Outdoor Christmas Yard Decorating Ideas

Holiday Decorating Trends 2019

Outdoor Christmas Yard Decorating Ideas – Christmas yard decorations welcome others to your home by means of drawing the eye from the road to your doorstep. There are many Christmas yard decoration ideas to make this area a bright beautiful space. Decorate with lights, garland, and bows to really attract attention from friends and neighbors this holiday season. Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-32415 to discuss your holiday decorating needs. Outdoor Christmas Yard Decorating Ideas

Fun DIY Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas include creating popular Christmas light balls. Placing various size balls of light across the lawn is an innovative Christmas yard decoration idea everyone loves. By wrapping Christmas lights around chicken wire balls, you can create a whimsical scene in your yard that leaves everyone’s jaws dropping. All you need for this DIY Christmas decoration is chicken wire, strings of LED mini lights, and wire cutters.

Add Animation with a Tree of Lights: A tree of lights will shine brightly and be the focal point of your Christmas yard decorations. Using a basketball pole, C7 light strings, gutter guards, a tree topper, and light stakes, you can make your own tree of lights. Alternate twinkle bulbs with regular bulbs to add animation to you tree.

Light show trees are available with nine stunning visual effects and various sizes allowing them to fit into any theme. Outdoor Christmas Yard Decorating Ideas

Decorate an Outdoor Christmas Tree: If your yard has evergreen trees, consider creating an outdoor Christmas tree. It will brighten up the entire yard. String mini lights throughout the branches, choosing a color theme based on your outdoor decorations. Be sure to string lights among the interior branches instead of just draping them on the exterior branches to make the whole tree brighter, and add ornaments to reflect light.

Decorate with Topiary Animals: Lighted animals placed next to trees and nestled near bushes depict the warmth of nature during the holiday season. Create a group of elegant, grazing deer with these lighted creatures made of either grapevine or artificial greenery. Position them in a row to illustrate Santa’s reindeer team that pull his sled. Topiary animals are available in warm incandescent or LED light colors and in several differing heights so that they suit any area near your home. With deer that stand, graze, and lie down, you can also decorate throughout your yard with the animals to symbolize nature visiting your yard.

Write Christmas messages with mini lights: Spelling out Merry Christmas in the center of your yard will make a statement, literally. Use black out caps to make spaces between letters. Make the words as large or small as you like. Use contrasting lights with the other lights in the yard to make your message stand out more. A Photo Moon Lamp with a glowing Christmas message would also look stunning between these lights. You can get these from websites like Soufeel; there are options to order personalized moon lamps with pictures or messages of your choice.

Animated Motifs: Another exciting Christmas yard decoration idea is an animated motif. These motifs come in all shapes and sizes with various themes. For large yards, consider a motif such as elves stuffing gifts into Santa’s stocking. Similarly, if you’re an anime fan, you could consider an anime night light for a small yard. With so many different motifs to choose from, there is sure to be one that will fit perfectly into your yard decorating style. Outdoor Christmas Yard Decorating Ideas

Outline Walkways with Pathway Lights: Pathway lights are a great idea for creating a bright welcoming path to the front door. Stakes hold light strings in place. When choosing the height of your light stakes, you will want to take your local weather patterns into consideration and plan accordingly. Yards with lots of snow will need the 15 inch stake, while areas without snow will only need the 4.5 inch size. Christmas Lights, Etc has created pathway light kits with the most popular C7 and C9 bulbs, stringers, and stakes. Choose between LED or incandescent bulbs and clear or multicolor lights.

Place Starlight Stakes along walkways: Another great way to light paths and driveways is with starlight stakes. These bright balls of light can be incandescent or LED and are available in many eye popping colors. Their stakes are adjustable, for perfect height placement!

Walkway Trees: For those with walkways and no natural hedges, place walkway trees along the sidewalk to complement staked lights. Take into consideration the rest of your Christmas light colors and choose walkway trees with complementary lights. If your entire home is decorated in warm tones, walkway trees featuring warm white LED lights may work best, whereas cool white lighting pairs perfectly with multicolor LED walkway trees to add a pop of color. Meanwhile, those walkways with natural hedges, it’s best to trim those hedges with the use of the best hedge trimmer cordless.

Hang Snowflake and Star Motifs on Gates: Another Christmas yard decoration idea is to place glittering snowflakes or shining stars on your gates to welcome visitors to your home. You can also mount them to your house or hang them from trees to create a glittering scene. These bright motifs will draw attention to your yard.

Hang Garland on Fences: Prelit garland works well to spruce up fences and gates. For quick decorating, select prelit garlands or wrap unlit ones with the lights of your choice. Long lenghts of garland work best for decorating fences by allowing the garland to drape slightly in between posts. Add ribbon or other decor to coordinate with your overall design. Attach matching prelit wreaths to posts, windows, or doors.

Drape Icicle Lights over Fences: Hang icicle lights along fences to convey a sense of falling snow. You can also drape garland lights or mini lights in a swag display to create an attractive border around the property.

Wrap Trees in Lights: Trees offer an amazing opportunity for brightening up your yard at Christmas. Any tree can be wrapped in lights, whether it is a full Evergreen tree or a bare tree with empty branches. Choose LED lights to connect more strings together. Start by wrapping from the trunk up to the limbs. Not every limb needs to be covered, but wrapping a majority of the branches will illuminate the tree in the darkness.

Already wrapping your trees? Create a fresh new look this year by hanging Starlight Spheres from the branches of your light wrapped tree!

Place Net Lights on the Bushes: Net lights are a quick, uniform lighting solution for homes with quite a bit of bushes and shrubs! These 4′ by 6′ rectangles are netted by their wires and come in colorful light themes with both LED and incandescent bulbs. With ends that connect together, these net lights help uniformly cover bushes.

Hang Stars and Snowflakes: Hang Moravian stars in trees to make the night sky appear closer to home. Add a new layer of interest to your overall yard design, or use as the star in your outdoor Nativity scene. Hang lighted snowflakes and stars from trees to look like snow frozen in motion, while stars twinkle brightly in the night.

Add Twinkle and Color Change Lights: Spruce up any Christmas yard decoration by adding animation with color changing or twinkling lights. Twinkle and color change lights are available in bright LED bulbs or traditional incandescent bulbs. Multicolor, warm white, and cool white are all options when considering color change and twinkle bulbs.

