Monday, January 16, 2017

Need a little decorating help?

Every homeowner wants their home to look polished, pulled together and reflect their personal style. But not every homeowner wants to put in the effort to get it there. Some people just hate decorating, and the thought of decorating an entire home? Well, that just sounds terrible. But you can have a gorgeous, well-decorated home even if you're Pinterest challenged. Here are 5 decorating tips for people who hate to decorate:

Be Bold

If you're a person who doesn't like to decorate, you want to keep the amount of decorating you need to do to a minimum. And the best way to make a big impact with minimum effort is to be bold. Using bold patterns, colors, decor and furniture can make a room look highly styled with little effort on your part. Keep the majority of the room simple, and then choose one focal piece to make a bold statement. Use all neutrals in your dining room, but then use patterned wallpaper on one wall to add visual interest. Furnish your living room with simple pieces, but then choose an interesting coffee table as a conversation piece. Keep your entire bedroom in muted colors, but add a bright bedspread to add a pop of color. Focusing on one aspect of the decor in a room that makes a big impact will keep you from having to worry too much about decorating the rest of the room.

Stick To One Theme

Decorating can get complicated when you try to mix too many styles at once. And while an expert interior designer (or someone with a passion for decorating) can pull off a shabby chic living room with old world charm and touches of a contemporary style, for people who hate decorating will feel completely lost when trying to pull in design elements from multiple styles. Stick to one design theme throughout your home to minimize the amount of thought you need to put into your decorating. Sticking to one theme, like modern or traditional, will make it much easier to furnish and decorate your home since the decor will be consistent from room to room.

Hire a Designer

If you truly hate decorating - and you have a healthy decorating budget - you might consider hiring an interior designer. An interior designer can help bring the vision you have for your home to life without you needing to deal with all of the small details that go into making a home beautiful. They'll source the materials, choose colors, buy furniture and take care of all the decorating. If you do hire a designer, it's important to find someone you trust who has experience with the style of decor that you'd like for your home. Just because someone is an amazing modern designer doesn't mean they'll be able to design the contemporary home of your dreams. Ask other homeowner friends for recommendations, search interior design directories on home sites like Houzz or use Yelp to find a well-reviewed designer in your area.

Use A Design Service

If hiring an interior design feels like it's out of your budget, explore a digital design service. Using a virtual design service is much more affordable than hiring a private designer but can get you the same results. One fantastic virtual design service is Havenly. Havenly allows you to review designer portfolios so you can choose a designer whose style matches what you're looking for. Then, you share details about the room and budget, and your designer puts together a mock-up of the design. You let them know what you like and what you don't before finalizing the design. Havenly then sends you a personalized shopping list of the items you'll need to purchase to complete your room. All you have to do is hit purchase and assemble the space and voila! Room decorated. And with prices starting at just $79 per room, you can't go wrong on the price. If you find the Havenly isn't quite the right fit for you, there's plenty of other virtual design services out there, like Laurel and Wolf or Decorist, to meet your interior design needs.

Have Fun

If you find that decorating makes you want to pull your hair up, lighten up! Decorating, with the right mindset, can be fun. See if you can reframe the decorating process to make it more enjoyable for you. Try making a game of decorating a new room, and see how many new pieces of decor you can find for under $50. Set a date with your partner to spend a Sunday morning visiting antique stores to scout new pieces for your dining room. Throw a paint apron or a smock on your children and let them get their hands dirty helping you paint the new playroom. No matter how much you hate decorating, there's always a way to reframe it and make it more fun. With these 5 tips, you'll have your home looking like an ad from a magazine - even if you're a person who hates decorating.

Monday, January 9, 2017

In the cold mid-winter a laugh will warm things up!

To some, real estate agents are considered the champions of their clients, trying to provide families with their little slice of the American dream. To others, they’re simply misunderstood. Either way, when it comes to helping us settle into the biggest investment of our lives, their value is immense. Now you can take an open-house tour of their world with comedian John Mulaney!

From start to finish you don't want to miss this hilarious clip that delves into the lives of these stalwart guardians of home ownership.

Via Quentin Forgues

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Thinking about redoing a kitchen?

A kitchen remodel is the singular most cost-effective room remodel you can put into your home if you’re planning on putting it on the market. The ROI is usually more than 100% and very often much, much more. With the upswing in the real estate market these days, a full or partial kitchen remodel can help you sell your home faster and for a higher dollar amount.

