How do I make my house into a "smart" home?

We have all heard the phrase, "He/she turned our house into a home." With recent advances, you can turn your house into a smart home. It may not be as cozy, but it will more than make up for it with the "cool" factor. Here are a few of the most popular add-ons to the modern day smart home:

  • Nest: Probably the best known company after their recent acquisition by Google. To put it as simply as possible, Nest allows you to monitor the energy output in your home and adjust your needs accordingly. For instance, if you want to shut the heat off at your home while you are away at work, and then have it kick back on right before you leave the office, Nest can oblige. Nest is intuitive, and will pick up your schedule and patterns so that it can better meet the needs of your home. Over time, the manufacturers believe that the thermostat can save you up to 20% on your heating bills. They also manufacture smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. Cost: $250.
  • AT&T Digital Life: With a recent ad campaign, I have seen more pop up recently about AT&T's new system. For the entry level consumer, Digital Life is basically a souped up burglar alarm. Digital keypad, window sensors, etc... If you want to spring for a bit more, you can have the system attach itself to your utilities as well. With the correct fixtures, you can adjust your heat, turn your water on and off, and lock and unlock doors from your phone or iPad. How often will you need to turn your water on and off while away from home? Probably not that often. How fun would it be to convince your house sitter that your home is haunted? Pretty fun. Cost: $39.99/mo for basic package.
  • Lockitron: There are a few products similar to this, but this one might be my favorite. My favorite part is the ease of installation and the variety of notifications. It essentially slips over your current deadbolt, and takes only a few minutes to get up and running. It has built in wi-fi that will automatically unlock your door as you approach, you can send the code out to friends or family (although I am unaware if the codes have an expiration), and it has a battery that will last for up to a year. As I mentioned above, the notifications are pretty nifty. Not only will it let you know when the door is accessed, it will also notify you when someone knocks at the door. It is a very cool feature and excellent add-on to any "smart" home. Cost: $179.

Is it imperative that you have all of the most updated automation features in your home? Absolutely not. Is it pretty cool to live like the Jetsons? I think so.

Let me know what kind of features you have or would like to have! I'd love to hear from you.