Hang Grand Cascade Lights: Bring the mysteries of the universe to your Christmas light display this season. Cool white Grand Cascade LED tubes are designed to look like falling snow and mimic the look of shooting stars. Suspend LED tubes in a variety of colors from the branches of trees and along the roof to design an enchanting Christmas lights display.

Christmas Lighting Ideas leave you Breathless


Christmas Lighting Ideas leave Breathless – Besides decorating the interior of your home for Christmas, also you should pay attention to the exterior. Make a magical atmosphere in your backyard that will be admired by all who pass by it. Use all lights you have available and if you are able to buy more it will be better, that way you will make your exterior even more beautiful and attractive. We made one collection of fascinating ideas to help you to transform your yard into astonishing paradise with all kinds of lights that emits magical atmosphere and everybody gonna love it for surely. Take a look and get inspired to make this Christmas atmosphere like never before. Have a fun and enjoy!  Christmas Lighting Ideas that will leave you Breathless Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman: 214-507-3415

Christmas is here and we have to prepare our homes for welcoming this happy occasion. Decorating your home for celebrating Christmas is a necessity without which you will not feel that Christmas is around you and celebrated by many people all over the world. There are many things that are required for making your home sparkle at Christmas as you have to purchase a Christmas tree which is the most important thing for celebrating Christmas, ornaments for decorating Christmas tree and other parts of your home and there are also lights which are essential for making your home inviting. Decorating homes for Christmas is not limited to indoor decoration as the area that is located outside our homes especially the front yard is very important to be decorated especially with lights. Lights are the best things to be used for outdoor decoration as they illuminate the front yard and make your home inviting for all of those who are going to celebrate Christmas at your home. There are countless outdoor Christmas lighting ideas that are presented every year to make your home sparkle during the holiday. Here are the top 10 outdoor Christmas light ideas that are presented for 2015 to decorate your home and make it inviting.

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless


The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless


The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless


The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

The Best 40 Outdoor Christmas Lighting Ideas That Will Leave You Breathless

Lighting Trends


Lighting Trends – Lighting is a key architectural and design element in a home. And much like fashion, lighting trends change regularly. If you’re looking for a fairly simple way to give your space an update, refreshing lighting fixtures can take your space’s style to the next level. Check out these top 2016 lighting trends forecasted from the leading retailers and trendsetters.

1. Upgraded Industrial
One of the lighting trends for 2016 is Lamps Plus’ “upgraded industrial”. According to a company press release, “the warehouse-inspired-movement-cum-mainstream design staple is seeing a bit of refinement.” Look for modern industrial lighting featuring rich tones and alternative metals. Don’t be afraid to invest in the industrial trend either – the look is here to stay for the next few years. Lighting Trends

2. Malleable Metals
Modern home retailer, 2Modern’s, top lighting trend for 2016 is the malleable pendant or chandelier. Because each customer’s lighting needs are different, 2Modern has expanded its malleable lighting collection in order to provide “a lamp that can be tailored to spatial needs.” On-trend examples include Rich Brilliant Willing’s Palindrome Chandelier or Moooi’s Heracleum. Lighting Trends

3. Customizable Color
Ingo Schaer of Interior Deluxe, a high-end modern lighting retailer, forecasts that its customers will be looking more and more to customize the shape of their lighting, and more importantly, the quality of light. Lighting like the crystal table lamp by Qis Design has the ability to change the color of light – from functional white to a warmer color to set the mood. But customizable lighting color doesn’t stop at warm or cool light. A spectrum of additional colors is often part of the package. Lighting Trends

4. Geometric Lighting
Bellacor forecasts geometric lighting fixtures as one of the hottest lighting trends now. Its recommendation is to keep it simple: “Although geometric lighting fixtures invoke a minimalist aesthetic, they’re not just for modern and contemporary interiors. The key to their versatility is utter simplicity.” A geometric trend is a great option if you’re looking to give your space a modern or mid-century vibe. Often it is seen that hospitality chains opt for geometric light fixtures in order to give their space a spruce up. Contacting experts from companies such as Modern Place or similar others could prove fruitful if you are looking to upgrade your lighting fixtures at home for a more contemporary look! Lighting Trends

5. Nature Inspired
The Messe Frankfurt Light+Building show in Germany is the event where retailers, designers and architects go to view what’s next in the lighting design world. The Trend Forum at the show forecast that one of the next trends for the home will be lighting “infused with allusions of nature: in organic forms, in the spectrum of natural colors and the world of bud, leaf and plant motifs.” Lighting inspired by nature softens the feel of cold, contemporary or bare spaces by adding softer lines and an organic feel to the room. Lighting Trends

6. Neon
In recent years neon has started coming back into the public eye, especially among the younger generations. The Trend is still in its infancy, hence its lower placement on the list, however, it is rumoured that it might set off a second wave of neon lighting coming back. From varying designs and eye-catching colours, they can work in many settings from advertising outside buildings, to any relaxed room in the house like a game room or bedroom. The bright, attracting light can add either a more excited tone to the room, or sometimes a more laid back atmosphere depending on how it’s used. For those interested, neon lights can be bought from stores like Neon Mama, who specialise in them. Lighting Trends

Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

Exterior Christmas Decorating Ideas

Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends – Christmas is here and we have to prepare our homes for welcoming this happy occasion. Decorating your home for celebrating Christmas is a necessity without which you will not feel that Christmas is around you and celebrated by many people all over the world. There are many things that are required for making your home sparkle at Christmas as you have to purchase a Christmas tree which is the most important thing for celebrating Christmas, ornaments for decorating Christmas tree, custom face stickers to stick your families faces around your house, and other parts of your home and there are also lights which are essential for making your home inviting. Decorating homes for Christmas is not limited to indoor decoration as the area that is located outside our homes especially the front yard is very important to be decorated especially with lights. Lights are the best things to be used for outdoor decoration as they illuminate the front yard and make your home inviting for all of those who are going to celebrate Christmas at your home. There are countless outdoor Christmas lighting ideas that are presented every year to make your home sparkle during the holiday. Here are the top 10 outdoor Christmas light ideas that are presented for 2015 to decorate your home and make it inviting. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

