Future Forward: Is Your Home Smart Enough to Make the Grade?


The Future Forward series is an initiative from Allstate Canada which aims to help inform and educate Canadians on what prevention and protection looks like today and the technologies that are already impacting our lives as we look towards the future. We’ll help you navigate the complexities of this world and provide an outlook on how this can affect every aspect of your life, whether that’s in the home, on the road or with someone you love.

The idea of owning a “smart home” may seem a little far-fetched to some, drawing to mind the home of Iron Man’s Tony Stark – an entirely automated cliff-side mansion, controlled by artificial intelligence, aptly named J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System). While this may be an extreme example, devices to help protect your home, such as water leak sensors and programmable thermostats, fall into the family of smart home technology.

So what is smart home tech? In essence, it’s technology that’s designed to make your home safer while also making your job as a homeowner easier – but to be more specific, it refers to automated devices, appliances and systems in the home that are connected and centrally controlled. If you have a device that’s powered by electricity, it may be connected to a home network to respond to your command whether that’s through voice, remote control, smartphone or tablet.

Kevin Belvett, Systems Designer from home automation firm Architronics, explains how smart home tech can be integrated into a home.

Safety benefits explained

These days, you’ll find that the latest advancements in smart home automation have the added benefits of protecting you, your family and your home. The enhanced locking systems available on the market today have become so sophisticated that they not only deter thieves, but they can keep records of times of when someone is entering and leaving the home. Your home can be unlocked with a simple command from your smart phone. Virtual keys can also be sent from your device to visitors or repair people if they need to gain access to your home.

Rather than leaving your home unlocked or providing the plumber with the access code to the security system, your smartphone can have the ability to remotely unlock the door when they arrive and lock it when they leave. This added safety feature can also come in handy if someone in your home locks themselves out by accident. You’ll always know that your home is secure as notifications are sent to your device informing you of when your doors are locked and armed.

Saving you time and money

Along with safety benefits, smart home tech may have the added convenience of saving you time and money. A home’s energy bill tends to have the largest portion come from heating and cooling costs. Inefficient systems can waste energy in rooms that are unoccupied. But a programmable thermostat can be useful as it can learn your schedule and behaviour by lowering the temperature when the home isn’t in use or warm it up before you get home.

Today’s technologies can also inform you as to the optimal times to run your electrical appliances. You’ll find several monitoring devices that give real-time feedback on energy consumption in the home and let you know when your energy costs are the lowest.

Protect your home from wind and hail

You may be surprised to learn that one of the most significant threats to Canadian homes comes from wind and hail damage. According to Allstate Canada claims data, 38% of all home claims reported in the last five years (2010-2015) were caused by wind and hail. Preventing damage from inclement weather patterns continues to create concern; however, there are some smart home technologies available on the market today that can help. Along with adjusting the temperature of your house, there are devices that can provide up-to-date forecasts, such as notifications of wind, hail, and snow warnings in your area, that may help you better prepare for potential danger and damage.

Limit water damage

From 2010 to 2015, 23% of home claims submitted to Allstate Canada were the result of water events. This is one of the biggest and most expensive issues a homeowner can face. Water intrusion can be the result of anything from frozen pipes bursting to an appliance leaking – and it can be very difficult to prevent, especially in older homes or homes in colder climates. The good news is that with the evolution of smart home devices, such as digital water leak sensors, you can potentially prevent big problems by limiting the damage of water intrusion with early alerts.

Find out how a water leak sensor can protect you in the event of water intrusion.

Deter thieves

The risk of theft should still remain top-of-mind for homeowners. This is particularly true when considering the fact that theft has been the third most common type of home insurance claim submitted to Allstate Canada between 2010 and 2015. Don’t wait for an event to occur—even if you’re covered for theft and damage. Instead, take a proactive approach using smart home technologies to help deter thieves by having:

  • Cameras that show real-time images inside and outside your home;
  • Motion sensors that can alert you of unusual activity;
  • Lighting systems set on randomized timers to turn lights on and off when you’re away from home.

And this is just the beginning; smart home technologies offer a number of other advantages to help protect your home and belongings from a number of other risks, including fire, sun damage and extreme cold, just to name a few.

Find a solution that works for you

Depending on your needs, there are many solutions to choose from and there is great value in having any, even if just one, of these devices in your home. Smart household devices are not merely a fad or fleeting trend. They represent a widely accepted movement towards decreasing stress and the costs of owning a home, while providing safety and security for you and your family. You can pick and choose your favorite gadgets to assemble an affordable intelligent abode on your own terms, or opt for an entire smart home system that does all the work for you.

There are many smart home solutions available today that can suit any budget.

Looking ahead

What does the future look like for smart home technologies? It’s looking pretty bright. Thanks to the “Internet of Things”, we’ll start seeing an increase of geolocation products which can be easily integrated into smart home devices.

With geolocation capabilities, you’ll be able to identify the location of a person or a device through digital information that’s being processed from the Internet. With this, security alarms will become more sophisticated with features that can set themselves and heating systems that can adjust on their own based on an individual’s habits and times they leave their home.

The sooner these devices are implemented around your house, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits, including peace of mind. Remember, it’s not just a house, it’s your home.