Who Are Connected Homes For? The Smart Home Beginner’s Guide For Those Who Are Considering A System.
The short answer, 1122 Designs feels connected homes are for everyone. That said, from experience, the typical user falls into one of three categories; those who want to elevate their lifestyle affordably, multi-property homeowners, and remote caregivers. Let’s unpack each of those three categories’. Before we do, we will look at the most common positions, their responsibilities and their costs that overlap each category (annual salaries are based on the California economy):
- Butler ($57,623): Your live in butler’s responsibilities include but are not limited to; general cleaning and maintenance, care of clothing and textiles, care of dinner and serving ware, art and antiquities care, automobile maintenance, security and travel, coordinating and scheduling of service contractors, and receiving guests.
- Personal Assistant ($39,689): The duties customary to a personal assistant are; handling and responding to communications, scheduling appointments and maintaining logs, setting and executing reminders, planning events, taking notes at events, communicating with butler and external parties on your behalf, and preparing various reports.
- Personal Shopper ($41,152): A personal shopper will typically make purchases in malls, boutique stores and grocery stores based on their client’s needs. Their duties often include research, advice and guidance on products and purchases.
- Personal Chef ($112,947): Your private chef will plan and prepare meals based on your personal dietary needs.
- Personal Trainer ($51,196): Personal trainers will lead, instruct and motivate their clients. They will develop a workout regiment that custom targets their clients needs.
- Grounds Keeper ($45,203): A grounds keeper will maintain trees, shrubs, flowers, turf and very importantly…irrigation. This is a semi-skilled position (due to mechanical and structural maintenance) that is almost the same as a gardener or landscaper.
Elevate Your Lifestyle Affordably: How to get the staff you want without breaking the bank.
The average American household income is $87,864. Squeezing an extra annual $347,810 out of the budget is impossible. While there are a good lot of us who can afford a housecleaning, lawn and pool service or subscription, most can’t afford a live in staff. The general public would be thrilled to have a service or subscription that bridges the financial gap. Prepared to be thrilled…with a little bit of a learning curve. Connected home technology helps give us the amenities and services we want but may not be reasonably in the budget. These one-time-purchases, even if there is a subscription option, leverages the quality of lifestyle making day-to-day living a lot more relaxing. The bonus? With the extra help provided by connected home technology, homeowners might find that they have more time and emotional capacity to give back to their communities in the way they imagined they would.
Introducing some of the key players in the line-up of connected home technology. They will help alleviate stress, provide a helping hand in running your home, and assist in keeping your life on track.
The most IMPORTANT piece of the connected home puzzle is the router. A router to provides a connection between your devices and internet provider so they can communicate with each other. Without an excellent or at least good one, all of your devices are expensive paperweights. From our experience mesh net routers are the best option for multi-level needs or expanding to nearby structures like ADUs and workshops. The mesh Wi-Fi router allows your home hub (the “butler/housekeeper”) to run your home and communicate with your virtual “staff”.
COST: $109 – $600+ (depending on size of area to cover)
BUTLER / HOUSEKEEPER
Just like a butler or housekeeper, the smart home hub is designed to direct the orchestra keeping the house in tune and in harmony. With so may options it is important to do your homework. Choose one that meets the needs of your lifestyle and feels intuitive to you. A good butler will have eyes and ears where you need them, be easy to communicate with, and relay your needs to the other devices in your home. Your home hub will always be in touch with your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, cleaning and security. You can contact or activate your hub directly, through voice command or phone app.
COST: $45 – $600
Normally this person would be dedicated to you. The reality is, these duties fall back on your “butler / housekeeper”. With a simple voice command or phone app your personal assistant is on call 24/7. Unlike a human, your virtual personal assistant doesn’t need sleep, vacation or scheduled work hours.
Have a home based business or have a large and busy household requiring more services than your home hub can provide? No problem. There are several Virtual Assistant subscriptions available to help leverage your workload, errands and “honey-do” list. Pricing is customizable and can meet most budgets.
COST: $220 – $1,600+
Once again the smart home hub is the one to do heavy lifting when it comes to placing orders, payment and delivery but, not without help from its staff. Like the refrigerator.
When it comes to groceries the refrigerator is worth every dime of investment. A smart home hub is integrated into certain models making them your butler if this is more convenient. You wouldn’t believe the concierge amenities on these models. More importantly, these smart models have cameras that allow you to see what you have in stock. These same cameras also allow the refrigerator to know when you are running low on staple items, set reminders, and send them to your phone.