1. Geometric lights for trees


It is not enough to just add lights to your front yard for illuminating it. You also have to choose those shapes and designs that allow you to make the outdoor decoration of your home inviting. Using geometric lights is the best way to achieve what you want as they add a modern touch to the look of the area outside your home. Geometric lights are available in different shapes and colors making it easy for you to choose what you like for your outdoor decoration. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

2. Dark Walkways

Lighting walkways is essential especially during the holidays as there are many guests who come to your home and need lights to be able to easily find their way to the door of your home. You can use strings of lights for this purpose and hanging them is not difficult as you can easily make use of the trees and shrubs that you have along the walkway or around it to hang your strings of lights. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends
3. Empty branches

empty-branchesMost of the branches lose their leaves during the winter season which makes them unsuitable for welcoming Christmas and decorating the front yard. You can easily overcome this problem through decorating branches using lights. Wrap strings of lights around the branches of the trees and make them approximately at the same height to make them look fascinating. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

4. Left without lights

There are different structures that you can leave outside your home without being lit. These unlit structures can be illuminated by the surrounding lights if it is not necessary to add lights to these structures. This can save your money and effort but you have to make sure that the unlit structures are located at well-lit areas in the yard. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

5. Net lights

If you find that it is difficult for you to use fairy lights or strings of lights because you do not know where to start or stop wrapping the strings that you have, use net lights. It is known that net lights are more expensive than the strings of lights, but in fact they will save your time and effort unlike the strings of lights that are tiring for many people while being installed. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

6. Decorating hedges

There are several methods that can help you to decorate hedges in your yard since you can use the traditional strings of lights or net lights. String lights are cheaper than the net lights, but they require exerting more effort and time while installing them unlike net lights which are more expensive but less tiring. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

7. The exterior entry of your home

Decorating the exterior entry of your home can be done though using wreaths and ornaments and to make these decorative items sparkle especially in darkness at night, add strings of lights to them. Make sure that the decorative items that you use for decorating the exterior entry are large enough to be seen from the street to make it easy for the guests to find your home. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

8. Using a mixture of lights

It is a perfect idea to use different sources of lights for decorating your front yard. You can use strings of lights, net lights, sensory-activated motion lights and other sources of lights that you use throughout the year. Mixing lights can help you to save energy, money and effort as depending on just one source of lights can cost you a lot of money and can also be more tiring while installing the light sources that you want to use. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

9. Using LED lights

Led lights are known to be cheaper than the other Christmas lights that we usually use. In addition to being cheap, LED lights do not consume a large amount of power and energy like the traditional Christmas lights and they also last for a longer time. All of these reasons make the LED lights a perfect choice for you to get your yard decorated without spending a lot of money. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

10. Christmas wishes with lights

It is one of the most fascinating ideas to use lights for creating Christmas wishes in your front yard. You can make whatever you want such as MERRY CHRISTMAS and other wishes that you may like to display during the holidays in front of your home. Using different types of lights such as LED lights can help you to do this. Outdoor Christmas Decorating Trends

Hot Renovation Trends


Hot Renovation Trends – There are those of you who remodel based solely on your own interests and others who renovate based on the popular trends in housing. Each side has its pros and cons, but for the purpose of this article, I will focus on the hot housing trends that are sure to be popular in 2016.

Remodeling based on current and future trends vastly improves your odds of recouping the cost you put into the home. While very few projects recoup 100% of the total cost you put into it, some retrieve more than others. Therefore, I analyzed data from the three most recent Remodeling’s Cost Vs. Value reports to find the most ROI-friendly remodeling projects.

If the past three years are any indication, the following 10 home remodeling ideas are sure to remain valuable in 2016.

1. Entry Door Replacement
Surprising to many, but the most valuable remodeling project for the last three years (in terms of cost recovered) has been entry door replacement (steel) and the value is only going up. From 2013 to 2015, the cost recouped was 73%, 97% and 102% respectively. According to our entry door replacement cost guide, the average cost to replace a front door ranges from $400 to $850. While the total cost and added value is not near that of major remodeling projects, such as full kitchen or bathroom remodels, in terms of ROI, entry door replacement can’t be beat. Hot Renovation Trends

2. Bathroom Remodel
Moving to upscale projects, those that require more time and money, bathroom remodels will always be one the most popular home remodeling projects across the nation. The bathroom, as we all know, is the most trafficked room in the home. It’s the only room that you must enter two times a day (assuming you brush your teeth twice) and one of two rooms (bathroom and kitchen) that really sells houses. No matter whom you ask, assuming all other elements of the home are sound, bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. According to Remodeling, the average recouped value over the past three years has hovered around 60%. Nonetheless, as most bathroom remodels in their report cost around $51,000 (remember, upscale), the added value is quite high. Therefore, even if you put in $10,000 towards a bathroom, you can expect to retrieve $6,000 the day you sell the house. Hot Renovation Trends

3. Garaged Door Remodel or Addition
Another high ROI renovation project is garage door replacement. Once again, the total added value does not compare to major remodels, but the percentage recouped is hard to beat. The percentage retrieved for the last three years was 88%, 83% and 75% (2013). As you can see, we are trending in the right direction. Considering that the average garage door installation or replacement cost is $964, you can expect to recoup $848 at resale. You can visit the action garage door website to learn more about Hot Renovation Trends

4. Minor Kitchen Remodel
Sooner or later, we were going to get to the crown jewel of them all. The kitchen sells homes. If you want to get rid of your home, spend your money in the kitchen, whether that be by hiring N-Hance of North San Diego County or another renovation company, or by making small changes yourself. This is where potential homeowners envision themselves and will more often than not, make or break the sale. From 2013 to 2015, the average percentage recouped from minor kitchen remodels was 75%, 83% and 79%. By Remodeling’s standard, minor kitchen renovation projects are those under $20,000. Hot Renovation Trends

5. Major Kitchen Remodel
While the average kitchen renovation may be less, many homeowners are spending more than $20,000 on their kitchen remodeling projects. Fortunately, they are still recouping more than 65% of that cost back when it comes time to sell. Some of the kitchen aspects many homeowners remodel are: Countertops, Cabinets, Flooring, Under cabinet Lighting, Lighting, Islands, Storage. Remember that your kitchen sink faucets should match your kitchen style. Hot Renovation Trends

