89% of Ex-Burglars Believe Smart Homes are an Effective Criminal Deterrent.
There are now over 15 million ‘smart homes’ in the UK, with some sort of smart device to control lights, security, putting the kettle on or the vacuum cleaner. However, 75% of non-owners are aware of smart devices but know little about them and two-thirds of Brits believe smart technology is too expensive.
Most smart homeowners believe smart technology saves them time and money, with 48% interested in using it for security purposes and 33% already having app-controlled exterior cameras. For National Home Security Month’s fourth week, we’re looking at the best smart devices, the benefits and safety of smart homes.
What is a ‘Smart Home’?
A ‘smart home’ is a house with a communication network to remotely control, monitor and access appliances like lighting or heating. Smart devices use the internet and phone apps so controlling appliances requires minimal effort.
What does ‘Smart Security’ mean?
Smart security is devices like an alarm or camera which use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to communicate with each other, dissimilar to a traditional alarm where everything is wired to a hub.
Should Hackers be a Concern?
Its true hackers are always looking for ways to exploit new technology, but smart homes can be perfectly safe, see our tips below. Reputable smart devices are programmed to exacting standards, be sure to check what you’re buying meets these standards to ensure a safe home environment.
How Easy is it to Use?
If you’re competent at DIY and using a smartphone, smart technology will be easy to set up and use. If you’re not comfortable with that, online guides are available. Alternatively, consult a relative who is good at DIY or a professional.
How Expensive is it?
Smart technology is cost-effective when you compare its lifespan to traditional systems. It will also reduce bills and energy consumption, making it very affordable.
The Best Smart Gadgets for your Home
Smart light bulbs are long-lasting LEDs, connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and customisable through a smart home hub or app. They fit in ordinary light fixtures, have a longer lifespan, reduce electricity consumption and increase security using motion detection to alert you if someone is in the house.
Smart plugs can make any device, smart controlled with voice assistants or apps. They make it easier to control energy consumption and improve security by making it appear you’re home when you’re not. They’re especially useful for difficult to get to plug sockets.
A smart thermostat remotely and simply controls heating through phones and tablets. They are convenient, allowing you to control when and where you want your house to warm up and help to become more energy efficient.
A smart meter sends gas and electricity readings straight to the suppliers, giving homeowners more up-to-date readings and accurate bills saving time and money. They use wireless signals, separate to home Wi-Fi and are covered by UK and EU product safety legislation ensuring they are safe to have in the home.
Smart Home Security
Smart security includes cameras, motion detectors, alarms, locks and sensors, which can all work together from a central hub or app. It can be customised to suit your needs, adding and taking away elements as needed.
Smart cameras can record as movement is detected, recognise ‘safe’ faces and unknown faces, allows you to speak to anyone and hear what’s happening. It’s is a great criminal deterrent and allows you to provide footage if you are burgled.
A smart doorbell has a built-in camera and movement sensors, sending a text message if someone rings the bell and allowing for two-way communication without going to the front door. It is useful for monitoring traffic and access to your home.
Tips for Keeping Smart Homes Safe
Stay Up to Date
Manufacturers must upgrade their technology frequently to stay ahead of criminal techniques, devices download updates automatically or require manual checks. It is vital updates be installed, check your user manual for where to find them, you may be able to sign up for email notifications for update releases.
Change the Default Settings
Default passwords and logins may be easy to remember but it’s also easy for hackers to get access. Set a password and change it regularly, don’t use the same password for everything.
Change the default ID of your connected device to something only you know, the default name can give hackers an indication of what equipment you’re using. With any connected device, install a firewall on your network, there are devices which protect smart systems.
Use Encrypted Signals
If a hacker is close enough, they can pick up smart signals, devices use to communicate and record them. Choose a reputable smart system to ensure end-to-end encryption; less reliable systems won’t scramble the signal making you more susceptible to a hack.
