By Samantha Grose, designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO

Talking refrigerators, LCD screens on washers, ovens with more buttons than your laptop. Sure, there are lots of technologically advanced gadgets and gizmos out there, but how many of them are really useful? And which ones actually save you time or money? It’s easy to be wowed by “the internet of things,” but many of the so-called “smart” appliances out there are really just gimmicky and cumbersome. We’re here to help you suss out the smart from the not-so-smart appliances and household tools. Here are our top 5 picks for best home gadgets to save you time, money, or both:

Smart Home Gadgets (Image credit: chaoticmoon)

Smart Home Gadgets (Image credit: chaoticmoon)

 

1. Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm

Nest smoke and CO detector

How many times have you removed your smoke detector’s batteries because it’s either chirping at you to change them or because it was set off by your slightly burnt (whoops!) cooking? That doesn’t exactly leave your home protected, does it? Nest takes the annoyance out of traditional smoke detectors by allowing you to dismiss non-emergency smoke with the flick of a button on your smart phone. It also gives you updates on battery status and allows you to monitor your home from a distance through a user-friendly app.

If you’re still not convinced of the Nest smoke detector’s value and convenience, take a look at this video:

2. USB Wall Outlets

USB wall outlet jack

How many of your devices require a USB outlet for charging? Androids and iPhones, tablets and e-readers—they all require a USB port. So, why not skip the middleman and plug your USB cable directly into your wall outlet? This is an easy and convenient upgrade to make and it’s a great way to free up your standard outlet for traditional appliances, like toasters and microwaves.

(Bonus: Here’s a handy how-to guide from Apartment Therapy for upgrading your wall outlets)

3. Smart Washer

smart washer home

We’ve seen a lot of unnecessary functions on washers and dryers—LCD screens, incredibly specific wash cycle options you’ll never use, etc.—but there are some features out there that can actually save you money and reduce energy consumption. What features should you seek when shopping for a new washer?

  • A large capacity washer (larger loads cut energy consumption)
  • Cold water technology (90% of the energy used by a typical washer goes to heating water)
  • Load sensing technology (so you use just the right amount of water)
  • An Energy Star label

This washer by LG fits all our requirements, plus comes with a relatively low price tag. Want to control your washer with an app? Be prepared to shell out twice as much.

 4. Nest Thermostat

adjusting nest thermostat

Did you know thermostats control half your energy bill? The Nest Learning Thermostat is an incredibly easy tool for cutting costs and energy consumption. This thermostat remembers what temperatures you like during certain times of the day and creates a custom schedule for your home. Plus, you can control if from anywhere with your phone or computer.

Take a look at how intuitive it is! 

5. PIR motion sensor lights for garages/utility room/storage

PIR motion sensor lights

It’s easy to walk from one room to the next and neglect to turn off the lights. Let your house remember for you! PIR motion sensor lights can be programmed to meet your specific needs with the turn of a dial. You decide the sensor’s “range of vision” and how long a light should illuminate. They also have photosensors and can be programmed to turn on automatically at night. This is one gadget we recommend using in multiple locations inside (and outside) your home.

We have lots of recommendations (and opinions!) about smart home gadgets. Contact us if you’d like more information about a specific appliance.

Samantha Grose, Associate AIA, Allied ASID Designer for JP&COand Optima Homes

Author: Samantha

Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the TWIN CITIES area having completed many new homes and large scale whole house remodels.

Samantha received her BS from the University of Minnesota majoring in both ARCHITECTURE and ART. She is deeply committed to a creative approach giving you highly functional spaces with an aesthetic appeal for everyday living.

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Written by Samantha

Samantha Grose is both Associate AIA and Allied ASID. She is the lead designer for Optima Homes and JP&CO. She takes a unique approach to design creating spaces that are casually sophisticated and timeless in design, where you and your family can live comfortably. She has worked extensively throughout the...
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