6. Deck Addition
Especially for those of you in the Midwest or East, many of us try to take advantage of nice weather throughout the year. After all, when at least a third of the year is ruined by snow, we learn to appreciate cool, sunny days. One way to really take advantage of the nice weather is by enjoying it on a deck. According to the report, most homeowners recoup at least 80% of the total cost after adding a wood deck. That was a big increase from 2013 when there was only a 67% average. Therefore, as the average price to build a deck is $6,148, homeowners can expect to retrieve $4,918. Hot Renovation Trends

7. Siding Replacement
Believe it or not, there are many different kinds of siding. While vinyl certainly dominated the industry last decade, other options are starting to creep up the list as more homeowners are going with wood, brick or stone as well. Nonetheless, many homeowners bought their homes with vinyl siding and do not want to change the exterior. Fortunately, the average recoup percentage for vinyl siding replacement has increased for the last three years from 72% in 2013 to 78% in 2014 and 81% in 2015. Just know that while the average price to repair siding is $545, while the average to install balloons up to $7,415. Hot Renovation Trends

8. Attic Bedrooms
Many homeowners are adding or converting rooms into bedrooms as a result of elderly parents moving in or children returning from college. Well, according to the report, many homeowners are converting their attics into bedrooms. To no surprise, added bedrooms vastly increase the value of your home. Bigger families demand homes with more bedrooms and as a result, pay more. In 2015, the addition of an attic bedroom cost $51,000, but 77% of that was retrieved at the time of the sale. If you are considering adding a bedroom, but not sure if the cost is worth the headache, please see 7 Benefits Of A Home Addition. Hot Renovation Trends

9. Window Replacement
The window industry has changed dramatically over the years as more homeowners become energy efficient. As such, they are replacing their old, beat-up windows with energy-efficient residential window replacement that keeps all that expensive warm air in the home where it belongs. You could always look at Replacement Windows Toronto for inspiration and ideas to renovate your home. In 2015, those who replaced their windows retrieved roughly 75% of the total cost. The overall price for a window replacement will depend on the window type and number of windows you choose to update. More often than not, window companies will offer a discount to homeowners replacing more than three windows at once. Hot Renovation Trends

10. Personalized Projects
Despite all the remodeling ideas above, personalized projects will always be on the list of most popular renovations. If you want to paint your kitchen orange, go ahead. If you want to add a third sink to your bathroom, do it! After all, you are the one living in your home. You have to stare at your kitchen walls and use that bathroom every day. If it makes you happy, do it. Hot Renovation Trends

Just know that when it comes time to sell, chances are, no one will enjoy an orange kitchen wall. Better to make all common, neutral updates before listing your home.

Open Floor Plans – Trend for Modern Living

open floor plans

Open Floor Plans: A Trend for Modern Living

Turn on any home-design TV show and you’ll repeatedly hear the words “open concept.” Tearing down walls to create open floor plans for the living, dining and kitchen area is what open-concept design is all about. Contact Ted at Plano Texas Handyman: 214-507-3415 to discuss ways to transform your home into open concept living.

For some, separate rooms still hold their charm. But many homeowners today are taking a sledgehammer to their traditional floor plans so they can enjoy cooking, eating and movie watching all in one space.

What Started This Trend?
Decades ago, homes were built with the notion that every room has a distinct function. You cook in a kitchen, so it was a separate room – often with a door. Dining rooms were formal. Living rooms were for entertaining or relaxing, and were set apart from the kitchen. Open Floor Plans can really help make your new luxury home look even more spacious. If you want to learn more about customizing your new home, you can check out somewhere like https://www.cayenaatx.com/available-homes/ to find out more.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, homebuilders saw the open living plan as a way to efficiently design a home using less square footage. Ranch and split-level homes became very popular.

Today, architecture and interior design still take their cues from economic considerations, but they also are influenced by cultural norms and a desire for convenience (multitasking, anyone?).

We have blurred gender roles; both parents simultaneously share cooking and child-care responsibilities. And we live in a tech- and media-driven world in which catching up on the day’s news during dinner is not only acceptable, but expected.

An open floor plan allows for maximum light in a space.

Benefits of Open Floor Plans:
Open-concept living is a favorite for many reasons. First, it can make even the smallest space feel bigger and brighter. A small apartment with a tiny, windowless kitchen off the living room can be transformed into a light-filled space by replacing the wall with an island or table. Open Floor Plans

Entertaining is a breeze with an open-flow kitchen and living area. You can chat with your guests while you cook. Kitchen islands or tables that are typically used as room demarcations become a focal point for food and drinks.

A large “great room” is great for keeping an eye on your little ones, too. You can efficiently cook dinner or accomplish other household tasks while interacting with your kids. Placing a desk and computer against a wall or the back of the sofa makes the room even more multi functional. Open Floor Plans

Open floor plans offer easier conversation but little privacy.

Challenges of Open Floor Plans:
As much as we rave about the space, light and flow that a large, open room gives us, there are certainly some challenges. Obviously, some privacy is lost when you tear down walls and join everything together. Talking on the phone in the kitchen while your kids are watching TV could be difficult.

Losing wall space for your photos and artwork is another good reason to keep a wall intact. Fewer walls also means fewer electrical outlets; concealing wires in a large, open space can be tricky.

Finally, if you hate seeing a mess, open-concept living might not be for you, unless you live alone or have roommates who are also neat freaks. Toy chaos or messy kitchens are easily seen in open floor plans. Staying tidy, or at least having proper storage, is key for open-concept living.

Design Tips for Open Floor Plans
Define spaces with furniture, rugs and lighting.

Use Furnishings and Lighting to Define Areas
Carve out separate functional spaces using furniture such as dining room tables and chairs. Another example might be to place a sofa backed with a console table outside the kitchen to delineate the start of the living room. Further define the living room by placing a designer rug from bazaar velvet in the center of that space.

Lighting also helps to define different parts of a room. Anchor a dining table with a chandelier, or place a large ceiling fan in the center of the living space. There are some gorgeous Ceiling Fans online nowadays, so do not be afraid to do some research to find the best option for your room.

Above all, keep your design style similar throughout the space.

Maintain Design Continuity
It may sound obvious, but maintaining an aesthetic flow throughout an open-concept living space is paramount. Fundamental design features such as flooring and recessed lighting should be consistent.