Have anything from Amazon to Instacart deliver your groceries. Need more shopping done? Just ask your butler to place the order for pick-up or delivery.
COST: $3,000 – $4,600
Right. So this isn’t a connected home feature per se. However, these personalized subscriptions for food service are something your “butler” or “personal assistant” can handle for you. Different from general grocery shopping, most of these companies provide a host of meals for you to choose from.
They aren’t all the same either. Many of them cater to special dietary needs like paleo, gluten free, or vegetarian just to name a few. When you add smart appliances like built-in ovens, microwaves, and toaster ovens…you can use your app to help prepare your meals too. The costs vary depending on the programs you choose.
COST: $47 – $400
Getting to the gym is often challenging when you consider commute times and convenience. We aren’t suggesting that you cancel your membership. Certainly, if you enjoy the socialization and simply “getting out” then it is justifiable for wellbeing.
For everyday maintenance at your convenience, consider a virtual personal trainer that is built into your equipment. Just another staff member for your butler to manage. Companies like Lululemon (featured minimalist mirror that stands or hangs) have entire systems and a variety of modalities to choose from. Find the right equipment for your needs and hit the gym in between errands or zoom meetings.
COST: $995 – $2,500
Short of getting a robot to do the maintenance, this section is more about the “staff” for the “butler” to manage. Most of us are completely aware of automated sprinklers but, what else would make landscaping and gardening easier for you and your landscaping service?
- Robot: Okay, so it isn’t Rosie…but a robot lawnmower could prove handy! Maybe you are away for an extended period of time or maybe it is for one of your rental properties. Whatever the reason, being able to remotely or by phone app mow your lawn could leverage your gardener’s duties allowing the service to add more services. Cost: $800 – $4,800
- Irrigation: Wifi enabled irrigation feels almost like a must. Many are controlled by zip code which allows your irrigation to adjust to local weather conditions. If you aren’t home or don’t want to travel to the control box, you can manage your irrigation from your phone. The efficiency is worth its weight in gold. Cost: $115 – $330
- LED Lighting: For security, safety, and beauty outdoor lighting is a must. The variety of options based on function are too numerous for this article but, we can list the areas you should consider:
- String Lights
- Ambient for outdoor living space
- Outdoor Audio: For continuous music from indoor to outdoor living spaces and walkways. Outdoor sound systems are also perfect for a small gathering to watch the game while grilling in your outdoor kitchen and dining room. Cost: $51 – $400
- Security Cameras: This may be a mix and match area. When trying to decide on hardwired or wireless security cameras it can be a good idea to schedule an appointment with an integration company. Many homeowners don’t consider how often they will have to change batteries on wireless which requires a ladder. To save on battery life you can install a solar component but that adds to the cost. Hardwire your cameras for better resolution, storage and power but, if the power goes out…so does your security camera. Cost: $50 – $250+
COST: $1,016 – $5,780
Thanks to technology there are plenty of customizable options for the average homeowner. Leveling up your lifestyle for ease and comfort is doable. No more of trying to live beyond your means or resigning yourself to living without these conveniences. Instead of trying to find an additional $347,810 a year you can estimate a one time purchase of approximately $15,680 on the higher end plus any subscriptions that you might decide to enroll in. Revolving services and subscriptions are manageable and can be leveraged with your new staff. The point is, your desired lifestyle may be more within reach than you thought.
Manage Your Rental Properties: Use connected home tech to leverage local property management fees and services.
Managing your long and short term rentals is frequently a bone of contention for property owners. Connected home technology may not be able to get your tenants to pay on time but, it can help with efficiency, maintenance, security, and city ordinance infractions. For STRs city ordinance infractions can kill your stream of income. Not all of our suggestions will apply to both long and short term rentals however, we are sure you will find something useful. Building off of the section above on how to elevate your lifestyle, we will add some other items to consider:
The smart refrigerator was mentioned earlier to sub in for the butler, personal shopper, personal assistant. There are other appliances that make great additions to rentals. Ovens, cooktops, and irons make the top of the list because they can be a fire hazard. Add them to your app to receive alerts and shut them down remotely. Out of the country and in a different time zone. Not a problem.
