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Smart Home is a buzzy term these days, and I get asked about it wherever I go. The affordable prices and even-you-can-do-it installation many new products offer make it easier than ever to keep an eye on your home while you’re on vacation, and be greeted with the lights on and a cozy temperature when you return. However, all this ease and affordability doesn’t mean it’s always clear where to begin when it comes to choosing products. Where to start and how do your smart home planning can be a bit baffling to the uninitiated.
So when the folks at Nest asked me to create a guidebook for the average jane to start building a smart home, I thought it was a great idea. I’m a hewge fan of Nest and have nearly every Nest product in my home— they all work in concert to keep my home safe, help me keep an eye on the kids, and take care of the planet while they’re at it. Not too shabby.
Here’s my cheat sheet for where to start when thinking about a smart home.
Start with a problem, not a product
Smart home technology can be the remedy to many a home headache, but if you buy devices for your home because you’re wooed by a slick advertisement, or a friends tricked-out house, you’re less likely to feel like you got your money’s worth.
For example, many consumers are concerned about rising energy costs (especially during the winter months), and want to have more control over how they heat and cool their homes. The 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat is a homeowner’s best friend when it comes to lowering energy costs, because it can be monitored and controlled from anywhere, and it learns your family’s habits over time so can turn itself down when you’re away at work or on vacation. When people learn that they can save, on average 10 to 12 percent on their heating bills and about 15 percent on their cooling bill, that’s more than a shiny new gadget — it’s a compelling solution to a problem.
Join the right family
Building a smart home requires some forethought— some devices don’t work with others, so purchasing the wrong items at the outset can paint you into a corner and shut you out of a more inclusive family. Nest is a great place to start, since you can pair all its products with anything from the Works With Nest ecosystem.
For example, the Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm works on its own to alert you the minute it detects smoke or Carbon Monoxide. It tests itself automatically to ensure you that it’s in perfect working order, and can be silenced from your phone (no more getting up on a ladder to yank a screaming alarm down in the middle of the night!). But when you pair Nest Protect with the Nest Learning Thermostat, you gain powerful features: If Nest Protect detects CO, it can tell the thermostat to turn off the heating system in an emergency, which could be a source of CO leaks.
Other examples abound when you factor in all the best-of-class additions. When you know you can expand into everything from Chamberlain garage doors, to Lutron Caséta window shades to Logitech Harmony universal remotes, the options are endless (find all Works With Nest products at workswith.nest.com).
Security is key
Choosing smart home products is loads of fun, but you need to have your head on straight when you’re doing it. You are, after all, bringing little computers into your home, and you need to ensure that those little computers are safe. So you need to ensure that the makers of the smart products you’re investing in are just as concerned about your security as you are. How much are they investing in keeping products regularly updated, so they’re always one step ahead of security threats?
Nest is always updating security measures, and has recently introduced two-factor authentication when you log in to your Nest account, so you can keep your home’s information private, as it should be. You might have used two-factor authentication to get into your email account or bank. It’s a heightened level of security that requires you to enter your password and type in a verification code that’s sent to your phone so the program knows it’s really you.
Investing in products that have up-to-date security measures, and make sure those passwords are strong, and you’ll be in a smart and safe home.
Make sure you’ve got a strong foundation
A house built on shaky foundation is going to be a pile of rubble at some point. You have to make sure that you’re off to a good start when you go smart, and that foundation begins with a great router. Almond+ by Securifi ticks all the boxes: Its dual-band gigabit Wifi and powerful dual-core processor means it can handle your ever-growing collection of connected devices, the touchscreen interface makes it easy to setup and easy to create secure network names and passwords. The Almond app ensures you’re alerted if there’s any activity to be concerned about, and the product can be used as a router or a range extender, so if your home has Wifi dead zones, you can add extra devices to make every corner of your home is well connected.
Smart home planning be a bit daunting at the onset, but using this checklist can help get you started, and once you’re rolling, controlling your home is so much fun!
Where are you on the smart home spectrum? Looking to get started? Let me know in the comments!