1. Tuxedo Kitchens

You may have not heard of the term “tuxedo kitchen,” but you have likely seen the color-blocked images. The style is relatively simple, usually with white on the top, and a darker color such as black or dark gray on the bottom of the kitchen. When designing your tuxedo kitchen, remember that the small accents are absolutely essential to tying this look together and really making it pop. Think brushed gold cabinet hardware with matching faucets and light fixtures, or utilizing the identical style cabinets for both top and bottom, but white on top and navy below, with matte finishes on both. The little details will make or break this room, so pay attention to the subtleties!

2. Wood Paneling

Now, of course we’re not talking about 1970’s basement wood paneling… no, today’s wood paneling is rich in color and texture and nothing at all like the past. The prevailing trend over the next years will be towards light colored, even white, paneling and will be used on walls, ceilings, backsplashes...you’ll see lots of creative uses for paneling! While lighter colors prevail, faux weathered greys and brown inspire a rustic look without having to break the bank on reclaimed barnwood. Warm tones give depth to rooms where people gather such as kitchens and living rooms, or where we take sanctuary - bedrooms and libraries or den areas. Remember that you don’t have to panel an entire room, either. Using paneling in small spaces as an accent is a cost-effective and simple way to create a new look without investing a ton of work, time, or money. Utilize recent (say, last 10-15 years) paneling in new ways by painting it in a new color. In a kitchen or bath, consider painting the paneling in a shade similar to the existing walls. If you’ve got a cottage look or rustic decor, a bit of faux distressing will look fantastic, and breathe new life into the room!

3. Hidden Appliances

Hidden appliances are those that are made to look as if they are cabinets, with the same design in doors and hardware. The trend will be towards hidden appliances, even small appliances such coffee makers and microwaves, and certainly bigger items like refrigerators and dishwashers. Nearly every appliance but the stove can be “hidden” and disguised as cabinetry, and this creates a clean, uncluttered looking kitchen overall. This look will be especially attractive to those who spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and are looking for a cozier, more relaxing feel.

4. Patterned Tiles

Out with the subway-inspired tiles, and in with eclectic patterned tiles. Use many different patterns within a color range for a really funky look, or stick with a more traditional, yet still colorful, look of alternating patterned tiles. The options here are truly endless, and you’ll find patterned tiles to fit every room, use, and budget. Go for a simple project like a new kitchen backsplash, or do an entire bathroom! Mix patterned tiles with solid-colored tiles or go all-out with one style/pattern. A simple online search for “patterned tiles” gives enormous inspiration!

5. Automation

Faucets with sensors - great for kids who can’t yet reach. Lights that go on when we enter a room and automatically go off when they stop detecting motion. Meat thermometers that notify your smartphone when your roast has achieved the correct temperature. These are but a few of the quickly increasing options when it comes to automating your home. In 2017 and future years, we’ll see more of these automation trends, and many of them will allow you to run your home from your smartphone or device. Exciting times, indeed! And here are some trends that are on their way out!
  • Short kitchen cabinets are no longer en vogue. Go for taller cabinets with more room for storage.
  • Brown and grey speckled granite countertops. While granite is still a popular choice for counters because of its resiliency and ease of clean up, lighter granite is more in line with the kitchens of 2017 and beyond.
  • Dark wood kitchens are a no go. Bright and light are where it’s at.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Would you live here?

Brigadoon, Silvertown, Stepford, Middlemarch, Pleasantville…all mythical towns of fantasy from literature and film that make our hearts yearn for perfect locales that just don’t exist in the real world. That is, until now.
Nestled deep in northern Holland is the small town of Giethoorn. When you first see photos of this tiny town it looks like it was cut straight from a child’s dream; or the abandoned location of northern Holland Disneyland. Either way, this neighborhood of magic, with its network of quiet canals intertwined throughout, is no fairy tale.
When you see the canal streets and wooden bridges that beckon you to come visit the beautiful village straight out of Beauty and the Beast, you might think you’ll have to pass beyond the gumdrop forest and through moors of the dwarven kingdom. In reality it’s just a short car ride from Amsterdam with an array of bed and breakfasts for you to stay in while you visit.
Life in the little Venice-esque village of 2600 is quiet. The website even touts that the most commotion you’d hear is the “quacking of a duck, or noise made by other birds.” That or the postman using a punt to deliver the mail. (Punt as in “a flat-bottomed boat” not punt as in he’s kicking packages across the water because he can’t be bothered with getting in and out of a boat.)
Next time you’re in Europe and you want to truly get away from it all, stop by Giethoorn before it possibly disappears into the mists for a thousand years.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Top 12 Tips for a Safer Holiday Home



Top 12 Tips for a Safer Holiday Home

Our world is full of risk at every turn—from perilous jobs to dangerous driving conditions. That’s why we all love to get back to our homes and not worry about everyday safety hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home, but is it as safe as it can be?

