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What to Know Before Adding Smart Technology to Your Home

Smart technology for the home is a growing trend in today's high tech environment. Home security equipment, HVAC systems, and even the refrigerator and slow cooker are now available in models that can be operated remotely from a smart phone or tablet. Incorporating smart technology in a home can help busy families save time, as well as enjoy their homes more – but it may also help them sell their home. 

An overview of smart home technology 

One of the most important benefits of smart technology in the home is its ability to provide more cost effective use of energy by lowering heating and cooling costs. In addition to using smart technology to continually optimize heating and cooling temps in the home, it can also control lighting, appliances, and even window coverings to help reduce the amount of energy the home uses.

Other popular forms of smart technology are capable of operating computer systems, security cameras, entertainment systems, including television, audio, and video systems, communications equipment, and appliances to offer increased comfort and convenience for the occupants of the home.

Smart Technology Protocols Assist DIY Homeowners 

Due to smart home technology's relatively young age, most existing homes are not yet equipped with it. However, it is possible for most of these older homes to be retrofitted to take advantage of this advancement. Even better, most homeowners may be able to handle these upgrades on their own as a DIY project.

Part of the relative ease of adding smart technology to a home is because the technology is designed by components which adhere to specific protocols. While all of the protocols are designed to work with smart phones, computers and tablets, and land line phone systems, choosing components that belong to the same protocol will ensure that they will be compatible. Examples of some smart home technology protocols include UPB, Z-Wave, and EnOcean.

Smart Technology Can Increase the Resale Value of the Home

As more and more options for smart home technology become available, it becomes increasingly apparent that adding at least some forms of it to an existing home or incorporating all of it into the design of a new home can be a smart thing for homeowners to consider.

One reason for this is the "Internet of Things", or (IoT). Basically defined as a network of devices, vehicles, structures, appliances, and other objects that have embedded sensors and software that make it possible for them to communicate with each other. The IoT network can connect over the internet to collect and exchange data which can then be used to further improve the overall smart technology experience.

According to recent statistics from CNET, a leading electronics media website, 81% of those who currently own some type of smart home device would favor buying a home already equipped with smart technology over one without it. In addition to smart technology making a home more saleable, it can also boost per-foot sales prices. In fact, according the same CNET survey, most homes selling in the top 25% of the market in the Miami metro area were equipped with smart home technology.

Millennial Buyers Favor High-Tech

Millennials grew up in a digital world, making them far more comfortable with all sorts of technology. As more of these tech-friendly millennials enter the housing market, the demand will continue to rise for smart home technology. This trend is illustrated by the data from the CNET survey noted above which shows that currently 28% of all adults in the USA use some form of smart home technology. But when only the millennial age group (adults 18-34 years of age) is considered, that number rises dramatically to 47%.

While most homes are likely to become more competitive with the addition of smart home technology, homeowners who are unsure of whether they should upgrade their home should look at both the costs involved and the expected return. A good plan for making the right choice begins with discussing the matter with a trusted real estate professional who successfully lists and sells homes in the area. Their expertise will help homeowners understand the potential gains, based on comparable sales in the area, as well as understand the potential costs involved with this type of upgrade. 

