Monday, March 25, 2013

5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

smarthome 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

Swapping out old home appliances and replacing them with new “smart” technologies and systems can be a good move by opening up the door to saving a substantial amount of money on utilities. Each household will be different and will require a unique look into the needs and uses of these potential technologies. Not every solution listed here will benefit every household equally. For example, small homes which don’t use very much electricity might not benefit from installing solar panels like a large home. The future looks bright for energy conservation and smart gadgets are entering the market for consumers at an ever increasing rate.

1 – Renewables

solar panels1 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

Solar energy. Solar panels convert the energy from the sun into electricity which is used in the home. Homes located in geographical areas with more sunlight will benefit more from these energy solutions. The direction of the roof also plays an important role in using energy from the sun. You’ll also want to consider the size of your home, how much energy you want to replace with renewables, and manufacture/government rebates and tax incentives for using solar panels.

In general, if your home uses lots of electricity you will begin to save money with solar energy very quickly. Many solar companies also now provide a power purchase agreement (PPA) in which you essentially lease the solar equipment from them and agree to pay for the energy your system produces. The energy is a fixed rate, the installation and maintenance costs the homeowner almost nothing, and the rates are much lower than traditional utilities. By combining solar renewable energy and home automation systems this becomes a smart alternative to getting electricity from the power company.

In general, by going with the solar panel solution, you can count on saving about 30% off your energy bill. If you decide to purchase the solar panels out right, plan on spending $2000-$10,000 depending on the size of your home.

wind turbines17 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

Wind energy. Purchasing and using home wind turbines to create electricity is another possibility in the quest to save money. The most effective wind turbines are not small. Many of them reach heights up to 20 or 30 feet in the air to produce the needed energy from the wind. If a tall wind turbine is going to be a problem as an eyesore this might not be a good solution. The good news is that even though they are tall there is not a problem with wind noise so they won’t be disturbing yourself or the neighbors by the noise they create.

Take a look at The Windspire, priced around $5,000 and with a annual energy production of 2000 kWh, to get an idea of whats out there. For a less pricey version of harnessing wind energy, look at Air Breeze, a small traditional looking wind prop capable of producing 200 watts daily. That’s about the amount of power to run a computer or TV. Priced at around $500 it might take you a while to make up the difference in energy saving. The wind generated renewable energy market doesn’t have roots as deep as solar yet, but the market is emerging and worth keeping your eye on. According to the US Energy Information Administration the average residential energy use is 11,496 kWh. If you had half a dozen Windspires in your yard you might be able to go completely powered by wind, but that’s probably not realistic or economical.

2 – Smart thermostats

The Nest Smart Thermostat in Kitchen 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

Investing a few hundred dollars on a thermostat which can teach itself the best way to manage temperature control in the home is a very worthy investment. There is a thermostat on the market which is getting a lot of recognition for its functionality and smart benefits to users, it is called Nest. This little device will run your home temperature settings all by itself and can help save money on energy bills. It learns when you wake up and will adjust the temperature to a comfortable setting before your feet hit the floor in the morning.

It will also learn when you go to work, come home from work, and can even sense your presence in the home and will adjust the temperature accordingly. Nest has built-in motion detectors to adjust temperatures to the perfect setting regardless if you are home or away. If you’re not satisfied with how the thermostat is being automated you can control it with your smartphone from anywhere. All these little adjustments will definitely save you money. 50% of the average homeowner’s electric bill goes to heating and cooling. Nest will also adjust itself automatically depending on the weather because it plugs into your Wi-Fi and checks forecasts.

According to the manufacturer, households could cut 30% off their average energy bill simply by plugging this little device in. So in essence, you get a thermostat which learns how to ultimately control your environment without your input, can save you up to 30% on your heating/cooling costs, and only cost about 10% more than a standard hi-tech thermostat on the market today.

