Remote/smart gadgets to control your home while you’re on holiday

I know I’m going to sound like an old man here, but I genuinely can’t believe how much home technology has moved on in the last 10 years and what is even more incredible is how affordable it now is. Years ago any automated technology in the home was very expensive and unpredictable and, if I’m honest I used to think that home automation was a slightly over the top expense that actually promoted laziness rather then doing anything clever.

The thought of being able to sit in your chair and turn on lights or close your blinds from a hand held device rather than actually getting off your backside and doing it yourself seemed like a huge waste of money to me. Obviously this technology had huge benefits for those with disabilities and for those less able to physically move around their homes easily, but for the rest of the population I just felt that it was an expensive way of being lazy. It doesn’t take a lot to get off the sofa and change the heating controls in your kitchen!

But, what I do think is incredible that we now having the ability to affordably control things in your home remotely. This has all come about because of internet, wifi and mobile phone technology. We are so used to carry around smart phones, but these great little devices can now be used to control the way we use our smart homes.

For me personally there are enormous benefits. I travel a huge amount these days and it’s fairly unpredictable when I’m going to be home so standard timer settings are not only pointless to me, but they can often cost me a lot of money. A good example of this is when one of my filming or business trips is extended when I’m already on the road. The standard settings I programmed on the heating system before I left can still be heating the house and the hot water when I don’t need it. This can cost me and the planet a lot of money, which is a complete waste. Ideally I’d like to use my mobile phone to click on the heating and the hot water just a couple of hours before I get home so I don’t either return to a sauna I’ve been paying for for days or worse a freezing cold ice box. I genuinely believe that automated home technology would save me a lot of money over the next few years.

As well as heating controls, one of the most popular uses for remote home technology is CCTV. I already have a wireless phone network device that automatically contacts the local police if my home alarm goes off, but it does give you peace of mind when on holiday to be able to login to your CCTV system and just check that all is well at home. Ok, none of this is absolutely necessary and we have survived for years without it, but you could say exactly the same about the mobile phone. If it makes your life easier, more convenient and is more cost effective saving you money on your energy bills then I believe that it is technology well worth investing in.

One of the biggest concerns about installing expensive wiring systems is that they can soon become outdated, or worse still redundant, as digital technology advances. But, there are now very clever wireless hub systems that you can buy to control a particular part of your home with zero wiring required. Take the new Philips Hue lighting set. These LED lightbulbs just plug into regular light sockets, but are wirelessly controlled by a base station that connects to your iPhone or iPad, so you can make lighting changes from the accompanying app. You can not only change the lighting levels, but you can change the colour of the lighting too. No wiring is required and this can all be installed into your existing home in seconds.

What is really important is to decide what you and your family actually need for your home that suits the way you live. It is so easy to be seduced by all the technology out there, but there is no point in spending your hard earned money on things that won’t really enhance the way you live. For me personally this great technology is all about me being able to monitor and control the energy use in my home, while giving an increased level of security. For others it may be having the means to turn on the oven and start cooking a roast that you’ve prepared in the morning, but don’t need to eat until you get home from work.

I’m all up for embracing technology when firstly it works, and secondly when it transforms the quality of your life for the better. We live in a world now where our diaries change at the drop of an i-phone and our day to day lifestyles can be quite unpredictable. The advances in mobile technology now mean that your humble smart phone now has the ability to conduct your digital home life like a beautiful opera. I’m going for it in my new house! All i’ll need is an R2D2 to teach me how to use it!

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