Your home should be your haven: the place where you will be protected from harm. It should be a top priority, and yet every year 1200 people or more visit the emergency room during the holiday months due to accidents and unintended injuries sustained from hidden dangers around the home.

With a sharp eye and preventive action you can reduce the chances of lurking safety dangers for everyone who visits your home.

The Top 12 Home Safety Tips

1. GOOD LIGHTING— Adequate lighting reduces the risk of tripping and falling both inside and outside your home. This is especially important in winters when days are shorter. Critical areas that need to be illuminated are the stairs, outdoors, and foyers. Make sure your street number is well lit and visible from the street to aid first responders find your home. The fix: Make sure adequate wattage is utilized and long-life bulbs and motion detectors are in place.

2. ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS?— Electrical issues, like a flickering light or a dead outlet, can be mild annoyances that actually signal serious dangers. If not addressed promptly, a faulty electrical system can result in house fires and shocks. The fix: If you’re experiencing any problems with your electricity, contact a professional right away. In your daily life, make sure electrical cords are not frayed or pierced and extension cords are securely connected. Do not run too many cords to a single outlet. Unplug small appliances, space heaters, and power tools when not in use.

3. DO ROUTINE CLEANING— Not maintaining your appliances leads to a greater chance of accidental home fires. The fix: Do simple tasks regularly like cleaning grease off your stovetop, emptying the lint trap on your dryer, and keeping your chimney clean and clear.

4. SMOKE AND GAS DETECTORS— Every home needs functional warning devices that detect smoke and gases. The fix: When purchasing smoke alarms, make sure they also detect carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that is especially dangerous because it is colorless and odorless. Replace the batteries every six months—or whenever you change your clocks. Create an emergency evacuation plan, build a preparedness kit, and practice regular safety drills with your family to ensure awareness of procedures.

5. SECURE YOUR HOME— Many homes now have the latest technological advancements but still rely on locks and hardware from decades ago to keep you safe from intruders. The fix: Do an audit of all entry points to your home—doors and windows and screens. If any do not have secure screens, locks, and deadbolts, have them installed. For those entry points that do already have door knobs, handles, and locks, make sure that they are in good working condition.

6. WHEN YOU ARE AWAY— We all enjoy long weekends and out-of-town vacations, but unfortunately that leaves your home vulnerable to intruders. The fix: Create the illusion that someone may still be there. Leave a TV or stereo on in the room where a burglar would most likely break in. Have neighbor pick up mail and the daily paper. Turn down phone ringers, keep blinds drawn, and don’t leave unsecured valuables in the home even if you think they are well-hidden. Never hide keys around the home or garden, and don’t leave notes on the door that suggest you are out of town.

7. HOUSEHOLD REPAIRS— Even if you are an expert and know your way around electrical, plumbing, car or other household repairs, proceed with caution. A poor repair could be a recipe for disaster. The fix: Call a professional or ask me for a referral from our trusted sources.

8. VEHICLE CAUTION— Remember that there is danger even before you drive on the street. If you are backing your car up, watch out for children and pets on the sidewalk and road. The fix: Be cautious and proceed slowly when driving vehicles in or out of your driveway. If your driveway does not have good visibility in both directions, walk down and look in both directions before you get in your car.

9. MAKE IT SAFE FOR VISITORS— If you are hosting friends and family, consider what additional safety challenges they may face. The fix: Put yourself in the shoes of a small child and look for low, hard edges, sharp objects, easy-to-open cabinets with chemicals and cleaning agents. Look for falling and tripping hazards that may fell seniors.

10. BRACE YOURSELF— Heavy objects are rarely braced in the home. Appliances, artwork, televisions, and aquariums present real hazards if they are knocked down by a person or a natural disaster. The fix: Strap and brace heavy objects and use security hardware for large artwork.

11. UNCOVER HIDDEN DANGERS— If your home was built before the late seventies, there’s likely lead in the paint under the top coats on your walls and windows, and there might be traces in the varnish used on many hardwood floors. In addition, asbestos often can be found in insulation and “popcorn” ceiling textures. The fix: Hire a licensed contractor to test for possible contaminants and remove them safely, especially prior to a remodel.