Color palettes in different spaces should complement one another. Add layers of texture and different hues for highlights and accents. Open Floor Plans

Each area should have a statement element.

Create a Feature in Each Area
Creating a standout design feature in each area will not only help to define each space but also make your room shine. For example, you might try a gallery wall in the dining room.

Hang an oversized chandelier in the living area, or use zebra wood for the base of your white kitchen island. Have fun and give each functional space a complementary personality.

Keep your views unobstructed. Image source: P2 Design

Keep the Space Open
Allowing open views from each area to the next is key in open floor plans. Be stylish but strategic with placement; don’t clutter the sight lines with tall bookcases or inappropriately large furniture or accessories.

For example, an arch lamp over the sofa that blocks the view of the kitchen wouldn’t allow for a free flow of conversation. Also be sure to keep windows and natural light unobstructed.

Open floor plans certainly have their drawbacks, but the efficient use of space, multifunctional elements and brighter living areas make them a popular choice for today’s homeowners. What’s your preference? Do you think a great room is a great way to go, or do you like your walls and privacy?

Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money

home energy

The Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money – Have you thought about making energy retrofits to your home? It’s a great way to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your carbon footprint. Home energy efficiency improvements are good for your bank account, too, because money you invest in energy efficiency or renewable energy systems will pay off over time in reduced energy bills. That’s especially true right now, because the federal government currently offers big financial incentives for purchasing solar panels, wind turbines, efficient windows, added insulation, woodstoves and more. It’s also possible to finance home energy upgrades with a loan specifically designed for energy conservation. These loans are usually called energy improvement mortgages. Metropolitan Mortgage Corporation’s website here can provide you with easy determinants for energy improvements you need. Which projects make the most sense for your home? Which are really worth the money? And if you can’t do all of them, where should you start?

Imagine You Had a Little Extra Dough …
Each home is different, and how much you could benefit from a particular project depends on many variables, including the age and design of your home, your financial situation, and your personal priorities. To help focus on what you really need and want, consider this hypothetical scenario: You have been given $5,000 to spend on home energy improvements. What would you do with the money?

Some of the projects that may come to mind first, such as solar-electric (photovoltaic) panels and w

ind power systems, are outside that budget. For example, if you were to purchase a residential wind turbine, you could expect to spend at least $10,000 and easily as much as $50,000. Solar panels usually fall into a similar price range. Energy-efficient windows come with a big price tag, too. They can cost between $200 to $800 per window. Add the cost of installation, and depending on the size of your home and the number of windows, you could easily spend $10,000 or more. If you have the budget to spend, it is well worth the investment to contact a solar energy equipment supplier to see how you can upgrade your home. In the long run, you are going to save on utility bills.

Can you make significant energy improvements to your home on a more modest budget? Absolutely! You could add insulation, buy a new, high-efficiency furnace, or purchase a new energy-efficient refrigerator. The big question is how to decide which of these energy improvements will provide the biggest benefits for you.

Regardless of your home’s age, most residential efficiency experts recommend a residential energy audit as a first step. An energy audit costs about $300, although low-cost or free audits are sometimes offered by local utilities. George Twigg, the deputy policy director at Efficiency Vermont, a state organization that connects homeowners with qualified auditors and contractors, explains how this process works: “The contractor will help guide the homeowner through the most cost-effective things that can be done to save energy. Often it’s sealing air leaks and other ways to tighten up the house. Those strategies have a reasonably fast payback, as opposed to windows, which have a fairly long payback time.” Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money

A “payback period” is the time required for the improvement to save enough fuel or energy to pay for itself, and it’s a useful tool in determining which high-dollar home improvements will yield quick results. For example, for home insulation upgrades, a payback of three to five years is not unusual, while for energy-efficient windows, a payback period of more than 10 years is common. One thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t rely too heavily on payback period estimates from product manufacturers. Look for estimates from sources that don’t have a vested interest in the results, such as a state energy agency or an energy auditor (especially an energy auditor who isn’t also proposing to do the repair work he or she recommends.) Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money

Real People, Real Money
To get a sense of the real costs and savings of home energy improvements, I interviewed three people in different parts of the country whose homes had recently undergone extensive energy retrofits. Here are their real-world experiences, and a breakdown of how much of it they could have done on a modest budget – in this case, our hypothetical $5,000.

#1: Sealing up a leaky house. That includes weather-stripping doors and windows, but the most important step is filling any penetrations in the attic floor, such as around pipes, chimneys, wiring, and recessed light fixtures in the ceiling below. Little gaps and cracks can drastically increase your heating and cooling costs, Golden says, and this job has to come first because you won’t be able get at the openings once you insulate. Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money

#2: Insulate the envelope: If you insulate only one thing, it should be the attic floor, since heat rises. You want at least 10 inches of insulation up there, says Golden. Blowing insulation into the walls is a far bigger job since there’s a lot more wall area-and because getting the insulation into the walls involves drilling dozens of holes in your siding. Still, in very cold climates, the job can be very cost-effective, especially if you do it when you’re planning to repaint or re-side the house anyway. Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money

#3: Seal and insulate the ductwork: The ducts in a typical house leak so much of their heated and cooled air into the attic, basement, or crawlspace that sealing the seams and wrapping the ducts with insulation can slash your HVAC costs by 30 percent. It also pays to have a company service your HVAC machine once in a while. Universal HVAC is offering some great deals to get the work completed in time for the winter months. The job is not as simple as applying duct tape to the joints; despite its name, duct tape doesn’t last very long on ducts. You’ll want to hire a pro for this messy and time-consuming job, which requires specialty mastic and tape. You may also need an air duct cleaning company to ensure that when you get the HVAC working in your home it comes out clean and to a high quality.

