There isn’t enough data to analyze an increase or decrease in crime levels during the pandemic. Some indicators show surges while others show massive declines. However, it is possible that with the latest viral wave brought on by the holidays, we’re apt to see increases. With no stimulus relief and the impending doom of unemployment come December the 31st, we could see a rise in crime rates. Homeowners should start thinking more about security options, including security drone technology, to protect home, life, and family.

Drone Security Activity.

Adding a drone to security options is relatively new, but don’t let that be a deterrent in your decision-making process to add it. Drones have a variety of features, and we recommend that you go for the whole enchilada. 

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Drone security works in this way. When a homeowner arms their security system, it brings online sensors strategically placed throughout the property. When a sensor gets triggered by an intruder, the alarm system immediately orders the drone to take flight and begin recording video and sound. Drones are programmed to go straight to the sensor area where they detect motion, zoom in their camera view, and follow the activity as it moves on the property, all while recording and sending the live feed to a DVR, PC, phone, or smart device. 

Meanwhile, the security system is alerting the authorities. Some security drones have the option of a live video feed. When the police arrive, they have a bird’s eye view of the property and know what area they need to respond to. Such capabilities keep them safe, and everyone else out of harm’s way. The perpetrator is dealt with quickly and efficiently with little risk of injury to anyone. 

Drone security is also effective for other emergencies. For example, if a fire emergency breaks out at home, the drone operates on its stored battery power, so even if the house loses power, the drone still works. It can switch from WiFi to network when needed, in the possible event that WiFi has lost power or destroyed. Again, the drone can send a live feed to responders showing them the exact location of a fire, which aids in faster response time and could save lives. Thanks to a drone, fires are dispatched quicker, lessening property damage and total loss of homes. There may be some insurance savings for having this feature as well. 

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Drone Housing And Maintenance.

Drones are housed inconspicuously and are generally undetectable. One would need to know what they were looking for to find one on a property. A drone’s housing may be in-ground, in shelters above the ground, and on rooftops. The housing works in unison with the drone, opening on the drone’s command when it needs to fly. There are various housing units to choose from, and most are designed to keep the weather at bay and climate-controlled to protect the drone inside. 

Maintenance seems to be simplified, requiring the most service to replace propellers. The security system, including the drone, should be tested frequently to ensure that it is fully operable for any emergency. It’s no different than trying your detectors and alarms to make sure they’re working correctly; add the drone to the test. 

Drone In Pursuit/Recovery And Homing.

Some security drones can track perpetrators and follow them, leaving a trail for authorities to follow. The drone emits a beacon, much like a rescue beacon, giving its current location while sending the live video feed to authorities. It’s advantageous in recovering property stolen from you by the perpetrator. A criminal that experiences apprehension because of a drone may have second thoughts about future criminal activities. Nobody escapes the eye in the sky, and that’s why police use helicopters. We use security drones for the same reason. 

Drones can be expensive, and we want to ensure that they can return home or be recovered after their mission. Most drones, especially the high-end drones, have home programming capabilities that enable them to return to their home-pad on command. Even some of the less expensive drones, or pleasure drones, have this feature. Drones can also be recovered on location by their owners or the authorities. Recording your drone’s serial number with local police agencies is a good idea. It allows them to notify the drone owner that it has been recovered and is available for pickup. Drones help build more substantial cases against criminals with the videos captured by them. 

Recommendations.

As with any smart home feature, we recommend that a professional, smart home integrator does the installation. Do-it=yourself models tend to cause issues and lead to problems later. Smarter Homes of Austin is just one of the best examples of a smart home integrator with staff and partners on hand to deal with all home technology aspects, even smart security. 

Adding a drone to your security lineup can help guard your home and family during the tough times ahead if there is an increase in crime levels. Why risk it without one?

What used to be just the place we lay our heads has become so much more as a result of the global pandemic. The full-scale impacts are inconceivable. 

As we reckon with this year of change, one thing that we need to acknowledge is our energy consumption. From lights and HVAC systems to WiFi and phone bills, residential utility usage is on the rise. The renewable energy company Arcadia found that just before the summer, consumers were expected to see a 10% increase in their utility bills for June, July and August. That percent increase doesn’t even include summer electricity bill surges. Pre-pandemic, the US was on track for a steady increase in annual energy consumption in all sectors. However, with everyone spending a lot more time at home, the brunt of that usage is now falling on residences.

Smart Homes were created to counter situations like the ones homeowners are facing now. They exist to create efficiency and turn overwhelming amounts of technology into human-error-proof luxuries that operate self-sufficiently. 

It’s safe to say that between transitioning to a permanent work from home situation and teaching kiddos how to use Zoom, most families are having technological epiphanies. Shouldn’t this be easier? Why isn’t my Wifi more reliable? We used how much electricity this month? I wish this technology were simple enough for the whole family. 

Features That Can Lower Your Utility Bills

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RELIABLE, WHOLE-HOME WIFI
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SMART, SCHEDULABLE APPLIANCES

Whole home WiFi is the true first step to creating a smart home. All smart technology functions on WiFi and without a reliable connection, it all falls apart. We recommend buying your own equipment from Ubiquiti, as opposed to leasing it. Their equipment gets you started with a hardy, reliable jumping off point. We also recommend hard wiring every instance of technology possible. This insures consistent performance. Often, customers are happy with their WiFi in some rooms but completely at a loss in the far reaches of the estate. We explain our solution to that in a video here, by installing extenders. 

