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■ energy wise SMART, SAVVY,


Affordable Electronics For Your Home


BY TOM TATE G


adgets, gadgets everywhere! With the current tech explosion, “techies” find themselves in paradise. Let’s take a look at some really cool and, at the same time, useful gadgets on the market today.


Security for the home and family is a top concern. How about a door lock that you can control from a smart phone? August, Lockitron, Goji, Kevo Lock from Kwikset and others offer such locks. Installation varies by model, but they provide such nifty features as remote monitoring of lock status, temporary guest/ contractor access, multiple users and more. Wifi and Bluetooth are the two networks used.


Smart thermostats like Nest and Lyric get all the press, but practically anything you can imagine in your home can be controlled from that “super computer” nestled in your pocket or purse. A popular website, www.Smarthome.com, offers a variety of products. A search on “smart phone home automation” produced 4,695 results – how’s that for control?


Here is one example. The WeMo line by Belkin allows you to control individual lights and appliances through the use of their little plugs. Insert the WeMo plug in an outlet, connect the light or appliance and then, via your existing wifi network and the WeMo app, you can create schedules and exercise control over your home.


Phillips makes an individually controllable LED bulb called Hue. Using their app, you can control the light level, on/off schedule and color. They even developed a custom scenario for a recent SyFy series to recreate the mood of the series itself. A bit much perhaps, but pretty cool nonetheless. Yes, you can achieve energy savings and create a party mood all at once!


In addition to controlling various aspects of your home’s operation, and increasing both security and savings, you can monitor it from afar to be sure all is well. When you’re away from home, Smarthome’s Elertus ELRT-107 wifi Smart Sensor comes in handy. This single sensor can monitor temperature and the presence of water (say, from flooding or frozen pipes), among other things. While pricey, it could more than pay for itself in peace of mind and damage avoidance. Couple this with a smart water shutoff and, if you get a leak alert, you’ll be able to turn off the water to avoid damage—all via the comfort of your smart phone.


If you envied Mr. Spock’s tricorder, check out Lapka. This sleek and elegant set of sensors allows you to measure electromagnetic fields (EMF), radiation, temperature/humidity and even the level of nitrates in foods to be sure they are truly organic. With Lapka, you can


be sure your personal space is clean and healthy. All the results show up on the Lapka smart phone app.


How about something for you tinkerers out there? Look no further than www.littlebits.com. LittleBits are just that, little bits of technology you snap together to make your own controls. How about a remote garage door sensor? Or a bark monitor? Or controlling a window AC unit via the Internet? All possible with littleBits’ Smart Home Kit. Or you can build your own smart door lock with an Arduino and some other parts.


From energy savings to security to convenience to fun, the market is full of products and apps that put you firmly in control of your home and how it operates. It’s a gadget-lover’s paradise indeed.


Tom Tate writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned electric cooperatives.


Kwikset offers door locks you can control with your smartphone. The locks include features such as remote monitoring of lock status, temporary guest access, multiple users and more.


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