The Internet of Things (IoT) is the newest craze in home improvement. From the time we were kids, the promise of a smart home has been calling us. For those of us with either the money or the tech savvy, having a smart home is a reality. For the rest of us, we have to make do.
There are very positive things about IoT technology. It can improve energy efficiency, add capabilities, and contribute to ease of use. The downside is that internet connectivity allows for malicious ransomware and hacking. Someone could actually take over your home through your connected devices. By the way, they could attack your car or your public transit system also. As proven by the attack on 2015 Jeep Cherokees and the 2016 ransomware attack on San Francisco Transit. Luckily nobody was hurt in either case, but they could have been.
So, the IoT is good and bad. However, we still want those additional capabilities that the IoT technology provides. Yes, it has practical uses, but let’s face it: it’s just fun. Being able to order products by voice command through Alexa is just so “Jetsons.”
Back to the fact that most of us cannot afford to replace our current appliances, but we still want the technology. It is possible to add smart capabilities to devices we already own. Today, we are going to look at three of these upgrades.
Most of us already have smoke or smoke/carbon monoxide detector combos installed in our homes. If you don’t, you really should consider it. They could save your life. In three out of five deaths from fire, there was no smoke detector installed in the home. A combo unit will protect you not only from smoke but also from carbon monoxide, which can be caused by malfunctioning gas appliances.
The important way to add functionality here is to allow for push notifications to your wifi device whenever the alarms go off. There are several tools available to do this, including installing a wifi connected battery into each alarm. Nobody ever wants a home fire, but if you are so unlucky, what is the worst case scenario? It happens when you are not home, but the rest of the family is, and you have no clue. Using one of these devices, you will never be in dark. The minute the detectors in the home go off, you will be notified on your phone. You can call the house to make sure everyone is awake and getting out. Plus, you can call emergency services before anyone in the house even gets an opportunity to call. Early notification could mean the difference between total destruction of the house or just partial damage. If it is at night and everyone in the house is sleeping, your early call to 911 could even save the lives of your family.
These devices are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. For peace of mind, they are completely worth it.
Upgrade your AC
Depending upon your location, one of your biggest energy sucks is your air conditioning. However, most of us cannot afford to replace these units until they are ready to fall apart. The Sensibo is an add-on to your AC unit that will allow you to control it with your phone. Not only can you turn the system on and off, but you can also monitor the temperature and humidity. The unit works with any air conditioner or heat pump with a remote control. It will eventually learn your habits, making it even more energy efficient.
Upgrade your Refrigerator
The kitchen is often the heart of a house. Everybody ends up there to connect and catch up. For many people they are also the communication center. You need to leave a note for Mom? You probably left it on the refrigerator.
This is just one of the ways a new smart refrigerator can help. One of their capabilities is as a message center and calendar for everyone’s schedules. That is just the beginning. They can mirror your smart tv, so you can be watching along with everyone else (or making sure the kids aren’t watching something they aren’t supposed to). Prefer to cook to tunes? Since the new refrigerators are connected to the internet, you can easily play Pandora or other streaming music. You can also call up recipes on the screen, so no books cluttering the counter.
Other conveniences include cameras inside that will connect to your smart phone. Doing the grocery shopping and forget to check the milk? Pull up your refrigerator app on your phone and check it out. Even better, with the LG Instaview, you can order new groceries, by voice, through Amazon Prime. Never run out of ingredients again.
Unfortunately, these fun refrigerators also come with a hefty price tag. It might be something you want to save up for when your current one dies. In the meantime, if you really want some of these functions, you can add them yourself with help from this guide. None of these are as sexy as the actual smart refrigerator, but the price points are much better.
There are many other options for upgrading your home. Most require a little more tech savvy than many of us have. Of course, if you have extra money, you could just buy new appliances. In many ways, these upgrades are more fun. While there are serious security concerns with the IoT, it is a growing industry which will do nothing but continue to expand.