Boys’ toys add safety and energy saving to top homes
The Jetsons’ futuristic utopia has arrived early but today’s gadgets aren’t all about frivolity. There’s a serious side to the systems. Sharon Dale reports
HI-TECH homes are heaven for couch potatoes and those who love “boys toys” but remote controls and other gadgets can also improve energy efficiency and security.
This serious side to smart home technology, combined with the time-saving aspects and fun, has sent sales rocketing. It is now a must-have in top end new properties and developers are increasingly offering it as an added extra for mid-market buyers.
Most popular are wireless sound systems and home cinemas, though remote control lighting and curtains, plus climate control and CCTV you can access with your phone, wherever you are, aren’t far behind. Also on offer is turning on the bath remotely and adjusting the temperature of your fridge using your iPad. App-controlled coffee machines are also on the cards.
Simon Mathieson of Leedsbased Finite Solutions, which specialises in smart home automation, gives some tips on how to go hi-tech and reveals some of the latest innovations: Get connected The most important advance in home technology is the use of home networks. WiFi and hard wired internet to every room is the backbone to any smart home system and a high bandwidth cable infrastructure is essential to allow shared services from room to room. It also provides future proofing for new technologies and with fibre optic there isn’t any conceivable entertainment or automatic signal that cannot be transmitted throughout the house. A secure data network also allows remote servicing by your installer which is far quicker and more convenient. Complex systems can require extensive wiring so its worth thinking about, and perhaps consulting with an expert, before you start any property renovation works or buying new equipment. Save money Gadgets can save you a lot of money. Full house, controlled lighting systems, such as Lutron, use 30 per cent less electricity than conventional on and off switches. A simple installation that shuts down house lighting at the point you set the alarm to leave or go to bed saves a lot of wasted energy. A simple “all AV off” switch can shut down all entertainment systems at once if you are away from home and can be programmed to reboot shortly before you return. A switch from Halogen to LED lighting can also save pounds. LEDs use seven times less other bulbs. Choosing an installer If you are going to spend a considerable amount of money on technology in your home then it’s worth researching your installer. An electrician may claim to do the job at a knock down price but the role is now more akin to an interior designer of technology and they should be able to do the following: Design and document the wiring structure; future proof your technology to allow upgrades; be involved with prior home build or renovations to plan your technology needs from the drawing board; offer a comprehensive guarantee and back up service to repair anything that might go wrong
HARBOURING AMBITION: This characterful, three-bedroom property has a top floor terrace with magnificent views of the coast. It has a new heating system and wood burning stoves. It is in the Old Town part of Scarborough, which is becoming a magnet for creative types as well as tourists.