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Planning for a smart home future

by Paul F.P. Pogue | Ask Angie | August 14, 2021 at 9:17 p.m. | Updated August 14, 2021 at 9:19 p.m.
Smart home tech can make your life easier, but you also need to think through how to best prep your home for the smart future. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Smart tech advances fast. Every day it seems it gets less expensive and more user-friendly. Before you invest, think about your needs and goals, and consider these tips to make your home a little smarter and your life a little easier.

Most smart tech can be smoothly integrated into an existing home. You don't have to rewire your whole house for voice-activated light bulbs! However, the more tech you add, the more your infrastructure needs may change. Consider these projects to plan for a smart future.

Plan for hidden hubs

This might be a job for an electrician and a carpenter. Even as we expand wireless options, technology and recharging requires wired outlets, and that's not changing anytime soon. Your smart pro or an electrician can give you tips on how to manage the virtual octopus of power cords. You can use specially rigged drawers, alcoves nestled into walls, or even mini-closets as collected hubs for plug-in points that take up less space than just plugging power strips into wherever you can find them.

Don't skimp on the Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi access links to nearly every room of many homes, and that connectedness will only expand in the next few years. That means your Wi-Fi router and internet service is a critical choke point. If more than a handful of people live in your home, you've probably already noticed how the network slows down when everyone's logged in and streaming data. Because of this, it's a good idea to invest in a high-quality router and a generous data plan. For a large house, consider additional routers to boost the signal. It will pay off in convenience!

Ward off vampires

Garlic and silver bullets won't get rid of the creatures of the night sucking up your home's lifeblood and cranking up the power bills, but a little preventative action might. Many appliances and devices draw small amounts of energy when they're plugged in and turned off. Unplug what you can and use wall strips on what you don't want to unplug on a regular basis. All of these tiny energy uses are small, but they can add up to hundreds of dollars per year.

Turn tech into art

In the era of the iPad and flat TVs, many technological tools are works of art in and of themselves, but that doesn't mean you want the sleek industrial look in your sightline at all times. While you're installing tech, ask your pro about ways to hide it when it's not being used. For example, you can hide your TV and/or speakers behind a piece of art or inside a piece of furniture when not in use. Or, a carpenter can construct a closet storage that hides essential pieces of tech you still need to easily access, such as printers and the Wi-Fi router.

Stay secure

Security systems have often formed the backbone of a home automation setup. Now that smart home infrastructure isn't quite as dependent on security as it once was, it's easy to forget that you have many security tools at your disposal as well. Whether it's locks that react to your kids' phones or cameras that stream live video to your phone upon motion activation, a home security professional can help you decide what you most need to stay safe. And while you're at it, review your internet security measures. With this much wired at once, you don't want hackers getting access, and good online security is worth its weight in platinum.


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