A Buyers Guide to Kitchen Flooring

A Buyers Guide to Kitchen Flooring
The flooring that you choose for your kitchen is just as important as the design of every other element of your kitchen,  although however, it often gets overlooked. There are many different types of flooring available to suit all tastes but you need to consider these important points before you make a final decision.
If you want everything to match then opt for flooring with the same finish as the kitchen such as a glossy, mat or wood finish. However, you may prefer it if the flooring and the kitchen units contrast but remember that once you have made the decision you may have to stick with it for some time.
The types of flooring available:
Rubber flooring can be laid in a wide range of colours whilst being soft yet hard wearing where as linoleum flooring is similar to rubber but it consists of natural ingredients. It’s durable, comfortable and easy to clean. Vinyl flooring on the other hand has changed a lot over the years. Once again, this is hard wearing and can be designed to look like a number of finishes such as wood or tiled.
There are many different types of floor tiles to choose from and all can add an element of charm and personality to your kitchen.
Stone floor tiles can be found in many different styles and colours but they can wear rather easily, particularly those that are porous. To overcome this problem, sealants can help to keep the floors easy to maintain.
Porcelain tiles offer complete versatility because they can come in a number of different styles such as metallic effect, concrete effect and even wood effect.  They are easy to look after and are extremely durable.
Quartz composite tiles are made up of stone and tile and they can be found to match the work surface. These can look mightily impressive, especially in a range of styles and looks.
Ceramic tiles are created using clay and natural materials and can be purchased in a variety of colours and textures. They are often cheaper than porcelain but they require a bit more work to get a neater finish.
In contrast to floor tiles, many people are opting for industrial flooring due to its different look and style, as well as the fact that it is extremely hardwearing and durable.
Concrete flooring can look contemporary but it is definitely versatile and for those properties with an open plan extension, it can be used throughout.
For something more comfortable under foot, resin flooring is a great choice. It is flexible and clean, although over time, the shine will disappear so it will require maintenance to keep it looking like new.
For those who prefer a type of flooring that looks more natural, there are many options available.
Solid wood is always a great choice because it looks so good but it is prone to a few issues such as movement and chipping. To protect it, it will require a later of lacquer or linseed oil which will help to make it last for longer.
Engineered wood is often a lot cheaper than solid wood but they enable people to create a natural look for a fraction of the cost. However, laminate flooring makes the perfect choice for kitchens because of its durability. It can be purchased very cheaply which means you will have to compromise on quality but the more expensive options will last longer.
Things to think about before you make a decision
The kitchen is an important room in any home. Therefore, you need to think about the look of your kitchen which means choosing the correct flooring that complements your kitchen units. If you use your kitchen a lot, maintenance is key because you will need to consider how much maintenance the flooring needs. Will it need sealing? Can it be wiped easily? Can it take heavy traffic? All of these questions can help you to make an informed decision but getting it right will ensure that you kitchen looks spectacular.
Tara Neil are a bespoke kitchen specialists, with a wide range of contemporary kitchen designs available from their showroom in Woodley, Reading.


Husky air source heat pump efficiency with different heating resources

Air source heat pump efficiency

Air source heat pumps have the efficiency rate that is conventionally named as COP. This rate varies from 1 to 4 and that means how many units of heat it delivers per 1 used unit of electricity taken to operate. 

Indicator 1 is when we talk about its lower COP that is at winter season at the temperature lower that -5 °C. Above that point, COP increases and it makes 2 in about +5 °C, while during +10 °C it makes from 2.5 to 3. Indicator 4 is when the temperature is higher than +20 °C, and it is the maximal rate that can be produced by an air pump. In other words, the higher the indicator is the lower your monthly electricity bill is. 

With indicator equal to 4, you drop up to 75% of this amount. With indicator 1, you have 0% dropdown, as in this case, your heat pump is the same effective as the air conditioner or air warmer fed by electricity, gas, or fossilized fuel. Although, in the case when they cost more than electricity, you win in the difference of such cost. 

But you have to be aware that air source heat pump energy efficiency () is usually lost when the outside air temperature drops down lower than -5 °C. It is true for the conventional systems with ammonia filling of their pipes. There are other systems working on carbon dioxide that lowers the allowable temperature to -30 °C. But you also have to know that they are less efficient than ones having ammonia in pipes during cooling and may require additional helper in the hot days to cool down the premise.


Air source pump is usually used in several further modifications:

·         Air-to-air (when a pump takes heat from the outside air and delivers it to your premise through the air module that is installed on the wall, similar to air conditioner),

·         Air-to-water, that are further divided onto these:

o    Air-to-warm floor – it traverses the heat to the water system of pipes warming up your concrete or wooden floor,

o    Air-to-boiler – the heat goes to your boiler that delivers you the hot water to wash or to drink,

o    Air-to-heat sinks – the heat is delivered to your heat sinks on the walls.