3 – Light occupancy sensors

Occupansy sensor 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

Installing light occupancy sensors to turn off or on the lights has the potential to save money. As any parent knows, no matter how many times you remind your children to turn off lights they never seem to remember. The general estimation of how much money is wasted every year on lights which get left on ranges in hundreds of dollars. If a 100 W lightbulb is left on for 10 hours it uses 1000 W of electricity, or 1 kWh. A quick look at your electric bill will reveal how much you spend per kilowatt hour.

If the average is $.20, then that 100 W lightbulb left on for 10 hours would cost you…$.20. Then multiply this number by the amount of lights you leave on throughout the day and you will start to get an idea about how much energy you waste. Again, probably hundreds of dollars per year. A solution to that wasted energy is motion activated lighting sensors. A really easy way to implement this is by simply purchasing a motion sensor plug which fits in the old outlet.

Then plug the light into the new sensor, attach multiple lights to it, and you’re done. Highly trafficked rooms will probably not benefit much from this technology, but low to medium trafficked rooms, which often have lights forgotten in the on position will be the best bet. Simple motion sensors like this cost anywhere from $10-$20. There is another solution to controlling forgotten lights. Home automation systems can connect all lights to a computer program on your phone. You can simply monitor which lights are on and turn them off as needed.

4 – Smart grid ready appliances

LG Smart Appliances Just One Tap of the Smartphone Away 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

There is a strong sense in both private enterprise and government circles that the smart grid will be slowly implemented across much of the nation and the world over the next decade. The smart grid uses information to communicate the personal habits of electricity consumers back to the energy companies. In essence if your household uses lots of electricity during peak times you’ll be charged a higher rate. In response appliances are being rolled out which have the capability of communicating with the smart grid.

Not only will you be able to communicate with your refrigerator via your phone, your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and washing machine/dryer will all be able to communicate with the smart grid. Your appliances will automatically know optimal times to perform their functions. These times will be at the off-peak hours allowing you to save money by not incurring the higher rate. Manufacturers of such appliances have already introduced energy-saving features into their products which help mitigate energy costs, but these new smart appliances will take this a step further by knowing when to operate without you even worrying about those peak rate issues.

According to the Department of Energy the tax incentives and credits, plus the ability to lower energy costs, will help make these appliances purchase worthy just a few years into the purchase. The good news is that these smart grid ready appliances are finally on the market, and are not that much more highly priced than normal high-end appliances.

5 – Water wasting

water pebble 5 Smart Home Technologies That Will Save You Money

We all know that wasting water by taking extra long showers is bad for our utility bills and bad for the environment. There is also lots of wasted electricity heating up all that water for those showers, and don’t forget about wasted energy from old water heaters and non-insulated pipes. Because of this there might be a tendency for homeowners to consider upgrading their old-school water heater to a new tankless water heater in an attempt to save money on utility bills.

That is not a bad idea, but there might be some more practical solutions you can try first, because a tankless water heater is not inexpensive. Before you decide to go tankless you should contact an expert to look at your specific needs. The reality of the situation is that it really depends on the home, water use, and price for gas in the area. Even if water heaters are upgraded it is still possible to waste money by excess water usage if you don’t change bad showering habits. Sometimes the simplest devices can truly benefit us by simply reminding us to turn the water off. For only $10 you can purchase a simple product on the market called Water Pebble. It’s a small device you place at your feet in the shower. As you start the shower you’ll see a green flashing light. As you continue the light will go from green to yellow, and finally blink red indicating that your shower time is over.

Make no mistake about it, this device is smart. It tracks the amount of time you spend in the shower during the first use, and each consecutive use it shortens that time by seven seconds. When it becomes too short you simply hit the reset button. According to the manufacturer this device could end up saving you more than $300 per year on wasted water and energy. This might save you more than 12,000 gallons of water per year. Not a bad solution to save money with a simple $10 device.

courtesy of freshome 

Friday, March 8, 2013

10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home


SmartHomeART 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

Your smartphone is only as good as the apps you have, right? Of course I know there are other components to a quality smartphone than just applications. Things like cameras, Internet connectivity,file storage, or whatever you want to use it for, but when you get ahold of the right applications you can do more then you think. In fact, with the right tools your smartphone might even pay for itself.