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ONE REMOTE CONTROL FOR EVERYTHING

Smart Appliances transform your home into a more efficient space. We are referring to those appliances that can operate without manual control – such as a water heater or thermostat. When you allow a tech integrator to automate these appliances, you can place them on schedules that work around your family’s life. Schedules reduce wasted energy use and your utility bill.

If you’re tired of using a dozen remote controls to watch TV versus Netflix, or game versus play music, we have a solution. When you integrate your home technology, you can distribute content across the home from one simple remote. We use RTI’s control options – and there are plenty of them. It doesn’t just work for home entertainment either! These controllers will manage any system you have automated: lights, security, thermostat, etc. 

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REMOTELY ACCESSIBLE SECURITY SYSTEM

Speaking of security, there’s not a single feature that brings more peace-of-mind and convenience than an automated security system. Imagine locking or unlocking doors from your personal device or opening the garage to receive a package, ensuring it’s in place via remote camera feed access when you aren’t even home. The automated security system, installed by Granite, allows remote access to locks, alarm systems, smart doorbells, and gate and garage control. 

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ENERGY USE TRACKING

The final home upgrade we want to discuss is energy monitoring. Smarter Homes can equip you with the ability to see real time watt usage rates in your home via a smart meter. That way you can see if all these smart home features are making a dent in your usage and then cater your scheduling around peak use hours. It also helps you keep track of any forgotten lights or devices that are still causing an energy spike. 

Next- Level, Zero Waste Automations

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AUTOMATED BLINDS
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IRRIGATION SCHEDULING

Putting your blinds on schedules is a next level option for conserving resources and adding a touch of elegance. If you’re away from the home or not using certain rooms at certain times, there is no reason for sunlight to stream in and heat up your house. Take a load off of your thermostat with scheduled blinds and shades.

The opportunities for irrigation scheduling is are absolutely superior to any kind of do it yourself lawn watering timers using Rachio. With smart irrigation, sensors can detect precipitation levels in the solid and humidity levels in the air so that watering is only happening when absolutely necessary. Reduce your water use and waste with a smart irrigation system.

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SOLAR POWER

Solar is truly the way of the future. It is the most abundant, inexhaustible, renewable source of  clean energy that is available to homeowners. It is a low-cost, easy installation process that can transform your home’s carbon footprint for the better. We have a great breakdown of the application of solar power in our feature of The Verge’s Home of the Future

Thanks for reading about our top energy saving features. For any questions you may have about efficiency, automations, or just general home technology problems, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Many U. S. states are experiencing a second or third wave of the pandemic. Families are foregoing their traditional holiday celebrations this year; however, you don’t have to do that. It’s easy to put together a virtual holiday and enjoy the company of others without risking anyone’s’ health. So go ahead and plan your feast, decorate, and use your virtual assistant to do your holiday shopping this year. Here’s a plan that is sure to work. 

Pre-Planning

Let’s start putting things together by planning the best way to celebrate virtually. It helps to have a virtual assistant such as Alexa, Siri, or Google. You’ll want to keep your family safe, so limiting shopping trips is essential. Order your fixings, decorations, gifts, and anything else you need through your virtual assistant, but do it earlier than usual. According to NBC News holiday shopping predictions, shopping trends have changed, and this holiday season will be the busiest on record.

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 The virtual assistant makes online shopping easier without the risk of going into crowded stores. HEB stores in Texas offer an online app that you can use with your smart device or virtual assistant to shop for groceries. To make things more convenient, curbside pickup and delivery options are available after you’ve placed your online order. Get this, when ordering, they allot a certain amount of time that you can add to your order just in case you forget something. Walmart and Aldi’s offers similar if not the same services. 

Almost every store has options to order online, and of course, Amazon is going to make gifting more accessible than ever. Many believe that this will become the norm for the future, and last year, even before covid, U.S. online holiday sales surpassed in-store purchases for the first time in history. No doubt with the latest surge of Covid-19 will have an extreme effect on holiday online shopping this year. 

How Using Home Audio And Video Can Create A Festive Holiday. 

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A huge part of holiday celebrations can include music and various other types of entertainment. Home technology has become a vital part of this culture, with homes implementing whole-home audio, media rooms, home theaters, virtual assistants, and many other entertainment types. 

Virtual assistants and whole-home audio play a massive role in creating the sounds you want for your holiday celebration. Alexa, Google, Siri, and other virtual assistants can help you pick and choose music requests from across the different genres and from many libraries. Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and secular can be added to a playlist so that anyone can hear their favorites in a variety of situations. 

Include zoned music to your home automation to play audio for the whole house or home sections such as the living room or patio. Having holiday music in the background with voice-controlled audio adds to the occasion of opening gifts, tree lightings, and even in-home caroling to stream out to family and friends. 

Music seems to come out of nowhere with recessed or hidden speakers and flood your home with the holiday spirit and cheer. Virtual assistants can play your music as well as high-end home automation speakers from companies like Sonos. In warmer climates, you may want to celebrate outside in your yard or on the patio. There are external options for audio there too.


There Is Safety In Streaming.

For most, the holidays are a time for family gatherings; however, the pandemic has put a damper on extended family visits, or has it? Programs and applications like Zoom, Google Meet, and Facebook’s Face Time/Live fill the gap left by people staying put protecting the extended family. The Amazon Echo Show is just one example of smart devices with a camera and lets families see and hear each other while celebrating. 

