Classic television shows such as The Jetsons and films such as Back the Future imagined the world we live in today quite differently with space sprockets, flying cars and talking robots. However, on closer reflection, it’s possible to see some ways that our present lives can live up to the hype.
Modern advances in home automation can help you feel as though you’re living in the future. The nice thing is that automation is easier to use and more available than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it has lost its novelty or its cool factor.
Easy home automation is spreading to multiple aspects of the modern home. In fact, most people have relied on some form of automation for years. For instance, thermostats can turn HVAC systems on and off depending on the temperature. Timers can turn lights on and off while you are on vacation, and your dryer knows when your clothes need another round to eliminate wrinkles.
The Benefits of Smart Home Technology
What’s different — and often amazing — about today’s automation is just how smart it is. It used to be that controlling automation required a certain amount of expertise — remember the running joke about setting the timer on a VCR? But modern, smart automation technologies are incredibly intuitive to use, increasing both their popularity and their utility.
To be sure, modern automation around the house is useful for much more than just the “future factor.” It looks cool and it can be wonderfully luxurious, yes, but it can also have a great deal of practical benefits. For example, there are some automation devices that can make your home more energy efficient — saving you money in the long run.
There are also automation devices that can reduce your home’s carbon footprint, improving the state of the environment. And, of course, given how intuitive the operation of modern-day automated devices can be, these devices can help make your life easier. For example, when you have windows or skylights, installing automated blinds can give you greater control over when sunlight — and how much sunlight — enters your home.
Not only do automated shades, therefore, make your home more comfortable, but they also save you energy by holding warm air in when you want it and keeping that same warm air out when you don’t. In other words, raising and lowering your shades at the right time allows your home to take advantage of the Greenhouse Effect when it’s beneficial but also to let that warm air out when you don’t want it.
Of course, automated shades are just the beginning. There are dozens of in-home automated technologies available today. And the benefits of smart home technology can be easily seen.
Perhaps the most recognizable automated technology within most homes is the thermostat. Even older thermostats used some degree of automation by switching on when the temperature hit a specific point, and switching off when the temperature moderated. However, modern thermostats also have the advantage of being smart, making them a great piece of the easy home automation puzzle.
Smart devices can provide users with a degree of control that would otherwise be impossible. For example, smart thermostats can be programmed ahead of time to respond to certain criteria. For example, you can program your thermostat to keep your house warm when you’re home but to turn the heat off when you’re at work. This can save you significant costs on your energy bill.
Smart thermostats can also be controlled from many smart devices. In other words, you can change the temperature of your home from your mobile phone, even if you are nowhere near your house. That affords homeowners a significant amount of control over the temperature of the home, meaning the homeowner can respond to the weather (or changes in schedule) immediately.
The advantages of a smart house with a smart thermostat include:
- Smart thermostats can learn your schedule, meaning you no longer have to worry about when to turn the heat up or turn the AC off.
- Smart thermostats can give you a window into the health of your home (for example, if the temperature of your home suddenly spikes, you know something is terribly wrong).
- Smart thermostats can send you emails and alerts when the temperature changes or when the thermostat responds to certain conditions.
- Modern smart thermostats are intuitive to use, meaning anyone can program them.
- Smart thermostats give you data concerning your energy/HVAC usage, so you can be more analytical in your usage.
- Smart thermostats can save you money by saving you energy.
It should be noted that one of the things that makes modern “smart” thermostats so titled is they can learn from your behavior. In other words, your thermostat can get to know you, meaning you can let it do all the thinking about heating or cooling your home.
Automated Window Treatments
Sometimes controlling the temperature of your home is not enough. Controlling the amount of light that gets into your home also provides a smart home investment opportunity. One way to do that — in fabulous style — is through automated blinds. Many modern homes place an emphasis on letting light into the home, and the lighter, the better.
However, many windows and skylights can be difficult to reach. Add to this the sheer number of windows and skylights that can accumulate in a home, and a seemingly simple chore — opening the blinds — can become difficult and time-consuming. The solution is investing in automated window treatments.
