How to make the most of your smart home tech
It's now official. More of us, than ever before, are working from home. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and regular lockdowns, our working life has changed dramatically.
In fact, research from Roy Morgan shows more than 4.3 million people (32 per cent of working Australians) were WFH once the coronavirus shut down large parts of the Australian economy.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group also found that up to 60 per cent of Australian workers want to work remotely for two or three days a week moving forward.
And now we are working where we live, we're also adopting new technology. Smart homes and hi-tech home office are on the rise.
Statista research says that 24.9 per cent of Australian households feature some sort of smart home technology - and it's expected to increase to 41.9 per cent by 2023. That means some 2.3 million Australian homes are linked up to home automation and app-controlled tech devices. So what's the first step, if you're thinking of getting smart?
"Smart home technology starts with the internet," says Marcus Cook, director of Mobile Geeks.
"If that is solid, the rest is up to the customer and the individual budget. A popular set up includes a video doorbell (allowing you to answer your door even when you're away), smart lights, smart switches, airconditioning and heating systems."
"Creativity is the only limit from here," he adds.
"Your TV, speakers, audio systems, gates, sprinklers and even fireplace can be controlled via an app on your phone."
Even if you don't go as far as that, simply sprinkling in a little smart tech can make working at home considerably more appealing.
"It's great for those working from home," agrees HPM lifestyle expert, Jason Neophytou, "allowing you to perform simple actions from your device such as adjusting the temperature or even just turning on a light or the kettle during a work call or mid budget planning."
"Our renovation plans started in the study because the kids were at the dining table, even pre-COVID doing their homework, and then obviously once we started home schooling having all the school gear across the dining table was not desirable. It's what most people have been doing and I thought 'you know what, we've got a study', let's go to the trouble of fitting it out properly so we don't have this predicament of school books everywhere.
OPENING UP THAT UNDER-UTILISED ROOM
"We had this under-utilised room, it was literally a room that we stored a lot of stuff that we needed to throw out. It had a single doorway, so we've opened it up to be a wider doorway because more people are using it and the slider allows it to be private if you're video conferencing or if the kids need quiet time for their study or homework," Damian Cavanagh, of smart home solution company Electronic Living.
"There's a couple of things going on. We've set up an IP phone system that links straight into our office so this is a virtual office away from our office. I put that window in. We had a large window that was low and it didn't allow for overheads or a bench to go across.
"We've got lots of double power points with USB chargers that are above bench, but I've got as many, if not more, power points below the bench, and I'm not finished. There's a cable tray that goes all the way around, so you don't see cables hanging down. And then you've got inductive charging. I've got one to put in … it just sits under the bench and you just put your phone on the benchtop and it charges through the bench. It will work through stone.
"Eventually, USB will become redundant and we're talking about a wireless charging environment. We also have 3000k LED low energy consumption lights that are dimmable. You can literally voice control anything in the home. That can be essential services like lighting control, airconditioning, window treatments, audiovisual systems and security.
"So this was really just about putting in all the creature comforts that we've thought about for a long time and put on the backburner. COVID brought all that to the front as a priority and it's made the home more comfortable and more secure. That's a big one right now, cameras everywhere around the house."
Damian and Anissa Cavanagh, of smart home solution company Electronic Living (above). Kids Hudson, nine, Archer, six, (left). The family is from Bridgeman Downs, Brisbane
FIVE SMART HOME TIPS AND TRICKS
1 Sort your internet
"Make sure you know your Wi-Fi dead spots," says Marcus Cook. "Most smart devices will connect via Wi-Fi and most homes have areas where the signal is weak."
2 Keep it charged
"Recent studies have shown the average Australian home contains 13 smart devices with most of these requiring power or charging via a USB connection," Jason Neophytou says. "Items such as USB power boards and wall switches with USB ports come in handy in living areas, kitchens and outdoors."
3 Turn to timers
"Timers or connected 'smart' sockets can make your life much easier," says Thomas Robin, the offer marketing manager for Home & Distribution at Schneider Electric/ Clipsal. "Rather than crawling under your desk to turn off the power, just do it via one tap on your phone."
4 Start off small
"Smart homes are scalable - you can start with one connected light switch or socket and expand to your whole home," says Thomas. "Arteor with Netatmo, for example, works with a Home + Control app that can turn on TVs, open blinds and even tell you if you've left your straightener on!"
5 Pick and choose
"Think about the value that smart home tech can add to your lifestyle," advises Thomas. "Consider how you would use it in your daily life. Would you like automated control over your indoor and outdoor lighting? Or focus on a key areas like your home office, kitchen and living room?"
Originally published as Make the most of smart home tech