When most homeowners think of Smart Homes, they think high-tech electronics, sophisticated security systems and high installation costs. While this is generally true, many smart appliances can achieve smart home goals without breaking the bank.
Large Smart Home upgrades can require major restructuring to the home’s electrical system and can cost between $10,000 - $250,000, depending on how ‘smart’ the home is. But homeowners can begin converting to a Smart Home simply by purchasing Smart Home Appliances.
These appliances range in features and cost, but can offer homeowners convenience, more control, peace of mind, independence and even help save on monthly bills. By upgrading in small steps, homeowners can receive the benefits of a Smart Home without breaking the bank.
1. Beyond Internet Coffee Maker
It seems like a very small place to start, but even a coffee maker can be the first step towards a Smart Home. The Beyond Internet Coffee Maker merges with the internet to give homeowners control over when they want a cup of coffee.
It has a built in ‘Grind and Brew’ like most other coffee makers, but it can be programmed and rescheduled to brew coffee from any web browser. This luxury means fresh coffee will be ready when you are instead of having to drink old coffee that has been sitting in the warming mode.
2. Fisher and Paykel Active Smart Refrigerator
The Active Smart Refrigerator from Fisher and Paykel may look like a regular fridge but it offers much more than that. The main feature of this fridge is the Active Smart System which has two variable speed fans to provide faster cooling and heating throughout each level of the fridge and freezer. The system continually adjusts the flow of cold air based on daily use; making sure the temperature is at a safe degree for food freshness.
The Humidity Control System allows you to customize the humidity for each crisper drawer and the Variable Capacity Compressor allows for greater energy efficiency. The door also comes with an alarm to alert homeowners if the fridge door has been left open; another way to help reduce wasted energy and lower monthly bills. Everything can be controlled using the External Electronic Interface.
3. Whirlpool Centralpark Refrigerator
During CES 2008, Whirlpool unveiled their concept for an intelligent refrigerator that they believe will help unclutter consumers’ kitchens and maximize efficiency.
The Whirlpool Centralpark Refrigerator has a plug and play platform for consumer electronics that clears countertops and clutter from the front of the fridge. With the centralpark connection, homeowners will have an interchangeable connection point where they can connect their cellphone or photo frame. Homeowners can also connect iPods or digital music players, for music on demand while they are busy in the kitchen.
Beyond photos and music, there are several other add-ons available such as the Cozi Family Organizational Software that can help families manage schedules and tasks, as well as the Quartet Qnote Message Center by Acco Brands that offers a superior dry-erase writing surface that’s completely customizable.
4. Multimedia Hoods
The Imago+ Multimedia Hood from Faber worries less about energy efficiency and more about added convenience and entertainment. This steel/glass kitchen hood houses a 19-inch LCD TV with a 1,440 x 900 resolution and 850:1 contrast ratio. This TV has an analog and digital tuner, on board recipes, Internet, video call, multimedia player, webcam and USB input.
ILVE has their own version of a multimedia hood called VELA. It only comes with a 10-inch LCD TV built in, but also has a remote control and a RCA input/output for hooking up a cable box, DVD player, or game console.
With these multimedia hoods, homeowners can watch their favorite cooking show, receive a video call and keep an eye on their children in the next room.
5. The Ultimate Kitchen Combo
Rather than focusing on improving just one home appliance, John Lewis has decided to tackle them all and create the Ultimate Kitchen Combo. This combo is a 4-in-1 system that includes a wall mounted coffee machine, an electric oven, a steam oven, and a 19-inch LCD TV.
This kitchen-in-1 provides all the basic cooking necessities and surprisingly, looks incredibly sleek and uncluttered.
6. Demy Recipe Reader
For the homeowner who can’t afford purchasing new major appliances, the Demy Recipe Reader by Key Ingredient can still add intelligence to your kitchen. This 7-inch display touchscreen has storage for up to 2,500 recipes, three kitchen timers, a measurement conversion calculator, an ingredient substitution dictionary and USB connectivity for syncing with a PC. It’s also guaranteed ‘kitchen-safe’.
7. Verizon Hub Home Phone
Verizon Wireless has just launched an intelligent home phone called the Verizon Hub that’s designed to replace old fashioned home phones with a sophisticated home communication system that merges landline and wireless connectivity.
The Hub comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display that has the ability to sync your calendar, traffic, weather reports, and of course, contacts. The Hub allows for texting from your home phone for those text addicts and can even order pizza, provide maps and directions, and preview trailers for upcoming movies. The Hub uses your existing broadband connection and will work with current Verizon wireless subscribers.
8. Smart Meters
New to the US market, Smart Meters are an advanced electrical meter that will offer homeowners an entirely new way of managing their electricity use and monthly bills. Smart Meters will record the total household electricity consumption hour by hour and then send this information real-time to the utility company.
By doing this, Smart Meters will provide an economical way of measuring this information and allow price setting agencies to introduce new prices for consumption based on time of day or season. By billing customers based on how much electricity they use at certain times of day, it will force them to adjust consumption habits and be more responsive to market prices. These meters will also help control the rapid increase of electricity prices and reduce the need to purchase energy from higher priced sources.
Currently California is looking to install 5.3 million Smart Meters between 2009 and 2012. It’s also hoped that this same process can be applied to natural gas and water consumption.
9. Smart Thermostats
Smart Thermostats are interactive ‘communicating’ thermostats that can ‘talk’ with each other and help reduce unnecessary use of the home’s heating and cooling systems. They can manage and adjust the home’s energy consumption based on current prices and necessity.
Smart Thermostats can even be programmed to allow homeowners to create heating and cooling schedules based on time of day or if the home is vacant or occupied. If you have zoned heating and cooling, these thermostats can be programmed to heat certain areas of the home at certain times.
By programming a Smart Thermostat to work around your schedule, homeowners can save as much as 30 percent annually. These thermostats also use the home’s heating and cooling more efficiently which has a positive impact on the environment and on the homeowner’s monthly energy bills. EcoBee’s Smart Thermostat promises to pay for itself in energy cost savings by the first year and a half of use.
10. Smart Home Lighting
In the US, home lighting accounts for 20% of all electricity consumed and 50% of that is wasted on inefficient light sources, such as unoccupied rooms. By using Smart Home Lighting, homeowners can use indoor and outdoor lighting more efficiently which will help conserve energy and save them money.
One of the most common and easiest forms of Smart Home Lighting is a dimmer switch or a dimmer module. By programming dimmer switches to turn on and off only when needed, they can potentially save up to 60% more energy and make your bulbs last up to 20 times longer. Homeowners can even add motion sensors that automatically turn off the lights when no one is in the room for increased efficiency.
There are several areas homeowners can use Smart Home products to improve their life, and Smart Appliances are only one part. The home automation market continues to grow every year and new products are being developed that are more affordable, more efficient, and more convenient.
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