Set up a live stream from a computer, iPhone, or other smart devices to project to the large screen to get the sense of your loved ones being with you. They can do the same on their end. Set a place for your device at the feast table so everyone can enjoy the meal together. It’s the next best thing to them being there, and everyone is safe from travel risks. 

Share a holiday movie using the Disney + group sharing option. Many other programs enable screen sharing for other movie options. Movie sharing works excellent in an in-home movie theater setting. Grandma and Grandpa, along with other relatives, can join in board games by positioning a streaming device to where they can see the board on their end. All that’s needed is for someone to spin the wheel or throw the die to take their turn. There are tons of online games that allow group set-ups for family groups to play games like UNO and Monopoly together. 

Families can also stream live plays and music for each other. Streaming karaoke fun that everyone can join in live and abroad will be very popular this year. Having a simple get together so everyone can chat or one-on-one conversations also help fill a void from family and friends not being able to visit in person. All possible through home networks and whole-house WiFi. 

Lighting Adds Emphasis To Any Holiday Or Festive Celebration.

Low voltage lighting adds a whole new concept to decorating for a holiday or any celebration. LED lighting and automation bring a unique experience to the effects and ambiance of a home. The latest lighting technology is innovative, to say the least, featuring options to set lighting colors and levels from a simple push of a button or voice command. 

Home automation allows you to program lights to display when and how you want them to. These days, more homes create extravagant exterior holiday displays, choreographed to music, with some tied into the home automation system. The once-popular holiday activity of taking the family for a ride around town to see houses decorated with lights could see a revival this year because of the pandemic, which will hinder or cancel many holiday group events. 

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To show your holiday spirit from a distance, decorate a window or your entire home inside and out. You will find that many automated lighting systems are controlled by an iPhone or smart device, providing easy operation. Leave the wreath on the door lit but turn off or program the other exterior lights to shut off at a predetermined time. Special holiday lighting, especially during a pandemic, creates an uplifting spirit for everyone and is a great way to enjoy the holidays yourself.

Use Security To Ensure That Your Holiday Celebration Is Safe. 

Part of the virtual holiday set-up must include security. Alarms systems to protect the home from fire, carbon monoxide, robbery, or weather-related hazards are essential. The crisis that has developed from the pandemic creates multiple opportunities for bad things to happen. 

Integrating security features like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, motion sensors, automated locks for doors and windows, security cameras, video doorbells, automatic gate/garage door openers, and security cameras are critical to keeping your holiday safe and fun. Home automation systems accommodate all of these security features and make them operable from your smart device or phone. 

The video doorbell is a very nice feature to have during the pandemic. You can see people outside of your home and communicate with them to inform them if you’re receiving guests, without them knowing whether you’re at home or not. You can also give special instructions to delivery drivers or ward off those would-be package thieves from anywhere you have an internet connection. Record from your device or set your video doorbell to record every incident. A complete home security system puts any homeowner’s mind at ease, especially during the holidays. 

2020 will go down in history books as a year that changed the world and show that we survived it largely in part from the technology we used in our homes. Companies like Smarter Homes of Austin ensure that our families continue to thrive by adding innovative, cutting edge technology to weather, even a pandemic. 

An influx of innovation meant the masses were finally able to afford high-tech home features that were previously rare and expensive. With increasingly complicated technology came the demand for simplicity in control, and thus the home automation industry thrived. But what does it really mean to live in a smart home and what are the benefits? 

If this blog is your first introduction to us, we are Smarter Homes, a company located in Austin, Texas that transforms houses into smart homes, whether they are being newly built, or the client wants to upgrade their already existing house. Smarter Homes can install and automate just about any tech product on the market. Let’s take a tour of what makes a home “smart”, the benefits of embracing smart technology, and some fun luxury services they offer. 

The Making Of A Smart Home

The technology within a smart home is installed in such a way that is not only easily controlled, but also accessible from other pieces of technology in the house. That means that one piece of technology can communicate with another piece of technology, even if they perform different functions. Many homes are equipped with smart home features, such as a Google Home speaker that takes commands to control the lighting, but without an open API, the home cannot fully function and control all technology seamlessly without human intervention. Smarter Homes explains the difference between an open and closed API system here, but for the sake of brevity, all you need to understand is that in a smart home, everything is interconnected. 

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That connection starts with a WiFi set-up that can’t be beaten. Smarter Homes builds its clients their own private, WiFi network in which they own all of the equipment. It’s more reliable, secure, and can reach the far corners of any estate. Once your WiFi system is perfected, you have the freedom to customize your home with smart lighting, security, audio and video, and more. 

One final quality that makes up a smart home is the ease with which you can control its features. Smarter Homes partners with a control company called RTI to bring complete ease to their client’s technology control. According to the preference of the client, RTI equips them with the ability to control every piece of the home technology with a classic remote control, an in-wall touchpad, a countertop touch panel, or even from their personal device.

The Benefits Of Smart Home Technology

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When everything in the home functions in synchronization, you end up with a home that’s human-error proof. The highest levels of efficiency can be achieved when you have the capability to automate systems prone to being forgotten. This is illustrated beautifully through Smarter Homes’ room “scenes”, security systems, and energy efficiency monitoring.