Air-to-air source heat pump is most efficient one (see here https://www.huskyheatpumps.co.uk/products/air-heat-pumps ), and because of that, the cheapest in installation and maintenance, and it gives up to COP 4. Other kinds of it are less efficient due to energy loss in the transitions between air and water environments and are in between 2.2 and 3.3 in COP in the average temperatures.

Other heat pump systems’ indicators

If to compare air pump with others, it is not the most efficient, but the cheapest. The ground pump produces up to 7.2 COP indicator, while other pumps mostly used in industrial objects have the theoretical limits of COP up to 8.8 (Carnot cycle device) and 10.1 (Lorentzen cycle device), with +35 °C temperature when air pump gives out 3.8 indicator. Taking the temperature of +55 °C, air pumps produce 2.2, 3.7 for ground pumps, 6.0 for Carnot cycle devices, and 7.9 for Lorentzen cycle devices.

Some issues of seasonal efficiency of air source heat pumps

The lower the outside temperature is the smaller the COP indicator is either. In addition, working in winter, it needs to defrost time to time. Also, an air pump is the only of all types of pumps that emanates noise when working that can reach up to 55 dB, which is forbidden in some countries. Air source heat pump winter efficiency drops down to 1 if you temperature is below -5 °C (-30 °C for carbon dioxide models) and is around 3 with  +10 °C. The most high efficiency air source heat pump has in summer with mild weather, if it is filled with ammonia that is considered the best fluid for such purposes. 

To increase its efficiency at any time of year, you may combine it with solar panels on the roof deriving energy from the sun, and make the house more heat-efficient itself.



How To Tell When It’s Time To Paint The Outside Of Your House

Image by Mark_and_Beth via Flickr

Painting the exterior of your home can seriously boost the property’s value and give your house a brand-new look, but you probably already knew that. What you paint the exterior of your home, though, it is also the perfect opportunity to fix any structural issues and dings during the painting process. What’s more, you can remove unsightly, cracking, and peeling old paint. Repainting your home will even make the neighbourhood feel fresh and a little more enjoyable to return home to. For reasons like these, painting the exterior of your house is certainly worth the investment. Below, we discuss a few ways to tell if it is time to repaint the exterior of your home.

1.      Cracking, peeling paint

When you notice your old exterior paint cracking and peeling, it’s actually telling you something worth noticing – moisture may be seeping below the paint. When that happens, it may even be a sign that there is even more damage below. Moisture is the main cause of mould, too, which can result in structural damage. When you notice your paint cracking and peeling, it is time to consider repainting the outside of your house and also have the home inspected for other problems, such as mould.

2.      What’s the home made of?

Depending on the kind of material used to build your home, you can use it as a time frame for when to repaint your house. For instance, wood surfaces should be maintained every 3 – 7 years, whereas aluminium siding only needs maintenance every 5 years. Non-painted bricks ought to be power washed regularly, and cement fibreboard and bricks can be repainted every 12 – 13 years. What the house is made of certainly matters in terms of when to repaint the outside.

3.      The trim is decaying.

The trim around the doors and windows could need repainting a little more frequently than the rest of the exterior of the house. This is because the trim takes more of a beating because of frequent use. If you start noticing decay in the trim paint, it’s time to repaint your trim. It will keep your home looking great and keep the doors and windows protected from the elements.

4.      A fading colour

If the paint is fading, it’s a sure-fire sign of sun damage which can weaken the paint’s protective capacity.

5.      The house is older than 5 years.

When a new house is build, just one layer of paint is painted on it. After 5 years, it is time for a new layer to make sure the house is protected and maintained. This will also ensure you keep your home looking and feeling like new for another 5 years! Painters on the Gold Coast like those from Jason Swanson Painting & Decorating can advise on colours and finishes.

More signs it is time to repaint your exterior:

·         Cracking stucco
·         Shrinks or gaps in the boards of the house
·         Cracking caulk

Professional painters enjoy painting the exterior of homes and it gives them joy to see a newly painted house looking and feeling fresh. If you notice any of the above signs, it’s time to have the professionals paint your home’s exterior!


