Get Smart: 5 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Smart Home
By Mikkie Mills
Smart homes are rapidly gaining popularity. Being able to control numerous features of your home even while you are away is not only convenient, but it can increase security. There are all kinds of ways to turn your home into a smart home. Some are a little more expensive than others. The following five home automation steps can help you get started.
1. Control your appliances from your smartphone.
You can invest in new appliances that have this feature, or you can replace electrical devices, such as sockets or plugs, with a smart version. A smart power strip is another option. It is as simple as plugging it in and connecting your devices or appliances. Each plug in the power strip works independently. Android and Apple are supported by the power strip and you can control these devices from anywhere. You can turn any appliance on or off, get notifications when a television, computer, or other device is turned on, monitor carbon monoxide levels, and more.
2. Know how to control the security system.
Although most people have security systems in place, it is very beneficial to be able to control them from anywhere. When automated access is used, you can limit access to certain areas of the home, such as your office. In addition, your phone can notify you in the event of a problem even when you are not home. Cameras can be used so that you can see every room in your home from your smartphone. Outdoor cameras will allow you to see who has been on your property when you are at work or elsewhere.
3. Save energy by adding your heating and cooling to an automation system.
If you are gone all day and want to keep heating or cooling costs down, you simply lower or raise the temperature setting. Then you can put it on a comfortable level a half hour or so before you will arrive home. This gives the home time to warm up or cool down before you get home, so you are not heating or cooling an empty house. You can also control blinds with this system, allowing sunlight in for your plants and helping to warm the home during the winter.
4. Learn how to communicate with your home.
You can control your home using technology similar to what is used when you talk to your smartphone to tell it to dial numbers or look up information. Microphones and a software program which is put on your computer is the simplest way to set up your home to respond to voice commands. The system is set up to recognize words or a phrase to perform virtually anything from turning on or dimming lights to opening drapes, turning on music, enabling or disabling alarms, and more. If you want to know what the weather is like before going out, simply ask. The systems can be set up to answer questions, as well. There are many systems to choose from and with advances in technology, they are doing more and becoming less expensive.
5. Install a home theater system.
An automated home theater system will provide you with the feel of a movie theater in your home. Movies, videos, music, and more can be streamed throughout your home and even in outdoor areas used for entertaining. An app for your smartphone is simple to use to control all of this and more. Control the lighting for optimal viewing of movies. The sound can be adjusted, providing you with surround sound that is more like what is experienced in movie theaters.
These are just a few of the ways of making your home smart. Not only does an automated system in your home provide convenience and comfort, but it will also give you peace of mind.
7 Things to Remove From Your Home When We list It
When listing your home, there are a lot of things to think about. How you stage your space should definitely be at the top of that list. While you may not have the means to bring in a pro stager, you can put your best foot forward by removing the following from your space.
Family photos. While these treasures may mean the world to you, personal items like this make it difficult for a potential buyer to imagine themselves in your space. Pack up these photos for the move—you’ll need to do this eventually anyway, so consider it a head start.
Odors. From a musky basement to the closet where the kitty litter box is kept, odors in your home are a huge turn off. Rip up mildewed carpet, open windows, light candles–whatever you need to do to keep a buyers nose from wrinkling.
Clutter. While you may love your corners stacked high with books and your shelves piled with mementos and knick-knacks, clutter can be distracting for buyers. Pick a few key items to leave out on shelves and pack the rest away.
Non-neutral design elements. Black lights in the basement or lacy, frilly curtains in the sunroom may seem fun to you, but these bold design elements can throw a buyer. Create a neutral atmosphere wherever possible.
Junk. Clear any old, unused items from your closets, storage spaces, basement and attic. You’re going to have to get rid of these items when you move anyway, so you may as well do this now so your buyer can envision their own items filling up these spaces.
Pets. While it may not be possible to banish your furry friends while your home is for sale, you can make sure they’re out of the way when a buyer is visiting. You never know what allergies or fears buyers may have, so put the animals outside or bring them over to grandmas for an hour, if possible.
