are not paying the price.
What do you think of the benefits of home automation? If you know of any benefits or problems that I didn’t list, please tell us in the comment section below.
Let me know if you decided to install automation devices in your house. Tell about your design and how you are keeping it safe from hacker and protecting your personal data from companies.
Share the knowledge and maybe all our houses will get a little bit smarter.