Transforming Your House Into A Smart Home

Updated April 12, 2023

If you’re moving to or building a new home, or if you’re just thinking of ways to make your life in your current house easier, consider the possibilities of a “smart home”. Local Iowa City area expert Phil O’Brien is answering questions on how to make your new or old housework for you!

Transforming Your House Into A Smart Home

Q: What is Home Automation? Why should we be thinking about making our home a “Smart Home”?  

A: Home Automation is the process of taking different functions of your home, and automating them to be easier to use, self regulating, or more efficient. For example, connecting your furnace or air conditioner to an app that either A: you can access from anywhere or B: runs your heating and cooling automatically to save on your energy costs. When thinking about home automation, ask yourself what would make your life easier. For example, being able to double check that all your doors are secure and locked right before you go to bed–without getting out of bed and walking around your house to physically check. Or remotely opening your door from work if a family member accidentally locks themselves out.

Q: What is one simple and cost-effective first step that you would recommend for pretty much everyone?

A: Before, it used to be getting a smart thermostat. They are very effective at cutting costs on energy bills and convenient to use. However, now I recommend the very first thing you should do is look into smart-locks. They are relatively simple to install (if you can change a door knob, you can install a smart-lock) and something you will use everyday. Securing one’s home should always be a priority, and this is a great first step. You will get the peace of mind of knowing your home is locked and real time knowledge of when a door is opened or closed.

Q: What recommendations do you have for home security? Are there any new tricks or gadgets we need to know about?

A: Home security has come a long way in the past 3 to 5 years. It is no longer these clunky systems that have to be hardwired into your home and carry lengthy and costly contracts. Now you can purchase systems that can be self-installed in an hour, are wireless, and blend in to your home decor. Many, like Simplisafe, give you the option of self-monitoring your system or signing up for professional monitoring. Most contracts can be month-to-month, with some even offering daily and weekly–great for when you take a week vacation.These systems offer door and window alarms, cameras, sounds sensors, and even water leak sensors. Everything you need to make sure your home is safe and sound.

Q: We don’t want to just settle for a smart home–we want a genius home. What resources do you recommend for looking into this topic further?

A: There are local businesses that work in home automation. They would be the simplest route to turn your house into a fully automated machine. Just be careful of companies pushing older technology that is complex to install and hard to upgrade. The install costs can add up quick, and you may be stuck with a system that will not work with future equipment. If you have a little internet knowledge, just google new home automation. There is plenty of information out there and it is pretty easy to understand. I am also happy to answer any questions; just send me an email.

There are so many new and exciting possibilities in the world of home automation and security technology!

About Guest Blogger: Phil O'Brien, REALTOR®

Phil O’Brien is an owner/agent at Urban Acres Real Estate. He is a self-proclaimed tech geek with experience in remodelling and building properties using the smart home approach. Along with Blogging about smart home features and tech, he has also given talks to community groups about smart homes and aging in place. Out of work, Phil believes strongly in supporting groups like Systems Unlimited and Friends of the Animal Center Foundation.

This is a sponsored post. ICM was compensated for sharing this piece.  However, we love connecting our readers with people and organizations that are doing good in our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!

Moving to the Iowa City Area?

Check out our “Moving to Iowa City Guide” and learn everything you need to know, from buying and selling your house, to schools, grocery stores, neighborhoods, and more! Brought to you by The Bails Team at Urban Acres Real Estate.

Photo: Bails Team Urban Acres


Hiring the Bails Team at Urban Acres Real Estate means you’ll have access to the real estate expertise you need anytime, anywhere. This real estate team includes Mike Bails, Phil O’Brien, Marcy Willier, Chelsey Riggan, Briley Desmet, and Matt VandeBerg. Together, they have over 50 years of combined experience and a deep understanding of the entire residential and commercial real estate picture in the Iowa City area – it’s what they like to call a panoramic view of real estate.

If you are ready to buy or sell, give them a call today and tell them Iowa City Moms sent you!

Mike Bails | 319.321.5500
Phil O’Brien | 319.331.1701
Marcy Willier | 319.936.5899
Chelsey Riggan-Kuepker | 319.631.1434
Briley Desmet | 319.330.5078
Matt VandeBerg | 605.321.1700


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