Will the Smart House Ever Be Smart Enough?
I own a smart house, and five years later, I have to admit I am not exactly proud of it. Since then, technology has developed exponentially. My projects involving smart houses taught me a valuable lesson – that we always have the opportunity to grow and learn and do things better. Especially when it comes to technology! The second most important thing I’ve learned is that we establish life habits in every new house we create. When we’re on site, we are in touch with our projects, with a future home – and the life we plan or imagine in the space in question is no longer just an idea or a drawing. In retrospect, if I had to redo my smart house, there are so many things I would do differently. But isn’t that true in life in general? That said, is a smart house worth it – after all I’ve experienced both privately and professionally, with all I’ve learned, and taking into account just how fast technology charges forward? How does an ideal smart home look, how much does it cost and does it save energy?
What should an ideal smart house do?
A smart house should integrate all technical systems into one application and provide for the end-user simple access to all needed information – instantly. The technological system includes light systems, shades, HVAC, alarms, surveillance, sound and entertainment systems, smart appliances etc. Another crucial area of turning our home into a smart house is making sure we become energy efficient. That ties in well with electrical vehicles. Since we produce renewable energy, wouldn’t it be great if we could charge our vehicles? Why don’t we use our cars battery as our energy storage system?
Additionally, what about sustainable living? For example, using rainwater as water for the savage system, growing and cooking our own food, using more efficient transportation services, living in an efficiently organised community. Not to mention we would also need to use sustainable building materials; architecture of the house should consider environmental benefits. What about recycling waste material, and some day even our house furniture, appliances, building materials? What about our behaviours – our way of living, our connection to society, to nature? The list goes on.
Every domain of life can be involved in creating a smart house.
Are we there yet?
Nope. The truth is, we will never succeed in creating the final version of a smart home. The smart house is an on-going process, a journey. It is not the destination. And when the process is finished, the project is over.
The world is constantly changing – just look at how we gradually became a global village. A few decades ago, the internet was available only to rich people. There was little to no content at all! Now, we are all so connected – sharing knowledge and experiences.
At this time, there are different categories of smart house systems: the market offers various communication proposals. Wired and wireless, new or refurbished installations, personalised or plug and play solutions, etc. In Croatian terms, for the average new smart house, integrating the light systems, blinds, and shades, HVAC systems and surveillance systems of 150 m2 with electrical installation, devices and software will cost you about 15.000,00 euros. The price increases with the increase of the number of smart devices, number of preferences regarding the house interface, additional requirements and more sophisticated producers of automation systems.
Nowadays, smart automation systems and smart applications offer different ranges of products, with different prices. However, when we use them, we have an enormous number of applications and communication gateways. The market offers different types of getaways, which basically means there are little to none limitations. The only restriction is that smart house devices should communicate by wire to make a more reliable and efficient system. At the moment, the market does not offer a reliable conventional wireless solution.
Does a smart house save me money and if so, when can I count on returning my investment?
The answer is simple – never. Owning a smart home is a matter of comfort and prestige. A cost-benefit analysis of the energy a smart house saves is still out of reach. But, isn’t this also true for our vehicles, smart devices, clothes, etc.?
If I had to decide once more if I would turn my home into a smart house, the answer would be an absolute yes! We live in the IT era and technology has developed so much – the comfort that my house provides for me and my family is an absolute must! Yes, automation is more expensive than conventional electrical installations, but with the proper drawings, the smart house can be well optimised and provide many benefits to the quality and flexibility of life.
Petra Mesarić, PhD