Room scenes are automated groupings that allow homeowners to design pre-selected modes for their homes to occupy, based on the family’s needs. For example, with the click of an “away” mode in the app, your home will turn up or off the HVAC system, lock all the doors, arm the security system, make sure every light is off, switch off your hot water heater, and halt the functions of any left on and forgotten devices. Perhaps the family is in for the night and they just want the home to know they are ready to “stay”. By selecting that scene, your home can lock up for you and adjust the lighting to only bedrooms. The custom possibilities are endless. 

By automating your security system, you can also take peace of mind with you wherever you go. Occupancy sensors detect when the home has been abandoned and will trigger your system into action, even if you forgot. You can check on the house from your phone from anywhere, watching live footage from cameras or checking who is at the door with your smart doorbell. Complicated security systems deter use, but Smarter Homes brings ease into security and gives you one less thing to remember in your hectic life. You can choose to sense occupancy, window breaks, forced entry, CO2, flooding, and smoke.

The final major benefit is energy efficiency. Monitoring your home’s current and previous wattage usage is accessible within the app. Education is the first step to efficiency and with this knowledge, you can design automation systems that cut down energy waste and save you money on utilities. Smarter Homes can even put your house on a schedule that provides energy during high use times and cuts it to certain places when they are not used. 

Luxury Smart Home Features

When it comes to designing your dream home, it isn’t all about practicality. Smarter Homes loves to bring elegance and luxury into the lives of its clients. Imagine for a moment, a romantic night in with your significant other. With a scene designed for just that, one button could turn on jazz, lower the blinds, heat the hot tub, dim the lights, and adjust the thermostat. Perhaps you are a movie buff or gamer.

How about a custom home theater with surround sound, a projector screen, movie seats, and low LED strip lights that slowly dim as you find your seat.

One final possibility worth exploring: the master gardener. Smarter Homes installs automated irrigation which puts your yard on a watering schedule based on the weather, humidity levels, precipitation of the soil, sunlight, and previous use.

There is truly no limit to what a smart home can do, especially with the help of a one-stop-shop home technology company like Smarter Homes. Contact them today with any further questions you may have

What Are Homeowners Doing To Lessen The Strains Of Sheltering At Home?

2020 will go down as one of modern history’s most unprecedented years, especially for homeowners. Every day homes are modified to accommodate learning and working from home. However, homeowners invest more in their properties to make sheltering convenient for them and their families. They’re adding home theaters, pools, and spas, and some are remodeling their kitchens to be more inclusive of the whole family. Home technology is the beating heart behind all of these upgrades because home automation, especially during the pandemic, is trendier than ever. 

What Are The Trends?

According to an article on Porch.com, “Survey: Home Improvement Trends in the Time of Covid,” published July 2020, 44% of homeowners introduced technology to their home upgrades. 34% made their homes more environmentally friendly, which is almost totally absorbed with technology nowadays

The reason, as stated in the article, is that 55% of American homeowners found more time to make these changes while sheltering in place. Less travel time and more efficient work productivity from home have allowed more time to make the upgrades to save money and live more comfortably. 

Many families have found that home upgrades have brought families closer together as their homes functioned as a school, work, and home life, all in one atmosphere, without the need for travel from one place or another. One might think that a drawback is isolating from the community, friends, and extended family. Home technology has solved that issue with whole-home WiFi and applications like Zoom, Google Meet, Face Time, etc. School friends can hang out on personal devices; Grandma and Grandpa can safely visit the family, and so on. 33% of these homes spent more on better internet networks than home gyms or outdoor amenities such as pool and spa. 

Wifi by Ubiquiti
Wifi by Ubiquiti

How The Economy Has Affected Technology Upgrades In The Home.

The economy’s downturn has had some effect on home upgrades, but it hasn’t been significant enough to deter homeowners from completing improvements they’ve intended to make. 31% of American homeowners thought it necessary to make needed upgrades to accommodate school and home offices. However, it is a good investment because the culture of how we work and learn is forever changed, and new homeowners will be looking for these options when buying a home. Such upgrades will increase the profitability of selling houses in the future. 

The pandemic has everyone tightening their budgets, and people are learning to conserve. The economy, at best, is unpredictable, and specific areas of home technology have taken priority. 

  1. Solar panels and home automation to control energy consumption has generated new appeal with homeowners during the pandemic. According to SEIA.org, by 2024, 2.5% of all U.S homes will have solar as an energy source.
  2. Low voltage lighting is still in its infancy with much room to grow. Homeowners are making lighting upgrades to include new low-cost, energy-efficient lights to curb power consumption.
  3. Smart appliances are seeing record sales, even before the pandemic, because of the technology they possess with efficiently controlling the energy they use.

The energy that homes use from people being at home more often, working, learning, and living, increases energy consumption. The demand for energy-saving home upgrades is more significant than it has ever been. These upgrades have alleviated the stresses of high energy bills from the increase in the home’s activities. 

How Home Technology Aleviates The Stress Of Sheltering In Place.

Homeowners that have upgraded the technology of their homes have found it easier to shelter in place. They’ve invented ways to keep them and their families connected and entertained. If anything, home technology has helped to bring families closer together during the Coronavirus. They’re cooking together, which in the past seemed to be a chore reliant on one person. Some families have board game nights via video conferencing with others. “Okay, Grandpa, your token landed on Park Place, and you owe me $200.” 

Other families entertain each other and connect socially with family karaoke night, or kids log on to Roblox to play and have conversations with their friends. 

