Get smart: A beginner’s guide to the latest home technology

PUBLISHED: 13:43 20 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:43 20 October 2020

Smart home technology allows us to reset our living space - and ultimately make life easier. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

Smart home technology allows us to reset our living space - and ultimately make life easier. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

PA Features Archive/Press Association Images

Not sure how to make your space smarter? Sam Wylie-Harris sought some expert advice.

All smart devices will be affected by the internet coverage in your house, so the first thing to do is to ensure your home has a strong Wi-Fi connection. Picture: PA Photo/iStockAll smart devices will be affected by the internet coverage in your house, so the first thing to do is to ensure your home has a strong Wi-Fi connection. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know smart devices are redefining our homes.

But at first glance, this can be daunting to the technophobes among us.

“Knowing where to start can be the hardest part, but with a little guidance, anyone can do it,” says Matthew Currington, technical director at The Lighting Superstore.

To help, Matthew has put together an easy guide to creating your very own smart home…

A virtual assistant is the natural first step in creating a smart home. Picture: PA Photo/The Lighting SuperstoreA virtual assistant is the natural first step in creating a smart home. Picture: PA Photo/The Lighting Superstore

First things first, you need strong Wi-Fi.

All smart devices will be affected by the internet coverage in your house, so the first thing to do is ensure your home has a strong Wi-Fi connection.

Choose a smart home assistant

Smart plugs can turn your regular appliances into smart devices without you completely rewiring your home or buying brand new appliances. Picture: PA Photo/iStockSmart plugs can turn your regular appliances into smart devices without you completely rewiring your home or buying brand new appliances. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

A virtual assistant is the natural first step in creating a smart home. Each product has its own benefits, from informing you on the weather and blasting out music on demand, to more advanced settings such as controlling the lighting and heating.

The products can also monitor your commute, keeping you up to date with any changes, audibly run through recipes with you step by step and finally create, edit and remind you of events on your calendar.

The assistants listen to your instructions on command and can be set up to operate many elements around the home.

Smart garden technology can water your plants and mow the lawn, even when youre away. Picture: PA Photo/iStockSmart garden technology can water your plants and mow the lawn, even when youre away. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

Plug in a smart plug

Smart plug mean you can turn your regular appliances into smart devices without completely rewiring your home or buying brand new appliances.

You can then also connect your smart plug to your smart speaker, so you can control your appliances with voice commands. This is a good way of trying-before-you-buy, before taking the plunge and swapping to completely savvy products.

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Smart locks that work with alarms and doorbells are a safe bet

Smart locks can reduce the worry of forgetting your key, with some models allowing you to operate the lock remotely through an app.

The pairing of a smart lock and video doorbell allows you to not only feel safer in the home, but also know who is at your door and talk to them in real-time, wherever you are.

They alert homeowners on their phone via an app where video surveillance and recordings can be found, as well as working much like a traditional doorbell.

Smart lighting is much more energy efficient and can save you money

Smart lighting can schedule your lights to turn on or off at specific times, and can make the house look naturally occupied while you’re away.

Once put in place, you just need to connect to your smart phone via an app; after that, you can control the lights as and when you see fit.

Most smart bulbs consume less energy than regular light bulbs, making them more energy-efficient and financially-friendly in the long run.

Smart thermostats let you control the heating via the internet

Smart thermostats are not only useful, but could help you save an average of 31 per cent on your heating costs. Easy to operate, the device establishes a schedule for the home’s temperature, according to when you and your family will need it.

On top of your cost monitoring, the product detects when you and your family are home, so if you forget to turn off the heating, your smart thermostat has your back.

Smart garden technology can water your plants and mow the lawn, even when you’re away

For those of us lucky enough to have a large garden, it can be time consuming to manage. Grass and plants can be fickle if not given enough TLC, so smart sprinklers can be extremely helpful for those with a lot of square footage to cover.

For those with an even bigger budget, the smart lawn mower is a new, exciting gadget that could halve your gardening routine. You’ll never need to worry about out-of-control lawns, as these robots self-operate and keep your garden constantly trimmed. If you want to, however, you can control them from your phone and track them through its GPS.


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