The Art of Creating an Indoor Design Outdoors

Summer has finally arrived, which means that the party scene will start to heat up very soon. Having your friends over for a drink and some delicious meals is always a good idea, and it gets even better when you have an amazing outdoor space like a balcony, a garden, or a terrace you can adapt for such gatherings. Since paper plates and plastic glasses are simply not an option, here are five useful tips on how to use indoor decorating ideas outside of your home. Enjoy!

Opt for flexible pieces

One of the best ways to take your indoor decorating style outside is definitely by opting for some flexible pieces of furniture that can work both inside and out. You’ll use them to the max this way, since these can be moved and used inside of your home as soon as summer comes to an end. Items like rope chairs are always a good idea, since they will inevitably bring a touch of chic to your balcony or garden. Just make sure to decorate them with some details typical of indoor setting, such as furry cushions or throws.

Go low-maintenance

When talking about furniture, going low-maintenance is always a great option. Even though wooden furniture seems like a logical choice when it comes to outdoor setting, the truth is that it requires extra care. It can wear off really quickly if you don’t oil it regularly, which is what people often tend to forget – especially when crazy temperatures kick in. That’s exactly why you should pick furniture in powder-coated aluminum. Apart from being extremely stylish, such items are also good quality, which is what should count most when making a final decision!

Dress your table

If you’re a fan of boho vibes and romantic yet really eclectic candlelit dinners that feature mismatched china and freshly picked flowers, you should definitely take this atmosphere outside and spend unforgettable moments in your garden. You can use any table you own at the moment, since you’ll cover it with a tablecloth and add some unavoidable items like lovely plates, cute teacups, and unique teapots that will contribute to an overall authentic outdoor experience.

Throw down a rug for the ultimate indoor vibe

Getting a colorful rug that features some abstract patterns is never a bad idea, simply because nothing conveys that indoor moment better than a piece that’s designed exclusively for the inside of the house. However, there are so many amazing outdoor rugs you can get these days that can complement your balcony, terrace, or even garden, so make sure to check them out because they are more than convenient for your outdoor space. The best thing about them is the fact that you can leave them outside 24/7, without having to worry about weather or anything similar.

Paint a wall

Everyone knows that adding a touch of color can enhance any space, from your living room to your kitchen, and you know what? The same goes for your roof terrace and courtyard garden! You don’t even have to paint all the available walls, because only one will be more than enough to make your outdoor space pop up and look much more vivid. So, pick a shade you love most, such as turquoise, bright yellow, or stunning orange. No matter which one you pick, you definitely won’t make a mistake!

As you can see, there are so many ways to bring your favorite indoor decorating ideas into your outdoor space like a balcony, a rooftop terrace, or a courtyard garden. Just make sure to pick appropriate, low-maintenance furniture you won’t need to take inside as soon as it starts raining. The same goes for a rug, so you should better get one that’s designed exclusively for outdoors. Once you get it done, you’ll be able to enjoy your perfect peace of heaven any time you need to relax and unwind!


7 Ways to Green Up Your Property

Eco-friendly living means conserving natural resources and saving the planet. It also means that eco-friendly properties cost more. If you want to sell your property, and you want to sell it for more money, you need to invest in it first. As they say, you have to spend money to make money. The safest way to do that is making your property completely eco-friendly.

This might seem to be a long and hard task, but that’s not the case, and you’ll see that in this article. Here are some of the ways which you can use to easily green up your property and make it worth much more:

Get Off the Grid

Harnessing the power of renewable sources is a great way to scale down your electrical bill. Opt for clean energy and install solar panels. Homes with high-efficiency solar panels are rare, but they’re popular on the market. Fortunately, home solar panels are not too expensive nowadays, and this investment is a wise choice, especially for people who’re looking to sell their property.

Get an Energy Audit

‘’Australian houses are just glorified tents in the winter’’ said The Sydney Morning Herald. Most homes in Australia are under-insulated, and air leaks account for 25% of an average energy bill. Energy auditors are well-equipped, and they’re able to find the problems in your home quickly. Be sure to tail energy auditors like a shadow so that you can understand the issues and find a way to fix them.