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Let’s not forget family movie times, which in most cases, is several nights per week. Many homeowners are making additions or upgrading unused rooms to replicate the movie theater experience, incorporating the look and feel of a real movie theater. Large screens, excellent surround sound, comfy lounge seating, and even concession stands complete with candy, drink, and popcorn machines are included in the designs to recreate the ultimate movie experience. The driving force behind is powered by a quality projector or a flat-screen TV and your favorite streaming device or player. 

The pandemic has created a trend for upgrading homes, and that trend is going to be driven by technology. Millennials are driving the direction being that new technologies have driven their generation. Their residences more than likely feature two or more facets of smart home tech than baby-boomers, which in many cases have one. The key to driving technology for home living lies with innovations, thought of, and designed by the installation companies that solve homeowners’ tech issues every day. 

Planning Is Key.

Planning is key. Industry leaders like Smarter Homes of Austin work with homeowners from the beginning of the design process to a complete technological advanced home. The owner, Peter Sandford, is quoted to say, “A failure to plan is a plan for failure,” and that couldn’t be more true, especially in regards to the current crisis caused by the Coronavirus. Smarter Homes of Austin and businesses like it eliminate error and guesswork to ensure that installations work without issues, alleviating the stress of sheltering in place. 

By,

D. B. Harrison

This year has been the downfall of many things, but one area that’s on the up and up is home improvement. With more time spent indoors, homeschooling, and working from home, it only makes sense that you want to upgrade the spaces that have become everything to you. Especially for those of you balancing more tasks than usual from the comfort of your home, we’d like to explore some smart home technology upgrades and improvements that can make your stay at home journey more efficient and comfortable. Not to mention, this technology is designed to bring ease to your life at home, which we could all use.

Smarter Homes of Austin has an array of services that can totally transform your way of life. Let’s get started. 

Smart Thermostats And Scheduling

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When you increase the time you spend at home, you raise the utility bill right along with it. One way you can cut down on energy use is by installing a smart thermostat in your home. With a smart thermostat, you can control the temperature of your whole home, or specific zones from your personal device. The benefit of that is that no matter where you are, you can adjust the temperature. Let’s say you and the family run out for a spontaneous trip to the park. From the bench, you can crank the home’s temperature up and save energy while the kids play. On your drive home, drop the temperature back down and achieve comfort for your return.

In addition to easy controls, you can also set your system to learn and use schedules. Learning your patterns of use is a huge benefit because it eliminates human error and provides consistent temperature ranges and changes in your home. Why run the AC if you and the family are gone at a specific time on a specific day? Smart technology is all about efficiency. That’s why smart thermostats measure humidity levels, your use patterns, your distance from the home, and more.

Media And WiFi Scheduling

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If the kids are supposed to be in their Zoom class from 9 am to 2 pm, then there should be no reason for them to have their TVs on or log in to their gaming devices. Prioritizing and controlling devices through the WiFi and app control is one more way you can keep an easy handle on the goings-on in your home. 

By prioritizing certain devices on the WiFi, you can make sure that your work laptop and the kid’s school tablets always have priority over content streaming, gaming, and downloads. That means even if you’re burning the midnight oil, the Xbox party happening in your media room will never take priority over your tasks. This requires a Smart WiFi system in which you own your own equipment and have a private network. There are so many benefits to having a set up like this that extend beyond scheduling and control. With a smart WiFi system, you can receive a reliable connection throughout your entire estate that is high-speed, hack-proof and equipment fee-free.

Energy Monitoring

One way to keep a close eye on your energy consumption is by tracking and monitoring it. Smarter Homes provides an energy monitoring feature through the smart home control app we use via RTI. In this app, you can see the energy levels used in your home, when they peak and valley, and your wattage used in totality and at specific times. 

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With this knowledge comes power. For example, if you are barely using energy at 11 pm, why not capitalize on those dead hours that follow by cutting power to outlets in the kitchen, for example, turning off the water heater, and making sure the house is scheduled to turn off any forgotten lights since everyone is asleep. Smarter Homes owner and operator, Pete Sandford, did this with his family and saved money and energy. They cut the water heater off after their morning showers until dinner time. They scheduled the lights to turn off at bedtime and the outlets to stop providing power to unused utilities. Then, using their energy monitoring app, they got to see a huge drop in usage. By checking the app, you can also see how much wattage is being used at any given time, giving you a good idea of peak use hours and forgotten devices still running. 

We hope you feel inspired to improve some of your Smart Home technology in ways that Smarter Homes is doing for families every day. If you’re in the Austin area, create a budget for your home improvement goals, today.

To understand Z-Wave, let’s take a look at how it works. Z-Wave operates on a radio channel that allows you to manage devices from your smartphone, computer, or tablet. In a sense, it enables smart devices to connect and talk with each other. The Z-Wave hub takes a command sent from your smart controller and reroutes it from the hub to another smart device. 

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Z-Wave can operate various devices such as smart locks, garage doors, automated gates, etc. Z-Wave works excellent for automatic gates that may have too great a distance to utilize the home automation system. Older systems required expensive trenching from the home to the gate. It could also be costly, depending on the length needed to run conduit and wiring. With a Z-Wave hub, there’s no need for the extra wiring and work. 

WiFi has its advantages, but many homes experience interference and low signal, impairing device operation. Z-Wave works on a different, lower radio frequency, which means few interruptions and better reliability. WiFi, with its higher radio frequency of 2.4 GHz compared to Z-Wave’s 908.2 MHz, can experience serious impedance resulting in increase downtime of your home tech automation, especially over great distances. 

