Even if you're not ready for the work and expense involved in networking your entire home under computerized control, you can move your home up the intelligence scale with strategic upgrades that increase its smart-home score. Many of these upgrades take advantage of technologies on which you already rely in daily life, leveraging your digitally connected lifestyle so you can monitor and manage your home while you're on the go.
Imagine starting your clothes washer and monitoring a dryer cycle from your smartphone. With remote-accessible, smartphone-controllable appliances, you can create and save custom wash cycle presets to accommodate special fabrics, leverage your home's Wi-Fi® network to start a high-efficiency wash load through a smartphone app and choose the specific wash-load settings by preset name. Your appliances even alert you when they finish, all without taking a single step in the direction of the laundry room.
Touch-screen control of your appliances not only gives you advanced access to their features, it also provides you with high levels of control over their performance. Set degree-specific temperatures for the compartments of your refrigerator, removing the guesswork about whether your freezer really maintains a proper chill level. Look up the date on which you bought the steaks you froze and find out where you put them in the freezer. Program exactly the right oven cooking temperature for your baked and roasted foods—and bump it up a specific number of degrees to hasten browning.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity enable your entertainment sources to talk to one another. Play back music from any device in the house—tablet, smartphone, media player, laptop or desktop computer—on your home theater system. Play back music from any device in the house--tablet, smartphone, media player, laptop or desktop computer--on your home theater system. Watch family movies on your HDTV without connecting your camcorder to the set. All this connectivity comes in addition to the kinds you already expect, including the ability to sync your music and photos among all your digital devices.
Even without whole-house computerized control, you can make environmentally smart choices about the appliances you use and how you light your home. Products that have earned the ENERGY STAR validate an appliance's energy-thrifty performance. The program's stringent specifications for the use of electricity, gas and water, coupled with energy-use tags that provide a head-to-head comparison among appliance models before you buy, enable you to select the best performance and combine it with savings on utility costs. Migrating your lighting away from incandescent and halogen bulbs to LED light sources can help you save on your lighting bill without compromising your ability to maintain comfortable levels of illumination.
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