12. MOTHER NATURE— Your homeowners insurance will cover you in many instances, but did you know that you may not be insured against natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes? They typically require an additional policy. The fix: Contact your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate replacement coverage as home values escalate and coverage amounts can stay static. Discuss costs for adding disaster policies for the natural disaster most likely to hit your area. Finally, having a disaster and communication plan can minimize the risks.

Safety Dangers to Kids You May Not Think About

Do you have small children who live with you? Even if you don’t, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, your home may welcome friends with young children and older family members. This makes now the ideal time to survey home your home for potential safety problems.

OPEN WATER
Did you know that as little as an inch of water can be a major hazard? A pail of water in the yard, large puddles from a storm, even a washing machine can induce a small child to trip or fall into and become at risk. The fix: Watch for open ice chests and other standing water, and don’t leave toilet seats open.

SMALL BATTERIES
Button-sized lithium batteries power small electronic devices, including remote controls, watches, musical greeting cards, and ornaments. When accidentally swallowed, they can get stuck in the esophagus and generate an electrical current that can cause severe chemical burns and tissue damage. The fix: Only let small children play with mechanical devices and toys under supervision, and make sure to put these items away when not in use.

WINDOWS AND STAIRS
Every year, more than 5,000 kids end up in the emergency room after tumbling out of a window. Combat that by installing window guards or window stops so kids can’t fall out. Stairs are another potential hazard for youngsters with less-than-perfect balance. The fix: Baby gates can prevent young kids from venturing up or down. Steps should always have firm footing and be clear of objects as even older people can slip and fall or trip on items left on the stairs.

FAMILY PETS
Cats can scratch a child not used to playing with finicky felines. The family dog may be big and loving but can outweigh a child by five times. Children can be easily knocked down, nipped, or even bitten by a dog not used to the activity of small children. The fix: Monitor play activity and make sure your pet is not getting anxious or annoyed.

CORDS
Babies can be strangled by cords on blinds and shades. The fix: Excessive cords of all types should be removed or secured down. Always keep cribs away from windows with loose cords.

Now’s the Time
With the upcoming holidays at hand, now is the perfect time to survey your home and address potential safety hazards to yourselves, your family, and your friends. It doesn’t take long, most fixes are very inexpensive and simple to do, and your efforts will pay dividends in peace of mind for years to come.

If you would like our advice on how to make your home safer and need a list of trusted sources for home repairs, please contact us today. It’s our business to ensure that your home is safe and secure for your family.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Home Equity Playbook



 What is Home Equity?
Home equity seems to be a very simple calculation — the total amount of mortgages owed subtracted from the current market value of a home. Here is a simple example:

Current Home Market Value                       $325,000
Existing Mortgage                                       $225,000
Homeowner Equity                                     $100,000

One side of the equation is well defined, and it is found on the monthly mortgage statement, the loan balance. The other side is less obvious — the current market value of the property.

As a homeowner, your down payment purchases your initial equity, and your monthly (or additional) principal payments increase your equity. In strong real estate markets and in-demand locations, equity can increase quite rapidly as the property value increases, but the inverse can also happen — too much available inventory and market down-cycles can lead to falling home values and a reduction in homeowner equity.

It can be difficult to put an accurate value on something that you have emotional and monetary vesting in. It is safe to say that most people think their home is worth more than then it is.

Homeowners can make savvy assessments about their home’s current market value by following the sales of similar properties in the neighborhood, but should stay away from websites such as Zillow and Trulia, which provide inaccurate and outdated estimates. The most accurate measurement requires a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional or having the home professionally appraised. But, the bottom line — your home is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

Creating Value is in Your Hands
Maintaining the condition of a home is vitally important to retaining and increasing value. Homes are judged against their peers: how they compare to similar homes in the neighborhood. Another way to retain value is to not over upgrade, since it is rare to ever recoup the money spent if you exceed neighborhood value. Keep up the landscaping and do the little things to add curb appeal.

Putting Home Equity to Work
Home equity represents the largest single asset of millions of people, and because it represents so much of an individual’s net worth, it must be treated with respect. Home equity is not a liquid asset until a property is sold, or it is borrowed against.

There are two types of loans that tap into homeowner equity as collateral.

Home Equity Loans

Many home equity plans set a fixed period during which the person can borrow money, such as 10 years. At the end of this “draw period,” the person may be allowed to renew the credit line. If the plan does not allow renewals, the homeowner will not be able to borrow additional money once the period has ended. Some plans may call for payment in full of any outstanding balance at the end of the period. Others may allow repayment over a fixed period, for example, of 10 years.

