Smart homes – what exactly does that mean?
A smart home can include a variety of things, including home automation, energy management and home security systems. These systems can be controlled through a laptop or smartphone to help make it easier to maintain your home.
At the TecHome Builder Summit, held in Austin, Texas, last week, homebuilders and manufacturers gathered to discuss how to make a home “smarter” through these technologies. The summit was coordinated by TecHome Builder and AE Ventures and sponsored by NewHomeSource parent company, Builder Homesite Inc.
Those in attendance discussed how to make homebuyers’ lives simpler with these systems. They asked themselves, “What is the proverbial last mile of the Internet of Things?”
The summit also featured the latest new home technologies, such as the Kevo wireless key system by Kwikset and the soon-to-be-launched MoldWatch, a moisture detector that helps prevent the growth of molds on and in drywall.
More Than Just a Novel Concept
Sure, there are some items in a smart home that are perceived as novel (do you really need to have your clothes washer send you texts for every cycle?). But, home technologies are being increasingly used for energy management (save money on your energy bills!), home security and even to help care for aging parents. In essence, builders and manufacturers are using these technologies to focus on what’s important to buyers.
Jacob Atalla, senior director of Sustainability Initiatives for KB Home and a summit panelist, says that while homeowners want energy efficient homes, they also want homes that are easy to maintain. “Energy efficiency is easy to sell to homeowners – one of the things that we say is ‘Less dusting, more reading.’ ”
KB Home’s ZeroHouse 2.0 is one such example of how to make homebuyers’ lives better through savings on energy costs, but also on how to create sustainable communities. Located in Dawn Creek in Lancaster, Calif., is the first home with net-zero energy usage, which means the home creates as much energy as it consumes through the use of solar panels. Any grey water that is used in the home is “cleaned” through a state-of-the-art water recycling system – the water is then used to irrigate the home’s lawn. Homeowners are estimated to save $4,400 in energy costs a year.
All Together Now
A recent study by Parks Associates found that 60 percent of U.S. homes will have energy management technology by 2020. “If you’re building houses without these systems, chances are that by the time you’re finished, you’ve built an obsolete house,” said Jim Carroll, president of Savant Systems, during a panel on the connected, interactive home.
While there are many different products out there that make managing a home easier, the builders at the summit admit, more could be done to ensure that all of these technologies work together. If you currently have the Google Nest thermostat, for example, you’ll quickly find that you’d have to use a different app to control it than you would to control a keyless entry system like the Lockitron. This can cause app overload. “You need to make it so that everything in your house talks to each other,” said Jay Kenny, vice president of alarm.com, during a panel on the new interactive home. <<< Click to Tweet This
As more buyers become aware of and accustomed to home automation and security and energy management systems, builders will increasingly figure out ways to incorporate these technologies into new homes and make them user friendly. And soon, they’ll become the standard, so it’s time to become acquainted with the helpful technologies available to you today.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.