Check the Electrical Wiring

If you’re from Australia, you already know that sometimes the wires receive UV damage. Find a good electrician in North Sydney and let him check and fix the wirings on your property. By doing so, you’ll ensure that the property you’re selling is hazard-free and that the electricity is not wasted.

Switch the Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are now available to fit many light fixtures. They don’t just use a quarter of electricity, they also last longer, and they will make your home look better to potential buyers. Change the light bulbs yourself, or get an electrician to do it.

Combat the Air Pollution

Putting some plants indoors is a great idea simply because live plants work as natural air filters, and they’re particularly effective when it comes to absorbing harmful pollutants. Your indoor air will be clean at all times, and your property will look cozier with ZZ plants and Madagascar dragon trees.

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can be deadly. To prevent poisoning and to up the price of your home, install a carbon monoxide detector. You can buy it at your local hardware store, and you can install it yourself.

Let the Light In

If your property is old, it probably has a lot of windows that let in the cold and heat. You can install energy efficient windows yourself, or you can get an expert to do it. Installing the windows by yourself might not be a good idea if you’re not handy since poorly installed windows can let in water which leads to problems such as mold and cracked foundations.
As a seller, you’re in control of pleasing the buyers, and you have the power to persuade them. Don’t focus just on making your house green, focus on all the little things that might seem unimportant. Replace all old cupboards and cabinets, paint the walls, and mow the lawn. The buyers don’t expect your home to be in a perfect condition, but they do expect it to be clean and green.

Stylish Plumbing Ideas

Are you looking for some cool plumbing ideas that you can do in your home? Well you have come to the right place, in this article we will talk through some cool ideas and how to turn ideas into reality.

Copper plumbing pipes aren't the nicest looking objects to have running all around your house and thankfully most of the time they are hidden behind plasterboard so they aren't visible. Great imagination is key to making your house your home and original designs can really give your house the edge in being a great home. Over the years I have seen some really cool plumbing ideas and it's now time to share them with you.

Cool Plumbing Ideas

From toilets with built in sinks, to pipe used as flower vases, to light fittings, and we have even seen wine racks made out of copper pipes. We once seen a toilet which had been made with the cistern as a tap, so once you have finished on the toilet, stand up and turn round to wash your hands, brilliant idea and a great way of minimising space used in the bathroom. Somebody used their great imagination and used the copper pipe in their bathroom and extended them and shaped them into a towel rack to keep the towels warm when in the bath, the same person also created a toilet roll holder from their copper pipes.

One brilliant and very creative idea we seen was on the social website pinterest. Basically it was a copper pipe used as a light fitting, so the 4 metre length copper pipe had about 16 T junctions on, and on each T junction there was a light bulb. Turning the copper, obviously unused pipe was changed  into a light. Turning a bright idea like the ones above into reality is a different story and sometimes be very difficult if you are not a qualified plumber.

Turning Ideas Into Reality

Without good knowledge of plumbing equipment, then making one of these stylish plumbing objects can be very difficult. You will need to be fully equipped and prepared to make your design. Below we will list some of the tools you will need to create your design. If you want to make something which will be also plumbed into the mains, like a towel radiator we would advise creating the object and then hiring a professional plumber to come out and plumb it in.

The obvious equipment needed when taking on any plumbing job is a good wrench and some pipe cutters. But for creative designs you will need
  • Blow torch
  • A vice
  • Dry sand and a funnel
  • Pipe bending springs
  • Pipe benders
  • Pipe cutters
  • Bucket of cold water
  • A square (not illustrated), used to check that your pipe is a true right angle
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety glasses
Now you have all the correct equipment, you can now get to work bringing your ideas to life. Remember to always stay safe as you are dealing with high temperatures. And always have a qualified plumber check it's safe before installing it.
Author Bio
Dan Mawson runs a national plumbing company called Multicore. He likes to share his knowledge and help others in the industry.

Earlier we featured tips on commercial plumbing, and healthy plumbing, you can check those too.