A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, usually has a fixed rate and a set time to pay it back, generally with equal monthly payments.

Home Equity Line of Credit
               
A home equity line of credit is similar to a credit card. The lender sets a maximum amount you can borrow, and you can draw money as you need it, though many home equity lines of credit require an initial draw. The interest rate varies daily, and is usually prime plus a set number, but the required payment is usually interest only. Once the loan has been paid down, the payment is reduced, and it can be paid off and initiated as many times as a homeowner requires.

How Much Equity can be Accessed?
Since the financial institution is lending money and using a home as collateral, they will not lend 100% of the home’s equity. The bank does not want to take the risk that if the house price drops, they would be carrying a loan for more than its market value. Therefore, most banks will allow a qualified homeowner to borrow approximately 80% of their equity.

It’s Important to Use Your Home Equity Wisely
Because it is likely the biggest asset most people have, losing your home equity is hard to overcome. It must be used in prudent ways, and the payments against the loan must be affordable. Using equity money to make the loan payment is only acceptable for a short-term solution.

There are number of good reasons to use money from a home equity loan… and some really bad ones. First, let’s cover smart uses.

1. Invest in Your Home
The best way to use the money is create more equity in the home. Among the very best returns on your investment (ROI) include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding square footage or an extra bath, enhancing curb appeal and repairing/keeping the existing structure sound. Making prudent investments in your home is a wonderful win-win: you enjoy the upgrades and the repairs can add value to the home.

2. Invest in your Children’s Education
Using your home equity to finance a child’s higher education may be the greatest payoff of all. Not only is the rate much lower than a student loan, it is an investment in the child’s future.

3. Supplement Retirement Needs
Older homeowners spent their working lives paying down their mortgage. At retirement, when monthly income is reduced, a home equity loan could pay for a dream vacation or an unexpected major expense.

4. Augment the Impending Sale of a Home
If you’re planning to sell soon, a home equity line of credit may be the best way to finance improvements, and you can pay it off entirely when you sell. Investing wisely on upgrades and repairs may even reap a profit on your investment.

Here are some examples of some not very wise choices.

Adding luxury amenities like a swimming pool, a hot spa, lavish landscaping, expensive appliances and exotic counter-tops and flooring rarely pay off.

Purchasing a car or boat or most any personal luxury items is a poor use of the funds, since these items quickly depreciate in value.

Also stay away from using money on risk-heavy investments. Financing stock purchases, start-up businesses and paying routine bills is not financially smart. If you cannot afford to purchase those items with available funds, using equity from your home means they should not be in your budget.

You should treat a home equity loan as an investment and not as extra cash when making financial decisions. If your intended use of the money doesn't pay you back in some way, it's not the best use of your valuable equity.

We Are Happy to Assist You
If you would like an assessment of the market value of your home and the current equity you can access, give us a call for a comparative market analysis.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