Minimise Real World Tampering Risks
Smart devices need to be secure in the real world, external devices like cameras and doorbells with control panels are most at risk. They shouldn’t easily detach, get a professional to do this install if you’re not confident with DIY. Pay attention where you put devices, devices visible from the street is an opportunity for criminals to gain information about you.
Smart Devices need Smart Passwords
Strong passwords are vital to keep smart devices secure, avoid common phrases like password or 1234 and don’t use personal information like birthdays or anniversaries. Hackers can find personal information on social media easily.
The Benefits of Starting Smart
Protection against Fire and Water Damage
Water leaks can be an expensive and lengthy process to rectify, smart technology can detect small water leaks in your appliances and let you know in a way you can customise, whether a text or flashing lights on and off. This allows you to turn the water off before the leak gets worse and means no heavy financial implications.
Smart Protection against Fire, Smoke and Carbon Monoxide
By the time a fire or smoke alarm has alerted you to a problem, it’s usually too late to prevent damage and if you were out the house you wouldn’t even know about it. Smarter fire and smoke detectors will send you an immediate alert, so you can act to prevent a serious incident.
Help in Later Life
Smart security can help you keep an eye on elderly or vulnerable relatives, maintaining their independence without risking safety. If they are confident using it, smart technology can also help elderly people around the house allowing them to switch lights off, control blinds and turn the heating on from the comfort of their chair.
Watch your Home from Any Location
Smart technology allows you to keep a closer eye on your phone, whether you’re on holiday or visiting relatives at Christmas you can see your home from any location. With a smart camera, you can live stream, receive notifications and watch old footage. If you’re worried you’ve left the iron or oven on, you can check at the touch of a button that it’s all turned off.
Answering the Door, When you’re Not There
An empty house is an invitation to intruders that they won’t be disturbed, smart technology helps to give the impression that you’re at home. A smart doorbell means you can see immediately who is at the door and you can speak to them suggesting you may just be putting the washing out on the back garden.
Deter Criminals Targeting your Home
Criminals are less likely to burgle smart homes as they’re more difficult and time-consuming to break in to, this means they will draw attention to themselves. They much prefer going unseen and unheard!
Never forget your Keys again
It’s happened to the best of us, you’ve left the house without your keys and get back to a locked door. With a smart lock you can have virtual keys on your phone, which you can share with friends and relatives, so you’ll never be stuck on your doorstep waiting again.
Safeguard your Pets
You shouldn’t leave your pets unattended for long periods, but dogs and cats can become lonely even after a short time. A distressed pet can lead to all kinds of problems, like taking it out on furniture. Smart indoor cameras help you monitor your pets and look for warning signs.
Avoid Ever Coming Face-to-Face with an Intruder
Should you ever be in a position where you hear or think you hear an intruder in your home, a quick check of your smart camera can provide reassurance if it’s a false alarm or if you need to call the police for assistance.
Convenience and Comfort
Smart home technology is designed to make your lives easy, improving the functionality of appliances and helping you to maintain your home with your mobile or tablet. It works algorithmically, learning our patterns and habits over time becoming easier to use integrating with everyone’s lifestyle seamlessly. If you set your alarm at the same time every day and forget on one occasion, your smart system will let you know.
Don’t let Post Build Up
Nothing says you’re not home like letting a big pile of post visible through your front door or window. Smart doorbells have a live feed to your phone, you can speak to the postperson to leave parcels in a safe place or with a neighbour. Having the two-way communications means potential burglars will assume you’re in the house.
Smart security uses wireless technology, whether it’s Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This means there’s no need for drilling through walls or routing cables behind skirting boards. Setting up a smart device is simple, quick and neat. Nothing to hoover up or dust afterwards. It’s easy to add an extra door and window sensor here and there, to accommodate any changing security needs easily.
The Asset Protection Group comprises a group of Fire & Security companies with shared ownership and one common goal, protecting your most important assets. As a collective group, we look to offer protection to your assets to assist you with your ongoing success within your own business.