Home Automation: The Smart Technology Your Home Never Knew It Needed

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated December 8, 2021
Mother using digital tablet mounted on wall at smart home
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Highlights

  • The average home automation system costs $803

  • Luxury home automation systems can cost as much as $150,000

  • Home automation can make homes more convenient and secure

  • Many homeowners DIY home automation

Picture this: Your alarm rings; It’s 6 a.m. Your bedside lamp flicks on, the coffee pot gurgles to life, and soft music plays from the bathroom as you peacefully move through your morning routine. When it’s time to head to work, everything shuts off, and your security system activates. This is smart home automation at its finest. 

Today’s modern smart homes are almost unrecognizable compared to the fantastical, futuristic ideas we had about them in the past. It’s nothing like what you might’ve seen on The Jetsons or Disney’s Smart House. Instead, it’s accessible, the technology can be inexpensive and easy to install, and many homeowners don’t even notice that smart home technology is sitting right on their shelf.

Automation is the foundation of what makes smart home technology so smart—but it can feel like a different language. Once you crack the code, you can make your home a whole lot more convenient. Are you ready to get smart

What Is Home Automation?

Home automation refers to the automatic electronic control of the features and utilities in your house. In the most basic sense, you might think of a thermostat turning on and off as your house temperature fluctuates. If it gets hotter, your thermostat will turn on the air conditioning. If it gets colder, it might turn on the heat.

Modern automation goes one step further and asks: what if you could control that thermostat remotely through an app? What if you could automatically set your thermostat lower during the day while you’re away and higher at night when you’re home, saving you energy and controlling your home without worry? Today, people can buy home automation systems that automate everything from lights and sound systems to kitchen appliances and security systems. 

How Does Home Automation Work?

Father using laptop while sitting by son in living room
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Home automation devices run on the Internet of Things (IoT). It sounds different, but it’s actually the same internet you use to check your email. The term specifically refers to how the items in your home connect and communicate with each other over your regular Wi-Fi internet connection or Bluetooth and Zigbee (the technology that allows Amazon’s Echo to turn off a bedroom light, should you ask).

With home automation, one device’s actions automatically trigger another device’s actions, almost as if they’re speaking to each other. This process uses physical mechanisms. Some mechanisms might be hidden, like a tiny actuator built into a smart plug. Some might be noticeable, like a motorized arm that manually flips your light switch on and off. Many automation systems also use sensors to actively monitor temperature, light, motion, and sound. Depending on the settings, these sensors can also trigger actions.

Users oversee the entire home automation process. They can monitor and control their automation system using an app, remote control, or a smart assistant (think: Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa). It sounds complicated, but it’s quite simple. Press a button on your app, and your lights turn on. Press another button, and you’ve turned on your coffee maker.

Benefits of Home Automation

Home automation can be quite an investment, costing an average of $800. This varies based on what you buy and if it’s professionally installed. Complex, luxury systems can cost as much as $150,000—but most users start with a basic smart home hub (like an Amazon Echo or Google Nest) and a few smart light switches. 

Automation Increases Energy Efficiency and Reduces Waste

Home automation helps you use energy more efficiently by automatically controlling lighting, thermostats, and other electronics that drain power. Smart sprinkler systems will optimize your watering schedule to reduce water consumption. Even though this type of automation technology often comes with significant upfront costs, it can lead to long-term savings on utilities.

Your Devices Will Work Even When You’re Not Home

One of the biggest draws of smart devices is that you can adjust them when you’re not home. This type of automation might look like:

  • Turning off a light you forgot to turn off before you left 

  • Letting in visitors when you’re not home

  • Adjusting the thermostat if temperatures change while you’re away

Automation Can Make Your Home Safer

Though there are some security concerns with smart technology, automation can make your home safer through the use of smart locks, surveillance cameras, and security systems. For example:

  • A smart doorbell can notify you anytime someone rings your doorbell, and you can see who they are with the built-in security camera

  • Smart carbon monoxide and smoke detectors send alerts to your phone after detecting smoke or fire, and you can use your phone to silence a false alarm

  • Smart security systems can alert you when windows are opened, glass is broken, or someone walks through a door

  • There are even WiFi-connected medical alert systems that can detect falls and other emergencies

Automation Is Convenient 

At the end of the day, smart home automation is convenient—especially if you’re the type of person who bemoans the moment you have to get up and turn on the lights. Your home automation system can control your TV when your remote gets lost in the couch cushions (again). Do you always lose your keys? Set your home automation system to unlock your front door the minute you pull into the driveway. Home automation just makes life easier.