Blinds for Windows
We are, perhaps, all familiar with horizontal shades and blinds for windows. Traditionally, these blinds had a pull-string, which raised and lowered the blinds, and a twisting rod, which opened and closed the blinds. This afforded the homeowner a wide range of possible light levels in the home.
The problem is that these cords and rods tend to give blinds an inelegant look along with greater safety hazard potential, despite their time-honored utility. The solution, therefore, is a remote-controlled, automated system, such as those offered by ZebraBlinds.com. Smart home-motorized blinds remove the manual controls for a much more elegant look while offering safer operation for your family.
Adding to this elegance is the wide variety of high-end materials used in these products. Manually operated blinds need to be relatively lightweight for ease of use. But automated blinds can be constructed from more robust —and, therefore, heavier — materials, allowing for an increase in overall elegance. There are also easy-install motorized blinds options.
These blinds, such as Graber Virtual Cord Shades, can be used in many areas of the home — from privacy windows in bathrooms to large patio doors and main room windows.
Remote control blinds benefits include:
- Increase the elegance of your home.
- Choose from a wide variety of materials and formats.
- Increase the ease with which you control the amount of light entering your home.
- Impress neighbors and friends with your smart home.
- Easy-install motorized blinds are great for the do-it-yourself type
Automated Shades for Skylights
In a never-ending effort to achieve more light in the home, many builders and contractors have begun installing skylights. Skylights, after all, are a great solution when windows would be impractical or prohibited. However, skylights can create their own challenges.
First and foremost, the light coming through a skylight can be difficult to control. Traditional means of opening and closing blinds are, simply put, out of reach with skylights. The solution that many homeowners opt to employ is a set of automated shades for skylights.
These automated skylight shades can be easily be opened or closed with a remote or via an app on your smart phone using advanced Radio Frequency Technology to control individual or groups of skylight shades from a distance of up to 65 feet in most cases. The technology can also be synced with handheld remotes, wireless wall switches and programmable timers to maximize home security and energy efficiency.
In addition there is a Mezzo Solar Recharge Upgrade option on models such as the Motorized Skylight Cellular Shade offered by Crown that converts the sun’s light into electrical energy to harness the power of the sun and recharge the shade batteries – especially useful for out of reach skylights!
The advantages of a smart house with automated shades for skylights include:
- Easier control of the temperature of your home during sunny periods of the day.
- Allowing the smart shades to do the thinking for you, so you can simply forget about your skylight shades and enjoy the results.
- Having control over harsh sunlight entering your house around mid-day or afternoon.
- Enjoying the ambient light (and lower electric bills) that come with skylights.
A Wide Variety of Window Treatment Options
There are many smart window treatment options available. These window treatment additions are a wonderful way to make your home smarter, more energy efficient, and more elegant than it was before.
If you are interested in finding out more about automated window treatments, visit ZebraBlinds.com to learn how they can help you plan and learn more about automated window treatment options.
If there’s one thing we could all use a little help with, it’s remembering to turn off the light when we leave a room. Likely, we have all had one of those days where we leave the kitchen lights on all day while we’re at work. Unfortunately, this wastes not only electricity, but money as well. For every light left on in your home, over an eight-hour period, you will waste roughly 6 cents.
That might not seem like much, but leaving the light on tends to be habitual, so it’s likely something you do everyday. If you leave your kitchen light on, and your kitchen regularly runs five different bulbs, that’s 30 cents a day — or a more shocking number is nearly $110 a year.
This is a significant amount of money, especially if you are leaving on lights in multiple rooms. For those with memory-challenges (or those with busy lives), a solution may be to invest in smart light systems. There are several systems available, and most offer the following features:
- Remote controls for your lights, for example, via your smartphone.
- Motion-sensors for your lights, so your lights can be programmed to turn off when there is no motion.
