When you level up in life and buy a new home, generally there is the urge to overspend on wanted items rather than limiting one’s spending habits to what is needed. Today, Smart Home Technology can make even the most seasoned penny pincher want to open their wallets. That is because so much ink has been spilled waxing over how these conveniences will change homeowners’ lives for the better. Most of these devices may be controlled remotely on any mobile device so it is not necessary to remember to set everything before leaving the house. In this article, we’ll review the top choices others are making, which are savvy choices for those considering the value-add over the ‘wanna-have’, and which are just the stuff of Jules Verne, circa 2020 and beyond.

KEYLESS ENTRY: The concept is simple- enter a (usually) 4-digit code and voila, no need for keys. The convenience of keyless entry includes your morning run when keys would pose a nuisance, visitors, contractors, delivery personnel, or tenants who can have a code of their own which can be wiped upon their departure. For those who live alone losing your keys and not having entry to your home is one less thing to worry about.

SMART HOME SECURITY: We will not mention brand names but there are a wealth of options for every size home and budget. No one should be without a home security system, if only for the 15% (sometimes higher) rebate on our annual home insurance policy. In addition to cameras that can be monitored remotely by the homeowner or by a subscription service, full-featured home security systems offer the option to control thermostats and lighting on every floor to lower energy costs. Some even warn against fire, carbon monoxide, leaks, and potential flood hazards. As previously stated, while most can be controlled remotely, some offer voice control as well.

SMART VACUUMS AND MORE: We have all seen the disc-shaped vacuums that sense boundaries and challenges to clean an entire floor on a single charge, then return to their home base. All one needs to do is empty them. While this is just grand, there are limitations including steps and thick rugs. Still, for interim tidying between deep cleanings, many homeowners swear by them.

Following this concept, weekend warriors who detest pushing the lawnmower will rejoice at the cordless robotic mowers that take on hills and tree roots with ease. Several major brands now offer models so while today these paragons are ideal for small lawns only, within a few years, there is the potential to swap one green (your yard), with another (the golf course). BTW: Robotics are also available to clean pools and control your sprinklers more effectively than ever before. And you’re welcome!

PERSONAL ASSISTANTS: The residential, voice-activated, AI-driven personal assistant is like having another family member. One that actually performs the chores you task it with! Beyond providing information, orchestrating online ‘visits’, and complying with home security systems, these devices now work in tandem with specialized light bulbs, wall switches, televisions, and even draperies and window coverings to make our lives more convenient. If one had to select one Smart Home upgrade for convenience and another for safety, the Voice-Activated Personal Assistant and the Smart Home Security System would be top of the list.

Give a Pass to These Smart Home Innovations

SMART MIRROR/BODY SCANNER: Unless one works in an industry where appearance is everything, the smart mirror/body scanner delves too far into the realm of pseudo-science and extreme vanity. The facial version informs users of facial blemishes, etc. (And their eyes don’t?) Additionally, it can be used to note changes in skin tone over time so one can determine if that expensive anti-wrinkle cream is worth the expense. The body version will let you know if your workouts have been effective or not based on your changing contours. (Your newly baggy clothes will not?)

METABOLISM STIMULATORS: This falls under the ‘now we have heard everything’ category. The unit is a headset that “allows” wearers to eat whatever they want and still lose weight. The machine is said to stimulate the brain so that it metabolizes faster leading to quick weight loss regardless of what the wearer has ingested. Uh, if that is the case, I’ll have the Lobster Thermador, heavy on the butter and cream, please! Dream on!

SMART MATTRESS: This is a sleep aid that does more than just support the spine- or does it? It monitors one’s resting heart rate, notes the bedroom temperature and noise rate, offers LED light therapy, and allegedly stops snoring. Sounds like an amusement park for insomniacs and any MD can tell you that adjusting one’s sleeping position will not realign one’s septum, the usual cause of nocturnal wood sawing, anyway.

WIFI-ENABLED APPLIANCES: We are not talking about coffee makers that know when you rise and have a piping hot pot of fresh java waiting. No! These innovations range from ‘cookie pods’ and an appliance whose sole purpose is to bake four cookies at a time and signal when it is finished (in my house our noses do the signaling for us), a fork that vibrates to let users know that they are eating too fast, an automatic dental flosser that sees one approach the sink and immediately dispenses floss (what if you only want to wash your hands?), and a pet food dispenser that ejects doggie treats by remote control from your mobile device. The good news is that they don’t work when your WiFi is down. Yes, that is the only good news.

As with most new technology, those who welcome it will take to new ways of doing daily tasks with ease. Those who are not, such as this author who has reservations about having a new ride with keyless entry and ignition, the best advice is to read the instructions and have a back-up plan- such as an entry system with keyless or keyed entry options. Sooner than later these innovations will become commonplace and ‘can’t live withouts’. If getting in on the ground floor of new technology is too much, just opt for one feature at a time, such as a personal assistant which is scalable and will allow even the most skittish to add on as needed. The “Brave New World” that Huxley wrote about is happening now, but that is not just cause to break the bank in the name of home improvement. After all, innovation and technology are meant to improve the quality of our lives, if only we’ll allow it!