A Beginners’ Guide to Smart Living

A smart device on a keyboard.

An automated home was a futuristic pipe dream not too long ago. However, as the second decade of the 2000s comes to an end, “smart living” is a burgeoning tech market.

In this piece, we look at how to start creating a smart home. Before that, let’s outline why you’d want a smart home in the first place.

What Smart Living Means (And Why You’d Want to Do It)

For the uninitiated, smart living refers simply to automating aspects of your home – usually mundane tasks. For example, it could be that you set your lighting on a regular timer or ask a voice assistant to turn on hard-to-reach plug sockets. Often, this automation is carried out over your home’s Wi-Fi.

There are a number of benefits to smart living. For example:

  • You can save time turning on essential appliances, such as the heating before you arrive home from work.
  • Your energy bills may see a positive impact.
  • Sockets throughout your home will see less wear and tear.

In a nutshell, smart living is the future of maintaining your home. Practically all of your electrical appliances are being developed to operate in this way in the future.

How to Begin with Smart Living (3 Steps)

While it may seem like a tough task, smart living is easy to accomplish. Below, we’ll outline three steps to begin automating your home.

1. Choose the Aspects of Your Home You’d Like to Automate

First, you’ll want to decide which elements of your home you’d like to make “smart.” While the options are plentiful, there are three areas that are typically considered:

  • Lighting: lamps, ceiling bulbs, window blinds – they all have the ability to be powered smartly.
  • Heating: a smart thermostat is an up-and-coming essential for a smart home, and there are companies such as Hive and Google Nest with products in this area.
  • Power: Plug sockets are ripe for automating, especially if you use multi-way adaptors and extension boards.

It’s a good idea to begin with one element and scale upward. Lighting is always a solid start, as the barrier of entry is low, and it’s easy to see the immediate effects of turning a bulb on.

Speaking of which, let’s discuss how to operate your smart home next.

2. Decide How You’ll Operate Your Smart Home

To power your new smart items, you’ll want to consider a voice assistant. You may already have Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant in place already.

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant.

While they’re both similar products with arguably different goals, for smart living, they both operate in the same way. Choosing Amazon’s ecosystem is potentially a cheaper option initially, as you can take advantage of more cost-effective appliances found in the online store.

However, many smart appliances work with multiple assistants and solutions, so whichever you choose will serve you well. We look at alternatives to voice assistants in the next section.

3. Purchase the Appliances and Connect Them to Your Voice Assistant

Once you have a voice assistant in place and an idea of what you’d like to automate, the final step is to purchase and connect your appliances.

When it comes to obtaining smart appliances, your budget will dictate what’s available. For example, looking at a well-known global brand, such as Phillips Hue, you’ll have to cough up more than for a brand such as Teckin. What’s more, choosing an ecosystem such as Apple HomeKit will often cost considerably more due to the brand name.

To connect everything together, each ecosystem will have its own dedicated app. However, many cheaper devices (especially from the Chinese tech quarter) will operate through the cross-platform Smart Life or Tuya app.

The mobile Smart Life app.

Yet, there are many different apps available, each with their own quirks and flow. Most of the time, a manufacturer will recommend a specific app, and you’ll want to use it unless there’s a good reason not to.

In Summary

Smart living is an industry on the rise. With the advent and development of voice assistants and other wireless tech, automating household tasks is straightforward and achievable.

If you’d like to read more on smart living, check out Sayak’s piece on smart homes. Do you have any questions relating to smart living? Ask us in the comments section below!

Related:

Tom Rankin Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

2 comments

  1. If we were robots that did the same things at the same time all the time, putting our devices, power and heating on timers would be a great idea. However, we are independently thinking human beings. We live unregulated schedules (at least many of us do). To subject ourselves to the tyranny of timers is insufferable.

    The biggest problem with ‘smart’ devices is security. Because of the WiFi connections that they use, each one of them is an attack vector into our home networks. The manufactirers of many of the devices retain the ultimate control over them. Many, such as ‘smart’ doorbells, call momma and store any and all video on momma’s servers. Weren’t certain ‘smart’ doorbells taken off the market for a while because they were found to be very easy to hack?

    Until the ‘smart’ device manufacturers devote as much research to the security aspect as they do the bells and whistles, ‘smart’ devices area non-starters for me. Until the ‘smart’ device manufacturers give total control over them to the users, these devices are non-starters for me. After all, when you buy a bicycle/motorcycle or a power tool or a toaster oven or a camera or any other device, you get complete and total control over its use.

    1. Thanks for your comments! I personally run a smart home, and don’t set a timer for anything – I agree that you can go overboard. My life isn’t strictly scheduled, so timers aren’t relevant. Asking Alexa to turn on a light, or setting a certain color within the dedicated app, is efficient and time-saving though.

      I agree with you on security. It’s something the smart tech companies need to improve. The topic was beyond the scope of this article, but it’s worth researching (as you’ve obviously done) to see if it’s right for you.

Leave a Comment

Yeah! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Check out our comment policy here. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.