Homes of the Future: Smart Home Edition
April 21 , 2021
Have you ever wondered what a fully integrated smart home can look like? It would have an automation system that controls lighting, appliances, entertainment, and a security system – and this is just the start. Imagine stepping into the doorstep of your home and being able to unlock your door and turn on your lights and heating system all through one device. Perhaps you’re already in bed but you’re lazy to walk to flick the light switch — wouldn’t it be nice to just say, “turn off my lights and set my alarm for 7 AM tomorrow”? Not only is that a surefire way to impress your guests, but it is arguably more sustainable for the planet.
There are many ways a smart home can benefit users, including improved appliance management, security, and utilization. From an environmental perspective, home automation systems can also efficiently manage energy usage and reduce carbon footprint. A longitudinal study by an Illinois-based power company ComEd found that the usage of [Google] Nest reduces daily electricity consumption by 1.5%1. According to BC Hydro, BC households consume an average of over 900 kWh per month 2. Therefore, the usage of smart home devices is likely to reduce a household’s electric consumption by 13.5 kWh per month (around $1.5 monthly savings on your utility bill!). Moreover, if all U.S. households installed water-saving features, water use would also decrease by 30%, saving an estimated 5.4 billion gallons per day (USGS Water Census)3.
It’s important to note that while the potential of smart homes is arguably boundless, they still have a long way to go in terms of development. One of the biggest concerns with the usage of smart home devices is user privacy. In order to enjoy the features of smart home services (e.g. Google, if you use Google Home), you are required to share personal information such as location, connected devices information, access to a microphone or camera, etc. When setting up and using your smart home services, make sure you are aware of and understand the privacy settings on your devices.
The great news about smart homes is that they’re highly modular and customizable, making them more affordable than you may think. You can get some smart light bulbs on Amazon for $16 each and plugs for around $15 each. Google Nest and Amazon Alexa speakers start at around $50-70. Whereas locks, thermostats, doorbells, cameras can run upwards of $100 per unit.
In 2019, only 27 percent of Canadians own at least one piece of smart home technology4. Given the environmental benefits and convenience of smart homes, smart homes are likely to become more common in the future.
Pro tip: You can always start small by installing smart devices in, say, your bedroom and then work your way out to more rooms. With bigger houses and more rooms, installing more smart things can easily make a significant dent in your wallet.
By: Jillian G