Installing a Wifi home thermostat is fairly common these days. Most of us are fairly aware of what role we play regarding our carbon footprint and controlling the thermostat is a step in reducing our carbon footprint. Other benefits you might not be aware of are:
- Improving Air Quality: A thermostat might not be able to filter particulates but, it can control humidity. That means it can send you an alert if the humidity is too high and might cause mold or too dry and affect materials in the home.
- Save Money: Control the temperature from your phone so that you are only heating or cooling when necessary.
- Compatibility: Works with your “butler” as “staff” tracking patterns for household economic projections and follows through with commands.
Compare Wifi thermostats here!
A favorite story to drive home the need for Pool Technology was told by a guest years ago. Frank let his adult children use the vacation home while he was in Europe on business. When he returned home to Los Angeles and opened his mail he was greeted by an astronomical energy bill. For the umpteenth time the kids had forgotten to turn the heater off when they were done with the house. Needless to say, Frank was very interested in being able to check on the house no matter where he was in the world. When you have an STR, being able to control the pool equipment is peace of mind and savings.
THE SMART PLUG | OUTLET
These can be life savers! If you own an STR you are well aware of how unwelcome they can be. Understandably, neighborhoods that are family friendly or full of professionals don’t want to listen to loud music at 10pm from two blocks away when they live next door. The real killer are city ordnances that don’t allow music or bright lights without a permit past specific hours. In Palm Springs, for example, 3 violations and you lose your permit for your STR.
There are two options that work well remotely; smart plugs for the exterior, and smart outlets for the interior. You may not need to outfit every outlet rather add these to the receptacles that make sense for the habits of your renters.
Remote Caregiver: Smart Tech that helps family, friends, and professionals give seniors the independence they want.
According to AARP, more than 80% of seniors prefer to age in place instead of having to go to assisted living. That can be a daunting request. Retirement age in the United States is set at age 67 for full benefits. This means that adult children are having to work longer while also taking care of their aging parents. Regardless if parents are in assisted living or not, it’s a challenging mission to take on. It’s challenging when children move their parents in with them, even more so if they are trying to help their parents stay independent in their own home. But there is leverage that can provide relief in connected home technology. The video below walks you through technology that extends the independence of seniors. The connected home technology can be used independently or in your own home if your parents move in.
Nine Smart Home Systems For Aging In Place
“By 2035 there will be more of us over the age of 65 than under 18 for the first time in history.” ~ Tech Talk
- High Speed Internet and Mesh Net Router: Described in the Leveling Up Lifestyle section.
- Smart Alarm System: Provides safety and security while being accessed by caregiver.
- Home Hub: Described as the “butler” for good communication by key people and tech.
- Motion Sensor: Placed by the bed for safety makes it easy to see when one gets up at night. It can also send a message to the caregiver to alert them that mom or dad is out of bed.
- Fall Detection Device: Monitors motion for falls. When a fall is detected it calls an emergency contact and opens a two way conversation line.
- Contact Sensors: For medicine cabinet or drawers to alert caregiver that daily medication is being taken.
- LifePod: By individually or built in with Amazon. LifePod is virtual caregiver that checks in on independent seniors and encourage them to be active. It will also detect negative feedback and alert family or caregiver to call and check in. It is proactive and does not need to be prompted to ask questions. Caregivers can program the device remotely to set reminders, offer advice or encouragement.
- Smart Appliances: Mentioned in the “Managing Properties” section. Smart appliances can prepare the right portions at the right time. They have safeties in place to shut off so as not to burn food or start fires.
- Home Monitoring System: Home monitoring systems like Sense are installed into your breaker box to have a pulse on your entire home. It can tell you what is going on in your home at any time regarding its electrical system and send you alerts when there are anomalies like lights left on too long, whether the oven is on, or the laundry is finished.
Connected home technology is for everyone. Motivations may vary but solutions to life’s domestic challenges are within reach. When custom designed to fit your lifestyle your home can be as convenient, comfortable and helpful as you want it to be. The technology can progress through your life’s journey and evolve to meet your needs at each stage. If you want more clarity or have a challenge that wasn’t addressed in this post, please leave a comment below so that we can respond or feature your challenge in future posts.
There is more tech available to leverage your lifestyle than we could list here. Check back regularly to discover more in tech, biophilia and DIY interior design. If you want to know exactly when new posts will be out, turn on your alerts or be sure to sign up for our newsletters. 1122 Designs looks forward to future conversations with you. We love a fresh eye and a new perspective on interior design.