bright, spacious living room in Minto Communities Morgan's Creek community

Getting “smart” at home

LIVE smarter | 6 MIN READ | 2019-06-03

Living in today’s world is kind of amazing. Virtually every technology you can think of is at your fingertips – from your thermostat to your security system to your automated speaker system – giving you total control of your life from just about anywhere. The thing is, the more and more wired we become, the more confusing it can get. We’re breaking down the easiest ways to get “smart” at home (no robots required!), what the benefits of smart homes are, and what smart home devices are the best.

What exactly is a “smart” home?

Smarter Home Hub diagram from Minto Communities

Image Credit: Minto Communities in Ottawa announced their offering of smart home automation, with the diagram showing what comes in their Smarter Homes Starter Package.

Smart home technology provides homeowners with the ability to connect and interact with their living space. It’s a home that’s equipped with network-connected lighting, heating and electronics that can be controlled remotely in real time by your mobile device, tablet or computer. That means you can turn your heat down while waiting in line for a coffee, open your garage for someone while grocery shopping, or speak to the UPS delivery person through your home security system. It’s all about convenience – and making the most of what the world of technology has to offer. 

Minto Communities in Ottawa recently announced their latest offering of smart home automation solutions for healthier, safer and more comfortable homes.

Using a mobile app, homeowners are able to:

Adjust their thermostat 

Monitor their home for water leaks

Monitor the performance of their heating and cooling systems

Be notified if there’s a water leak or performance issue with their heating and cooling systems (so that a small issue doesn’t turn into a costly repair)

Upgrade to control more directly from your phone or tablet, including door locks, cameras, lights, outlets, a doorbell camera and more (the options are virtually endless!)

Homeowners in Ottawa with mid-2019 closing dates or later in specified communities will be eligible to receive the Smarter Homes Starter Package at no cost for the first three years with no contracts or obligations! To learn more, click here.

How to make your house “smart”

Little girl using a smartphone on a bed

The first thing to do is find specific products that are Wi-Fi compatible – like a Nest or Ecobee thermostat, light timers and dimmers, and other electronics in your home. These are pretty readily available as a good majority of companies are now offering this technology. Each of these products will come with directions on how to download their app and will walk you through the steps to set things up.

The next thing to do is read “17 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Smart Home” by Architectural Digest, they take you through different products to purchase and install, how much they are and where you can buy them. Then, finish reading this article as we talk about the best home systems and various benefits of having a smart home.

Setting up schedules

Hands typing on a computer and writing on an iPad, surrounded by other technological devices and objects

Automation is a big deal when it comes to smart technology. If you don’t want to manually control your gadgets all the time, you can set up scenes, routines and rules. Depending on when you enter or leave your home, or when sensors are triggered, your home gets to know your routine and automatically works based on what’s happening. So your heat will automatically turn down when you’re not home, and your lights will automatically go off if they don’t sense any activity. Cool, right?

What are the best smart home devices?

Google Home and Amazon Alexa virtual assistants on a table

Image Credit: Sting Alarm

Perhaps one of the biggest areas of confusion is which smart home system to choose. According to The Ambient, it really depends on your budget, your time and your level of enthusiasm. If you want to control your whole home, you can set up one all-powerful app on your phone to do it all through one hub. Some of the options include:

Amazon Alexa

Google Assistant

Apple HomeKit

Works with Nest

So, how to choose? If you’re thinking you’d like a voice controlled smart speaker, your best bets are likely Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Assistant, which can be controlled through third party brands like Sony and Sonos. If you’re a die-hard Apple loyalist, Apple HomeKit is the obvious choice. What it really comes down to is what you’re most comfortable with – and what technology can offer you the best control and convenience you’re looking for.

SmartONE Solutions image of smart home features

Image Credit: SmartONE Solutions Inc.

And if you don’t want to set it all up yourself, look for homebuilders that offer smart home technology so they can help you through it. Minto Communities in the GTA is now partnering with SmartONE Solutions to incorporate smart technology in their new Oakvillage condos in Oakville, so that you don’t have to set anything up. They’ll help you through everything – from understanding what you can control to managing your in-suite system control touch pad. Sounds smart, doesn’t it? 

The benefits of Smart Homes

Harmony by Minto Communities, big bright kitchen with plants

Image: Monterey Executive Townhome” model at Harmony by Minto Communities in Ottawa, a community introducing Smarter Homes technology

Aside from control and convenience, one of the great things about smart home gadgets is that they give you easily accessible data. You can keep a history of your security feeds, see how much light, gas and electricity energy you’re consuming each month, and even which songs you seem to play over and over again.

In addition, there are tons of cost benefits to having a smart home! There’s the more obvious savings, like lowering your heat and air conditioning or turning off certain outlets so that energy isn’t being used when you’re not home. But did you know that there are actually insurance savings opportunities too? When you own a smart home, especially with water leak sensors, you can chat with your insurance provider and they’ll let you know about the potential discounts – but they do exist! 

Here’s the thing – a smart home isn’t a necessity. It’s something you can play around with and have fun with. And most of all, it can make your life that much easier.