Smart homes offer security, savings but privacy is a concern – News & Observer
Many people grew up with the idea that one day we would all be living in homes like the Jetsonsâ€™, the 1960s cartoon family living in the future, with a closet that showers and dresses you and a robot that makes your breakfast.
While homes arenâ€™t yet quite there, smart home technology has advanced leaps and bounds in recent years and has become more popular than ever.
â€œTechnology has changed the way we live in and interact with our homes,â€ said April Stephens, president of the Johnston County Association of Realtors. â€œSmart homes can be programmed to react to their owner and tailored to fit with a personâ€™s lifestyle â€“ homeowners can even design the home to meet their specific needs.â€
Here are a few ways homeowners can use smart-home technology:
Security. New products allow homeowners to monitor their homes from a distance â€“ even internationally. Owners can lock doors and windows from their portable computers, or access security-camera recordings from a mobile device.
â€œItâ€™s not just about keeping the property safe; itâ€™s about keeping you and your family safe too,â€ Stephens said. â€œFire, carbon monoxide and gas leak alarms that connect to your smartphone can give you peace of mind that everything is all right in your home even when you arenâ€™t physically there.â€
Energy savings. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to program their homeâ€™s temperature and adjust it even after theyâ€™ve left, avoiding any needless heating or cooling of an empty house. Automated lighting programs let people turn the lights on and off in their home from their smartphone or laptop from anywhere in the world.
â€œSmart green features have been in high demand for years now,â€ Stephens said. â€œThese products not only help the environment but also bring your electricity and water bills down, saving you money.â€
Convenience. One of the main appeals of smart homes is that they can make the homeownerâ€™s life easier. A garage door opener connected to your smartphone and a sprinkler system that syncs with the weather forecast so the lawn is never watered when itâ€™s raining are all features that simplify day-to-day life. Soon, instead of having to check the refrigerator to see if anything is running low, a homeowner will receive a text message from their smart kitchen reminding him or her to buy eggs.
Although the benefits these technologies provide are numerous, it is important not to lose sight of the risks smart homes can pose to the ownerâ€™s privacy, Stephens said. As smart technology becomes more established in homes, it becomes even more important that the necessary precautions are taken to protect data and privacy, she said.
Thatâ€™s why the National Association of Realtors worked with the Online Trust Alliance, a nonprofit, to create the Smart Home Checklist. The checklist offers guidance to home buyers and sellers about how to stay in control of the privacy and security of their smart home technology. You can find this list at https://otalliance.org/SmartHome.
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