Get smart: How to build your own smart home

The smart home of the near-future will make your lifestyle more comfortable and easy … and save you money, too.

Whether you’re designing a home from the ground up or simply want to bring your existing abode into the 21st century, the latest technology can help make your home comfortable, convenient and inexpensive to run.

Building a smart home can be as simple as adding gadgets that automate various functions in your home, or give you complete control over such things as temperature, ambience and security at the touch of a button or the sound of your voice.

It isn’t just what we put in our homes that makes them smarter, though – the building products we use and the solar-passive principles we incorporate into the design can make a big impact.

Smart glass, for example, can now block noise, reduce glare, increase security and control the amount of heat that moves in and out of the home; building products are being developed to make use of recycled materials and boost our home’s ability to protect us from the elements; and innovations in solar panels and even paint are helping us harness the power of nature to meet our electricity needs.

Where to start?

Anything that can be connected will be connected in the future, and we’re already seeing that in the home. Houses can be smart-wired to allow easy integration of smart lighting, security and entertainment systems in a central control system, or you can opt to take a gadget-by-gadget approach.

The front door can now recognise family members and be unlocked remotely for visitors via an app. Video doorbells allow you to see who’s at the door – even if you’re not at home – and advanced security systems let you monitor your home inside and out based on a variety of pre-programmed scenarios (if you’re on holidays or your pets are home alone, for example).

When you come home, it can be more comfortable and welcoming than ever. Smart blinds and curtains sense temperature and the movement of the sun, so your heating and cooling system can ready the house for your arrival, and the lights (along with your favourite music) can be set to come on as you walk through the front door.

Meanwhile, your smart vacuum cleaner has given the place a once-over while you’ve been out at work, and your solar roof tiles have been gathering energy from the sun and storing it in a slimline battery to power all your electricity needs. Just think: the cooking you do that evening, the devices you charge, and even the hot shower each of your family members takes before bed can all now come courtesy of the sun.

It doesn’t end there. Voice commands can now control everything from your coffee machine, TV and music choices, to your smart-glass bathroom wall which turns from transparent to opaque. And when you’re brushing your teeth in the evening your smart mirror doubles as a screen that shows you tomorrow’s weather and the latest news.

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