Photo credit: Scott Lewis
It’s 2017, and although we don’t have flying cars yet, home technology looks more and more like it came out of The Jetsons every day. If you’re designing a custom home, take a look at these high-tech ways to make it more convenient, comfortable, and efficient than you ever thought possible.
This blog article is part of Castle Brook Builders' Design and Build Process Series.
First Step: Control & Command Stations
If you haven’t heard of the Amazon Echo, you should get acquainted—more than 8.2 million people already have. This voice-activated smart speaker is a central control point for all of your other smart home gadgets. Its interface is a likeable, artificial intelligence-directed virtual assistant, “Alexa.” According to data analysis firm Computer Intelligence Research Partners, LLP, “Amazon clearly wants it to become an Internet browser and even a home controller. Hundreds of third-party electronics, appliance, and even auto manufacturers now offer products that work with Alexa. Amazon wants Alexa to be the starting point for the move to connected-automated homes.”
For whole-house climate control, the Nest family of products allows you to control, monitor, and analyze your home environment. Its learning thermostat, smart smoke detectors, and smart cameras sync with its own easy-to-use app and the Echo system. The Nest system can help you save significantly on your home heating and cooling costs by allowing you to analyze and optimize your HVAC systems and coordinate them with other connected devices (like automatically raising and lowering remote-controlled window coverings).
Level Up: Accessories and Components
The other key component of a connected-automated home is how to link the electronics themselves. Rather than having to buy brand new appliances with built-in connectivity, Belkin's line of WeMo home automation products offers the ability to control your existing home electronics from anywhere. The WeMo Switch allows you to plug in anything with a standard plug—a lamp, a coffeemaker, a crockpot, etc.—and control it from a smartphone or tablet using a free app. Once you do, you'll be able to turn that device on and off from your phone. Other WeMo products, like light switches and motion detectors, involve slightly more installation but link into the same easily integrated control system and allow you to monitor and control your home lighting systems and connected devices from anywhere.
Imagine starting the coffee pot from the comfort of your bed, raising the shades, turning on the lights, and boosting the heat before you head downstairs, and then checking to make sure your garage door is closed when you get to the office. Pairing the Echo with the Nest and WeMo plugins can allow you to control your whole home remotely from the palm of your hand.
Next-Gen Security: Keep It Safe
The convenience of connecting and controlling your home is great, but it’s also important to keep it safe and secure. New smart security lighting options will keep shining when the power goes out, turn on automatically when they hear your doorbell or alarm, replay your typical lighting patterns when you're not home, respond to voice commands, and coordinate with a whole-home app. Some can even enhance the recording quality of home security system cameras (many of which are now simple to install and link directly to the cloud rather than requiring a traditional phone line).
Doorbells and locks are moving into the next generation, too, including HD WiFi video doorbells that integrate with Echo and Nest to provide video feed (and recording capability) of your entryways that you can view on any internet-connected device. Smart locks offer convenient, keyless access to your home, using a code, app, proximity sensor (linked to a phone or fob), or the touch of your finger. Although these can reach into the higher price ranges, they can be extremely secure and convenient. You can program many of them to allow temporary access for guests, renters, friends, or service providers, and you can review a log that shows who has come and gone at what times.
Omaha builders are designing custom homes that incorporate these features and so many more! If you’re ready to start your journey to owning the home of your dreams, contact Castle Brook custom home builders today. Our design-build team will help you with the entire process, from finding inspiration and deciding on a home style to choosing finishes, design schemes, and décor. Contact us today to take a look at model homes in one of our featured subdivisions or talk to one of our associates about how easy it can be to build your own Omaha custom home.