Dec. 28, 2017.
As the year winds down, homeowners look at their residences and consider future renovations. Some people want to increase their home value, either for the sake of comfort or in hopes of making a lucrative sale. Others consider upgrades because they want to increase home safety and security. Still other homeowners desire to enhance their home entertainment system, cut down on utility bills, or pursue a more sustainable lifestyle.
No matter why you desire to improve your home for 2018, the following four home upgrades will help:
1. Home automation.
Home automation seeks to make life more convenient and enjoyable. It can turn lights on and off in response to your presence in the home; maintain an ideal temperature throughout the house, regardless of outdoor weather conditions; or order needed groceries and household items, such as laundry detergent or diapers. In addition, some of these smart home devices, like a smart thermostat, offer the added benefit of decreasing energy costs.
- Home automation hubs. While you could begin your home upgrades with a smart thermostat or lightbulbs, start with a home automation hub. This device acts as the brains of your home’s “smart” operation, making it easy to add, delete, monitor, and manage smart home devices.
Amazon Alexa and Google Home are popular options, perhaps because of their voice capabilities, but don’t neglect the Samsung SmartThings or Apple Homekit. To choose a home automation hub, think about the applications you already use (Prime = Amazon, Chromecast = Google) and compatibility. Not all hubs coordinate with all smart home products, so check each hub’s compatibility list before buying one.
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2. Home entertainment.
Building out your home entertainment system involves products like 4K televisions, smart speakers, and streaming devices. All contribute to the entire picture, producing pristine surround sound and crystal-clear visuals. But if your main aim lies in cutting the cable cord or gaining access to your favorite streaming shows, begin your home entertainment project with a streaming device. Most work with current and new television sets through an HDMI connection.
- Streaming devices. If you want to stream online content to your heart’s content, you can’t go wrong with the Roku, Chromecast, Sling TV, or Amazon Fire TV. Each, however, comes with different capabilities, and some may or may not play well with an existing cable subscription. You should always perform some initial research to ensure the streaming device will grant the shows and picture quality desired.
Homeowners are refinancing to fund their home improvements. Could this option work for you?*
3. Home safety and security.
Once you set up your home automation hub and streaming device, think about home safety and security. Fortunately, several smart home devices fit within this category. Smart locks, doorbells, cameras, and motion sensors all enable a safer and securer home, allowing you to rest easy, travel frequently, or receive on-demand deliveries from Amazon or Instacart.
- Security systems. Start out with a basic security setup. Many of today’s home security systems feature wireless technology, allowing you to monitor the home remotely. Some systems even go a step further and send notifications to your mobile device when they detect a potential security or safety risk. Most of these security systems feature cameras, but you can always augment the systems with other security products such as the smart locks and motion sensors mentioned before.
4. Home exteriors.
Finally, address the outside of your home. Planting trees and shrubs, for example, gives shade to pets, family, and friends, and thorny shrubs can deter would-be robbers. Painting the home’s exterior offers a different benefit: preserving the siding so that your home remains invulnerable to the elements. Repairing the roof likely needs no explanation; keeping it in good condition prevents leaks. However, you can do more than repair the outside of your home. You can turn it into a money machine with a solar array.
- Solar panels. Many homeowners turn to solar panels these days, and with good reasons. Solar panels often cut energy bills. In some states, installing the panels awards you tax breaks or the ability to sell energy back to the utility grid. Solar panels also are a way to care for the environment and leave a smaller carbon footprint.
Obviously, you could spend the rest of your life upgrading your home. But the four items shared here are some of the best places to start. Use them, and you can experience greater safety, security, convenience, and cost savings for your home.
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By Sage Singleton, SafeWise home safety expert. Sage is a freelance writer who enjoys teaching individuals, families, and communities about safe home and lifestyle habits. In her free time, she enjoys wedding planning, traveling, and learning French.
*While refinancing could make a significant difference in the amount you pay each month, there are other costs you should consider. Plus, your finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
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