#4: Step-by-step improvements. Your home offers multiple opportunities for energy improvements and purchase a thorough energy audit performed before beginning any work on the house. He chose an experienced home inspector who was listed with Focus on Energy, an organization that helps eligible Wisconsin residents evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The inspector produced a report that laid out all of the areas that needed improvement in order of importance. Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money

Air-seal the envelope:
Replace or repair your old furnace or boiler and air conditioner: Heating systems that are more than about 20 years old and cooling systems that are more than about 10 years old are inefficient by today’s standards. You need a good heating repair and furnace maintenance contractor so that your heating system will remain at its peak performance even if you’ve been using it for years. If you like your old inefficient boiler replaced, apply today for your new boiler grant. You may qualify under the Government’s ECO scheme in 2020. Installing even middle-of-the-road equipment sold today can yield 10 to 20 percent savings-far more if you select high-efficiency units, if you can downsize the equipment thanks to the sealing and insulating you’ve already done, or if you’re switching from oil to natural gas. If your boiler is less than 10-15 years old but you think it’s not working efficiently enough, it might need a boiler repair and boiler repair Birmingham can help you repair it. Boilers can be a little temperamental so getting a professional boiler installation service to come and take a look is probably a wise idea and saves you from fiddling about with it.
Replace the windows: Although houses lose a lot of energy through their windows, high-quality replacement windows are so pricey (think $800 plus per window) that they’re almost never cost-effective purely for energy efficiency purposes, says Golden. “Of course, there are many other reasons to replace your windows, like easy operation, tilt-in cleaning, and improved resale value.” Just don’t expect the energy savings to come close to paying back the cost.

When you’re ready to get started, Golden advises, look for a home-efficiency contractor who offers all of the above solutions; that way he doesn’t have a vested interest in selling you one method or product over another. The contractor will send a crew to do some tests on your house and make recommendations for the most cost-effective steps you can take.

Home Automation, Remote, Wireless

Home Automation, Remote, Wireless

Home Automation, Remote, Wireless – You know the feeling. You’re on your way to work or the airport, and you can’t remember whether you turned off the lights and turned on the security system or locked the door. Do you go back home? Continue on your way and hope for the best? Or do you simply pull out your smart phone, open an app or two, and make sure everything is OK? Convenience, control, and peace of mind are the powerful combination that the newest smart products are selling.

With mainstream corporations such as Amazon, AT&T, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Staples, and Verizon introducing smart products and services that let you run your home from your phone (and other devices), this might actually be the year that home automation catches on in a big way-or at least becomes difficult to ignore, given those companies’ fat advertising budgets. Home Automation, Remote, Wireless

Product selection is growing, with 37 billion smart products expected on the market by the year 2020, says network- ­hardware maker Cisco. Already there: Ranges and ovens from Dacor and GE can be set to preheat during your drive home, so you can get dinner on the table faster. A side-by-side refrigerator from Whirlpool texts you if a door is ajar, helping you save energy and prevent food from spoiling. Certain dryers can tell you if your dryer exhaust duct is clogged, which prolongs drying time, wastes energy, and is a fire hazard. ­Appliances from Kenmore and LG can self-diagnose problems via your smart phone, potentially saving on repair costs or time waiting for the service technician.

The public is definitely intrigued. Almost 20 percent of Consumer Reports subscribers already use their phone or tablet to remotely control some of their home, and almost 70 percent of those who don’t voiced interest in doing so in the future, according to our latest survey. Thermostats, security systems, blinds, lighting, and door locks are the home items readers most want to manage remotely. Another growing area is remote speakers. Already, there are companies out there who have begun to see the direction wireless technology is going in and specialize in installing home automation audio devices. You can search online for home audio installation near me and find a company who can install wireless and automatic speakers that you can activate from your smart phone.

Picks and pans from consumer report tests
According to Consumer Reports, they put their experts in the labs and their investigative reporters to work to see which products can make your life easier, which fail at their basic function, and which may leave you vulnerable. Our picks and pans are based on months of testing, and analysis of benefits, payback time, up-front and ongoing costs, and other concerns. Here are our findings:

Your Wi-Fi network is vulnerable. Even if the security settings on your home’s router limit access to devices you’ve authorized, you need to be just as careful about the security settings of each device you add to the network, whether it’s a whole-house suite of products controlling lighting, ­security, and smoke/CO alarms, or just an Internet-enabled fork. Using a VPN to encrypt your data as it is sent between devices is a must as well, and you can find several ones to pick from on the always vpn website. Firewalls are another protection software that could prevent unauthorised access to your network. If you don’t try any of these security solutions then the device could allow hackers (and whomever they sell your data) access to your sensitive data as well as other connected products in your home, such as the computers on your home network. In one cyber ­attack, about 100,000 products, such as routers, TVs, and at least one connected refrigerator, sent out more than 750,000 phishing e-mails over two weeks, according to security consulting firm Proofpoint. The blame: weaknesses in their basic protections or setup. Proofpoint would not disclose the model of refrigerator, suspecting the user hadn’t changed the default password, but not every smart device is ­even designed for high security.
Privacy can be a problem. An unconnected “dumb” gadget shares no information that you might prefer to keep to yourself, such as when your home is empty. But a smart thermostat might be less discreet, alerting hackers when it’s in vacation mode. Or the history log of a smart-lock app might let thieves learn when you usually get home from work without having to stake out your house. Home Automation, Remote, Wireless

You could bet on the wrong horse. Connectivity is still in its infancy, with no clear winner among competing technologies. So you can control a product via its app on your phone, but you’ll need multiple apps to control your household, which isn’t all that convenient. The alternative, a suite of products from a single brand or that run on the same wireless standard, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave, leaves you vulnerable to ­potentially buying into the ­Betamax of smart products. And based on our testing, some product designs need refinement, unless you like being an ­unpaid beta tester.
Though certain connected products ­deliver, so far the promise of an easy, centrally controlled smart home has yet to catch up with reality. Home Automation, Remote, Wireless

What’s available now
The possibilities seem endless, judging from what’s available and the increased bundling by top-name companies of multiple products with one controller-and, of course, monthly fees. Home size and construction, plus the distance between devices, make a difference. Drywall and plywood should do fine, but nonporous materials such as plaster, brick, and stone could slow down or block signals.

1. Burglar alarm. Major providers offer multidevice systems that you can monitor from afar.

2. Generator. Lets you know whether the generator is working and can e-mail or text you and a service technician if there’s a problem.

3. Thermostat. Senses patterns in human presence and controls equipment accordingly.

4. Lighting. Lets you control lights from an app and set vacation schedules.

5. Smoke/CO detector. Can notify you and prompt the same-brand thermostat to shut off fuel-burning appliances.

6. Refrigerator. Alerts you if power is out and even if a door is left ajar.

7. Range. Lets you preheat the oven, set the timer, and check cooking status without being in the room.

8. Electronic door locks. Let you remotely lock or unlock and change who’s authorized to enter. You may also want to look at implementing Doorknobs with ekey fingerscan to give your home an extra level of security if needed.

