Smart Home Technology is a “SMART” CHOICE
By Michelle Gamble
When it comes time to either invest in a new property or remodel an old one, smart home technology offers a wise choice for both property owners and renters. The latest and emerging technologies now use capabilities like artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the home down to measuring energy usage and adjusting the house. It gets even more amazing since the latest technologies can also do chores like wash the dishes. The old 1960s cartoon the Jetsons where their home was automated has nothing on these new concepts.
“Demand for smart tech is coming from the bottom (consumers) up to manufacturer versus the usual, which is technologies being pushed toward consumers from the manufacturers,” said Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. This kind of marketplace demand offers important insight for property owners looking for high-quality renters. Smart home features can give property owners that extra edge over competitors.
“… [Smart home technology] is the new standard that you’re seeing in the industry,” said SmartRent Chief Operating Officer Demetrios Barnes in an article titled “A Smart Home Trilogy to Optimize Operations and Teams” by Doug Pike. “What we’re learning is that in some markets, this is a requirement. If you’re not there yet, it’s time. It’s not just about the rent lift anymore; it’s all of that additional savings.”
Popular technologies have already been adopted by home designers and builders. “Consumers seem more driven than ever by sustainability and devices that help save energy and reduce the negative environmental impacts of its consumption,” said Shawn Doyle, a software engineer and development manager at Stratis, a company that creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings. “Some of the most exciting developments in these areas are in-demand response programs that can utilize smart devices to reduce overall energy consumption and lower the dependency on fossil fuels.”
“One of the most popular applications for smart technology in the home is automation,” said Matt Teifke, founder and CEO of Austin Real Estate Brokerage. “Home automation systems can be used to control a wide variety of devices and appliances within the home, including lights, door locks, security systems, thermostats, and more. Home automation systems can be controlled manually or through voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home.”
“With smart devices, a home can have a ‘brain’ and become intelligent, allowing a person to control it remotely,” said Jeffrey Zhou, a New York Times Visionary, personal finance expert and CEO of Fig Loans. “Take, for example, a smart video doorbell connected to the Internet that will send a push notification to your mobile (even if you’re not at home). Once someone presses the button or the device has detected a physical motion at the door, you will then be able to see a live video feed of what’s going on at your front door and be able to communicate with the person even if you’re not at home.”
Remote automation doesn’t stop at the front door. “Occupants can monitor their house appliances and systems remotely too,” said Guy Sharp, relocation advisor for Andorra Guides (andorraguides.com). “From regulating the temperature and lighting to keeping a close eye on their security and alarms, a smart home lets you easily control everything at a touch of a button.”
A significant attraction, especially for those owners and operators whose rent payments cover utilities, is the use of smart thermostats and energy management systems. Local energy companies have even started offering rebates and incentives provided by the government for those homes that use these devices. “An energy management system is a type of smart technology that helps homeowners save money on their energy bills by monitoring and managing energy consumption,” said Teifke. “Energy management systems can be used to track energy usage, set limits on energy consumption, and even generate alerts when energy use exceeds a certain threshold.”
In the world of smart-home technology, thermostats are one of the most widely adopted devices. Installation is generally easy and you can easily customize your preferred temperature and routines, enabling you to adjust your home’s environment from anywhere. “Smart thermostats have been popular purchases this past year,” said Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, a company that’s bringing high-tech solutions to the lawn care industry. “Extreme weather has made people have to bump up their AC and/or heaters more than normal, but with inflation, that is costly. Smart thermostats help optimize your energy so that you are comfortable while avoiding overspending.”
Smart lighting has also become popular for its energy-saving capabilities. “Smart lighting is nothing new, but it continues to be one of the most popular smart home features,” said Melanie Musson, a smart home expert with Clearinsurance.com. “Not only can you turn on and off lights with your smartphone, but you can also change the color of the lights for fun or to compliment your mood.”
Another relevant and important technology that has increased in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the touchless doorbell and integrated security systems. Smart doorbells and other smart home monitoring devices are likely more popular for the simple reason that home security is a top priority for homeowners and renters.
“Touchless doorbells, AI and the Internet of Things, and high-tech security are in high demand in 2022,” said Hardy Selo, SEO specialist and property expert. “These technologies make life easier through convenience. With touchless doorbells, you don’t need to worry about spreading germs. AI and voice-activated devices have increased in popularity and high-tech security features like cameras can be controlled at just the touch of a button.”
It is expected that smart home technology will continue to develop, enabling it to connect all smart devices as well as collect data about their owners, analyze them, and adjust performance according to their preferences. “Smart home technology is becoming more and more advanced, with new features and capabilities being added all the time,” said Stacy Lewis, owner and interior designer at Eternity Modern. “Some of the newer technologies that are being used in smart homes include things like voice control, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.”
“The future of smart homes is always evolving and in the near future we’ll see smart appliances that can order groceries and run errands,” said Marc De Diego, founder of MCA Assessors. “These technologies will take account of what you need and when you need it so that you can always have what you need on hand without having to lift a finger. They will also perform errands such as washing dishes, folding laundry, and notifying you when the trash needs to be taken out.”
“I think it’s easy to imagine a smart home of the future with heads-up displays and devices we can control with gestures, but I don’t think those will be the types of technologies that leave a lasting impact,” said Doyle. “Instead, the technology that we’ll see change lives are the ones that provide value outside of the novelty. I can’t imagine a more important area where this needs to happen than in smart devices that continue to find new ways to make us smarter and provide more efficient use of our natural resources without having the long-term mess that past technology has left for us to clean up.”
“There are always new technologies emerging in the smart-home space,” said Lewis. “Some of the newer technologies that are starting to become available include things like smart appliances, connected door locks and windows, and even autonomous robots.
“These new technologies will likely become more mainstream over time as they become more affordable and easier to use. For example, autonomous robots are already being used in some homes to vacuum floors and clean up spills. In the future, we may see more homes with robots that can do things like laundry, dishes and even yard work.
“As far as how these new technologies will work, it will likely vary depending on the specific product or service. However, many of them will likely use some combination
of sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning to function.”
What’s next as smart homes evolve? Many experts point to AI and machine learning as the trends of the future.
“AI and machine learning hold immense potential in the smart home ecosystem because they can learn from human behavior, predict preferences and implement them without constant programming and intervention,” explained Sharp. “Once this happens, we can expect smart homes to become extremely in tune with the needs of their inhabitants and predict their decisions before they’re made.”
“Technologies that are likely to become more prevalent in smart houses in the future include: artificial intelligence, which can provide homeowners with recommendations on energy usage; virtual reality, which can be used for home design or to provide tours of properties; and augmented reality, which can be used for maintenance or entertaining purposes,” said Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home.
In the meantime, many experts suggest that popular technologies already being used will simply be upgraded and more refined. “I don’t foresee a huge difference in the technologies coming down the road, just small updates that could make them less expensive and more appealing to a broader audience of homeowners and property owners,” said Brentnie Daggett, writer for Rentec Direct, a software developer. “Smart tech with alert systems are not as popular right now, but as property owners and homeowners become more familiar with smart technologies, I believe they’ll begin to see a higher value in these items. Smart utilities and smart moisture sensors or irrigation systems are all valuable upgrades that could save thousands of dollars due to their damage prevention capabilities.”
And that cost savings seems like a “smart” reason to invest in these technologies to not only upgrade and improve your properties, but also improve safety, security, energy and water usage, and more.
Michelle Gamble is the editor of Rental Housing Magazine.