In the open air, the Z-Wave radio signal can travel over 300 feet. However, it is less effective when using it inside the home or between buildings as they reduce the radio waves significantly. In these circumstances, a hub needs placing about every 30 feet. That can also get costly for large homes and buildings. 


Z-Wave Safe From Hackers

Is Z-Wave safe from intrusion and hackers? The creators of Z-Wave designed a system and included the same type of encryption that banks use, which is pretty powerful. So your home is safe and secure from external threats. That encryption works over multiple devices too.  


Easy Maintenance Of Z-Wave

When it comes to maintenance, a Z-Wave repair is relatively easy, and most usually involve the same steps to repair other mesh networks. 

  1. Go to the menu
  2. Select Z-Wave hub
  3. Select more options
  4. Open Z-Wave utilities
  5. Select repair Z-Wave Network

Z-Wave, designed with simplicity, makes mesh network repair easy. Keep in mind that your home technology installer can help you if the task seems too daunting. In many instances, the repair can happen remotely from your installers device, so no need for a costly time-consuming visit. 


Z-Wave And Virtual Assistants

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Home or personal assistants are more prevalent in everyday life, enabling home technology control by voice activation. The setup for Z-Wave to interact with assist devices is just as easy as the mesh network repair. 

  1. Open the Z-Wave control panel on your device
  2. Select the Add Node Secure function under the Z-Wave management card
  3. Activate your device by following its instructions
  4. Then select Heal Network

Presto, your device is connected. However, not all home or personal assistants are created equal. There are some subtle differences in how each type of assistant connects, for example.

  1. Alexa already recognizes Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus protocols, and the latest versions of Amazon devices don’t even need the hub to connect tech devices and use them. Alexa no longer requires a bridge between the hub and the device. It works incredibly well for multiple users in the home. 
  2. Google Home needs something a little extra because alone, it can control Z-Wave devices directly. Google Home must connect to a separate hub such as Samsung, Wink, or Smart Thing for devices to work correctly. The language used to operate devices can be somewhat different. 

Z-Wave can operate with other assistants; however, you will need to check with the manufacturer before purchasing for Z-Wave compatibility. Again, your home tech installer can do all of the leg work for you. 

Extenders & Control

A Z-wave extender works well for those that do not use another type of network and need to reach devices in weaker signal areas of the home. An extender plugs into an electrical outlet, and smart devices can piggyback off of it as it communicates with the hub. That makes the whole home control a reality. 

Please keep in mind that you can’t use multiple control hubs in your home because devices can only connect to one network hub. If you try and use more than one hub, many devices will lose their connectivity and become inoperable. However, with Z-Wave, this isn’t an issue. A Z-wave hub will connect up to 232 devices, and that’s a lot of technological capability for any home. 

Your home technology installer is the best person to talk to when it comes to purchasing Z-Wave compatible products. They’ll also know where the best area is to position the hub and extenders and coordinate them to where your devices are in and around the home. In most cases, a designer will create a floorplan of where everything goes. 

Z-Wave is a contender to consider if you’re looking for an efficient alternative to smart home technology control. Earlier in 2020, Silicon Labs announced that changes were happening. Z-Wave would switch to being an open standard allowing other manufacturers to produce the Z-Wave radio chip. Doing so will be a game-changer for Silicon Labs & Z-Wave to help them in their quest to remain a viable part of the smart home technology industry. In return, creating a broader market. 

Once again, your home technology installer will have the latest and best information about using Z-Wave in your home. Most companies recommend hiring a professional because many home technology installers offer maintenance plans and guarantees. Do the homework and choose the best professional that fits your budget and needs. 

There’s No Question That The Pandemic Has Changed Things, And Living As We Know It Will Never Be The Same. 

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People with home technology find that the constraints of staying home are easily more bearable with smart devices and apps. Homeowners are creating home offices so that they can work from home. Classrooms are being implemented into the house so that children can attend school at home. The smart home can deliver many features to make staying at home less monotonous.

One Of The Essential Features Of Home Technology Is Security. 

Video doorbells, smart locks, security cameras, motion sensors, alarms for smoke, carbon monoxide & intrusion, motorized shades/blinds, and automated gates and garage doors play an important role in keeping you and your family safe. 

Whole-House WiFi Keeps You Connected In And Around Your Home.

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As mentioned earlier, some homes now require a home office or classroom, and it essential that these rooms have access to WiFi to keep earning money and learning. However, those aren’t the only rooms that require WiFi. 

Much of home technology needs access to WiFi for entertainment, ordering groceries, controlling automation. For those expansive homes, WiFi expanders make it available everywhere on your property. You never have to worry about a dead signal spot. 

Stream videos in your home theater or have your fridge inventory and order groceries for you. Voice assistants like Alexa need access to the network. WiFi is becoming more of a necessity in any home, even the simplest of homes. It also keeps us connected socially.

Home Theaters And Media Rooms Entertain And Keep Us Informed. 

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There’s nothing like family time at the end of the day, and a home media room is just the ticket for some relaxation. A home theater gives an actual theater experience, and many homes deck theirs out to be state of the art theaters. Both are great for streaming movies, playing video games, and the occasional family zoom meeting with loved ones near and far. 

Have a presentation to give for clients? Do it right from home, interactively standing in front of the large screen. If you’re a teacher and you want to interact with the whole class, tile all of those young, eager faces upon your big screen. Host family karaoke night at home and stream it with family and friends. Just because we’re staying at home doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun. 