Let’s explore some ways we can use our devices to manage our homes. You see, we live in an age where home appliances are becoming “smarter” everyday. That means they have more powerful computer chips installed within their plastic/stainless steal bodies and they can talk to each other and to your smartphone via Wi-Fi connectivity. Here are 10 ways you can utilize your smartphone to control your home.

1 – Smart thermostats

The cool little device called, Nest, is getting a lot of buzz lately. Remember the iPod? Yeah well, the guys who designed the iPod created a really neat thermostat. This thermostat has Wi-Fi, and it comes with an iPhone application. That means you can control the temperature of your home from anywhere! Do you want to save money by turning the temperature down while you’re gone, but you don’t want to come home to a freezing house? No problem. Use your smartphone to turn up the temperature before you get home.

Once you start using Nest it will learn your schedule and program itself to optimally save lots of money on utilities. That means it won’t be long before, Nest, is already changing the temperature automatically for you when you leave, and turning it back up when you get home.

2 – Motion activated security cameras

home cameras 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

Having a motion surveillance system  for your home is almost better than cable TV. There are nifty applications on the market coupled with compact, yet high-quality security cameras which allow you to be aware of anyone in your home. These cameras don’t record everything, they simply wait for motion to be detected and then switch on. It can alert you on your phone that it’s turning on and you can be anywhere in the world and still watch live footage from your home. Talk about a vacationers dream! You can also adjust the security settings with your smartphone, and if you couple that with some other home automation systems, you can control almost everything from your phone!

3 – Security system

HomeSecurity 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

Remember that home security system you had installed a few years ago with the control panel strategically placed by the garage door or master bedroom? Now with the availability of mobile computing, you can ditch the old control panel and program everything through your smartphone. You will also be able to receive instant notifications of any foul play.

If you have the newest smart key technology on the market called Lockitron, you’ll be able to lock, un-lock, and send time sensitive smart keys to your family and friends if they need to get in your house. Not only does this make life more hassle-free, but it also takes the worry out of giving your neighbor the key to your house while you’re on vacation, so he can feed your dog. All you do is give him a digital key that only works during the time you designate for it and your house locks up once the time expires.

4 – Pet feeder

Pet Feeder 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

If you’re like me, you love your pet, but you’re super busy and it’s not always convenient to be home at scheduled feeding times. There are several applications on the market you can download that allow a visual confirmation with a camera and a remote food dispenser.Pintofeed is one of a few new feeders using this cool new technology. We can all thank them for taking some hassle out of owning a pet. Now if someone would just invent an automated pooper-scooper…

5 – New improved lighting

Bedroom lighting 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

Phillips makes a smart light bulb called Hue, which allows you to easily control all the light bulbs in your house. This makes a lot of sense if you don’t want to completely retrofit to new lamps or light switches. Simply by these smart bulbs and you can change the color of the lights, how bright or dim you want them to be, and of course turn them on and off… so much for the clap-on and clap-off lights.

6 – Coffeemakers

Coffee Maker 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

Sure, some coffeemakers on the market are already fully programmable, but how many are connected to your smartphone? Can they course correct if you want to make a change? If you wake up in the morning and you don’t feel like the normal cup of java, and you want to get your day started with an espresso, instead of trekking across the entire house just to make the switch before the coffee pot turns on, just do it from your smartphone. Scanomat is leading the way in this amazingly useful trend.

7 – Smart keys

Tablet Home control 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

Using traditional lock and key deadbolts to open doors is so 2012. Upgrading your lock and key system means a lot of security like never worrying about somebody making a carbon copy of your key to enter your home when you’re not around is taken care of. It also means that you can see which doors are unlocked or open at any time. You can also make temporary keys for people who need to get inside on a short term basis. But for me, and most importantly, this means you don’t have to carry clunky keys around in your pocket anymore to open your home. As I mentioned above, Lockitron is leading the way in this exciting technology.