Worn-out furniture. That sagging, stained couch in the basement may not be a big deal to you, but it can be an eyesore to an outsider. An empty space is better than a poorly furnished space, so adjust where needed.
When listing with me, I provide a complimentary stager, who will go over the items that need to be taken care of prior to staging and sale to help get you top dollar for your home.
Contact me for more details. Judy Gratton 206-276-3289
Preparing Your Home for Autumn: Maintenance Tips for the End of Summer
It’s almost time. Sigh. Summer is drawing to a close, like it or not.
Before the leaves fall and the wind turns chilly, it’s a good idea to do some seasonal maintenance on your home. Here are some things to add to your fall “honey-do” list.
Have your furnace inspected. It’s smart to have your heating system serviced before you actually need to use it. Experts say that as much as 75 percent of the calls they receive about homeowners without heat are a result of not having the furnace serviced and cleaned. It will also keep your heating costs down and help keep the air in your home healthy.
Apply a fresh coat of paint. Interior painting requires good ventilation, so the best time to tackle a paint spruce-up is the time of year when you can open up your windows.
Inspect your roof. You’ll want to check for shingles that are cracked, buckling, or missing. Check for caulking that needs to be replaced, or moss or lichen, which could indicate deterioration underneath. If you don’t trust your own assessment, work with a certified inspector.
Check for mold. The humidity of summer can cause mold to flourish. Check locations such as around leaky pipes, basements, or areas that don’t get good ventilation. You will want to remove the mold as soon as possible. It’s wise to have this done by a professional.
Replace weatherstripping on doors. There could be gaps that you can’t see and that can jack up your energy costs. It’s a simple fix that can be done with items found at your local hardware store.
Check the airflow. Focus on areas like vents, the hood over your stove, dryer vents, baseboard heaters and room fans. Not only is a buildup of dust a fire hazard, but you also want to keep the air flowing and the allergens at bay.
Get control of gutters and downspouts. Clogs in gutters and downspouts can cause the roof to leak, which can lead to a host of other problems. It’s a slippery slope from clogged gutters to water damage in your home!
Look over your siding. You’ll want to look for any areas on vinyl siding that are buckled or warped. If you have wood siding, look for curling, splitting or cracking. Should you find an issue, you’ll definitely want it taken care of before the weather gets cold!
Inspect your insulation. The most important area to check is your attic. You should have the highest concentration of insulation here. See if there are any gaps that need to be filled. You don’t need to check the insulation in your walls unless you notice heating issues.
Make sure your detectors are working. Ensure both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries. It’s smart to test them, also. Both are especially important once your furnace is in use.
Each season brings its own challenges and wear-and-tear on your home. With summer ending and autumn on the way, you can go into the new season secure that your home is in tip-top shape!
It’s High Time for High-Tech Homes
More houses are turning into high-tech hubs of connectivity and convenience. Technology, in fact, has become one of the improvements most requested by homeowners, reports the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA).
According to Matt Sneller, owner of Sneller Custom Homes and Remodeling in Spring, Texas, a low-voltage cabling and wiring infrastructure is the core of a connected home. The infrastructure supports everything from the alarm and audio systems to the HVAC and telephone.
Cameras are also a component in the connected home, says Bill Riley, owner of Bicycle Bungalows in Houston, Texas. Riley reports more of his clients are replacing costly security systems and monitoring services with self-controlled cameras.
LED lights are another sought-after, high-tech feature, due to their energy efficiency. Sneller recommends consulting with a cool lighting system company that offers products with geo-fencing technology, as well as smartphone control capability.
Appliance manufacturers have also joined the connected home club, now producing apps that allow homeowners to wirelessly control their appliances, and even take stock of the items within them, adds Riley.
According to Rob Douglass, owner of Texas Custom Patios, no high-tech home is complete without a connection to the outside. Douglass suggests installing a universal system that controls both indoor and outdoor features, such as a flat-screen television or surround-sound.
Source: Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA)