Smart Home Technology Trends in 2017

“The future of housewares and appliances is quickly moving toward the smart home,” said Doreen Schofield, CR, CKBR, designer with Callen Construction. “Connectivity is being incorporated into products all around the home – from light bulbs to coffee brewers, from thermostats to ovens – connected products, once only a dream, are quickly becoming reality.”

Smart Home Technology Trends in 2017This year, the smart home movement includes the emergence of five key trends. Leak detection sensors, including fire alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, radon detectors, and moisture detectors are devices that help keep a home’s environment safe. “There are even air quality devices that measure the air inside a home and detect dangerous toxins,” Doreen said. Perhaps the most useful of these devices is the smart leak detection sensor, which monitor plumbing in a home’s walls to ensure there are no major leaks or malfunctions. “Leak detections sensors also help prevent serious water damage or the buildup of mold and mildew inside walls caused by a slow leak,” she said. “They are a game-changer, especially for older homes.”

For homeowners, energy consumption is a primary concern because it is necessary to manage how much energy you’re using. This involves monitoring many different facets of your home, including lighting usage and air conditioning dependence. “Connected or smart thermostats can help alleviate this problem by conserving energy over time,” said Doreen. They are far more advanced than programmable thermostats, as they are capable of learning habits and preferences and they can even detect your presence. “This allows for scenarios such as leaving the air off while you’re away from home and letting it auto-adjust to a comfortable setting when you’re on your way back,” she said.

How many times have you left home and realized you left your garage door wide open? A traditional door requires you to return home to close it. Conversely, a smart garage door enables you to monitor your garage door from anywhere. You simply have to check the open or closed status from an app on your smartphone and, if it’s open, you can close it remotely. “This feature offers a world of possibilities,” Doreen said. “For instance, you could let the dog or house sitters in through your garage or open your home to emergency services or neighbors when you’re gone. Smart garage doors offer homeowners both convenience and increased security.”

Homeowners also need to be concerned about water usage, as it is another form of consumption. Clean water for drinking, cleaning, or bathing are important, but so too is the water used to irrigate your land. This is where smart watering systems come into play. “On one hand, if you live in a deed-restricted community, you are required to maintain a healthy lawn; otherwise you risk fines and other penalties,” said Doreen. “On the other hand, shortages and droughts can restrict the amount of water you can use.” Smart watering systems make this process simple and efficient, allowing you to schedule watering sessions and also keep track of how much water you’re using, which will likely save you money over time.

According to Safewise, a burglary occurs every 18 seconds in the United States and a report by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology shows that about 60 percent of convicted burglars were deterred by the presence of a home security system. By installing a smart home security camera, you pay for the equipment once, with service fees typically lower than conventional security plans.

“As the demand for smart home technology continues to rise, it’s important for homeowners to stay up to date on the latest trends not only for added savings and convenience, but also for peace of mind,” said Doreen.

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.



LED Lighting Outshines the Competition

Today’s manufacturers are designing LED light bulbs that have the ability to last for decades. When combined with their decreasing retail costs, it’s clear why LED lighting is becoming a popular and affordable option.

Doreen Schofield, CR, a designer with Callen, said technology alone hasn’t sparked these trends. “Newly enacted efficiency standards are also responsible for removing incandescent bulbs from the market in favor of environmentally friendly alternatives.”

LED lighting is the most energy efficient option, it ranks high in performance, and has an extended life. “When it comes to energy efficiency, LED lighting outperforms incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent bulbs,” Doreen said. “They convert almost all of the electricity they use into light instead of heat, unlike other bulbs. The unique design of LEDs makes them 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, which can significantly reduce annual energy bills.”

Like incandescent and halogen bulbs, LEDs produce bright light, instantly reach full power, and can be dimmed. They can even be repeatedly switched on and off, with no affect on the lifespan of the bulb. LED lights also come in an array of color options from yellows to blues, greens, reds and a number of other colors.

Finally, and perhaps most impressive, is the exceptionally long lifespan of LED bulbs; they shine bright for years and even decades beyond traditional light sources. “LEDs can survive up to three times longer than compact fluorescent, eight times longer than halogen, and 25 times longer than incandescent,” Doreen said. As a result, maintenance is kept to a minimum with LEDs because bulb replacement is virtually eliminated.

“On our first consultation with a homeowner, we talk a lot about lighting, its benefits, and the various types,” she said. “LED lights are typically the light of choice for under cabinet lighting, but they can also be used in can lights and appliance interiors. They are dimmable and very cool so that they won’t heat up the insides of cabinets or emit a lot of heat downward as some can lights do.”

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.

LED lighting benefits



Remodeling Tips to Save Energy, the Environment

Remodeling Tips to Save Energy, the EnvironmentRemodeling your home sets up a clean slate to give it a new look and make your house more energy efficient. Not only will an energy-efficient home save money on utility bills, it will also make the home healthier and reduce its impact on the environment.

Christopher Wittmann, CR, an exterior product specialist with Callen, offers tips for creating a more energy-efficient living space.

“Start off your home’s remodel by checking for water intrusion, condensation, and excess moisture before you begin the project,” said Christopher. Excess moisture creates mold. By fixing these issues, you can improve your home’s indoor air quality.

Make sure your home is airtight to prevent heated or cooled air from escaping. This makes it easier to control the inside temperature in both summer and winter. “Wrapping the exterior walls of a house with an air barrier before installing siding or masonry will create a more energy-efficient home,” said Christopher. Another way to prevent heat from escaping is by adding more insulation to the attic or walls.

Replace old windows and exterior doors with newer, energy-efficient models,” he said. Look for double pane windows with Low E coating for optimal results. Correct insulation around your new windows and doors will further improve your home’s energy efficiency. All gaps should be properly caulked to prevent air from seeping into and out of the home.

Many older homes have poor airflow and ducts that leak, causing rooms to feel stuffy and uncomfortable. “Repair leaks in forced-air heating and cooling systems with duct sealant to make your home feel more comfortable,” Christopher said. “It also helps to upgrade heating and cooling systems, as inefficient systems have to work harder and use more energy.” Upgrading other appliances with ENERGY STAR equipment and new lighting will also reduce your home’s energy usage.

These energy efficient remodels will save money, increase the resale value of the home, and require less maintenance. Christopher noted, “We’re thrilled that doing the responsible thing—remodeling with energy efficiency in mind—is becoming common sense. Why not help the environment and yourself while improving your home?”

For more information or to arrange an initial showroom consultation, call Callen at 414-529-5509.



Four Ways to Keep Your House Cool This Summer (Other Than Air Conditioning)

The heat of late summer can lead to skyrocketing energy use and high utility bills. The good news is there are several things you can do to help cool off your house and take some of the stress off your air conditioner unit.

Shut Out the Light

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people do not realize that up to 30% of unwanted summer heat comes from sunlight streaming in through the windows. Surprisingly, you can reduce the temperature in your home by up to 20 degrees simply by keeping blinds and curtains closed, and replacing sheers with thicker draperies to block out more light.

Switch the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans

Did you know that ceiling fans have two rotational settings? Make sure that your fan is set to rotate counter-clockwise at a high speed in the summer. This will help you take advantage of the cooling effect that takes place when the breeze hits your skin and sweat starts evaporating.

Grills & Slow Cookers are Your Friends

Summer cooking can add a lot of heat to your house. Limiting the use of the stove and oven during the summer will go a long way toward combating the heat in your home. Eat cold meals when possible, and if you do have to cook, double or triple the recipes so there will be plenty of leftovers. Try using slow cookers, which put out much less heat. Grilling is another great summer cooking method. From pizza to seafood, check out these amazingly delicious recipes for the grill!

Callen Blog - Cool House in Summer 081516Create a Cross Breeze

Take advantage of cooler nighttime temperatures by opening the windows before you go to bed. Strategically-placed box fans can help natural breezes along. You can create cross-ventilation by placing one fan facing in on the side where the breeze is entering, and another facing out on the opposite side of the house. Just don’t forget to close all windows and blinds before temperatures heat back up in the morning.

The right windows will go a long way toward keeping your home cool in summer and warmer in winter. For the most energy-efficient replacement windows in Brookfield, WI, call Callen at 414-765-2585. As your leading Milwaukee remodeling company, we have the knowledge and experience to help you with all your window needs.