Top tips for tech
Whether you’re doing a big renovation and want the latest solutions to problems, or you just like new technology, here are some of the best innovations
1 You may think windows are just windows, but there are innovative ones that make life easier. Skylights are a popular choice for big home improvements like loft conversions and extensions, and they’re often fitted high up out of reach.
That’s why Velux does remotely controlled skylights ( Velux Mains Electric Centre- Pivot Roof Windows, from £ 549.99) – the touch- screen remote is programmable, and the window has a clever rain sensor that shuts it when rain starts.
Velux Solar Centre- Pivot Roof Windows ( from £ 584.99) also have a rain sensor and programmable touchscreen remote control, but are solar powered, perfect for sunny roofs. You can even retrofit these technologies with the Velux Mains Electric Window Automatic Conversion Kit (£ 335.29), which converts existing centre- pivot skylights to electric operation, including a rain sensor. And if you’re a light sleeper and have a skylight in your bedroom, Velux’s noise- reduction glass ( Velux Manual Centre- Pivot Roof Window with Noise Reduction Glazing, from £ 299.99, all products Screwfix) could be for you – it also has an easy- to- clean coating on the outer pane.
2Lots of homes have solar panels that generate electricity, known as photovoltaic or PV panels, but it’s not widely known that they can also be used to heat water.
Usually you need solar thermal panels for this, which are relatively rare, but solar PV panels can be adapted to heat the water in your home’s hot- water- storage cylinder if a special diverter is fitted.
“The diverter enables excess solar energy from the panels to be used to heat your household’s water, rather than being exported to the grid,” says Stuart Elsy from the Hot Water Association ( hotwater. org. uk).
“We calculate that the savings made can be around £ 90 a year compared to heating water using gas, and around £ 220 to £ 240 compared to using electricity.”
3Digital showers are one of the best bathroom innovations in recent years and have features like LCD displays and touch- screen and wireless controls.
Turning the shower on via a remote control is ideal if the water takes a while to warm up in your home – some digital showers have a warm- up mode so you don’t have to wait.
Certain digital showers can also be controlled via an app. Each member of your household can pre- set their shower preferences, including their ideal temperature, and the digital shower will automatically deliver these preferences every time.
Some digital showers have a bathfill option, which means you can preset your bath preferences in the same way and it will fill your bath for you accordingly.
4They may not be commonplace, but wi- fi- enabled domestic appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines and fridge- freezers, which can be controlled and monitored via an app, are available.
You may already control your home’s central heating and hot water via an app and smart controller, and it’s a similar principle.
For a connected home, Bosch recently launched a range of Smart Home products in the UK, many of them security related, such as the Window/ Door Contact (£ 34.95), which detects open windows and doors and sends an alert to your smartphone.
Another innovative product from the range is the Smart Plug (£ 54.95, bosch- smarthome. com/ uk/ en), which displays power consumption and connects electrical items to the Bosch Smart Home System, so, for example, you can remotely turn connected lamps on and off to make it look like you’re at home when you’re not.
5Some of the best emulsion paints harness technology to solve common problems, including new Dulux Easycare ( from £ 22.03).
This emulsion is 20 times tougher than standard Dulux emulsion and uses stain- repellent technology so liquids sit as beads on the surface, making it easy to wipe them off.
For rooms like bathrooms and kitchens that take a toll on emulsions, there are dedicated products, such as Dulux Bathroom+ ( from £ 9.97), which is moisture, mould and steam resistant, and Dulux Kitchen+ ( from £ 15.29), which is grease and stain resistant. And for dark rooms, which are always a challenge to decorate, Dulux Light + Space emulsion ( from £ 22.03 all products dulux. co. uk) is a good solution, as it contains lightreflective particles that reflect up to twice as much light back into the room as standard Dulux emulsion.
Velux offers remote control skylights that have a clever rain sensor that shuts them when it starts to rain