Smart Homes: Love them or loathe them?

“Did you know there’s an app for that now?”

Smart home

Switching on a lightbulb, boiling the kettle, locking the front door… don’t strain yourself, there’s now some new, fandangled device that will do that for you.

But do we really need them?

A smart home seems like a whole lot of hassle to me. Is it really that hard to flick a switch to turn on a light or walk back from the car to check you’ve locked the front door?

Now even our old mate Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, is creeping into our homes – well actually it’s some far distant cousin of her’s, Alexa, created my shopping giant Amazon.

Like an extremely obliging flatmate, Alexa will move into your home and help you with anything from adding something to your shopping list or ordering you a pizza. Just say “Alexa” and ask away – she’s always listening – that’s not even a little bit creepy…

 

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The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice – digital assistant Alexa can provide you with news, play music and help you with your shopping list.

But unlike a flatmate, Alexa takes up just a little bench space and won’t steal your food – well not yet anyway, who knows what she’ll get up to when you’re not looking.

Is anyone really that time-poor that they can’t write down on a notepad, or the notes app on their phone, that they’ve run out of milk?

It just seems like these inventions are solving problems we don’t really have.

And before anyone jumps to any conclusions, no this blogger is not over-70 bemoaning those “bloody kids and their gadgets” (despite her use of the word “fandangled” earlier.)

In fact, I’m actually a millennial. I love my iPhone – it makes so many aspects of my life much easier, but I’m quite capable of turning on a light when I walk into a room and I don’t think my life is poorer for it.

Granted, some of the smart home technology is pretty, well, smart – so maybe one day I’ll come around…


Take a look at some of the technology that could turn your humble abode into a smart home:

Smart Lock

Lock and unlock your door, create virtual keys for guests, and keep track of who comes and goes, all from your smartphone with the August Smart Lock.


Smart Kettle

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Haven’t got a few minutes to wait for the kettle to boil? Then the internet-connected iKettle could have water boiled ready for your tea when you arrive in the kitchen. Just get on the app and schedule it for when you wake up.


Smart Plug

WeMo Switch + Motion

Plug anything into the Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion device and you’ll be able to turn it on and off from your phone and schedule it to come on automatically.


Smart Security Lighting

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These BeOn’s smart bulbs will keep shining when the power goes out, turn on automatically when they hear your doorbell or alarm, and even replay your typical lighting patterns when you’re not home.


Robot Vacuum Cleaner

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These little guys will drive around your home, hoovering up everything in their path and then head on back to their charging stations before starting all over again.

Now, this seems like a great timesaver but our robot vacuum is just sitting in the corner gathering dust as it was just too noisy and kept getting stuck around the house. But who knows, maybe this model is better? 


Smartphone Interactive Home Camera

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Watch over your home via your smartphone with this portable sphere. Just place it in the room you want to capture and login live via the app so you can see, save and share what’s happening at home. You can even talk through it – so if your dog has started chewing the furniture again, maybe a bit of a talking to over the app will confuse him enough to stop.


What do you think of smart home technology? Is there some technology you now couldn’t live without in your home?

Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook pages.

Tips for an energy efficient home.

apartment

“Sustainable living” and “energy efficiency” are phrases we hear a lot these days and how energy efficient and ‘green’ a property is can make a big difference when it comes to buying or selling. Whether your motivation is saving the environment, saving your wallet or a bit of both, read on for a few simple tips for meeting your goal.

Wrap up

Staying cool in summer and warm in winter are basic comforts of life; efficient heating and cooling systems are therefore high on the priority list for prospective buyers.

When it comes to making your house more energy efficient, insulation is the key, and not just for keeping warm. Insulation acts as a barrier to heat gain as well as heat loss. It is particularly important in roofs and ceilings, walls and floors.

Effective insulation is a plus on many levels: increasing comfort levels, reducing reliance on powered heating and cooling systems therefore making your home more ‘green’ while saving you money at the same time. Some types of insulation can even act as soundproofing.The simple solution of adding blinds on windows can also reduce heat gain by up to 50%.

blindsFocus on Efficiency

Ensure any appliances you have in your home are as energy efficient as possible. Studies have shown that residential properties commonly have air conditioners that are 50% bigger than needed, thus costing you more for no extra benefit.
Installing the air conditioner in a shady place can increase its efficiency by up to 10%.

Complement air conditioner use with ceiling fans. They are an efficient way to circulate air in the house and far cheaper to run than an air conditioner.

Water Works

Water efficiency is another important area to consider and can be as simple as fixing a leaky tap. A dripping hot water tap can waste a massive 12,000 litres of hot water over a year!

Your bathroom fittings and fixtures will all make a difference to water efficiency, measured using the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme. Ideally showerheads, mixers, even the loo, should have a high WELS rating. For example, a 3-star rated showerhead will use approximately 6-7 litres of water per minute, compared to regular showerheads which can use up to 25 litres per minute.

bathroom

These simple energy efficiency fixes will not only add comfort to your home but a valuable point of difference when it comes to marketing your home for sale.

 

 

Real estate photography and content thanks to the team at Open2view Sydney