Why Canadian Homebuilders Must Embrace Smart Home Technology
For a growing number of Canadians, the secret to a smarter and more sustainable future starts at home.
The world is changing, and so are our homes. They’re becoming more connected, more powerful and, potentially, more energy efficient as well. No longer a vision of a Jetsons future, smart homes are becoming a standard of the real estate industry. With Electricity 4.0 setting the stage for a more electric, digital and efficient world, also categorized as the New Electric World, homes are getting smarter. With retrofitting filling already existing properties with smart tech, homebuilders have an opportunity to leverage new technology towards innovative new houses.
Canadians are ready. Homeowners crave the convenience and peace of mind that comes with the ability to control their devices and appliances from anywhere in the world at the touch of the button. They’re no longer just getting used to it, they’re demanding it.
But home automation is not just about luxury, comfort and savings. Canadians are becoming empowered to live a smart, sustainable, and net zero life. Homebuilders are in a unique position to bridge that gap in the green energy movement. The time is now for homebuilders to leverage smart home solutions to meet sustainability goals and remain competitive in the market.
Here are the top three reasons Canadian homebuilders should embrace smart home technology.
Canadians are demanding it
The home automation industry is growing every day. A recent study from Mordor Intelligence found the smart home industry in North America was worth over $79 billion in 2020 and is growing by 25.3 per cent per year up to an expected $314 billion a year by 2026.
It’s no surprise that smart tech is finding its way into most abodes, no matter how old or new. For some Canadians, it might be something as simple as a smart speaker that can tell them the weather or play their favourite song. For others, it’s a fully connected household with integrated and interconnected systems of smart thermostats, lights, kitchen appliances, televisions, security, vacuums, doorbells and personal assistants. There’s a reason the biggest tech companies in the world, from Apple to Google, Amazon to Sonos and Dyson, have made these wifi-enabled devices an integral part of their 21st century output.
Smart home technology has myriad benefits. They can make you safer with increased security and surveillance capacities. They can make you healthier, reducing touchpoints throughout the house and increase and regulate air purity. They’re convenient, integrating all your day-to-day household chores and activities. They’re fun too, with endless possibilities for home entertainment.
The cavalcade of digital technology has the potential to make homes and the lifestyles of people living in them a lot more sustainable. As homes become smarter, they have the potential to facilitate more energy efficient lifestyles. That’s increasingly important as Canada aims to achieve its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. With the energy and electricity used for heating, cooking, lighting and appliances, people’s dwellings are a significant and increasing source of greenhouse gas emissions. But smart home technology can be an important tool in the fight against climate change, and Canadians are taking notice.
According to a recent study, 89 per cent of Canadian homeowners say it’s important to have energy efficient appliances or devices when building, buying or renovating a home. Moreover, a majority of Canadian homeowners are interested in further integrating energy monitoring systems (71 per cent) and smart switches (63 per cent) into their homes.
Rather than integrate smart technology piece by piece, device by device, many homebuilders are building smart home technology directly into the construction and design process and making them smart right from the start.
The very definition of the home is changing
The home of the future is not the same as the home of the past. The imminent threats of climate change and the pandemic has made us all rethink our lives, with people consciously shifting to sustainable living.
The advent of electricity reshaped how people live: how they cook and eat, how they entertain themselves, how they stay warm, how they light their rooms. It also significantly cut down on the number of candle-started housefires. The end of the 19th century brought mass electrification at an industrial scale with the advent of power plants. By the 20th century, the advent of solar cells and solar panels laid the groundwork for renewable energy.
As global energy demand continues to grow with population and economic growth, the old ways of harnessing, generating and consuming energy will need to change and decarbonize to avoid climate catastrophe. That hits us where we live, especially with more and more Canadians working from home. Energy consumption at home is expected to increase by 65 per cent by 2050. But smart home technology allows homebuilders to curb emissions and build sustainability into everyday life.
Electricity 4.0 is the powerful convergence of digital and electric. Proven to be three-to-five times more efficient than other sources, digital electricity is the most efficient energy and the best vector for decarbonization. It enables us to see how energy is being used, making the invisible visible so that we can reduce the vast amount of waste.
Digital technology like metering and monitoring can show us exactly how we’re using our energy. If those are built into everyday life, average Canadians can deploy smart energy more efficiently and find huge amounts of untapped potential for energy savings.
So what will that mean for the house of the future in the Electricity 4.0 era? Processes will be built into our appliances to reduce carbon footprints. Devices, lighting and air conditioning will automatically switch off or modify when residents are not at home or when they’re in another room.
Smart energy management systems will store and effectively distribute energy when the house necessitates. Solar, wind and geothermal energy storage will harness different sources of electrical power and switch between them at optimal times. And all of it will be designed and built into houses from the smart.
The home of the future won’t just be smart. It will be smart, sustainable and efficient.
Smart homes are smart business
As we’ve seen, Canadians are already primed to accept and embrace smart home technology. They want to stay connected, comfortable and sustainable, and smart tech is a fantastic way to deliver those upsides. By embracing it and educating consumers about its many benefits – both environmental and financial – there is vast opportunity for revenue, as well.
With today’s real estate market more competitive than ever, smart technology increases home values and differentiates properties. The advent of smart technology in everyday life, from Fitbits to smart speakers, have increased comfort and demand with new technology in daily life. That means consumers already expect their homes to come with some amount of automation, which makes smart home properties extremely attractive – and a good investment.
According to a study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, more than 60 per cent of new home shoppers said they were willing to pay more for smart features. Many see this as a way to increase their return on investment, increasing property values while creating a better lifestyle. And property mortgages can incorporate smart home costs into the total price of development.
Consumers are also facing a steep rise in energy costs, and smart home technology offers an opportunity to reduce their bills. AI-based predictions and automation could allow homeowners to identify the best energy sources to save both energy and money. They can reduce bills along with emissions, all without sacrificing comfort. Informing customers about those cost-saving opportunities means they may be willing to spend a little more up front.
It’s not all about money, of course. Homebuyers also crave the control they get through ease of technology. Everything in the home – from video doorbells to cooking and music – can be integrated and controlled at the press of a button, which means an easy and efficient lifestyle. It also makes sustainability and energy efficiency as easy and efficient, while also becoming more transparent. New smart meters and control systems let the average homeowner discover how their homes actually operate – where their energy is expended, how their utilities are consumed and how to live smarter and safer.
Inform Canadian homeowners of the many benefits of smart home technology and they’ll want it. For homebuilders, that’s just good business.
As a Business Development Representative for Schneider Electric, Brittany Saunders serves Western Canadian Homebuilders. She connects, supports, and educates builders across the region about the value that can be added to homes when Schneider Electric’s industry leading electrical products are installed. This initiative is active nationwide and relies on forming relationships not only with builders but also their electrical contractors for optimum uptake/success.