The time has come to renovate your home. You’re reading, hearing and seeing all these great new ways to use technology in the home and to perhaps future proof it for years to come. But what else is there to know about this stuff and what are they not telling you in those commercials and advertisements thrust in your face every day?
Here are the 4 biggest mistruths about adopting new tech into our homes.
1. Renewable energy will make it more efficient.
Wrong. Renewables such as solar power are super products available for just about every home. They generate clean energy and should save you a heap on the utilities costs of your home, but does cheaper fuel make a car more efficient? No, the car itself defines the efficiency, not the fuel source. Both solar power and petrol cost money, one is an upfront payment (the solar installation) the other a pay-per-use scenario.
Efficiency as a definition is “the ratio of work completed versus the energy expended”. By simply getting an energy audit done, in 9 out of 10 cases, it will show that saving electricity is far cheaper than making electricity, so putting solar on an inefficient building isn’t being more energy efficient, it’s simply pouring cleaner fuel in. Reduce the amount of energy used by the home with better lighting, water heating, climate control and appliances before getting the solar power system sized and you will be able to install a far smaller system saving thousands of dollars.
2. Wi-Fi is the answer.
Wi-Fi is awesome. It allows me to pull out my smart phone, tablet or notebook anywhere in my home and do whatever I need to, no strings (cables) attached. So why is it in this list? Well Wi-Fi has a few chinks in its armour that, if you are purely dependent on it, will drive you mad:
The performance is affected by other wireless networks, so if you have a neighbour who’s trying to make sure they have coverage on Mars it will compromise you system. It can be infiltrated pretty easily. Now I know it might be hard to imagine someone sitting outside your home eating Cheezels in beat-up van trying to hack into your system, but it can be done, and if you’ve got sensitive information you may want to consider this aspect.
Certain building materials such as concrete and tin cause havoc with you signal, meaning you may need multiple wireless access points. There is also the obvious distance parameters with Wi-Fi, so determining number and location of these devices can be a science in itself.
Most domestic applications lack the speed required for flawless streaming of movies or sports in High Definition from the internet.
Make sure you do have Wi-Fi in the home as from a convenience point-of-view it is great. But look into having wired Ethernet points to each of your main desktop computers, TV’s and other media streaming devices to make sure you are not losing your cool at something that should work so well here in the 21st century!
3. A security system will keep my family safe.
The first thing to learn here is the difference between “safe” and “secure”. Quite simply, your home needs to be secure to prevent unwanted entry by crooks, but are we really concerned about how secure our children are while they sleep? No, we want our family to be safe.
So, if you’ve installed a security system with an array of sensors inside the home to monitor any movement this makes the house more secure, but if you and the kids are asleep and these sensors go off… Oh shit, it’s too late because someone is already inside your home!
Home security needs to include much more in order to keep you and your family safe and to ultimately stop anyone even approaching your home in the first place. Movement activated lighting, closed circuit cameras and perhaps even electronic access control to gates and driveways will achieve this.
Finally, having good locking systems on all your doors and windows is a far better way of keeping intruders out than one of these security systems, but then there is the hassle of making sure that every one of these are locked before you go to bed each night. If only there was an easier way…
4. The latest ’smart’ gadgets will make life easier.
There is a huge market at the moment (particularly in the US) for what we’ve labelled ‘smart’ devices for our homes. They are being sold in the department stores and in most cases are considered DIY. Smart thermostats, Wi-Fi cameras, finger touch key locks, the list goes on. But having a home full of these independent devices can make life more complex than it was beforehand, when in reality, we are all looking for convenience and simplicity.
The key here is having a level of integration throughout the home so it operates autonomously, or even intuitively. Think about today’s cars: you touch “unlock” and the car unlocks, disables the car alarm, turns off the engine immobiliser, adjusts the seat to the appropriate user and in some cases even knows your preferred climate conditions and radio station. All you did was touch “unlock”. The home can be exactly the same. Granted there is a bit more area to cover, but the technology is no more advanced. So as I alluded to in point 3, simply having a “Goodnight” feature could lock your home, engage the alarm, trigger the security lighting and even play you a bedtime story through your home entertainment system if that’s what you’re into. These systems require a central hub of sorts and will mean you need to ensure compatibility and possibly some additional wiring. Engage a designer or consultant, get it done right, and it will pay you back in time, convenience, security and safety for years to come, which far outweighs the short term financial outlay. Wouldn’t you say?