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The Latest and Greatest in Smart Home Technology

Posted: Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 | Filed under: motorized window treatments, retractable awnings, Smart Homes
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P1010625The “Smart Home” has been a marketing catch phrase for a while, but this month Apple kicked it into high gear by focusing on family and the “smart home” in its WWDC presentation to the tech world.  Of course, there are many people who already live in smart homes.  Technologically savvy homeowners and apartment dwellers have long known that conveniences such as remote operated security systems, remote shading systems, and other home electronic devices can make life both easier and more economical.  A smart home can provide better analysis of power usage, and let homeowners determine where and when to cut back for better energy conservation and cost savings.  It has real world implications as well.  For example, people with older parents may soon find that a smart home can deliver more safety on everything from generating alerts if someone falls, to ensuring water is shut off, and ovens and stoves are not left on.

Converting your home into a “smart home” can be done on almost any budget.  The good news is that you can start slowly, adding to your “smart systems” over months or years at your own budget-friendly pace.  The average homeowner can spend anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000 creating a smart home environment that they can control from anywhere (although you could easily spend up to a million dollars setting up a house as a true “smart home”).  Here we’ve gathered a few of the ways that you can have a smart home today – without waiting for Apple and the rest of the tech world to catch up.

Security Systems

In their most basic form, automated home security systems allow you to take care of the smallest emergencies – like “did I remember to lock the door when I left?” with ease.  Investing more into them can also allow you to watch live security camera feeds of inside and outside your home – even if you are hundreds of miles away on vacation.  Motion sensors can also alert you if there is movement in and/or out of the house so that you can check any cameras and instantly see if there is really an intruder, or if perhaps a squirrel is just wreaking havoc inside the perimeter.

Electronic Lighting Systems

Automated lighting often goes hand in hand with automated security systems, as you can program lights in advance (or even in the moment through smart phone apps) to turn on and off at specific or even random times to simulate a home that is occupied.  There is also a safety and comfort value in never coming home to a dark house.  Imagine approaching home and being able to light your path, or see into the house easily, or have a well-lit area so there is no fumbling for your keys in the dark.  Another perk of electronic lighting systems is efficiency.  Automated lights do not forget to turn themselves off, and over time can save you money on utility bills.  Standing by the stairs and saw that the kids forgot to turn the third floor lights off before they ran outside to play?  Instead of trekking up after them you can simply use your phone or tablet to turn off the light.

Motorized Window Shading

Having window shades that can be pre-programmed or adjusted via a remote control (in your home or on your phone/tablet) means that every room can have the natural lighting you desire and that you don’t even have to be there in person to make it happen.  Aside from achieving the proper mood in a room, automated motorized window shades let you subtly adjust room temperatures in a more efficient, conservational way, both when you are home and when you are away from home.  If there are no clouds in the sky on a blazing hot summer day and you are trapped at the office, or away somewhere, you can still pull the shades down on the sunny side of your house and conserve energy.  Motorized shades also let you set timers so that you can fill your bedroom with morning light slowly and wake to the natural rhythm of the day.

Smart televisions

Your television doesn’t even actually have to be “smart” because for the most part all of the cable television and satellite services are.  Check with your television and Internet provider and see if they have an available phone or tablet app.  Most do, and will let you stream from your phone/tablet, or set your DVR to record your favorite show if you are running late and cannot get home in time.

Smart Thermostats

If you travel a lot, or you have a schedule that is not easily automated, smart thermostats offer you the option of turning heat or air conditioning on or off at the touch of a finger.  Whereas previous options allowed people to set schedules, you can now decide in the moment whether or not you want to change the temperature in your house, and you don’t have to be home to do it.

Smart Pools and Smart Spas

If you are lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, you can finish the end of a long day at work by driving home knowing that your pool is heating up getting itself ready for your evening lap swim.  The touch of a button can do everything on a pool from start the spa jets, turn on lighting preferences, warm the pool temperature, or open/close an electronic cover.

The “home of tomorrow” is actually readily available today.  One of the easiest (and energy efficient) places to start is to install motorized window shades in your home.  Once that has been done, you can get started on automating other areas of your home, and soon many of the things that you used to waste time and energy on (like – ironically – policing your kids to make sure lights are off!) will no longer be necessary.

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