(Family Features) With apps that offer comfort, convenience and security, homeowners are getting more out of their smartphones to make their homes better, smarter places to live. Smart home apps such as those from Nest are expected to link various home devices together to bring peace of mind, control and even energy savings to our lives.
It seems like yesterday when smartphone technology was limited only to voice and text message communications. But today, these handheld, portable gadgets allow users to do everything from setting the thermostat to a comfy temperature to ensuring the garage door is closed. The best part is all of these helpful functions can be performed away from home, so homeowners can monitor their most valuable investment - even while out of town.
Here is a guide to new technologies that exist to make homes smarter than ever before:
A comfortable nook
Brimming with framed memories and other trinkets that show your family's unique style, you've likely put a lot of time and effort into making your home as comfortable as it can be. With schedules growing more hectic by the minute, you deserve a comfortable place to relax. Beyond the basic comforts of plush furniture or toasty bedding, technology can make your abode better. Here are some additional ways to add a touch of comfort through technology:
- Make temperatures just right
Imagine coming home from a trip to learn your town is experiencing extreme weather conditions. There's no need to worry about how hot or cold your home will be. Special apps allow you to control the temperature settings on the thermostat from your smartphone or tablet, so your home's temperature will be just the way you like it when you arrive. These capabilities are also eco-friendly, allowing users to regulate the temperature while the home is unoccupied, which can mean big savings on energy bills.
- Let a little sunlight in
Until recently, motorized window shades were a luxury only the rich and famous could enjoy - that is until smartphone technology came into play. With the touch of a finger, homeowners can now adjust their curtains and the natural light streaming into their rooms with one of several applications. These special systems even allow you to set a schedule for opening your shades, so you can wake up to natural light every morning.
Bringing convenience home
With the busy daily schedules today's families must manage, everyone can use some convenience from time to time. Here are some ways technology makes life at home a little easier:
- Program favorites with ease
Have you ever misplaced your television's remote control? Do you have a hard time remembering to record your favorite television programs before leaving the house? Both of these problems can be solved with your phone. By downloading an app to connect to your smart TV, you can instantly turn your phone into a remote control. This allows you to schedule your favorite show and film recordings from anywhere.
- Save time in the kitchen and beyond
Standard kitchen appliances are getting a technological upgrade. Cooks can now save time with apps that allow them to preheat, monitor food as it cooks and turn off the oven all from their phone. Many other appliances, such as washers and dryers, are also on board with connectivity. New apps allow homeowners to check laundry cycles and receive alerts when their clothes are clean and dry.
Safe and secure living
Protecting one's family and belongings is important to every homeowner. Luckily, technology makes it easy to monitor these valuables no matter where you are. Here are some ways you can add safety to your home with your handy smartphone or tablet device:
- Monitor your garage from anywhere
Since opening and closing the garage door is so much a part of your daily routine, it's often hard to remember if it was closed. The many families who use their garage as the main door to their home can now have peace of mind. Designed to work with a free smartphone app, MyQ Garage by Chamberlain works with the majority of garage door openers installed after 1993 and uses your home's existing Wi-Fi, allowing you to open your garage door from anywhere. Are you afraid you left the garage door open as you left for work this morning or somehow it has been opened unexpectedly? The handy MyQ app sends automatic notifications to your smartphone when the door opens or closes, so you won't have to go back home to check. Plus, the MyQ Garage can be installed in just minutes with no wiring required. For more information, visit www.chamberlain.com.
- Keeping an eye on things
Frequent travelers and businesspeople will love the remote monitoring capabilities available from various home security providers. With a few taps on your device, you can monitor your home from any location. This can even mean checking on Fido while out running errands.
- Flip the switch
When traveling, many people leave lights on inside their homes to deter thieves. Some smart apps allow you to control various lighting sources within your home through your smartphone or tablet. Now you won't have to beg your neighbor to house sit while you're away. Do you have a forgetful family member who always leaves on the lights? Save energy and money with the ability to turn off those lights from anywhere.
Illustration courtesy of Getty Images