8 Smart Home Technology Trends that Can Save You Money



The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. In the ideal version of the wired future, all of our appliances and gadgets talk to each other seamlessly.
What could living in a smart home look like? Picture something like this:
The lights in your bedroom slowly illuminate to quietly awaken you in the morning, replacing the typical blaring alarm. The aroma of fresh brewing coffee drifts in and stirs your senses. Once the lights are all the way up, the heating system kicks on, just in time to warm up your room so you’re not shocked once you crawl out from underneath the duvet.
When you step into the shower, it turns on automatically and remembers your preferred temperature and water pressure. And it will shut off right when you’re finished as it knows how long you take to bathe.
Once you’ve driven out of your garage, your home alarm system arms itself. And it will only unlock automatically when it “sees” and recognizes someone else from your family approaching through programmed in biometrics.
Do smart homes really work this way right now? Not exactly…while you may find some of these smart features in certain homes, we haven’t reached the point where every feature intuitively knows what you want and when you wanted. However, each year we’re getting closer and closer toward that shiny, idealized ‘Jetson’ future.
Here are some trends that we see for smart homes, many of which may also help you save money:
Smart Thermostats
Programmable thermostats that are synchronized with the clock have been around for decades. However, they’re often difficult to set and aren’t necessarily efficient; they simply turn on or off as programmed, whether or not you are there.
With the newer models, smart thermostats can be programmed to adjust the temperature when they sense you are present. And once you leave, they can kick back to standby mode so that you’re saving energy and money. Nest does all of this, and it also allows you to check your usage from your cell phone so that you can adjust the temperature remotely and save even more.
Smart Smoke Detectors
Having a working, effective smoke detector saves lives. But unfortunately, many of us still have those battery-run smoke detectors that make that annoying, piercing beep when their batteries are running low on power. And instead of replacing batteries right away, it’s often easier to pull them out and disable the detector (while risking our lives).
Many of the new smart smoke detectors, like the Birdi, monitor smoke, carbon dioxide, as well as air quality. With this new sensor technology, they know the difference between a real fire and burnt toast.
Smart Sprinkler Control
Weather in our area is predictably unpredictable. Often, especially during the summer months, we fall into a severe drought. But then we might have one season that brings extreme amounts of rain, like we did this past spring.
A smart sprinkler controller like Rachio Iro can not only help save you lots of money on your water bill but also help protect our precious resources.
Programmable by computer or smart phone, it can automatically adjust how often you water your lawn based on the season and the weather forecasts. You can also remotely adjust the settings through a mobile app.
Smart Solar Panels
You can put the sun to work for you by using solar technology to power your home. It’s green and renewable, and can save you money over the long term. A recent study conducted by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center determined that Austin customers who invested in a solar system saved an average of $66 per month during the first year that they owned the system.
With smart solar panels, you can program the technology to monitor their performance and even turn them off in case of a weather emergency or fire.
Smart Home Security Systems
Home monitoring has become much more sophisticated in recent years. With the old-style security systems, you had to call in contractors to wire your home with monitoring sensors.
With new smart technology, you can simply place a few smart devices in your home to monitor movement and sense whether doors and windows are closed or opened. Some systems include audio and video monitoring, as well as sirens to scare off intruders. You get real-time feedback on security breaches through an app. And, because you’re alerted as soon as the system senses an intruder, it’s more likely that they will be caught.
Canary is one popular all-in-one audio-video security system, complete with sirens and night vision.
Smart Locks
Go beyond the standard key locks, which can often be compromised by burglars. The new smart lock systems give you more control over those who can gain access to your home.
Some systems, like the Kwikset Kevo, include encrypted virtual keys that you can program for access for a limited amount of time—for example, allowing guests over for a weekend, or cleaning service in during a specific window of time.
Other door locking systems include biometric technology. The Ola smart lock allows you to program your lock to recognize your family member’s fingerprints. Other systems use facial recognition to greet you and unlock your door.
The new August smart lock integrates with Apple’s technology so you can ask Siri to open your door for you.
Smart lighting systems and light bulbs
A well-lit home feels warm and welcoming, and good lighting can instantly increase the value of your home.
However, annual lighting costs can account for up to 12% of your overall electric bill, or over $200 per year according to Energy Star. You can easily reduce this expense simply by using smart lighting technology to add efficiency.
The Philips Hue wifi-enabled lights make it easy to add to your home without installing specialized equipment. Smart lighting dimmers and sensors can give you more control over how much energy you use and allow you to turn them on and off through your smart phone.
New smart light bulbs can give you control over the warmth or coolness levels of your lighting. With the Lifx LED light bulbs, for example, you can program your light bulbs to turn on or off when you want, to slowly wake you up with increasing illumination, or to change from daytime work lighting to entertainment-friendly shades for parties.
Smart Appliances
Programmable slow cookers and coffee makers are the quaint, old-fashioned versions of these home conveniences. Newer, smart appliances give you more control over how your food is kept and prepared, and make it easier for you to complete pesky household chores.

  • Newer coffee makers, like the Smarter coffee machine, let you ‘order’ your coffee exactly to your liking, adjusting everything from bean grind to temperature to strength to time that it’s ready to drink.
  • Smart refrigeration technology can help you store your food at just the right temperature, adjusting the thermostat during peak usage times. For example, the LG THINQ fridge can alert you via smart phone app if a door is accidentally left open.
  •  Smart ovens can ensure that your food is cooked to the right level of done-ness, and alert you when your meal is ready to eat. June, a new counter oven invented by former Google, Apple, Go-Pro and Path employees will give you even more control—it will contain cameras, thermometers, and other technology to ‘learn’ what you like to eat and make menu suggestions.
  •  Smart washers and dryers have customizable controls so that you can safely wash any type of fabric. Some units include controls to increase drying time to save energy. And soon, connected appliances from GE, Oster, Samsung, and other makers, will be able to re-order soap and fabric softener directly from Amazon, so you won’t even have to think about running to the store at the last minute.


Have you tested any of these technologies in your home? Did we miss any of your favorite home technologies? Let us know in the comments!