Home Automation Takes The Work Out Of Chores And Gives You More Free Time. 

Take the hard work out of everyday living and let home technology manage the home while freeing up your time. There are many products on the market that help us do this. Automated irrigation systems such as Rachio help us keep our lawns and foliage looking great by automating the sprinkler system. 

Irrigation systems can monitor the moisture in the ground and even regulate moisture for specific plant types. They conserve water by not watering when it isn’t needed and watering more when natural moisture is not enough. 

Monitor and regulate energy, shutting off those high power items like water heaters and unneeded heat and AC. Get realtime energy usage information on your phone or smart device. Smart thermostats such as ecobee are essential for regulating the home climate, adjusting temperatures by preprogramming to your comfortability needs. 

Don’t worry about the expense of hiring a caretaker for your pool and spa; with Jandy, you can automate cleaning and heating the pool or hot tub. Automatically test the water and add the correct amount of treatment to keep your pool or spa ready for use anytime. 

Smart appliances, laundry becomes somewhat automated; the fridge can keep tabs on what it needs to order and add to your grocery list on its built-in screen. It can even automatically order from many of your favorite places to shop, such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target

The Important Things To Remember Are That Your Home Is Your Refuge, And That Couldn’t Be More True, Now More Than Ever.

Smart home technology is even more helpful during times like these because many issues are solved remotely. No need for a technician to show up at your door. Professional services take extra precautions to ensure that you and your family are safe, limiting the time they need to spend in your home and other measures, including distancing and rescheduling for later. 

Still, having a home with technological advantages has made isolating at home easier, providing security, entertainment, and comfort. Please write to us and let us know if you have ideas to share about using home technology during our current situation. 

One of the most common traits of this generation will have the tendency to be environmentally conscious about their living situation. Obtaining and implementing eco-friendly habits into your home can save you money on your monthly utility bills and eliminate a significant portion of your carbon footprint. The good news is, you don’t have to be a part of this generation to add these features to your home. Thus, the following list includes a couple of ways you can begin to create an eco-friendlier home for yourself and the environment.

Install Solar Panels

One of the most common reasons why homeowners shied away from solar panels was due to their high price. However, innovations in technology and competition have brought the cost of solar panel technology considerably lower. Although still seen as a significant investment, it is not out of the range for many homeowners. Choosing to opt-in for solar panels allows you to avoid tapping into energy sources utilized by your city. If you are still on the fence about purchasing this technology and the cost associated with it, take comfort in knowing that you can now fully automate your home to include smart energy monitoring that you can control from anywhere you find WiFi. Most governments offer tax credit incentives for homeowners that add solar energy and in some cases energy monitoring devices to their home. 

Energy Efficient Water Heaters

Over the past few years, the water heating industry has begun to create more energy-efficient products, due to several reasons, such as innovations in technology and added energy mandates by governments. However, most of these options also affect the environment and might not be the best fuel to use to create an eco-friendly home. So, what can you use? A very popular option at the moment is Energy Star approved geothermal heating. It will take an investment on your part, but it is one of the cleanest methods to heat your home. Use that with an Ecobee Smart Thermostat, and you’ll notice that you start controlling energy and that it isn’t controlling you. 

Smart Thermostats

One of the most popular devices recommended by not only the Department of Energy but environmentalists is the use of smart devices such as smart thermostats. This lack of control regarding home temperature has made it very difficult to keep energy consumption and costs low. Fortunately, innovations in technology have finally allowed homeowners to not only control their cooling and heating when they’re away from their homes but also find the right balance of consumption. These devices slowly begin to understand your routine and will adjust temperatures depending on your lifestyle. Ecobee is famous for offering all of this an more.

Let In Natural Light

The introduction of natural light into your home is one of the best ways to avoid using electricity to light up the house. It may worry some homeowners who prefer to have as much privacy as possible. Luckily, there are ways to go around this issue. Installing frosted glass windows is an excellent alternative to putting up curtains. Consider installing motorized shades and blinds as a viable option. Natural light will come into your home, but you can do so without sacrificing your privacy. If you don’t want to install entirely new windows, there’s also the option of putting a frosted film on your existing windows.

Custom Build It

If you’re an individual looking to purchase an eco-friendly home, you might not have too much luck. Although eco-friendly homes are certainly in high demand and on their way, the reality is that there aren’t enough of these types of homes to go around just yet. So, what can you do? Because you’re a buyer, you might be able to order an eco-friendly custom home. Homebuilding companies can use custom home designs to make your home more energy-efficient. By choosing this route, you are not only saving money in the long run but also making sure every aspect of your home is eco-friendly. Let’s not forget that several smart home integration companies can retrofit existing homes creating luxury and value. For a complete list of available homes in Central Texas, contact Ellen Steele of Realty Solutions

Motion Sensor Lights

Energy to run lights is used the most when it’s not needed. Kids, teenagers, and even some adults will go room by room, turning on lights and lamps and forget to turn them off. It leads to the entire home running electricity for no reason. Not only can this cause you high energy bills, but it’s harmful to the environment. A great way to prevent this issue from occurring is to install motion sensor lights within your home. This means that when someone exits a room and doesn’t come back after a while, the lights turn themselves off, thus saving energy.

Use Your Washer Correctly

A shocking fact about washers is that over 90 percent of their energy is used to heat the water. By merely utilizing your cold-water settings on your machine, you can save an astonishing 1,600 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions over an entire year.

