Clearly, we have had a difficult winter filled with more snow, ice and bitter cold temperatures that most of us are pretty sick of at this point. But the good news is that we will appreciate the nicer springtime weather even more because of what we have endured.
This weekend we spring forward with our clocks, which will help make the days feel a little brighter and longer. And before too long, you may be in full blown spring fever mode!
Spring fever can affect people in many different ways. One way that we want to focus on is the spring fever desire to live in a more beautiful and efficient home that provides you and your family with the peace of mind, convenience and fun you deserve.
If you're think about building a new home or remodeling an existing one, you're probably wondering how, or if, the latest conveniences of home automation might figure into your plans.
To help you think about what might make sense for you, we have created a list of items to consider as you plan for your home.
1. Control your home from anywhere. One of the most compelling reason many people opt for smart home technology is the ability to control their home remotely. There is a lot of peace of mind knowing you can control the various systems in your home, including lighting, security, heating and cooling, appliances, door locks, AV entertainment and more - all from a smartphone or tablet.
2. See your home from anywhere. With smart-home integration, cameras in and around your home can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet so you can see what's going on no matter where you are.
3. Enjoy music and video in every room. Video screens and in-wall speakers throughout your house provide entertainment as you go from room to room; there's even a party mode that plays favorite tunes throughout the house. When your guests leave, you can go back to enjoying different music sources in different rooms - everything controllable from a smartphone, tablet, or in-wall touch panels.
4. Bring the theater home. Create a fully-automated retreat in the basement: Walk in, sit down, put your beer in a cup holder, and hit Play Movie on the remote to dim the lights and start the movie.
5. Conserve energy. Having the capability to turn off or dim every light in the house with one button press, control motorized window shades and call up a thermostat app on your phone can all contribute to lower utility bills. You can even monitor household energy usage to see where it makes sense to cut back.
6. Make it your own. With the help of a home tech pro, almost anything is possible and remote controllable - from electronic weathervanes and gas fireplaces to snow melting systems and flood detectors to motorized windows and gates.
7. Automation is fun! If there's a common thread running through all of the above, it can be summed up in three letters: f-u-n. Not only does home automation expand your entertainment options and make entertaining guests a breeze; whole-home control also gives mundane tasks like heating and lighting control a futuristic kind of cool.
In case you missed it, you might want to check out the Sonos ad that aired during the recent Super Bowl, introducing many people across the world to wireless whole-house audio.
For those of us who are fans of Sonos, this is a big step in the right direction in getting the word out. Who knows, maybe people will spend more time listening to music at home and less time eating Doritos and drinking Budweiser.
As the housing market continues to rebound, it's a good time to consider what features the next generation home buyers are most interested in for their new homes. Is it still the big, open design kitchen filled with stainless steel appliances? Yes indeed. And a large walk in closet is still a nice amenity for many younger home buyers. But as the Millennial generation is becoming a force in the home buying population, there are some notable changes, too.
According to a recent survey published by Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate , those home buyers in the 18-35 year category are challenging the status quo . Below are some of the key findings of the survey.
The DIY Generation: Rather than just call a professional to deal with home maintenance work, many Millennials said they would rather fix the problems themselves. In fact, 30% stated they would prefer a fixer-upper home to one that required little improvements. Maybe all the home improvement shows that they are watching on HGTV are giving the young folks confidence that they are capable and would enjoy doing home improvement projects themselves.
Quality Trumps Quantity: Say goodbye to the McMansion! Millennials seem to reject the bigger is better concept. Rather, they would like each room of their home to serve a purpose fit for their lifestyle. For instance, 1 in 5 of survey respondents agree that “home office” is a more appropriate name for their dining room based on what they typically use it for. Also, 43 percent would like to transform their living room into a home theater.
Smart Home Technology: When it comes to the next generation of homeowners, more than half (56%) of Millennials believe home technology capabilities are more important than “curb appeal.” If a home is not up-to-date with the latest tech capabilities, 64 percent of Millennials surveyed would simply not consider living there. In addition, 84 percent of the younger Americans surveyed believe that technology is an absolute essential to have in their homes. In fact, 41% Millennials would be more likely to brag to a friend about a home automation system over a newly renovated kitchen.
Whole-home entertainment: Although, man caves and home theaters were high on the list of features that Millennials found appealing, they are also interested in entertainment throughout their home. These homebuyers want to have their music available to every room in the house and to spaces outside the house too, including garages, decks and patios. As a matter of fact, nearly 60% of the respondents would rather have a TV in the kitchen than a second oven.
Fortunately for the Millennial housed hunters out there, there are many great options in the world of smart home technology and whole home entertainment to satisfy their dream home wishes. Happy home hunting to you all!
At the annual Consumer Electronics Show, there is never a shortage of fun, interesting, practical and ridiculous products introduced each year. We thought we would share with you a few of the items that caught our attention. Even if they may not be something of interest to you, it's interesting to see the ways in which technology can affect our daily lives.
Aura: Smart Sleep Tracking System - Maybe a better night's sleep is in store for you. This new product promises to monitor and improve your sleeping experience.
It is due to be available in the spring of 2014 and consists of a bedside device with an ambient light and a sleep sensor. The system's bedside device records information like noise pollution, room temperature, and light level, while the sleep sensor, which goes under a mattress, monitors sleep patterns, breathing cycles, and heart rate. In addition, it is able to offer customized light and sound to improve sleep, along with alarm clock functionality and personalized wake-up and fall-asleep programs.
For example, the multi-color LED in the bedside device is able to regulate melatonin, and sound programs are able to replicate the frequency and pattern of the circadian rhythm to stimulate users upon waking and relax them when sleeping. Connecting wirelessly, an application lets you visualize your sleep cycles, understand what wakes you up, and compare nights. From the palm of your hand you can control your personalized wake-up, and fall-asleep programs. Happy dreams!
LG Flexible OLED Television - The CES is always the place to see the latest and greatest in the world of televisions. This year has been no exception. LG has cranked things up a couple of notches by curving its 77-inch OLED panel.
This new TV also represents a melding of the two major TV innovations of last year's CES: 4K resolution and OLED were the big headliners of the 2013 show. Today we get to see them in one big, curved panel. If the curve is not working for you, no worries. At the touch of a button, you can adjust the curve to just how you like it.
Kolibree Smart Toothbrush - This toothbrush makes the electric toothbrush seem so 20th century. With the Kolibree smart toothbrush each brush stroke is recorded via an app you download. The data then syncs to the app and reveals if you brushed long enough and reached important parts of the teeth and gums. Because app works with several toothbrushes, the whole family can participate in better dental hygiene! It also rewards improvement and gives a score to help encourage both adults and kids to improve.
If it helps keep our teeth and gums healthier, what's not to love?! Maybe next year the smart dental floss will be introduced at CES.
These are just a few of the new products introduced at the 2014 CES. If you are interested in seeing more new products, including many new "wearable technology" devices, driverless cars, and learn more about the "Internet of Things" then check out this website.
Since today is New Year's Eve, you may be reminding yourself that when you got out on the town to celebrate and ring in 2014, that you don't want to get out of control and "make a scene." While that is certainly a good thing to keep in mind when you are out for the evening, when you think about home automation, the complete opposite is true.
With smart home technology, once you get your home systems under control you can easily "make a scene" that makes your life easier, more pleasant and more secure. In fact, one of my favorite benefits of living in a smart home is using my "scene" buttons. Okay, I may have lost some of you already with all this "making a scene" talk, so let me explain. With a connected, smart home the various systems in your home, such a lighting, heating and cooling, security, door locks, are all controlled via one "brain" on the control system. So that makes it easy for all of those systems to work in harmony and do what you want at the touch of one button.
How about some examples?
The Home/Away/Vacation scene is quite useful and popular. It is often located by the main entrance/exit of a home for convenience. As the homeowner is leaving to head out to run some errands, she simply touches the Away button on her way out the door. That simple act can be programmed to set off a series of events, such as turning off all the lights that were left on, setting back the thermostats to a more energy efficient temperature, arming the security system, and even locking the door. If the family were going away for an extended period, they would hit the Vacation button. The Vacation button ca be programmed to set back the temperature to an even more energy efficient setting, instruct the lighting control to simulate people are home by turning lights on and off When she returns, pressing the Home button on that same keypad, the pathway lights come on, temperature goes back to a proper level.
The Goodnight button would have to be the favorite scenes for many people. Imagine reading in bed at night as your eyes grow tired and that comfy, sleepy feeling takes over your body. The last you are interested in doing is checking that lights are all off, the garage doors are closed, the temperature is set back and the security system is engaged. Fortunately, a button on your nightstand with the word Goodnight written on it can help. At the simple tap of that button, you can close your book and drift off into dreamland with the peace of mind that all is as it should be at home for bedtime. Happy dreams....
The Dinner scene can be very important to the quality of a family's daily routine. With all the distractions that can get in the way, it can take effort to ensure that everyone comes together as a family to share the nighttime meal. The Dinner scene can really help set the right environment for everyone in the family to clear their heads from their distractions and focus on dinner time.
At the tap of the Dinner button, the TVs and video games throughout the home can be turned off, relaxing music can be played and the lights properly dimmed in the dining area, allowing for some quality family time together.
So when you go out on the town, it's wise to not make a scene. But using home automation technology to set scenes in your home to make your life easier and more secure makes a lot of sense.
It's possible that speakers are the opposite of children, of whom the old saying goes "are meant to be seen and not heard." Personally, I don't feel that way about children, since the pitter-patter of little feet and happy giggles of little ones is music to my ears. However, while I love listening to great sounding music , I've never really cared for the look of big, bulky speakers in my living room. Certainly, discreet, high-quality professionally installed in-wall and in-ceiling architectural speakers and sub-woofers are a great way to remove the clutter caused by their free-standing brethren. But, all other things being equal, most people would probably opt for totally invisible speakers if they had the choice.
The reality is, even though many people were not aware they existed, invisible speakers have been around for years. Unfortunately, the early generation invisible speakers had some big drawbacks: they really didn't sound as good as other speakers and they were super expensive. Those are some pretty big drawbacks, so it is not surprising that most folks stayed away from invisible speakers.
But wait, don't forget that technology advances and so has invisible speaker technology. Specifically, a company called Sonance took on the challenge of creating speakers that are both invisible and create great, clear sound quality.
The Sonance Invisible Series speakers includes the following :
There are also optional back boxes for each of the speakers listed above to help with sound isolation. Although the Sonance invisible speakers are not inexpensive, they are not budget-busters, either.
For the right application, these invisible speakers might be just the thing to create the perfect balance between sound and beauty in your home.
It's amazing how powerful smart phones and tablets are these days. And it is also interesting to consider how much many of us use these devices to keep us connected, no matter where we may be. One could argue that connected all the time can add stress and strain to our lives by not allowing us to get a break from work, errands and our never ending to do lists. That argument has a great deal of validity.
On the other hand, one area in which smart phones and tablets can actually reduce stress and anxiety is by allowing us to be in control of our homes, even when we are far away. Having remote access to your home security, surveillance, lighting, climate, and even TVs can provide us the peace of mind that, although we are not there, all is well and as it should be back at the ranch.
Below are some specific examples of the benefits of remote access to your home.
1. Security, Cameras & Automated Door Locks
What is more important than the safety and security of your family and home? With remote access you can remotely arm and disarm the security system, lock and unlock a door, check to make sure all sensors are working, and knowing that if any alarms or detectors (including smoke detectors, CO detectors, or water sensors) are triggered, you will receive immediate notification via text message or phone call so you can take immediate action. No need to worry that you will return from your sun-filled vacation holiday to a flooded basement!
Cameras allow you to check in on things back home to see what is going on for yourself in real time. Adding a recording device lets you investigate occurrences at a later time.
2. Energy Monitoring, Management & Savings
Properly controlling the heating, cooling and lighting when you are not at home can be a significant energy saver. With a smart control system that is programmed to an "Away" or "Vacation" scene, the home can appear lived-in to the outside world, while still reducing wasted energy on lighting, heating and cooling. Being able to use your smart phone to understand energy usage and make changes remotely can help you be a better green citizen and save on your energy bills.
3. Lighting & Shading
Have you ever forgotten to turn of the lights when you left home? Or better yet, have you ever left the house and could not remember if you did or did not turn off the lights? Fortunately, those occurrences can be a thing of the past. Your home can be programmed to automatically turn off lights, raise and lower shades depending on sunrise, sunset, or your personal preferences. And with your smart phone, you can make any changes as you desire, no matter where you may be.
Forgot to set your DVR to record the football game? No problem. That's what smart phones are for.
Who would have thought that appliances could be so smart, but many of them are. For example, you can get a notification on your phone from your refrigerator that the door is ajar. Even though that might not be a fun notification to get, you can take action to fix it, which may be much better than arriving home to a fridge full of spoiled food!
ACT NOW!!!: MASS SAVE Offering $100 Rebate per Smart Thermostat Purchased Prior to December 31, 2013!
The good folks at Mass Save want to help you to save energy and money on your heating and cooling every month. Because they know how much a smart, programmable thermostat can make it easy for you to significantly save energy, money, and help fight global warming, they are sweetening the deal for Massachusetts residents.
Mass Save is offering a $100 rebate per Wi-Fi thermostat (limit $200 per household) purchased before December 31, 2013.
Contact simpleHome to learn more. We can install and program your thermostats and fill out the rebate paperwork for you. We make it easy for you to be green and save money, too!
The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) is proud to announce the second annual ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX), New England's leading building industry event.
Team simpleHome is excited to once again be an exhibitor at the ABX.
If you are interested in obtaining a free pass to the exhibit hall, please register at abexpo.com and use promo code SMH13.
We invite any of our clients and friends who are attending this event to stop by and visit us at Booth #665.
Exhibit Hall Hours:
Tuesday, Nov 19
11AM - 6PM
Wednesday, Nov 20
11AM - 6PM
Thursday, Nov 21
11AM - 4PM
We hope to see you there!