High-Tech Home Trends that Are Here to Stay
Think about it: With smartphones and tablets now integrated into the daily life of most Americans, it's only natural that we want the same ease of interaction from the appliances we use every day.
That's why high-tech home innovations are becoming more of an expected standard, whether it's an LCD display that lets you turn lights on and off from any room in your home to "smart" kitchen appliances that remember your preferences.
A great example is the Samsung refrigerator model that for around $2700 comes with Wi-Fi, apps, and this 8-inch LCD screen.
Not only can you use it to connect to the Internet and instantly read recipes from Epicurious, you can also keep digital shopping lists, get the latest news and weather, and listen to streaming music from Pandora with its built-in speakers.
Essentially, the only thing it doesn't do is text you when you're running low on milk. (But not to worry, the soon-to-be-released Milkmaid smart milk jug will. :)
Really Smart Home Thermostats
People don't often get emotional about thermostats, but apparently the Nest is an exception. Designed by the same person who helped design the iPod, this thermostat recently inspired a gushing review from New York Times tech blogger David Pogue, who loved the "gorgeous" look, the Wi-Fi, and the fact that free smartphone apps let you program it remotely.
Most importantly, however, it is likely to save you much more money than a typical programmable thermostat. The crucial difference is that most people never program their thermostats, whereas the Nest intuitively learns your preferences and even adjusts itself based on sensors that indicate whether or not someone is in the home.
At its current price of around $250, the Nest is one of the lower-priced smart thermostats.
Move over gas, there's a new kid in town! Actually, induction cooking (which uses a magnetic field to create heat in the cooking vessel rather than the stove surface) has been popular in Europe for a while, but it is only now really catching on in the U.S. According to a survey by Thermador, 88 percent of people aged 33 to 54 who were planning a kitchen remodel in the next year were interested in induction cooking.
Unlike traditional electric cooktops, induction cooktops maintain a constant temperature and can bring water to a simmer instantly. They also release less heat than either gas or traditional cooktops, and can bring water to a boil faster than a gas cooktop.
Induction cooktops start at around $1200 and go up from there. One thing to note is that you'll need to use metal pots and pans; basically, if a magnet will stick to the cooking vessel, it can be used for induction cooking.
If you've heard all about systems that let you remotely program your home's lights, appliances, security system, and more from your smartphone but just haven't gotten around to implementing anything yet, here's an item that is very useful and easy to get started with:
An electronic keypad lock is perfect for occasions when you need to let guests or workers into your home. You can program it with new entry codes from your computer and smartphone, and it will tell you when and by whom your home is being accessed. While not on the same level as a complete "smart home" system, a remotely controlled door lock is a very handy feature that makes your home easier for anyone to use.
Schlage sells a whole remote system as a package for vacation rental owners for around $500, but if you want to skip the light and thermostat monitoring and just use the deadbolt you can buy it, along with the necessary wireless bridge, for around $300. There is then a continuing monthly fee of around $9.
Are you planning to buy or sell a home, or do you know someone who is? Please call or email me - I'm never too busy to help you and the people you care about with real estate.
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or medical advice.)