8 – Electrical outlet upgrades

If you’re not looking to go around buying a dozen new appliances that have Wi-Fi capability that talk to your smartphone just so you can turn on your coffee pot, you can retrofit old outlets with smart outlets that are app friendly. Simply plug in your appliances into these new outlets and you can control them with your phone. Best of all, they’re very cheap compared to buying all new appliances!

9 – Remotely start your vehicle

There are several applications on the market which connect your smartphone to your vehicle, allowing you to remotely start it and turn on your heater. This is especially beneficial when you live in climates which, well let’s just say, aren’t friendly for wearing shorts all year. Running outside in 10 degrees below to warm up the car is brutal and unnecessary. One company I found that has great reviews and an innovative product is Viper.

10 – Home automation

Home automation Kitchen TV 10 Ways to Utilize Your Smartphone to Control Your Home

It is true that you can DIY most of these applications? Yes, it certainly is, but the problem you will find is that when you piecemeal all of these processes you might come up short by not being able to cover absolutely everything in your home. In addition, you might have to download dozens of applications which talk to dozens of devices or appliances to make this all work. Talk about confusing.

Consider a third party solution to automate your home by retrofitting old appliances, lights, security systems, and even solar panels. If you live in North America, consider using Vivint. They’re considered by many 3rd party reviewers as the best “bang for you buck”. If you live in Europe, consider using Quby. I’ve read good things about them as well. If you just have a few small pet projects then DIY and test it out, but if you are thinking big and have a limited budget then automate with a professional.

Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home


home automation Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

We live in a time unlike any other. With so many technological advancements at our fingertips, our lives are made easier, which is fortunate considering the fast-paced lives most of us lead. In recent years, great strides have been made in making homes a bit more “tech savvy.” This technology, in short, allows the homeowner to run his or her home while away through a remote, often on a Smartphone or iPad. In fact, these homes have been labeled as being “smart,” due to the fact that they can seemingly think on their own. This ability to “think,” also known as being an automated home, helps homeowners in a number of ways: 10, in fact. What are the ways in which a home automation system can benefit you?

Benefit #1 – Adds Safety Through Appliance and Lighting Control

home light automation iphone Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Another home automation advantage is added safety for both your family and home. You have the ability to control the small appliances and lighting, again with the simple tap of your finger on your favorite technological device. You can always check to make sure your daughter turned off her curling iron or ensure that your oven has been flipped off from the morning family breakfast. Your home and family also enjoy an added measure of safety through your ability to control the lights in your home. Not only does this allow you to make sure lights are off when you are gone to save electricity, it also allows you to turn them on at specific times if you would like it to look like you are home. This also helps increase the safety and security of your home.

Benefit #2 – Secures Home Through Automated Door Locks

automated door locks Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of an automated system in your home is automated door locks. How often have you left for work in the morning only to realize that you forgot to lock your front door? Through an automated system, you can lock your doors with the tap of your finger. This quickly eases your mind, so you can focus on your day’s work rather than who may or may not be entering your home. This is also a great benefit for you if you have to leave to work before your children leave for school. Often, children run out the door to catch the bus and forgot to lock the door. You can easily have control of the situation by locking the door from your office each day. The fact that you can be alerted each time someone enters your home also allows you to monitor who is entering your home at all times, even when you are not there.

Benefit #3. – Increases Awareness Through Security Cameras

iphone home security camera Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Unfortunately, we just cannot be everywhere at once. This means that we often miss things that happen, perhaps even in our own home or yard. With a home automation system, you can easily see what is happening. Now you can make sure no unwelcome guests arrive unbeknownst to you or your family. Security cameras increase family safety by recording clips when detecting movement or at specific times of the day or night.

