How Smart is Your Home?

How Smart is Your Home?

In a lot of ways, Chicago is an old school city. Though home to the gleaming skyscrapers and modern art of the Loop, the Windy City is probably more iconic to insiders for its smaller, more antiquated architecture, from the loft apartments of Lakeview to the two-flats that dot Lincoln Square.

But even if your condo or home is an antique, there are all kinds of ways to bring it into the 21st Century. Your home may be old, but it can still be smart.

Improvements in smart home technology – software and appliances that bring your home online, or help to automate or streamline some of its features – mean that we can have the gleaming sci-fi technology of the Jetsons in the Lincoln Park townhome of today.

Here are a few ideas to make your home smarter:

Home Automation

What if your home could sense when you were up and about, and adjust the lights or thermostat accordingly? What if your baby monitor clued you in not just to tears, but to your baby’s sleep activity and comfort level?

It’s hardly as far-fetched as you might think. Wireless smart home technologies such as Nest and Zigbee have made it easier than ever to automate your home or control aspects of it from a smartphone or tablet.

Nest, for instance, works with compatible smart appliances – including Philips HUE lighting and Logitech remotes – to set your home on autopilot. Observe any room without getting up from the couch with easy-to-install cameras; set your remote control to also warm up your living room when you settle in for movie night; or even get updates on your pet’s eating habits while you’re at work.

Home automation isn’t just a neat gimmick: It’s a practical way to make your home greener, saving you time and money without lifting a finger.

Voice Commands

A lot of us would love to have a butler on hand to hand us the paper or do our online shopping. With voice-control technology, we can all have access to the next best thing.

The Amazon Echo, for example, recently profiled by Geek Chicago, uses a technology called “Alexa” to take commands and help you out in countless ways. With the Echo, you can select playlists, hear the news, make lists, or get sports updates without ever cracking open a laptop. In addition to boasting an impressive speaker system, the Echo also hooks up with some of the smart technologies we mentioned above, including HUE lights and smart systems including Insteon and Wink.

If you’re looking for something other than the Echo, there are competitors on or coming to the market. Check out this great writeup from The Verge on LG’s SmartThinQ hub, or look into the ivee, which is available for preorder for just $99.

DIY

For those looking for a more hands-on project, there are all kinds of DIY efforts that can make your home smarter and more efficient.

For a great example, check out this frozen pipe alarm idea, which came to our attention from our friends at J. Blanton Plumbing.  With relatively little effort, you can set up a system to tell you if your pipes are freezing – potentially saving you from a burst pipe down the line.

There are all sorts of other fun ways to add automation to your home without breaking the bank. For a few clever examples, check out this great list from Lifehacker; our favorite idea is the welcome system, which will play entrance music or a welcome message each time you come home.

Whether you’re looking for the home of the future or a rustic piece of Chicago history, drop Real Group a line for all of your Chicago real estate needs! Our experienced team is here and happy to help you find your perfect home.

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