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Marla Esser Cloos (aka The Green Home Coach) is the founder of Everyday Green Home, a weekly podcast where she and occasional co-host Tony Pratte, of The Sound Room, talk all things residential green. Marla is a NAHB Master Certified Green Professional, LEED AP, and Wellness Within Your Walls certified professional, who works with individual consumers, homeowners, builders, remodelers, and realtors. She is a frequent writer and speaker on the topic of sustainability. Her online shop, Everyday Green Home, offers a curated set of products for a safer, healthier, and greener life.

What you’ll learn

An App for Everything

Imagine downloading an app for your house. Or even a whole bunch of apps. Well, that is what you need to do if you have smart home technology. But how do you go about connecting everything in this time when technology is constantly moving and things keep changing?

Marla and Tony deep dive into the latest developments in smart home technology. They discuss the intersection between home and tech, and the ongoing digital revolution. Tony sheds light on the technology you need for your smart home and explains how to connect and control everything to make your home easier to live in and more comfortable than ever. They also offer some great tips for having a smarter and more connected home.

Things are Moving Fast

Smart home technology is moving so fast right now, we can barely keep up! Between the 1960s and the 2010s, technology did not change much. Now, the average homeowner is like a deer in headlights with all the technological changes happening at once.

Many homes have multiple platforms and protocols, but using a single provider for, say, security and home automation is a double-edged sword. There’s a single point of contact for a proprietary system, yes. But they’re the only ones who can work on it. If you already have a proprietary system and would like to add a DIY system, you will need a separate system with a separate app. A service provider may limit your choice of components. For instance, when you bring in an outside thermostat or installer, it could result in the warranty on your HVAC system being voided.

Key Entry Points to Your Smart Home Technology

There are several key entry points for smart homes. The HVAC system is one, and security is another. Whole-home environmental controls take care of your home infrastructure, including security, HVAC, and door locks. An entertainment platform controls the audio and video in your home. But it can also cross over into home security and control video cameras. The environmental side might handle some small light audio, but cannot cope with video.

A Digital Revolution

We continue to experience a digital revolution in the way we live and work. Apps and smart devices with voice control are intended to make our lives more convenient and comfortable and save time and energy. We’re living what was once science fiction! Smart home technology was expensive initially, but as it advances, we’ll find it more and more accessible and affordable.

The term “crowded home” was coined because people’s homes are so crowded with technology right now. There is a growing awareness of the possible impact of having wifi-based electronics in our homes or on our bodies. In the future, every electric item in our homes will be on wifi. So we will need the proper home infrastructure to support those devices. Having a hardwired data jack on your smart TV is a good idea to ensure a continuous internet connection for streaming, regardless of the number of people using the wifi in your home.

The Connected Home

In a “connected home,” everything is also connected to the internet via a single app or third-party device. A connected home absorbs and transmits data and instructions by working through the internet. One real advantage is that appliances can transmit data to the manufacturers to inform them when parts start to fail. This makes maintenance easier and can ensure that appliances last.

A connected home features programmable scenes, controlling several systems within a single app. For example, you can set up a “good morning” scene and turn it on automatically or by pushing a single button. Magically, the shades go up, the door unlocks, the security system disarms, the coffee pot starts making coffee, and music or the TV might switch on. You can also have a few single items, like Delta Faucets, that don’t reside in the app but can be tied into the overall system and controlled with a third-party, voice-controlled trigger.

Alexa and Google are the primary platforms for voice control. The Sound Room offers basic environmental systems that operate well with Alexa and Google, allowing a more custom initial install experience and support. In remodeling, particularly, it is useful to have a professional assist in installing DIY smart home technology. Rather than having a professional system installed, the people living in the home need to be confident and experienced enough to manage and support their everyday items and equipment.

Smart lighting technology usually involves replacing replacing the switches, not the light bulbs. It can be very complex when it comes to dimming LED light bulbs and light fixtures.

CEDIA is a great resource to help people find integrator companies, like The Sound Room, in their cities. They handle all the accreditations and certifications and put on an amazing annual show for custom electronics installation companies.

Smart Home Technology That Works for You

Here’s three tips for having a smarter and more connected home:

  1. Put in the best, most robust wifi system that your budget and home can handle. (This is vital because it is the backbone of a smart home.)
  2. Get a video doorbell.
  3. Start with one item that would improve your life, like smart light-bulbs, a Sonos music system, or a learning thermostat.




If you want to learn more about why green matters to you, your family, and the planet, subscribe to the Everyday Green Home podcast. Marla and her guests share tips and trends in sustainable building.

Find additional insights in Marla's book Living Green Effortlessly: Simple Choices to a Better Home on Amazon.

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