Benefit #4 – Increases Convenience Through Temperature Adjustment

home temperature control automation Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Often, we leave for work early in the morning and forget to adjust our thermostat. As a result, we come home to a house that is severely too hot or too cold. This is inconvenient, as it usually takes a good amount of time for the household temperature to increase or decrease after being adjusted. However, with a home automation system, you can simply adjust the thermostat from the convenience of your office a few hours before heading home. This is both cost effective and saves on energy, and it helps you stay “on top of” your life when you have run out the door first thing in the morning without considering much else besides arriving to work on time.

Benefit #5 – Saves Time

2283676770 6b53f8b77f Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

It is no secret that today’s world is busier than in days past. If you are like most people, you are constantly running from place to place, working to accomplish everything on your never-ending “to-do” list. Because of the high-tech nature of a home automation system, you never have to worry about running home to open the door for your children after school or making a quick stop at home in order to adjust household items. In short, you easily save precious time and experience more daily productivity.

Benefit #6 – Saves Money and Increases Convenience

As mentioned earlier, a home automation system saves money. The most beneficial impact the system will have is on your monthly utility bill. No longer will you be spending money for household appliances left on in your family’s absence. You will also save on gas costs, as you will never need to stop by the house in order to turn something off or on. This is certainly convenient. You will have complete control to make sure costs are low without exerting any additional effort

Benefit #7 – Contributes to Economy

3990492123 88cba94345 Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Simply put, you are contributing to the economy when you purchase and utilize a home automation system. You ensure that you are only using the energy and resources that are necessary while you are home.

Benefit #8 – Increases Peace of Mind

Perhaps this benefit will not apply to everyone, but for those who habitually worry about whether or not they have taken care of everything at home before leaving for the day, a home automation system is a perfect investment. In short, it offers peace of mind. This is quite beneficial for those individuals who leave each day, obsessively worrying if everything is in order. With so many stresses in daily life, it is nice to take at least one off the list by being able to see what is going on at home without physically being there.

Benefit #9 – Allows You Control When Out of Town

5963656323 433dfe8fc3 Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Have you ever gone out of town and given a key to a neighbor? Many do this in order to allow the neighbor to perform household chores that cannot be neglected such as feeding the plant, taking care of the dog, or delivering the mail. A home automation system allows you just a bit more control than simply turning over a key, which is a great relief to some homeowners. You can easily set up a time for the person to enter your home and let him or her in yourself through your smartphone or iPad.

This allows you to stay in control of the situation. You no longer need to worry about the neighbor losing that key or having complete, unrestrained access to your belongings. In addition, you can make sure the chores are actually being completed, so you do not have any surprises when you return home.

Benefit #10 – Keeps Tabs On Your Children

digital wireless home monitoring Top 10 Benefits of Automating Your Home

Through the home automation system, you can easily keep tabs on your children. You can ensure that they make it safely into the house each night, letting them in without getting out of bed to greet them. You can also see their comings and goings on security cameras, as well as make sure the porch is lit when they arrive home.

This helps you keep them safe, as well as helps you know what they are up to each day, which can be quite helpful for a busy parent. In sum, investing in a home automation system will benefit you in several ways. It is cost effective. It will save you time and energy. And perhaps the most important? It will keep you and your family safe and your home secure.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Below are four set standards to acquire land in Ghana:

1.       Land Inspection: The investor must check the boundary corners of the land in question to verify the full extent of the land and be sure of the feasibility of the project to be used. This must be done by an expert and must be in the presence of the land owners as witnesses.

2.       Land Search: This is the most important stage. Here Surveyors   go onto the land to pick and demarcate the land parcel. The result is taken to the lands commission of Ghana to verify the true ownership of the. If the name that comes up is the same as your land owners, then you can carry on the process, if not quit or seek a legal advise.

3.       Land Documentation: The investor can proceed with the documentations, normally after a quarter or part payment has been done. The land owners then prepare the documents which must include a true and certified copy of Indenture and site plans.

4.       Land Title Certification: Actually this can be done simultaneously with the projects inception since the land title certification from the Land title registry of Ghana takes quite some time, about four mouths.


Sample Of a Site Plan

Sample Of a Site Plan

Source: Gyropod Survey Consult