Transforming your home into an eco-friendlier version of it can be a daunting experience. However, with the right approach, anyone can make it happen. With a few simple changes, you can easily make your home impact the environment less.

Here at Smarter Homes Austin, we can help you monitor your energy so you can make your carbon footprint a little smaller. Check out what we have to offer!

Do you love smart technology and the way it makes your life easier and simpler? If so, consider installing a smart spa. New smart hot tubs are incredible. The integration of smart technology with a hot tub gives you an unparalleled experience in relaxation and tranquility. But are smart spas the next big thing for smart homes? Here are a few things to contemplate when it comes to figuring out whether or not it could be a trend.

What Goes Into A Smart Spa?

What is a smart spa? What can it do? According to Caldera Spas, the abilities of a smart spa vary depending on the model. Generally, they have many features with voice-control and features that include things like opening/closing the spa, turning spa on/off, jet control, massage strength, music, light color, water fragrance, and much more. Some smart spas give you the ability to program massages specific to your tastes. Others can monitor your temperature and heart rate and adjust for optimal wellness.

Upkeep

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ABOUT JANDYBuild the perfect pool environment with Jandy professional-grade equipment. With a full line of pumps, filters, heaters, lights, valves, water sanitizers, and the automation solutions to control it all, Jandy has the complete package for any pool.

Fortunately, a smart spa does not take much more maintenance than a regular hot tub. The most significant difference is the application. An app can control updates automatically, and there’s no need to worry about manual maintenance and upkeep, virtually from any smart device, anywhere. A hot tub’s lifespan depends on two things: quality and care. Ensure quality by doing careful research before buying. Caring for your hot tub is simple with home automation systems for your pool and spa, such as Jandy. Automatically schedule when to add water treatments, set self-cleaning modes, and remotely heat your hot tub before use. Keep in mind that Jandy takes care of your pool and spa; no need to complicate things with two automation systems. With a well maintained, high-quality hot tub, comfort, and luxury could be yours for more than twenty years.

Upgrades

Make your pool and spa experience even better by upgrading to all-season outdoor audio from Sonos. Talk about luxury, why not add a large screen TV for poolside sports and entertainment. Outdoor kitchens add another festive touch to your pool, spa, and patio area. Keep in mind that it is always best to hire a smart home installation professional to make any technical changes to your smart home. Please write to us for more information about hiring the right smart home professionals for your home technology project.


If You’re Ready To Embrace Technology And Transform Your Ordinary Home Into A Smart Home 
Contact Us, Or Visit Our “Create Your Budget” Page To Get Started. 

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*The calculated home technology budget range you will receive will includes parts, labor & accessories (Tax not included)
(a round number is OK)
Numerous structures on the property: Dock, Casita, Guest House, Barn, Gate etc. Check all that apply.
Prewire installation calculations assume you would like your home fully wired for ALL home automation technologies shown throughout the budget calculator, including 'future-ready' wiring. Prewire pricing can vary substantially based on what features you would like in your home. The wiring budget is for low-voltage wiring, not for electrical.
Prewire pricing will vary based on exactly what features you would like in your home. Read this article about the importance of wiring/cabling in today's "wireless" world. Your local Smarter Homes integrator is the best resource for exact prewire pricing. Wiring budget is for low-voltage wiring only, not electrical.
Keep in mind that our modern lifestyle and our home's automation technology systems are extremely reliant on a quality network and Wi-Fi system. Most homes are moving towards enterprise-grade hardware and away from the types of network products you could buy in an office supply store or a consumer computer store. We recommend that all homeowners consider the network and Wi-Fi system to be the most important system and installation within the home.
Higher-quality sound or higher-grade architectural finished speakers can range from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 PER ROOM
Basic background music system pricing ranges from $1,500.00 to $5,000.00 per room including all equipment, labor, and programming.
Range includes video sources such as AppleTV, a Blu-ray player, satellite receiver, and remotely-locating them for best aesthetics. A basic soundbar is included for better audio.
This is called “video distribution” and reduces the amount of audio/video equipment located at each TV location/room.
A surround sound system creates an immersive sound experience, much like a dedicated home theater room, though in a dual-purpose room such as a Family Room, Master Bedroom, etc. If you would like more than one surround system location, click on the "Add Another Surround System" button below
Typically, homeowners want to see the following areas: front of house, front door, driveway / gate, sides of house, and pool. If you are more concerned about security, you may want to add cameras for the perimeter of your property. Good-quality cameras see about 75 feet of distance on average. The high range of the budget estimate includes higher resolution cameras, better night vision, and longer surveillance recording time.
The installation of a lighting control system reduces wall clutter, allows preset lighting scenes at the push of a button, increases security through programming automation, and adds convenience.
Motorized shades add beauty, convenience, address privacy concerns, and can be used to save energy. If desired, provide your best guess on how many windows/shades you want to motorize. The higher-end of the budget range includes higher-end fabrics, large windows, and dual-roller shades (both sheer and privacy shades on one window).
For example, a house music app, an app to operate your TV, an app for lighting automation, an app for locks, an app for cameras, an app to open close garage doors & gates, etc. Or do you want to control the entire house through a single unified app that controls all the automation systems within the home?
Make your home feel larger by balancing the light between indoor and outdoor areas.
Smarter Homes Austin
Austin’s Certified Luxury Home Automation, Home Theater, Audio Video & Wi-Fi Experts

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