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The trend in homes and architecture is for smart homes
However, it isn’t clear what a smart home is. For many, the smart home is a home that is entirely digital and that, ultimately, works like a giant computer. Many 1960s sci-fi authors had already depicted the perfect house of the 21st Century.
There was a combination of robotic assistants – the traditional butler was replaced by an intelligent and talkative robot that could open the door and carry on the typical household chores of the housewife –, self-managing homes and modern food – everybody remembers the pizza-pills from Back To The Future with Michael J. Fox, for instance. Besides, there was no home without a car, flying preferably, and a voice-controlled assistant who welcomed the tired husband at the end of a day at the office.
So where are we now of our futuristic dreams?
We will need to wait a long time for the flying cars and intelligent robotic house helpers. Modern food looks nothing like that futuristic pills presented to Marty McFly. But there are some elements of our futuristic dreams that we’ve managed to master – or nail into modern days.
There is such a thing as intelligence at home that can welcome you and talk to you. Amazon Echo, Google Talk, and many others have made an apparition in western households. They may not be the kind of independent robots sci-fi writers imagined, but they are self-learning, and they do as best they can to adjust to your needs and demands.
Through the Internet of Things, homeowners have gained a new form of control over their property. In a click, you can turn the heater up, even if you’re away from home, for instance.
Ultimately, the smart homes are taking over the real estate market. They are not the 100% representation of what previous generations hope the future would be like. But they are the embodiment of what our Millennial generation and digital tech experts can do to make our lives at home easier.
Isn’t the smart home, in the end, a home that is smart enough to understand you and meet your needs – whether they are digital or not?
Start with finding out how much your household spends
At the heart of a smart home, there’s the need to understand your home so that you can help to modify it and meet your needs. After all, a smart home is a home that works for you. Therefore, the first thing you have to do is to identify household areas that can be improved.
Your finances are a good starting point because it will be essential in defining the best options to create your very own smart home. Your family spending plays a significant role: A smart home, unfortunately, doesn’t come for free – even if it can save you a lot of money in the long-term. So, the main question is not only where you’re spending money on, but also how you can save more – or spend less, depending on your point of view.
If you’re new to managing the household budget, establishing a 3-à-day rule can make it easier to control. Gradually, you’ll be able to identify areas where you’re spending more than you need, such as common food waste – buying more than you should have –, emotional shopping, or even high-priced insurance covers. It’s fair to say that adapting a home to your requirements, making it smart and tailored for you, begins by reducing financing waste.
High running costs?
Your home experiences a variety of different costs. On the one hand, you need to pay attention to your expenses and ensure that you don’t buy more than you need. But on the other hand, each house has its running costs, which comprise maintenance, heating, water, mortgage and home insurance costs.
While these expenses are mandatory, they don’t have to break the bank. Most home-related invoices are agreed in advance and known so that homeowners can plan their budget accordingly. For instance, while there are high maintenance costs in the lifetime of a property, from roof renovation to modernizing your plumbing system, it’s fair to say that you know they’re in the pipeline.
Unexpected bills are more difficult to manage, though. Imagine that you discover an especially high energy bill at the end of a cold winter. Aside from the first moment of panic, there’s an important question to ask: Is your house leaking energy – aka are you paying for more than you need? Inefficient windows account for up to one-third of a home’s heat loss in winter – similarly, in summer, you’re letting the warm air in and spending more to keep the house cool.
Poor or old insulation can be another significant factor for energy waste at home. Ultimately a smart home is a home that wastes no money.
Can you save energy?
But, contrary to the common belief, the main reason why your home is costing you more than it should in running costs doesn’t have to be structural. Even modern properties that don’t leak heat in winter can be expensive to run if your family hasn’t learned energy-efficient habits. Something as simple as turning your thermostat down by only 1C can save you a significant amount on your yearly bill.
Additionally, if you get used to wearing a jumper and a pair of socks at home during the cold months, you’ll be less tempted to turn the heating up as soon as the sky goes gray. Even the way you pack your fridge and freezer can save a lot in the long-term. A full fridge needs less energy to maintain its temperature than an empty fridge, for instance.
And if nothing makes a difference, you could also compare energy suppliers. You might be spending too much without getting more value out of your provider! And finally, the way you utilize energy at home might encourage waste. German engineers have built a smart home that can run itself, using data collection and artificial intelligence to control the temperature, the light, and the indoor air quality.
By using information-based patterns, the house keeps running costs low. And that is precisely what a smart home is about!
Is your home too costly to renovate?
Homes evolve with the families who live in them. It’s easy to understand that even if you moved in a home that was completely new when you bought it, within a few years, you’d be considering renovation and improvement works, especially if the family is growing. But, while you want your home to be the best it can be, you need to be aware that not all home improvement projects are profitable. In fact, you could be wasting money on expensive and unnecessary renovations.
A kitchen remodel, for instance, can dramatically change the atmosphere in the room. But if you spend over $60,000 in remodeling your kitchen with the latest tech, you’ll never recoup your investment, and your devices will be out-of-date within a few years.
Similarly, a home movie room is another costly improvement that will be out-dated from the moment it’s finished. Ultimately, your smart home is a home that doesn’t overspend on stuff you don’t need.
Change home for the better
There’s a time, however, when you might be faced with a difficult decision, aka whether it’s cheaper to renovate or to change home. For families with more than two children, it can be easier to up-size into a new property. Except that finding the right home can take a lot of time, even when you’re working closely with a real estate agent.
There are many criteria to match, and more importantly, you may not be actively aware of what you want and what you don’t want. That’s precisely why; you need a realtor who understands you and who uses the smartest tech – such as PropertyGuru and the new AI-driven home search – to support you.
It might come as a surprise, but the smartest homes are those that understand your requirements from Day One, starting with intelligent home description and home search.
What’s in a smart home?
What would you say if someone were to ask you how to make your home smart? Based on what we’ve just learned, a smart home doesn’t need the latest tech on the market to function. But it has to be right for you and your budget. Keeping your costs down is a priority, and that’s precisely what inspired the HouseZero project.
HouseZero is a home that produces more energy than it consumes and that leaves only a minimum footprint on the environment. It’s not just human-smart, it’s planet-smart too. Space-saving, functional furniture divides the rooms. A simple and elegant decor gives life to the property. What more can one need?
That About Wraps it Up
In conclusion, smart homes don’t need to be futuristic and filled with gadgets. They need to save your time, money and effort in maintenance and running processes. But, the most important lesson in smart architecture is that you need to go green! Start today to make your home smart and save money!
Alicia Trautwein is an autism parenting coach living in Missouri. She is the creator behind The Mom Kind, a website dedicated to parenting neurodiverse families. She is one of the head creators behind the #WeLoeveMoms campaign and is also featured in the “Amazing Moms” coffee table book by Hogan Hilling & Dr. Elise Ho. She shares her expertise along with her experience in parenting children, both with and without autism.