Building and Remodeling Smart: What’s Your Home’s IQ?

smart-home-leisureImagine this: you get out of your side of the bed, which has been individually programmed to be at the perfect temperature for you all night. As your feet touch the floor, the coffee pot starts. Meanwhile, 5 minutes before your dawn-simulating alarm clock began to light up the room, radiant heating turned on to warm the bathroom floor. These features and many more are making homes smarter, safer and more carefree to live in.

What makes a home “smart?” Smart refers to systems being connected to the Internet, wirelessly integrated into the house and accessed and controlled remotely by computer, tablet or phone.

According to the 2016 Houzz Smart Home Study, the top two smart products people invest in are security/safety systems and thermostats. Going down the list is entertainment, climate (HVAC), and lighting upgrades.

Integrated into your home’s “hub,” smart systems can listen, conserve energy, increase your family’s safety, and prevent disasters such as flooding from burst pipes in the winter if the power goes out.

Why get smart?

  • Savings in money due to more efficient use of energy, and conserving energy
  • Improved safety and security, from remote notice of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and intruder alarms, to in-home remote viewing of pets, family
  • Greater ease of living for disabled people and the elderly with voice-controlled or motion-sensing technology.

office-at-homeSo, what’s your home’s IQ? High efficiency, long-lasting (up to 22 years) light bulbs are typically one of the first items people choose when they decide to go smart. Digital thermostats with timers can be programmed to lower the temperature while you’re out all day and bump it up to a more comfortable level when you get home. But now you can adjust the temp at will from your office.

The home of the future is now

Remember The Jetsons TV show? It took a long time—55 years since the show debuted in 1962—but we now have robot housekeepers (Roomba), video watches (Apple Watch), and a talking virtual assistant: Siri, Amazon Echo, Google Home.   

Many know Bob Vila from “This Old House,” the first of several home-improvement TV shows he’s hosted, but now at http://www.BobVila.com he’s looking to the future. Among his favorite smart innovations are the Keen Home Smart Vent, which purports to solve the age-old problem of maintaining a consistent, comfortable temperature in all rooms of the house. The voice-activated Amazon Echo also makes his top list, as does the Nest Cam, the closest thing “to having eyes in the back of your head.”

Smart locks are examples of key-less technology. They enable you to let someone into your home when you’re offsite, to double-check that it’s locked, and to record any comings and goings. Other independent devices include video doorbells, billed as “Caller ID for your front door.”

Centralize Control

From entertainment remote controls to garage door openers to programmable thermostats, you already have devices with some “smarts” built in. Products that take intelligence to the next level include appliances such as refrigerators that can tell you when you’ve run out of something. A Bosch model, for example, has an interior camera that can send a photo to your phone so you can see what you need to pick up when you’re at the grocery store.

But these are just cool gadgets without a hub, a central electronic address or system to integrate all your devices. You have several choices: contract with a company such as Comcast, ADT or a local smart home specialist to use their menu of services; work with a smart-hometechnology professional to help you plan, link, and learn to control all your home’s smart features; or buy a basic hub unit for as little as $50. (As with most things, you get what you pay for—much better ones go from $600 and up.)

More sophisticated hubs have switches or touchpads that disappear into the wall, and make it easier to integrate technology as it becomes available.

Back to bed: Luna makes a mattress cover that fits over your current bed with sensors linked to other devices and was featured recently in www.PCMag.com. Luna’s smart technology—like a television that “learns” what shows you like—learns your typical bedtime, temperature preference, and tracks your heart and respiration as you sleep.

Luna co-founders Matteo Franceschetti and Massimo Andreasi Bassi created it based on what they call “If this, then that” technology, or IFTTT, a website and app. So when the mattress cover “realizes” (senses) you got up, commands you’ve given it kick in: the coffee maker, for example.

So, want to teach your old house some new tricks? A remodeling or renovation is the perfect time. The design/build professionals at 3W design, inc. can help you integrate the latest in smart-home technology seamlessly and beautifully into your home. Ask us how!

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