Buying Holiday Gifts for the Smart Home

Real Estate Sales Representative with William Raveis Real Estate

Come holiday time, my wife Margaret and I have always engaged in a practice I suspect many homeowners share: in addition to buying gifts for each other, we also buy gifts “for the home.” Over the course of our marriage, these have ranged from practical choices, such as new appliances, to objet d’art found during our frequent visits to antique stores and auctions. A gift I was considering for this holiday was an antique decorative screen that would have been perfect for covering a central air control panel in our dining room, but Margaret is now more fond of modern décor so I agreed to let it go.

After so many years of gifting our home, we’re hard pressed to think of anything more for it, but thinking back, if I had it do over again, I would have invested more in purchasing gifts that would be not only modern, but technologically advanced enough to turn our abode into a “smart home.” I checked around for what I might recommend to others to accomplish this goal.

First I considered temperature control. Of the many options available, the Nest Learning Thermostat has won over many users by putting its sleek digital appearance in service toward ease of use, even for only moderately wired individuals like myself. After a short time tracking the temperature adjustments you make to the Nest, the device will learn your patterns and begin to anticipate them. What’s more, if it doesn’t sense your presence via a motion detector for several hours, it will assume you are not home and will adjust the climate accordingly to save energy.

All well and fine, although I hope that binge-watching Breaking Bad for an afternoon won’t inadvertently cut the heat off.

Lighting was next on my list of exploration, and the choices grew more complicated. Should the bulbs themselves be smart, linked in small groups via a hub or your wireless device? They are the easiest to install, but I will have to overcome decades of habit and remember to not turn off the switches when I leave the room, which will render the smartest bulb inoperable. Smart switches require more expert installation, but allow for more variety of bulbs and fixtures. No matter which system you choose, there is still a learning period where, as one reporter from Forbes recently discovered, the system may decide to turn on all your lights in the wee hours of the morning.

In the area of security, the August Smart Lock seems promising, allowing you to open and close the deadbolt on your door through your smart phone, or send a visiting guest or service person an invitation allowing them access. It sounds like a lifesaver for parents and homeowners who need to be at work all day, but do be certain to use a strong password that resists hacking. In fact, I would personally hold off on this one until the security standards in the smart home industry develop further.

But in the meantime you might go for the Ring, the smart video doorbell. It sends a video image of your visitor to your phone – even alerting you of their approach before they ring the bell – and allows you to converse with them from inside via a speaker. In fact, you can see and speak with the person at your door even if you are not home, while still giving the impression that you are inside.

To read the rest of this column, click here. Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester ( His real estate site is, and his blog is To engage in the services of the Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.


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Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Bill, thank you for your review of the smart deadbolts and advising people to steer clear of them!  All of this smart technology was rushed to market (thermostats, bulbs and appliances just to name a few) and NO thought to security was put in them.  I'd stay away from all of them personally, but especially the security ones!!!

Dec 16, 2015 01:56 AM #1
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Bill - I am all for smart objects for my home, that is, anything that I can control from my smart phone.

Dec 16, 2015 02:17 AM #2
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Bill,  sounds like you and your wife does a great job for your clients on smart objects for the home.

Dec 16, 2015 02:25 AM #3
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