What Is the Definition of a Smart Home?

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If you were inspired by the home of the Jetsons on TV, smart home technology is definitely for you. Smart homes use a variety of tools to make their residents' lives easier and more efficient, while typically also allowing for a smaller impact on the environment. Want your home to say hello to you when you arrive (literally)? Smart homes can include that feature and many more.

Features

  • Smart homes are houses that have been equipped with a variety of technological tools that automate and enhance living. The different tools vary among smart houses depending on the residents' needs and preferences. For example, a smart home may have electronic touch-screen panels in every room that use voice recognition to act on commands from the residents, including such tasks as adjusting the thermostat from any location, playing music on an all-house entertainment system or providing sound and video from a baby monitor on any screen.

Function

  • Smart home technology is used to make living more efficient and also usually to conserve energy. Smart homes often use motion sensors and webcams to greet residents when they return home, to turn lights off and on, to increase security or to provide entertainment. The energy management technology may also raise and lower window shades and can determine the best times of day to run appliances such as dishwashers and clothes dryers for maximum energy savings.

Significance

  • Smart homes have been dreamed of by science fiction writers and technology enthusiasts alike for decades. As the technology has improved and become cheaper to install, more people have been able to include these smart features in their homes. Some new homes come with various smart technologies, and others are being retrofitted to include these sophisticated tools.

Effects

  • The greatest effect that smart home designers typically hope to achieve is energy efficiency. The term "smart home" often refers, therefore, not just to these technological tools but also to other design features, such as high-efficiency appliances. It may also include the use of renewable energy technology such as solar panels or a home wind turbine that permits the production of energy not just for the home but is also sold back to the electrical grid when an excess is produced.

Potential

  • Some technologies are still under development for the improvement of smart homes. For example, a new product allows your home's electric meter to use the microblogging service Twitter to broadcast your energy consumption on a regular basis. The interface of smart homes with the Internet is an exciting area of expansion that will allow you to communicate with your home from a distance.

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References

  • Photo Credit Photo by Flickr user mjmonty. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mjmonty/1519998876/
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