Everything you need to know about automation for the home today – and tomorrow
Smart homes are here to stay. Here’s how automation for the home will help us live more sustainably in the future…
Predicting the future is a tricky business, but you don’t need a crystal ball to realise that connected home technology is going to be a key part of tomorrow’s world. Automation for the home has been around since the last century, 1 and has become commonplace only in the last decade or so as prices have dropped and it’s become accessible to all. Gone are the days when it was the preserve of the loaded and totally tech-savvy – now it’s for everyone.
What is a smart home?
A connected home is one that can be controlled remotely, and which uses technology to monitor things like energy use and provide intelligent feedback.
Think of it as your smart butler, picking up info from sources like your smartphone, sensors and smart speakers, and using it to make sure your house is exactly as you want it.
With a suite of smart products like the Hive range, you can pick and mix the gadgets you want, building up your collection over time to suit your needs. So that could be switching off appliances like irons and straighteners when the alarm system setting goes from ‘at home’ to ‘away’, or switching on the lights as soon as sensors detect someone walking into a room.
In 2013, our friends at Hive launched products to help customers control their home. First up was the Hive Active Heating thermostat, which let people control their heating remotely, and hot water too if they have a separate hot water tank. It means never heating an empty home, but also having it exactly as warm as you want, when you want. Getting home earlier than planned, hours before the heating is due to come on? No problem! Just tap the app and it’ll be toasty when you get through the front door.
The award-winning Hive Thermostat is now the UK’s favourite, and works seamlessly with your existing heating system. Controlled either by voice via a virtual assistant like Amazon Echo or Google Assistant or a quick tap of the Hive app, use it to set schedules, boost the heating or switch it off – whether you’re at home or not. This smart home technology can save up to £110 per year, not to mention helping you go greener by saving energy too.
Smart homes today
Fast-forward to today, and Hive has blossomed into a whole family of products that work together to make life easier by saving time, money and energy, and is a fixture in 2 million UK homes. Most start with one element, like the Hive Thermostat, lighting or security system, and then add other bits of kit over time as they get used to smart tech making life simpler.
Adding extra elements is where the fun really starts. You can take advantage of Hive Actions to really bring your home to life. These are clever little ways to connect your Hive devices, so they work seamlessly together to ensure your home is always exactly as you want it – without you having to lift a finger. With Hive Actions, you can set the heating to be on and ready to welcome you home, or to switch off appliances when you leave.
If you start with the Hive Thermostat, then exploring Hive’s range of lights, plugs and sensors makes a great next steps, and together they can do clever things when combined – like switching on the light when someone walks into a room or turning off the heating when a window is opened. As well as convenience, they’re great for security too - you can set the lights to switch on and off when you’re on holiday to make it look as if someone is at home. In addition, you can also get notifications of any unexpected activity.
Smart homes tomorrow
Home automation is already pretty easy now, thanks to our friends at Hive. It’s eco-friendly as well as convenient, so it’s clear that the trend for connectivity will continue, but what will the smart homes of tomorrow look like? Futurist Tom Cheesewright shares his predictions for the future of eco-friendly living with smart home systems.
By 2030, almost every UK home will have some form of smart tech. As innovation continues, sustainable smart home products will become the norm, with smart options becoming increasingly the obvious choice to replace things like thermostats and bulbs.
From 2030 the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is due be banned - and electric vehicles will be just one more device we charge using smart tech.Tom predicts a huge shift in how we power both our homes and our cars:
With brands like Hive, charging at home will be a part of a wider eco-system of smart tech that adds convenience and integrates energy storage into your smart home.
Already joined the EV revolution? Find out more about EV charging with our friends at Hive.
Homes will generate and store energy, and people will be rewarded for making their homes part of the energy grid. Smart water tanks, heat pumps, EV chargers and home batteries could all take part in the future energy system. This means you can use power when it’s cheaper (and greener), as well as storing it for use when it’s needed – either by you or someone else. We’ll also see a rise in micro grids, especially in new build homes, where you can share energy within the community. This means energy can easily be transferred to different homes, instead of wasted.
Smart home helpers
We already have robot vacuums. What’s next?
We’ll see everything from robot furniture that can transform at the touch of a button to make the best use of your living space, to robot wardrobes that press and fold your clothes and smart hydroponics systems to give you a constant supply of salad veg.
Tom believes that 15-20% of us will continue to work from home so predicts a surge in demand for suburban office shares. Alongside this, there will be a huge shift in how we live, to smaller, more sustainably designed private spaces with access to shared amenities like gyms and remote working spaces.
Smart tech will play a key role in these, managing access, setting heat and lighting to our preferences, and ensuring security from your phone through ecosystems like Hive.
In short, smart homes will save us time and money, as well as helping us to live more sustainability. What’s not to love?