9. Water alarm or shutoff. Can text you when water is spilling from a pipe or an appliance; shutoffs can cut off your water main to minimize flooding.

10. Washer and dryer. Lets you start cycles and monitor progress, and alerts youif your dryer duct is clogged.

Smart product or dumb choice?
Internet-enabled products often cost more than their low-tech siblings. To tell whether they’re worth it, we test their “life improving” claims and their primary function. We also determine how easy these smart features are to set up and use. Here are several products, most of which we’ve tested, and whether we’d pay for them.

Home Automation System

Home Automation System

IRIS Home Automation System
With Iris you can simplify everyday events right from your smartphone. Walk in a room and your lights come on. Glass breaks and your siren sounds. Kids come home early and you get a notification. By connecting devices around your home with your mobile device, you can personalize Iris to the way you live.  Iris streamlines home management and puts power at your fingertips by connecting your Iris compatible smart devices through a single app. There, you can control and monitor each of them. As your family grows, so can your smart home. It’s as easy as adding an Iris compatible device to your network and connecting it to Iris.

What’s the Installation Process Like?
Plano Texas Handyman offers professional installation.  They have the peel and stick sensors as well. But if you get the thermostat or some GE switches or outlets you’ll need to incorporate the  professional to install them since they need wired into your home.

What are Your Monitoring Options?
Iris has two monitoring plans as well: Basic and Premium. Basic is free and Premium is $9.99/month. These aren’t professional monitoring plans though. The Basic plan lets one person view the previous 24 hours of activity and the Premium lets up to 6 people view the previous 14 days of activity. With Premium you can also record video and get more notifications. Both the Basic and Premium plans are monitored via b

Package Name
Equipment Cost
Iris HuB
Motion Sensor
Door/Window Sensor
Keychain Remote
Smart Thermostat
Smart Plug
Panic Button
Smoke Detector
Water Sensor
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Wireless Indoor Camera
Wireless Outdoor Camera
Security Pack
(must have one)
$35.00 each
Starting at $110.00 each
$55.00 each
$50.00 each
$40.00 each or $55.00
(with CO detector) each
$50.00 each
$55.00 (with smoke detector) each
$175.00 each
$195.00 each
Automation Pack
(must have one)
$55.00 each
35.00 each
Starting at $110.00 each
$40.00 each or $55.00
(with CO detector) each
$50.00 each
$55.00 (with smoke detector) each
$175.00 each
$195.00 each
Monthly Monitoring
  • Free – Self Monitoring (Email, Text or Voice Alert) (Broadband)
  • $9.99 – Self-Monitored + Cell Phone Control of Iris + Remote Video Viewing (Broadband)

Smart Home

Smart Home:
You wake up refreshed after a good night’s sleep. That’s because your mattress not only adjusts itself to your ideal sleeping temperature, but also has an alarm that wakes you at just the right moment of your sleep cycle. Your living room blinds automatically open, and the coffee maker has a fresh cup brewed and waiting. Leave for the office and your lights turn off; the alarm and security surveillance systems are enabled; the thermometer has already started lowering the home temperature, not raising it until 10 minutes before you return home in the evening.

These are just a few of the scenarios that can play out in a smart home. Smart home technology can provide automation of just about any household chore, from remotely firing up a slow cooker to alerting you to water leaks.

The smart home has arrived, but many of us remain confused about what one is. That’s because the devices and services that make a home “smart” will be different for every individual. In fact, whether you know it or not, chances are that you already have some type of smart home device. Ted at Plano Texas Handyman can design a system for you and your family, call him at 214-507-3415.

To help you make smarter decisions about this rapidly evolving category, we’ll answer some key questions: What are the elements that make up a smart home, and how do they connect? What are the security concerns and implications? And what does the roadmap of this much-hyped technology look like?
What Is a Smart Home?
We are way past the days of the Clapper. Simply put, a smart home is one that includes some gadget, system or appliance that is connected either to the Internet and/or to your smartphone. You can typically control and interact with these devices using an app.

Smart home products and services come in all shapes and sizes. Have a security system that taps into your Internet connection for monitoring? You have a smart home. Do you have LED light bulbs that you can dim or turn on using your smartphone? Guess what, you have a smart home. Do you own a webcam installed that monitors your windows or front door, or perhaps the baby’s room? You, my friend, have a smart home. Even if you only have a wireless router connected to the Internet with a laptop or a tablet or two connected via Wi-Fi — you have the foundations of a smart, connected home.

In the coming years, you will likely make your home even smarter. Gartner, a leading tech analyst firm, predicts that a typical abode (in a “mature affluent market”) could have more than 500 smart home devices by 2022. It’s a projection some tech-industry watchers question, but it’s one that Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, stands by.

“The Internet of Things will bring billions of connected Wi-Fi enabled devices to homes,” said Dana Knight, TP-Link’s director of marketing.

Still, the automated home is the exception and not the norm. Acuity Group’s 2014 study of the Internet of Things adoption (of which smart home tech is a subset) found that smart technology was in about 4 percent of all U.S. homes. What’s the biggest barrier to adoption the study discovered? Unfamiliarity with the concepts of the Internet of Things and smart tech.

Making a House Into a Smart Home
There are two ways to make your house smart: DIY gadgets that you install yourself, such as smart outlets, baby monitors and light sensors; or by subscribing to services such as ADT’s security systems or those of an ISPs, such as Time Warner Cable’s IntelligentHome Service.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular options:

Nest and Smart Thermostats. No device exemplifies the DIY smart home as much as the Nest Learning thermostat ($249 on Amazon). This gadget, designed to be installed by a homeowner, learns your habits, and then adjusts the temperature based on your patterns. The more you use Nest, “the more accurate it gets,” said Mike Soucie, product partnership lead at Nest Labs.

But what really makes the Nest smart is that it can interact with a number of other devices in your home and perform a set of actions without you having to lift a finger. For example, if the thermostat is connected to the Nest Protect smoke detector, it can automatically shut off your HVAC system if smoke is detected.

