Control Your Home From Afar with ‘Smart’ Upgrades

If you’re looking for ways to increase your home’s value or boost your asking price when you sell, smart technology can have a big impact on your home’s desirability.

NestEarlier this year, Google announced its $3.2 billion cash purchase of Nest Labs Inc., best known for its smart thermostat and smoke alarm for residences. If Google is headed in the direction of smart home services, rest assured this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

Want your home to stand out as an energy-saving, tech-savvy gem? Consider adding one or more of these features:

1. Programmable energy savers

The pros at Consumer Reports say programmable thermostats can slash your energy bill by about $180 per year by automatically reducing your heating or cooling when you need it least. The Nest Learning Thermostat takes this concept a step further by learning your schedule and programming itself to raise and lower temperatures according to your routines. Not only will you be saving money, the next family to live in your home can also enjoy the financial benefits of a smart thermostat.

2. Smart lighting

Forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room? That simple failure to flip the switch can definitely affect your energy bill. Companies are beginning to offer “smart lighting” options, which allows you to control your home’s lighting via computer or mobile. “Connected” by TCP offers a starter pack that includes three bulbs, a remote and a gateway that controls your lighting. The home lighting kit works with both iPhone and Android devices, so you can easily control your LED lights at home or on the go.

3. Fiber-optic technology

When it comes to cable and Internet, fiber-optic technology is a green alternative to traditional coaxial copper wires because it is more energy efficient, lasts longer and is safer because the cables produce less heat. With more and more smart devices operating at the same time in your home – not counting your tablets, laptops and gaming consoles – you’ll probably notice a serious drain on your Internet connection if you’re using broadband Internet from cable, DSL or satellite providers.

Fiber-optic Internet technology gives you the capacity for greater Internet speeds – meaning you can have more wireless and smart devices in your home operating simultaneously with little to no effect on your online activities. The largest providers in the country are Verizon FiOS, Google Fiber and AT&T U-verse — but they have limited service areas. If your neighborhood is serviced by one of these providers, it’s a definite selling point.

4. Tankless water heaters

Heating water accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home’s energy budget, since your standard water heater keeps 40 to 80 gallons of water heated to 120 degrees or higher at all times during the day. Tankless water heaters have been gaining more and more traction in the past few years, since they heat water on-demand, reducing utility costs and environmental impact. The best part? You won’t run out of hot water mid-shower.

5. Remote-controlled shades

Closing the blinds to your windows is another way you can maintain the temperature in your home. Serena Shades are one remote-controlled product that can help you conserve energy and money each month. The Android- and iOS-controlled shades are also available as part of a whole-home lighting package offered by Lutron. Wireless shades allow you to raise and lower them from your phone – allowing you to easily manage your home’s light and heat from any location.

Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design. You can reach Alex via @alexiscaffrey or alexiscaffrey.com.

Source: http://www.zillow.com/blog/smart-upgrades-for-your-home-143935/

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