Home automation is quickly becoming the “new normal.” Don’t think you have a smart home? Think again – the technology is there, it’s just a matter of scale.

You may think that smart home technology is out of your reach – it’s complicated, expensive and hard to install, right? Wrong. Chances are, you’re already living in a smart home and you just don’t know it.

What Makes a Home “Smart?”

From Smart Meters to iPad Applications: Home Automation Takes OffWhether you’re operating everything via voice-control, or you’re just changing television channels with a hand-held remote control, you’ve probably got some type of home automation features in your house. Simply put, smart home technology automates functions that used to require human thought. Examples of common automation technology include:

  • The Clapper: This sound-activated device was made famous in the 90’s with the “Clap-on, Clap-off, it’s the Clapper” commercial featured on Wayne’s World. The Clapper allows you to turn lights off and on by just clapping your hands.
  • Remote controls: Whether your remote control just works with the television, or you’ve got a remote that controls the TV, DVD player, and Roku box, controlling home electronics without having to get up and push the buttons manually is a type of home automation.
  • Automated timers: Do you like to set your kitchen appliances on an automatic timer to ensure that dinner is ready when you get home? Are your sprinklers set to go on and off at certain times every day? Does your TiVo automatically record your favorite television show? These processes are all powered by home automation technology.
  • Smart Meters: Many utilities are installing these devices to track energy use, and reduce your electric bills based on peak-time usage. Monitoring a home’s energy use, and thereby reducing power consumption, is just one method smart homeowners use to offset the costs of today’s technology. How many people are using this technology already? According to Berg Insight, at the current rate of increase, 52% of electricity-user’s homes in Europe will be utilizing Smart Meter technology by 2016.

Making Your Home Smarter

Now you know that you’re already living in a smart home – so how do you make it even smarter? Just scale up the technology that’s already there. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mary Miller, Marketing Director for the Z-Wave Alliance, on this topic. During this interview, we discussed the ease of integrating current smart home technology into an existing structure – in her words, the process is “Beyond simple.” Z-wave connects home automation via a wireless mesh network and products that are readily available to the average consumer. Z-wave-compatible products are not only more accessible than the ‘high-end’ Zigbee-compatible products, they are also much less expensive, making Z-wave-compatible items an attractive choice for consumers.
Want to scale up your home? Try these ideas:

  • Voice-activated controls: Use Bluetooth-enabled voice-recognition software to take The Clapper a step further. With a home controller and interface devices for electronics around your home, you’ll be able to tell the TV to turn on, and even close your drapes by voice command.
  • iPad integration: Some of today’s home controllers can integrate with tablet computers like the iPad. This means that you’ll be able to check your home security system, turn off the coffeepot, or even check the front-door locks remotely. You can also customize your environment by dimming the lights and turning up the stereo, as well as a host of other actions, while you’re at home – all with an iPad app.

Living a Smarter Dream with Home Automation

You may think of a “Smart Home” as a science-fiction myth, but we’re already living in the future. Automation can be applied to many parts of your home, from pet-doors to the bathroom, so embrace the technology and enjoy the many benefits of home automation.

Watch this video to find some interesting devices for your home