Thanks to smartphone technology, homeowners can take control of the major systems in their houses with the tap of a finger. We’re talking lights, thermostat, door locks, sprinklers — even the TV. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available.
Home security. Smart systems are extremely customizable. When you are away, if a door or window is opened or a motion detector is activated, the lights will turn on and you can see what the camera sees through your phone, allowing you to alert emergency responders. Other capabilities: seeing who is ringing your doorbell and talking to them, and unlocking doors automatically when a smoke alarm activates. Systems by SimpliSafe and Vivint begin at $300.
Remote access. With smart locks, homeowners can lock or unlock doors from a distance, as well as open and close the garage door. Can’t remember if you locked the door when you left? Lock it from your smartphone, even if you are across the country.
Heating and air. Smart thermostats fine tune the comfort level of your home. These devices include predictive algorithms that learn your habits, adjusting as needed. Using GPS tracking on your phone, the system can adjust the temperature when you get within a certain distance.
Lights. Turn on, off or dim lights in any room of the house with your phone through a central controller.
Sprinklers. Set the scheduled days, times and length of watering for each station of your irrigation system.
Entertainment system. Television and sound system controls are available through phone apps or a central controller. If you have sound throughout the house, raise, lower or mute sound room by room.
Helpful hints. It is important to have an internet service provider with high speed internet, the latest delivery methods such as fiber optic cable if available, and bandwidth sufficient for your needs. A good site for assessing the providers in your area can be found here. Check periodically with your provider to see if modem and router updates are available for upgrade.