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Top 2014 home improvement trends: smart homes and home automation

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Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2013 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Fri Jan 3, 2014.

(BPT) - From smartphones to smart cars, technology is transforming virtually every aspect of our busy lives. Technologies not only make life easier while on the go, but new options are quickly simplifying life at home as well. Home automation is proving to be a top home improvement trend, making the Jetsons’ futuristic lifestyle more realistic than ever before.

Some experts are predicting 2014 will be the year of the smart home, but what does that mean to the average homeowner? The term smart home refers to a house with technology and automated features for things like heating, lighting and electronic devices. Automation is becoming the new norm in three main areas of the home.

1. Energy management and environmental impact

A home’s heating, cooling and electrical systems can be enhanced through home automation technologies. Boosting comfort levels, these technologies make it easier than ever to monitor energy and water usage, helping to reduce a family’s environmental footprint as well as their energy bill.

Imagine turning your lights on remotely or adjusting the heat so your home is toasty warm by the time you return from work. Home management systems like the Iris Comfort and Control Kit let you access and adjust comfort controls from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Monitor and control lights or the thermostat from anywhere with Internet access, making it easy to save energy while away. You can even add water leak detectors to plumbing spaces within the home and receive an alert if the sensor comes in contact with water, helping you to react faster to reduce property damage and water waste.

2. Streamlining the kitchen and cooking processes

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it’s no surprise that this area is getting a makeover thanks to technology enhancements. From basic motion-sensing faucets that eliminate the need for touching them with messy hands when cooking to appliances that think for you, the kitchen is a key component of a smart home.

For example, today’s dishwashers clean faster and more efficiently than ever, thanks to technology that assesses soil levels and adjusts cleaning intensities. Ovens now come with sensors that evenly heat dishes, eliminating the need to rotate pans or use baking stones. Refrigerators even come with options that allow you to rapidly cool or freeze foods when they need to be brought down to a lower temperature quickly for food safety purposes.

3. Safety and security of a property

Security systems have never been more interactive, and new options are surprisingly affordable for homeowners looking to take the first step toward upgrading to a smart home. The Iris Safe and Secure Kit is an inexpensive option that includes motion sensors, a keypad, and door, window and cabinet sensors. A novice DIYer can install the entire system in about an hour.

How does this system help your home to think smarter and be more secure? After installation, you will receive an email, text or call when an alarm sounds at home, allowing you to check in or alert authorities. Working parents find comfort in getting an alert when children arrive home from school or a package is delivered to the home.  You can even opt to have alerts contain video of the designated alarm event, such as a door or cabinet opening. The basic monitoring service is free, making this smart home security system fitting for virtually any budget.

As home automation looks to take off in 2014, it’s time to take control, manage your home and simplify your life. From saving money to conserving resources to keeping loved ones safe, a smart home is quickly becoming the home of the future.

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Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

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