With fibre, wi-fi and Bluetooth becoming standard, catering to a modern lifestyle is as easy as using a phone.
Here are some technological innovations that can modernise your existing home - and possibly save you money in the long term.
Video intercoms have been available for many years. Now there is the video doorbell, which is really simple to install. All you need to do is fix the doorbell module to the outside of your front door and plug in the phones.
When someone rings the bell, the system takes a photo and sends it to all the indoor phone handsets - as well as your smartphone, if you choose. You can then open the door or start the streaming video from the doorbell unit and talk to your visitor through the phone.
The video doorbell also stores photos of everyone who rang when you weren’t home – day and night. The handsets can also be used as an in-house two-way radio.
A wide range of remote home monitoring systems are available. Each system consists of a main hub and modules that plug in around the home and are all connected to each other.
Once the system is installed – and you can probably do this yourself - you can use your smartphone or tablet to switch lights on and off, and control electric garage door openers and geyser thermostats. You can also programme indoor and outdoor lights to turn on and off at different times.
If you also install motion sensors and cameras, you can keep tabs on any movement in your home. This is especially handy if you need to keep an eye on children and pets while you are at work.
Assuming you already have wi-fi installed, one of the easiest ways to take advantage of the internet-everywhere signal is through smart televisions.
Smart TVs have built in wi-fi capability that allows you to access the internet, make use of services like Netflix and Showmax, stream music videos and take advantage of apps on the big screen in your living room.
Touch screen fridge
Smart fridges come with LCD displays built into the door that function like mini tablets. You can control temperature settings and ice-making functions from the touch screen. You can also leave notes for other family members, find recipes and even check on the weather.
Steam is a relatively old invention, but modern washing machines and tumble dryers are making use of this technology to remove dirt and allergens. Steam molecules are smaller than water molecules, so they are more efficient at penetrating fabrics. Because there is no rubbing involved, stubborn dirt and stains are removed with minimal damage to clothing, towels and bed-linen.
Many of them also use smart inverter technology to control energy use and eliminate wasted operation. They can also interact with your smartphone to help diagnose operating issues and download new, improved wash cycles from the internet.
An automated irrigation sprinkler or drip system will take much of the work out of watering your garden, and is easy to install. Some systems can also deliver fertiliser and weed-prevention products.
- Water can be more effectively targeted where needed. Sprinkler nozzles can be adjusted, and underground drip tubes will deliver water right to the roots, rather than spraying walkways and driveways.
- You can set the timer to water at specific times and on certain days of the week. Even when you are away from home for long periods, you can be sure your garden will be lush and green.
- Most components are hidden from view, so there are no hoses lying around. Underground drip systems operate out of view, and sprinkler heads pop up to spray, then retract when the job is done. Automatic systems may be a safer option for families with young children and pets.
Even if you live in an older home, there's no reason you shouldn’t have access to many of these modern high-tech innovations. Most of them are easy to install and you should be able to recoup outlay costs within a relatively short time.
Writer : Sarah-Jane Meyer