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It’s the Little Things: Simple Home Automation Tech to Make Your Life Easier

It’s the Little Things: Simple Home Automation Tech to Make Your Life Easier

It’s the big things that make a house safe. The roof that keeps you dry; the plumbing and electrical that keep you protected and comfortable; the HVAC and thermal envelope that ensures you are insulated from the weather outside. But it’s the little things that make a house home. The hand-made throw on the sofa; the antique knobs reclaimed from a previous home; the locally-sourced artwork; the nightlight that guides your way; the appliance that reminds you to pick up milk! 

Simple home automation technology integrates seamlessly and discretely, but quickly makes itself indispensable. Which smart features can help make your life more simple, streamlined, and convenient? 

Simple Home Automation Tech That Makes a World of Difference 

Home automation technology takes over many tedious to-dos, freeing more time from conscientious effort and tasks so we have more to spend on what really matters… living and enjoying our homes.

1. Motion Sensor Lights for Toe Kicks

Late night and early morning trips to the bathroom and kitchen are about to get a lot more convenient and safe (particularly for your toes!). Toe kicks are a useful detail in their own right: this recessed area at the bottom of base

cabinets or vanities allow you to move around your space more comfortably. Adding motion sensor lights for the toe kicks is a simple way to make your life that much easier.  

LED lights are ultra-efficient and convenient – and they add a lovely, contemporary touch to your kitchen and/or bathrooms. For the toe kicks, you’ll go with a directional rope light, tape light, or hybrid to meet the needs of the confined area, and they will fit in seamlessly, discreetly, and elegantly. 

When selecting motion sensor toe kick lights, consider: 

  • Color temperature. A high Kelvin measurement (e.g. 5000k – 6500k) produces a cool bluish-white light, while a lower measurement (e.g. 2700k – 3000k) offers a yellow tone. For best results, we recommend staying in the middle range for a white/neutral light (3500k – 4100k) – but the choice is yours depending on your preferences. 
  • Brightness. Again, middle ground is your friend. Because the toe kick lights are not the main source of lighting, opt for a low – medium output (200 – 500 lumen/foot or 80 – 200 lumen/foot). This will provide just the right level of brightness for your needs. 
  • Motion sensor option. And, of course, you want to make sure that every time you walk into the kitchen or bathroom, the light automatically turns on and then turns off after you’ve exited.  

Don’t fumble your way around; proceed with confidence (and skip the stubbed toes).

2. Smart Leak Technology

How often do you think about your plumbing? If you’re like most of us, the answer is, “Not a whole lot.” That is… until you have a leak. Even then, you may not notice anything amiss until you have water pooling or more serious damage. The reality is that, even in new and newly renovated homes, leaks can happen. With smart leak technology, though, you can be proactive in addressing these issues.  

The smart leak system monitors water flow in your home with help from strategically placed sensors (e.g. at faucets, washing machine and other appliances, tubs, toilets, water heaters, etc.). Your solution should include integrated shut-off valves. When the sensors detect abnormal water usage (i.e. a leak), they automatically cut off water supply. This. Is. Huge. By immediately springing into action, it significantly mitigates damage. Many systems can also detect when pipes are vulnerable to freezing – which can save you untold time, money, and hassle.  

Smart leak technology offers connectivity to your smartphone via app. Not only will you receive alerts about abnormal water issues, you can use this to program the system and customize shut-off settings based on your needs and water usage habits. A simple investment can save thousands in terms of preventing water loss and property damage; certainly a smart move.

3. Smart Speakers 

Whether you are preparing coq au vin in the kitchen or sudsing your way through a relaxing evening, a hands-free way to access your music, news, weather, or favorite binge-worthy podcast is always welcome. Smart speakers are not a new addition to homes, but they are one of the most useful.  

In addition to tunes and the latest headlines, you can easily: 

  • Stay connected (Go ahead, Google that recipe!) 
  • Set reminders or timers 
  • Adjust your thermostat  
  • Interact with other smart technologies (smart lights, locks, shades, etc.) 
  • Access your virtual assistant 

The time you spend in your kitchen or bath can be that much more satisfying and productive. When you remodel or build, think about integrating space in your kitchen, bath, or whole home for smart speakers to be installed or stored discreetly and out of the way.

4. Air Quality Monitor 

If these last few years have clarified anything for us, it’s the importance of maintaining a safe and comfortable home.

Optimizing air quality – and protecting the health and wellbeing of our household members – is key. Again, even new and newly remodeled homes can have issues in this regard, whether it’s from outside sources like pollen or internal factors like excessive humidity or pet dander. 

A smart air quality monitor features discrete sensors integrated into a single hub. It collects readings and monitors temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, VOCs, PM 2.5 (tiny particulate pollutants), radon, and carbon dioxide levels. If anything is amiss or levels are not optimal, you’ll receive a notification or alert via your smartphone. Many models also work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other virtual assistants. 

This smart home automation technology makes life – and breathing! – easier. 

5. Smart Appliances

It’s not the number of gadgets and gizmos that make smart appliances smart. It’s what they can do to enhance your life and make it easier and more streamlined. With a smart refrigerator, for example, you can: 

  • Create grocery lists that syncs to your phone in real-time 
  • Track expiration dates and set reminders to use food while it’s fresh (less wasted fruit and veg? We’re in!)
  • Receive alerts when you are running low on staple items (e.g. milk, eggs, your favorite coffee creamer, wine, or cheese… anything) 
  • Access meal suggestions incorporating the items you have in the fridge 
  • Access recipes that can be read aloud as you follow along – hands-free 
  • Keep track of your family’s schedule 
  • Set individual profile for household members, which can include personalized to-dos and reminders 
  • View the interior of your refrigerator via internal camera to make shopping and meal prep a breeze 
  • Order groceries directly from the touchscreen 
  • Access the internet, watch videos, listen to music, etc. 
  • Create a personalized recipe database  
  • Leave messages for the family via a “whiteboard” feature  
  • Interact with other smart devices 

Today, even microwaves are smart. Compatible with virtual assistants, you can: 

  • Start cooking cycles with your smartphone and receive alerts when your food is finished  
  • Scan the barcode on packaged items for proper cooking  
  • Access customized quick settings tailored to your usage and most commonly cooked foods (the microwave takes care of tracking and creating this) 
  • Access recipes, which can be read aloud and accompanied by photos or video 
  • Take advantage of different cooking options, such as convection, toasting, crisping, browning, or air-frying 
  • Prevent overcooking with moisture sensors that continually monitor your food 
  • Conserve energy with power-saving mode 

The point of smart appliances isn’t to have a laundry list of “wow, that’s cool” features that you’ll never use – but a handful of great, useful options that you will 

Simple, Beautiful, Life 

The beauty of these (and other) home automation technologies is that they make life easier, more streamlined, and more convenient. If we can cross off a few to-dos from our list without sacrificing any more time or energy, we’re all for it! Incorporating a few simple solutions that enhance our experience and make home more home is the very definition of “smart.”  

Have ideas for home automation tech that will make it even easier to love where you live? Connect with ACo; we’d love to hear about your vision. 

 

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