More and more homes are going digital these days as smart home technology continues to grow in popularity. Homeowners are finding that custom home construction and renovation projects are a great opportunity to incorporate technology that can improve energy efficiency, make the home safer, and make living simpler, easier, and more centralized. Here’s a closer look at smart home technology and the many ways it can be used.

Smart Home

Technically speaking, a smart home is a house with one or more functions connected to a central control hub, usually your smartphone or a small touchscreen appliance or tablet. This can range from one or two aftermarket technologies to an entire suite of equipment installed as part of a home renovation. With a single hub unit you can control a wide range of technologies including lighting, door locks, security systems, nanny cams, and appliances.

One of the most significant advancements in smart home technology is the ability for certain controls to “learn” various aspects of your routine. They do so by using sensors that change the feel of the interior based on your needs and tastes. For example, a smart thermostat can learn when you’re home and when you’re not. The unit automatically adjusts the temperature to a more energy-efficient setting when nobody is home. Smart shades can determine the angle of the sun and open themselves to let in more light in some rooms while closing themselves in others. In other words, your home knows you and reacts accordingly.

Most smart technologies are designed for retrofitting. Installing the equipment is always easiest during a renovation or custom home construction; however, installation in existing homes that are not being worked on should not require an excessive construction effort. For proper and safe installation, always use an experienced electrician.

One of the most popular, and relatively simple, smart home technologies is the learning thermostat, such as the popular Nest model. This is a good place to start if you are considering going smart. The Nest connects to your Wi-Fi and allows you to change the temperature of your home remotely. The Nest also provides external weather reports and can easily be wired to a home A/C system by a qualified contractor or homebuilder.

Smart outlets are also becoming more prevalent. They allow you to turn on any lamp or small appliance remotely, and will also monitor your home’s power load. If you have kids at home, you can enforce bedtime remotely by shutting down power to gaming systems, TVs, and other distractions.

Smart smoke detectors, such as the Nest Protect, are a noteworthy improvement to traditional models. Nest Protect is far more discerning and sensitive than a standard smoke detector; you won’t set it off with a misadventure in the kitchen. These smoke detectors also speak instead of beeping and can tell you exactly where in your home the alarm has been set off. Choose the wired version so you won’t have to swap out batteries.

The smart home is an ever-expanding frontier of new technologies and ideas. Smart technology doesn’t just make your home trendier; it makes it happier, healthier, and safer.