By Jim Burch
The home of the future doesn't just live in science fiction anymore. You can own it today. Better yet, it doesn't require thousands of dollars or long construction times. Home automation is available and affordable thanks to wireless Internet and smartphones. If you want to make your home smarter and work for you, look at these easy fixes to some of the house's longest-standing issues.
Beyond Health & Wellness
One of the biggest downfalls to completing your health and fitness goals is not a lack of motivation or discipline, but rather a lack of consistency. Stepping on the scale every morning, eating the right meals at the right time and remembering all your workouts in the gym can be tedious and overwhelming.
But when you win the morning, you win the day. So the first thing you should do when you wake up is step on the scale. The FitBit Aria Wi-Fi Scale takes your weight and body fat and sends it directly to your FitBit account online. Smartwatches like the Samsung Gear S2 can measure your sleep the night before and your steps during the day, so you don't have to give a second thought to crunching the numbers.
With the exception of incandescent to LED, lights haven't really changed in the last 100 years. They're more efficient and last longer, but you still have to remember to flip them off every time you leave the room (that's harder for some people than others). If you're looking for something better and more innovative, Philips has the answer.
The Philips Hue is an energy-efficient, long-lasting LED bulb with wireless connectivity, so you can control whether it's on or off, and how bright it is with more than just a switch. Want a light to shut off when you leave the room? Hue recognizes when your phone is away and shuts down accordingly. As an added bonus, the Hue can change colors, so you can adjust the mood in your home.
Do you know about vampire energy? That's when the electronics and other devices you have plugged in are still consuming electricity, even when they're turned off. Computers and televisions are notorious for this, but your home's heating and cooling follows the same principle. When you are away at work for eight hours each day, your home continues to consume energy to maintain a temperature as if you were sitting in the living room.
Nest is a sleek, smart thermostat that learns your daily habits so it can raise or lower the temperature while you're gone to help you save money. It also connects wirelessly to your smartphone, so you can adjust the heating and cooling when you're away.
You may already have a home security system, but it comes with a monthly fee. For example, ADT charges roughly $37 per month for its home-monitoring services, and that's just the starting price.
The Canary is a simple, all-in-one system that monitors your home's activity by watching (with its built-in camera) and listening to its surroundings while you're away. It connects to your Wi-Fi, so it sends you regular updates or emergency notifications if it detects a disturbance. It even measures the quality of air in your home to make sure everything is comfortable and normal. It can't contact the police or sound an alarm if there's a break in, but you are paying a one-time price instead of a monthly fee.
Born and raised near St. Louis, Mo., Jim Burch studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News. Jim's specialties range from movies and television, to consumer technology, and health and fitness.