Smart Homes

We live in a fast-paced world with constant connectivity. We jump from task to task like tabs in a browser and rarely have time to stop and smell the roses, let alone water them. It seems like technology has given us a zillion more things to do. Rather than simplifying our lives like so many Sci-Fi films promised, it’s made things more and more complicated. Enter the Smart Home—finally, technology that can make your life simpler. 

There was a time when the Smart Home was strictly fodder for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It brought to mind The Jetsons, and Rosie, their beloved robot housekeeper. We thought of Smart Homes the way we once thought of laptop computers and cell phones, as a cost-prohibitive luxury (remember the bag phone?), but all that has changed. Forty-five percent of all Americans either own Smart Home technology or plan to invest in 2016. 

What is it?

Since the genesis of this new technology, a lot of people have been throwing around the term “Smart Home” without a functional definition to speak of. Ever the innovators, Coldwell Banker teamed up with CNET, the world’s largest and most trusted online source of consumer technology news and reviews, to develop a clear and unified designation to keep up with rapidly evolving technology in the home: 

“A home that is equipped with network-connected products (aka “Smart products,” connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself.

“In order to be categorized as a Smart home, the property must have a Smart security feature that either controls access or monitors the property, or a Smart temperature feature, in addition to a reliable Internet connection. It must also include at least two additional features from this list:

  • Lighting (Smart light bulbs and lighting systems)
  • Safety (Smart fire / carbon monoxide detectors and nightlights)
  • Entertainment (Smart TVs and TV streaming services)
  • Appliances (Smart refrigerators and Smart washer / dryers) 
  • Heating / Cooling (Smart HVAC system, Smart fans or vents)
  • Outdoors (Smart plant sensors and watering systems)
  • Security (Smart locks, Smart alarm systems or cameras)
  • Temperature (Smart thermostats)”

Getting Smart

Available Smart Home tech covers a range from amusing novelties to must-have capabilities and features. But, as with any new technology, you don’t want to hitch your wagon to a product that might not have staying power. CNET suggests that “to protect yourself against that uncertainty, we recommend leaning towards products that work on multiple Smart-home networks and that stand alone as stellar gadgets.”

Smart Agents

To further differentiate our Agents from the herd, Coldwell Banker University (CBU) is collaborating with CEDIA, the leading trade association for 22,000 Smart Home manufacturers and installers, to develop an industry-first Smart Home certificate program. The course is designed to provide agents with the knowledge to 

  • Identify and discuss Smart Home features and benefits with buyers and sellers
  • Suggest Smart Home upgrades to help increase the marketability, improve sales value and/or reduce time on market for a listing
  • Assist buyers in understanding the potential financial benefits of Smart home tech when considering an offer to purchase

Energy Consumption

Americans spend 22 billion dollars annually on air conditioning alone. Wouldn’t you like to mitigate some of that cost by making your home more efficient? There are a number of devices engineered for just that purpose. Smart windows, shades, and window films, for example, can turn your windows opaque on demand, making it easier for your central air to keep the house cool. 

Other devices monitor energy consumption and provide feedback so you can cut back wherever things are getting excessive. The average home has 25 products on standby power, the worst culprits being the microwave, television and computer. A Smart power strip allows you to cut power to devices not in use so they don’t weigh on your power bill. 

Motion-sensors can turn lights on and off as you move from room to room. You can even get a thermostat that learns your habits. They can adjust the temperature to cool or heat less when you’re not home, and bring the temperature to where you want it just in time for you to walk in the door. Now that’s service! Some Smart thermostats also process the external temperature and relative humidity to assess heating and cooling needs.

Around the House

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have been keeping our homes safe for decades, but over are the days of fanning the smoke from the dinner that stayed in a little too long with a dish towel or magazine. Smart smoke detectors can be turned off right from your Smart phone once you’ve established that there’s no real danger. Some even alert you first with a human voice suggesting that there’s smoke in the kitchen, rather than that deafening BEEP BEEP BEEP.

You can even integrate a Smart thermostat and Smart carbon monoxide detector. In the event of high carbon monoxide levels in the home, it will cut your central heat so it doesn’t proliferate throughout your home. 

Smart doorbells integrate audio, video, and your Smart phone via an app and Wi-Fi to let you know who’s at your door. This gives you the capability to answer remotely via two-way audio and act like you’re home even when you’re not. You can even silence your doorbell for those times when baby’s sleeping, or if you just need some do-not-disturb time. 

Smart door locks save you from fumbling for your keys with an armload of groceries. Available with either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, your door knows when you’re coming and going as long as you have your Smart phone on you. Wi-Fi Smart locks allow you to remotely buzz people into your home, and you can even give house guests short-term access through their own Smart phone. 

Smart-capable entertainment is already common in the home, relative to most Smart tech. TVs, stereos, and other entertainment devices can learn your preferences and respond to voice commands. 

Your washer and dryer can even be Smart. They can learn your setting preferences, and alert you on your Smart phone when it’s time to change over a load of laundry. 

Smart Kitchen

Smart refrigerators are available with myriad features depending on brand and price. They have sensors that control temperature and humidity to optimize performance. Some have cameras that monitor your food and can let you know when it’s time to buy more of your staples. They can also keep an eye on contents for how long they’ve been in the fridge and how likely they are to spoil. Many Smart refrigerators have a tablet built right in the door, and some even allow you to order groceries at the touch of a button.

Smart ovens and microwaves can learn your favorite recipes, and Smart stove ranges as well as ovens can alert you on your Smart phone if you’ve accidentally left a unit on, and even let you cut them off remotely.

Here’s where we really get into the ultra-modern—the Robot Chef. Running a range from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars, with capabilities generally relative to cost, these machines can actually make a meal out of the basic ingredients you put in. Some of these devices are not much bigger than a crock pot, but the abilities far exceed those of the old-school slow cooker. Even the lowest end of these machines are able to download and share recipes, and add ingredients in order and with correct timing for optimal cooking. 

Other Smart gadgets for your kitchen include an egg minder (which keeps track of how many eggs you have, which are the oldest, and which could be going bad), Smart juicer, Smart wine decanter, and even a Smart plate or fork that’ll let you know if you overserve yourself. 

Smart Yard

With Smart outdoor upgrades you can control your sprinklers from your Smart phone. Some systems even self-schedule and tailor watering to the weather, the layout of your yard, and the varied needs of your different types of vegetation. 

Even your potted plants can get some Smart love with sensors that tell you when your photosynthesizing friends need water, fertilizer, and even more sunlight. 
Smart gate closers and locks secure your yard to keep your kids and pets inside and safe, and can be set to alert you whenever the gate is opened. 

Smart for Baby

The one-way, walkie-talkie-style baby monitor has gone the way of the typewriter and the TV rabbit ears. Today there are various Smart monitors on the market that allow you to check in on your munchkin anytime from anywhere. Two-way audio and video even allow you to sing your baby back to sleep via your Smart phone whether you’re across the country, at work, or just in the next room. 

Further security is offered by motion sensor night lights and contact door sensors which alert you whenever the nursery door is opened. As your child grows, as does his or her propensity for mischief--contact sensors can be used on exterior doors, cabinets, even the refrigerator! 


All these devices are just the tip of the iceberg. The coolest thing about Smart Home tech is that it is constantly growing. If there’s something in the home that can be automated, and there’s not a Smart product out there yet, it might just be on its way!  
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