- Smart systems get to know your movements, turning lights on when you’re going to be home and off when you aren’t.
- Timers to turn your lights on and off when you are on vacation.
- Automatic outdoor lights can turn on automatically when they detect motion, keeping your home safe and secure.
There are, of course, more ways your home may inadvertently be wasting electricity — and therefore money. Many smart lighting systems have principles that can also be applied to other electronic devices. In fact, many such devices exist to help cut down on the electricity used by “vampire” devices.
These “vampire” electronics are those that still use electricity even when off or in a stand-by mode, for example, most television sets, computers and video game systems. Using smart systems to help mitigate your power consumption should definitely be on your list of home automation ideas.
Benefits of Automated Technologies
Whatever automated technology you elect to have in your home, there is no doubt such technology will bring with it multiple benefits. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is only the tip of the iceberg: ease of living. Automated systems give you peace of mind and a certain inherent elegance in your home. You no longer have to think about setting your thermostat — it happens automatically. You never have to worry about opening or closing your blinds or turning your lights on and off, either.
The fact that all of this happens without you having to think about it means these tasks can be left in the background. Easy smart technology in the home is designed to give you more time for the things that are important: family time, dinner, leisure time and so on. You can worry less about your home and think more about your life. However, increasing your leisure time is not the only benefit that comes with these smart systems. In fact, there are many incredibly practical benefits.
Perhaps the most profound benefit of smart home technology is the savings on energy. Smart devices use energy more efficiently, generally saving the homeowner energy and money in the process. This is important on a global and national scale because the United States alone consumes 95 quadrillion BTUs of energy every year. For reference, 1 BTU is roughly equivalent to the energy from lighting a match.
So any amount of energy that smart systems can save homeowners is welcome. Thankfully, smart systems are quite good at saving energy for homeowners:
- As an example, Nest Thermostats can save the average homeowner 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling yearly.
- The Nest Thermostat can also save homeowners $131-$145 annually
- Heat lost through windows accounts for 10-25% of your heating bill, so using automated blinds to help mitigate that loss can help save homeowners money.
- During the summer, shading a room with automated blinds can significantly reduce the temperature of that room and save you money in the process.
- Smart devices can make multiple adjustments throughout the day.
- Many utility companies offer homeowners a rebate or a discount if they are able to successfully lower their utility bills.
Automated and smart systems take care of much of the minutia of owning a home. For consumers with special needs, this can mean the difference between being able to stay independent or not. Automated blinds, for example, can help those with special needs easily exercise their independence. The same is true of automated and smart thermostats. Smart devices can make homes more accessible and more livable.
These benefits also hold true for the elderly. As the human body ages, movement can become much more difficult — whether that movement is twisting a rod to close the blinds or getting out of bed to adjust the thermostat. Smart devices and smart infrastructure allow the elderly to remain comfortable and in control no matter how mobile they are.
The Right Choice for Your Home
Automation has many clear benefits, including more leisure time, added safety features, significant energy savings and an increase in the overall elegance of your home. It should come as no surprise, then, that investing in automated technology is also a good way to increase the resale value of your home. Automated technology is a great way not only to improve your home, but also to invest in your home.
The first place to start, for many homeowners, is by installing automated and smart window treatments. At ZebraBlinds.com, we specialize in providing the types of automated window treatments homeowners are looking for, from Graber Virtual Cord Shades to easy-install motorized blinds. By providing homeowners with easy-to-browse access to a wide variety of technologies, ZebraBlinds makes investing in your home a breeze.
The first place to start with your search should be the ZebraBlinds.com website. There, you will find smart home motorized blinds and home automation ideas. You will also find an inventory of products, organized by purpose, room, style or price. The idea is to make it easy for you to find what’s right for your home. Because every home is different, the design should be a reflection of the homeowner and the homeowner’s desires.
Best of all, it’s easier than ever these days to turn your home into a smart home. Visit ZebraBlinds.com today and take the first steps towards investing in your home, along with personal safety and comfort.