Home Tech, What Makes Sense To Invest In

What Tech Options Are Worth The Hype

Did you hear about the new refrigerator that also does your taxes? Actually, there’s no such thing. 

But who knows… it may be available tomorrow!

These days, a stroll through Best Buy or a few minutes surfing on Amazon.com proves that we live in an age when it’s seemingly impossible to keep up with technology.

A lot of the changes have popped up outside our homes, like cars that chirp a warning when we drift over the center line, bank apps that offer instant check deposits via our phones, or airline reservation systems that allow remote seat selections.

But we’re also experiencing a revolution inside our homes. Some of the innovations stop us in our tracks. I’m recalling one of our Silver Spring neighbors who recently pointed to a small spot on the floor near the base of her sleek new dishwasher.

“Do you see it?” she said. “Isn’t that awesome?” The dishwasher was casting an oh-so-subtle light on the floor – a digital readout of time remaining in the dry cycle.

In moments like this, one side of our brain says, Cool!The other side wonders, Do we really need that?

That question will arise more as new homes are built, or older homes are updated, in the Digital Age. But keep in mind, we can help!

If you’re planning to sell your home, we can help you understand whether one or two high-tech additions might add value. If you’re shopping for a new home, we can help you talk through which high-tech options might be a good match for your family.

When we talk about today’s home innovations, we often refer to their connection to the “Internet of Things” (IoT). What’s that? One definition goes like this: “IoT is the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.” Got that? 

A good example would be the voice-activated Amazon Echo, which can magically dim a living room lamp. That technology is at the core of many new products popping up in today’s “smart homes.”

So, what innovations are available in today’s market? A few options:

 Smart security:  Everybody wants to keep their family safe. With IoT technology, homeowners can access closed circuit images of their home from anywhere on their smartphone. Some cameras automatically send a picture when motion is detected. (Some smart motion detectors can differentiate between residents, visitors and pets, and the bad guys.) Smart locks have eliminated the need for keys; you can control your lock from your phone and even enable access to trusted visitors. Doorbells have been integrated with cameras, so you can see who is ringing your doorbell before answering the door. 

Smart blinds:  The TV commercials make these look so classy. A homeowner gracefully raises her remote, points at the window, and voila – the blinds rise, and sunshine pours in. But there are practical reasons for considering smart blinds and curtains. In summer, you can schedule them to go down to block the sun (or do the opposite in winter). And you can also have them change positions while you’re on vacation so your house isn’t a lifeless temptation to burglars.

Smart lighting:  Smart home lighting has come a long way since the mid-70s. Yes, it’s cool to activate the lights when you pull into the driveway or have a light pop on when you walk into a room. You’re a superstar!  But today’s smart lighting can adjust brightness according to how many people are in the house, or depending on how much daylight is already brightening a room. That means less wasted electricity, lower bills, and a little love for Planet Earth. 

Floor heating: Yes, voice activation can make your floors nice and toasty in winter. That’s appealing (for you and your pets!) because, as we know, heat rises. One technology is electric in-floor heating, which uses panels and wires snaked under your flooring. Another is hydronic in-floor heating, which uses pipes to run hot water beneath your feet.

You can save on electricity by telling your heated floor thermostat to shut off at night when you’re cozy in bed. Then, you can use your smart thermostat to warm up the floor 30 minutes before the alarm goes off! Note: heating can be installed beneath any floor. But it works best under flooring that conducts heat well like stone, tile, concrete and marble. When it comes to heating wood or carpeted floors, talk to a professional.

Smart Thermostats:  These devices have several advantages. They allow you to check the thermostat remotely, so you can decide to heat up or cool down your house when you’re not there. They let you vary the temperatures in individual rooms to satisfy the preferences among family members. And they also allow you to schedule your thermostat adjustments. No use burning energy when you’re away at work!

Smart Appliances:  We can now control remotely, or with voice assistants, our washing machines, dryers and dishwashers. And don’t forget automated vacuums – Roomba! – that not only work without supervision but plea for help when they’re stuck under the couch. 

One smart appliance that’s had ups and downs is the refrigerator. Models that use barcodes to track expiration dates have not been wildly popular because some people feel like they’re too much trouble. Concerns have arisen about smart refrigerators being vulnerable to hackers who could potentially shut down units and spoil our food. Currently, developers are working on refrigerators that only run energy-gobbling defrost cycles when electricity rates are low, or models that add items to your shopping list because they’ve learned your grocery shopping patterns.

Smart Entertainment: Most of us have experienced some of this cool stuff. With wireless speakers, you can control the volume of whatever you’re listening to – whether it’s music, podcasts or audiobooks – in every room. Adjustments can be made from your phone or via an Amazon Echo or other similar device. Realtor.com has a nifty site that explains how to build a smart entertainment system. In the meantime, here’s a cool idea to think: experts predict that one day, TVs will be so ultra thin you’ll roll them up like posters when they’re not in use. More wall space for artwork! 

Bottom Line

There are tons of cool, fun and SMART options to automate your home. An expert realtor can you understand what's worth the splurge to help your home's resale value. Get in touch, we're happy to be a resource!

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