Pro tips: 5 tips for adding smart technology to your home

Tablet connecting to house devices

As more appliances and devices begin working together to make household tasks easier and more efficient, here are five wise ways to add smart technology to your home.

Some smart technologies are devices (think coffee makers) that can be programmed to turn on at certain times, and others are wireless technologies (think smart security systems) that are controlled through an app on your phone. But a truly smart home is one where your household systems (such as heating and entertainment), lights, appliances and other devices are all connected to each other through the internet and controlled through a central communications point.

This technology has come a long way since we first shouted at Alexa to change the song, and it has the potential to impact almost every way we interact with our homes. When you enable multiple household conveniences to communicate with one another and to make adjustments based on the information they exchange with each other or with you, everyday devices — ranging from the fridge to door locks to a pet-food dispenser to your furnace — can work together to make your home more energy efficient, convenient and conducive to human health.

LINK writer Zach Robertson spoke with Ben Hildebrandt (AT ’13, CAD1 ’11, AMT ’08), lead creator of Introduction to Smart Home Technologies — a new Continuing Education course for professionals in the residential construction industry — about starting and succeeding with smart home technologies.

Number one

Plug into smart tech

The cost-to-entry for smart home technologies has dropped significantly in the past decade. Many smart technologies are now available at large box stores at affordable prices. An easy way to start on the journey of smart home technology is to begin with a simple and relatively cheap smart plug. It can be plugged into a standard electrical wall outlet to turn the device of your choosing (such as a light) on or off using your mobile device.

Number two

Tie it in

Lights on. Vacuum roaming. Blinds up. Coffee brewing. Favourite morning news program playing. You can automate your daily routine by integrating your smart home devices through a central communication point such as Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Nest Hub. Both allow you to activate a sequence of actions with a simple spoken command.

Number three

Choose security over savings

It’s tempting to go online and find something cheap, but those off-brands can come with all kinds of problems. They may malfunction, they might not update properly, and they could expose your devices or system to being hacked. Stick to established brands with reliable security capabilities.

Number four

Minimize to maximize

Smart devices communicate, synch and operate better when they are made by the same company, but no one brand manufactures every type of device. Where possible, stick to the same brands when adding new devices because it can help minimize problems with integration — plus, you’ll need to download fewer apps to connect with your different devices.

Number five

Keep up to date

Companies continue to update features and applications to improve the efficiency, performance and security of their devices. You don't want to miss the cool new service your smart device can perform, and you especially don't want to miss the latest security upgrade. Make sure to frequently update your connected devices.



This story was originally written for the print version of the Spring 2021 issue of LINK — Raw, risky and full of joy.