The savvy homeowner's guide to smart tech

Discover the very latest in clever home technology 

3 minute read

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While the Jetsons-style homes of the future aren't a reality yet, a handful of new gadgets can give your home a futuristic edge. Plus, the latest gadgets can help you save money and keep your home safe.

Technology journalist Libby Plummer reveals how you can make the most of smart devices in your home.

  • App-connected smoke and burglar alarms can keep your home secure
  • Voice-controlled smart gadgets save time and money
  • A few simple steps to keep your home network safe from hackers

Smart alarm systems

Smart locks could one day replace the traditional key, meaning no more lost keys and expensive calls to the locksmith. Some, like the August lock pictured below, work via a Bluetooth connection to your phone, unlocking as you approach, while others rely on contactless key fobs or PIN codes.

You can turn your August lock on or off, allowing you extra security if you want to use your original key.

The futuristic August lock

Smart burglar alarms and security systems, meanwhile, can record video and send notifications of any unusual activity to your phone. What's more, app-connected smoke alarms like the Nest Protect, which also features a carbon monoxide sensor, can help you to keep your home safe. From smart locks to alarms, there are plenty of home security inventions that should be on your wishlist.

Smart bricks

Like internet-connected gadgets, innovations in building materials could help to keep your home and possessions safe from damage. One is the Smart AirBrick.

Traditional air bricks are made with holes drilled through them, allowing air to circulate underneath timber floors to prevent rot. However, in the event of a flood, they can leave your house vulnerable to water damage. These smart bricks feature ball-shaped valves that automatically float up and shut off the holes, blocking the flow of water.

Voice assistants

The smart home of the future could include robo-butlers that do the housework for you – but in the meantime, virtual assistants could be the next best thing.

Gadgets with virtual voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, Amazon has now sold more than 100 million of their Alexa voice assistant.

These AI-powered assistants can save you time by responding to voice queries about the weather, sports scores and news. They can also be used to control smart home energy devices, such as smart thermostats, helping you to keep energy costs to a minimum.

Both Alexa and Google Home are rumoured to be adding internet-based voice calls by the end of the year. If that happens, it could mean the end of the traditional home landline, which could result in big savings.

The futuristic August lock

Energy efficiency

Connected appliances like smart fridges can save you money, helping you to buy and store food more efficiently – but it's also important to look at energy ratings.

'When choosing energy-efficient appliances for your home, look for the energy ratings label and consider the size of the appliance you need,' advises consumer organisation Energy Saving Trust (@EnergySvgTrust). 

'Energy ratings are generally given to products based on their size category. This means two differently sized appliances with the same energy rating may use quite different amounts of electricity.'

Keeping your smart home secure

With so many smart products connected to the internet, it's important we all know how to stay safe from hackers and cyber criminals. So, as well as having cover for your home and possessions, make sure you protect your smart home devices.

The world of internet-connected devices and smart home innovations can save you time and cash as well as keeping you and your property safe – just do your research and be vigilant with your passwords and settings. 

For more stories around smart technology, follow Libby on Twitter @LibbyPlummer.

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