6 Ways to Amp Up Your Smart Home Tech

Your home’s IQ could use a boost.

Home automation has grown tremendously from the days of the humble remote and kitschy Clapper of late-night TV. Today’s intelligent programming systems use a smart phone, tablet, laptop, keypad — or increasingly, one’s voice — to help homeowners, whether at home or away, manage their homes. Check out these ways to make your house smarter:


Media Control
Create a mood and customize audio and visual content and volume in different areas, indoor and out. Jack Gonzales of JS Home Automation says for audio, Sonos (www.sonos.com) is easiest for the DIY’er. Video, on the other hand, should be left to the pros, he advises.

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Motorized Window Treatments
Welcome the morning or say sweet dreams by opening or closing shades without getting out of bed — while saving energy, protecting furnishings, reducing heat, and enhancing privacy. Homeowners can check out Lutron’s Sivoia models (www.lutron.com), suggests Barry Weiner of Hudson Valley Home Media.


Lighting Control
Turn on and off — or even preset — interior and exterior lighting  to create visual “scenes” for ambiance and improved safety and security. Lutron  (www.lutron.com), available through authorized dealers like Hudson Valley Home Media, is the way to go, says Weiner.


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Audio/Visual Security
Monitor babies, the elderly, and their caretakers, plus other activity at primary or vacation homes, via discreet on-site cameras and video doorbells. Gonzales recommends Nest video cameras (www.nest.com) and Ring doorbells (www.ring.com) for handy homeowners.


Pool/Spa Control
Warm up the Jacuzzi on your drive home from the gym, or control lighting, waterfalls, and other features. Consumer options are limited here, so stick with the pros.


Climate Control
Optimize energy efficiency and savings with programmable temperature thermostats. For skilled homeowners, Marc Leidig of Ambiance recommends Ecobee (www.ecobee.com), Aprilaire (www.aprilaire.com), and Nest (www.nest.com).

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