5 Must-Have Smart Home Features
Updated: Sep 6
Even if you're not tech-savvy, there are several smart home features that can transform your life. A smart home uses electronic devices or online apps to control equipment that is usually manual, such as lighting, security systems, door access, heating, and even basic appliances. Internet-enabled devices offer automation, which helps stave off decision fatigue and all kinds of family friction (no more telling the kids to turn off the lights or worrying that a door is locked when you're out of town). From simple keypad security panels to Bluetooth-connected networks throughout your home, here are five surprising ways to use smart technology to upgrade your home to make everyday life a little easier.
Entertainment Upgrades Streaming Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime is even easier when connected to automation technologies that integrate audio, video, and sound distribution systems across multiple rooms. Multi-room Wi-Fi home audio systems let you play DJ throughout your home—with full control over the sound. This is ideal for families with distinct schedules and styles. Lullabies in the baby's room at night, soft rock for a teen wake-up in the morning, and daily news podcasts in the kitchen over coffee—everything is possible when these playlists and settings are programmed for your entire house. Functional features let you turn the music down or off from one room to the next and use voice commands to pause or play your favorite shows or tunes. Once you get used to this sound management system, it's hard to go back to manual searches.
Smart Vent Systems If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night because it's too cold or hot, consider a smart ventilation system. A climate control system adds both comfort and luxury, not to mention many restored hours of precious sleep and relaxation. Equipped with sensors that monitor the temperature of each room of your home, these systems automatically regulate the temperature in each space according to the settings you establish. Some can even measure the temperature outside and adapt to weather changes.
Better still, these systems can work with air filtration systems that can cleanse CO2 and other particles while offering increased or reduced ventilation based on how many people are in the room. Unlike other systems that you must remember to set on a physical panel, these can be controlled by an app on your phone, so there's no need to worry if you forgot to turn off the air conditioner before you left for vacation.
Leak Detection One thing that keeps homeowners up at night is the fear of water leakage. A slow drip can trickle for a long time before becoming a major problem. For less than $1,000, you can purchase a Wi-Fi water sensor or water shutoff control that prevents the unthinkable. These small devices, such as Flo by Moen, identify leakage right away and alert you to close the water supply if required. While these systems don't fix the leak itself, they buy you time to have a plumber come out for pipe repairs rather than needing to hire a major cleanup crew to replace damaged furniture, appliances, and potential mold associated with flooding.
All year long, these leak detection systems also help decrease water waste and save money on your utility bill. Some even provide real-time data on water quality. More advanced water management systems can even facilitate recycling water—a major environmental win.
Lighting and Window Treatments Smart lighting is one of the best home automation features. This entails more than just switching the lights on or off. A smart lighting system lets you automate mood lighting. You can alter the color and brightness to suit your needs. For people who suffer from mood disorders, automated sun lamps can be a game-changer.
Additionally, lighting controls can be integrated with window treatments. A smart lighting system can raise or lower electric blinds according to the time of day or sunlight outside. The same goes for dimmers. Sensors can detect your presence or absence to control the ambient lighting in each room, so you can save on energy bills and ensure optimal illumination in every corner of your home.
Security Solutions Traditionally, home security systems report break-ins or disasters to the nearest emergency first responder. Smart security systems do much more. Long-life battery systems, like the one from Blink, can last up to two years and track indoor, outdoor, and doorbell activity. New smart security systems are ideal for homes with exposed porches, where inclement weather could ruin traditional camera systems, and vacation homes that are vacant for long stretches.
These intelligent systems work to prevent crime, not just report it. Some use facial recognition to separate guests from strangers. Vivint's new Spotlight Pro attachment shines a spotlight on anyone lurking on your property. The light follows people and can escalate dramatic effects to deter potential thieves. Whether you want to watch the kids playing in the backyard or identify the people who keep stealing packages from your front porch.