It’s 2018, and technology rules the world. We’re attached to our smartphones, we can ask our speakers to play music, and our cars navigate the route from point A to point B — no paper map required.  

All of these advances have changed the way our homes look and operate, too. Not only do they make our spaces look sleek, but they also make them function in ways that generations past could never have imagined.  

Ready to smarten up your abode? Here are some of the best ways to do it:  

  • Install a Programmable Thermostat

Once upon a time, you chose a temperature on your thermostat, turned it on and that was it — your HVAC unit maintained the selected climate all day and all night long. If you didn’t want your device running while you were out, you had to turn it off and switch it back on when the place needed heating or cooling.  

Now, though, you can set your thermostat to match your plans so that it’s working when you need it — and saving you money on electricity when you don’t. For example, you can tell your programmable thermostat to kick on in the hour before you get out of bed, so it’s the perfect setting for waking up and getting ready for work. By the time you leave the house, the thermostat will shut down, so you’re not paying for the HVAC to run when you don’t need it to.  

An hour or so before you’re home, your device will kick back on, preparing the place for your arrival. And, when you go to bed, the thermostat drops a few degrees as you warm up and relax under your covers. This creates a comfortable environment round-the-clock, and it saves you on utility bills that could skyrocket with constant heating and cooling.  

  • Protect Your Property

No longer do you need to build fences or train guard dogs to protect your home when you’re not around. Now, wireless security systems do all of the monitoring for you — and contact the authorities when someone intrudes on your home without permission.  

These devices are even smarter than that, though, because they give you control of your home’s security even when you’re not around. For example, if you forget to set the alarm, you can get on a smartphone app and lock the system remotely. The security system itself uses Wi-Fi to communicate with you and with emergency services should you need help; in most cases, if the Internet goes out, they’ll log onto a cellular network, so you’re always secure and comfortable, whether you’re home or not.  

This type of protection goes an even longer way for families with children, especially children who have special needs. The right monitoring system can alert parents as to whether their little ones have left the house unattended, from which exit and when. This type of surveillance makes it easier to locate kids who have wandered off, relieving parents and keeping children safe, especially those who don’t know they’re in danger by exploring on their own.  

  • Hire an Assistant

Okay, so you don’t have the additional funds to pay a human assistant’s salary. But you do have the money to buy a voice-controlled assistant from brands like Amazon or Google. These devices are logged online, so they can answer any random questions you may have. In the midst of cooking dinner, for example, you can ask your smart device to convert cups to milliliters or to repeat a step of the recipe for you.  

But these devices do so much more than that. They can connect with your programmable thermostat to increase or decrease the temperature, depending on how you’re feeling. They can tell you the weather or how bad traffic is, thus whittling your commute. And they can keep you organized, setting calendar reminders and helping you shop online with vocal cues alone.  

Most excitingly of all, these devices don’t take up much space — they’re not as big as the human-like robots we’ve seen in movies. Instead, some of the smaller models are inches wide and can be discretely added to just about any room in your home. It doesn’t matter what your interior design style is, either — you can slip a small smart device in the corner of a modern living room just as easily as you can in a rustic kitchen.  

  • Smarten It Up  

These are just three examples of the many ways technology has made it possible to streamline our home lives. And, they’re just a glimpse into the future — with so much innovation and change happening now, it’s safe to say our homes will only become more functional with time. So, get started and watch as your home becomes smarter and smarter — and your life becomes simpler and simpler.