Nest’s enormous success in the smart home space can be attributed to its focus on ease-of-use. “We really focus on the end-to-end consumer process,” Soucie said. The main goal for Nest is to create products that don’t require customers to program things, according to Soucie.

The hassle-free setup of the Nest thermostat and other products in the nest ecosystem have proved to be a winning formula — as is the energy cost savings Nest users are experiencing. As of January 2014, there were 40,000-50,000 Nest thermostats shipping per month. No wonder it was acquired by Google last year, for $3.2 billion. Nest is not the only smart thermostat on the market, however. Honeywell, which has been a leading name in the home heating industry for more than 125 years, has also jumped into the home automation arena with its Lyric Smart thermostats. A number of “green” tech startups, including Ecobee, also offer smart thermostats and are battling for market share.
Security Cameras
To date, the most popular type of smart home device, as a category, has been security cameras, also known as IP cameras. iControl’s 2014 State of the Smart Home Report revealed that of 1,000 people surveyed, 90 percent said personal and family security is one of the most important reasons for using a smart home system. Revenue from the video surveillance market is expected to reach $42.81 billion by 2019.

A number of companies, including D-Link, TRENDnet, Linksys and Belkin, have developed Web cameras that integrate with their traditional products. For instance, the TRENDnet Wireless Cloud Camera TV-IP751WC ($39.95, Amazon) works with TRENDnet’s cloud service and routers to allow for easy remote viewing of the camera’s video stream. You might need to access your router settings to do this; if you’ve got a Belkin router, you may wish to check out this site – https://www.router-reset.com.

Now owned by Nest, Dropcam made a name for itself by making cameras that are easy to view and control from your smartphone. The $199 Dropcam Pro’s 3-megapixel, 130-degree field-of-vision camera provides home surveillance as well as video-recording to the cloud.

Baby Cams – An offshoot of security cameras, baby cams not only provide live feeds and motion detection, but also two-way audio and other features tailored to this segment. For example, the D-Link HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Baby Camera (DCS-855L, $269.99, Amazon) monitors temperature fluctuations in a nursery and also plays lullabies. It’s almost like a micro-chipped Mary Poppins.
Smart Lights

Lighting is also getting smarter. Smart LED bulbs can be controlled with an app and dimmed, turned on and off, and, in the case of the Philips Hue system (starting at $199.97 for starter kits), even change color to set a room’s mood. Other smart lights can do more than just brighten a room. For example, the Sengled Pulse ($179, Amazon) has a built-in wireless speaker.

Smart Plugs – Smart plugs sit between your electrical outlet and the appliances in your home (smart or not). The plugs then connect to an app on your phone, allowing you to remotely turn those appliances on and off, such as with the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch ($59.99). Some plugs, such as the MeterPlug ($49), will even monitor how much energy an appliance uses.

Smart Locks – Smart locks such as the Goji Smart Lock ($278) allow you to control when your home is locked or unlocked, great for scheduling access for babysitters and dog walkers. Goji also takes pictures of everyone who appears at your door in front of your lock — adding an extra layer of security.

When it comes to making appliances smarter, companies such as Whirlpool and GE are seeking to discover what people want to automate.

“Say you want to be one step ahead of dinner prep,” said Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design for GE Appliances. “Just tell your oven to ‘preheat 350 degrees’ from your mobile device while you’re heading home from the office. Or maybe check your refrigerator’s ice maker to see how much ice you have in the dispenser — and tell it to make more before those unexpected house guests arrive.”

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, smart appliances are a little pricier than their “dumb” non-connected counterparts. Whirlpool’s 30-inch Drop-In Electric Range with smart sensors to remotely manage oven temperature is priced at $1,699. You can typically find a crockpot (or slow-cooker) on Amazon, ranging from $30-$80, but Belkin’s Smart Crock-Pot, which lets you change the cooking time or adjust the temperature using your smartphone or tablet.

Home Automation Trends

Smart Home System

Home Automation Trends – When’s the last time you had a good heart-to-heart talk with your house? I mean a real soul-searching, tell-it-like-it-is discussion about your needs and desires? Too many homeowners neglect these meaningful tete-a-tetes, and as a result, they and their homes both fall into what can best be described as 20th-century ennui or, the not-so-smart home syndrome. Chill out, help’s on the way. Today’s latest home automation trends and systems enable your house to do everything it can to please you, from announcing that your carpets need cleaning to letting you know if your wine cellar temperature is a tad too high.

Welcome to home automation Home automation has been around since Joseph Henry pioneered the electric doorbell in 1831. Ever since, we’ve loved the idea of having our houses do things for us, making our home environment safer, cheaper to maintain, and hopefully saving us time that could be put to good use just goofing off. Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 and ask for Ted to discuss a system that fits into your needs.
Today’s smart homes do that — and more. Technology is moving rapidly past the programmable thermostat into an era that’s best described as Jetsonian. Home Automation Trends 

Here’s a taste:
Morning brings a graduated alarm that plays some of your favorite music. The volume builds slowly and the bedroom curtains gently part until you react and tell the alarm, “I’m snoozing!” In which case, the alarm quiets down for another 10 minutes of shut-eye. Meanwhile, the bathroom floors are already warming in anticipation of your arrival, and the coffee-maker starts brewing up some Italian roast. When you finally get down to breakfast, the voice of the automated home controller comes on the house speaker system to remind you to put bottles and newspapers at the end of the driveway because today is recycling pick-up.
Later, as you leave work for the day, you press a single “coming home” keypad button on your iPhone. In response, your house turns on the outdoor lights, brings up the indoor temperature from an energy-saving 65 degrees to a welcome-home 72, powers up the spa in similar energy-wise fashion, closes the living room and bedroom drapes, feeds the Susan Tedeschi channel from your Pandora account to the outdoor speakers, and tunes the bedroom TV to the Colbert Report so you can have some laughs as you ready for the hot tub.  Home Automation Trends 

Other functionality? Only limited by the imagination:
Your home emails you when your daughter gets home from school.
While on vacation, you check your home’s security cameras via iPhone.
Your sprinklers shut off when they sense rain.

Your home announces — in a commanding voice — that someone has left the automatic gate open to the pool.

Your home knows which rooms are empty and powers off lights, music and turns down the HVAC to that area to save energy. If you want find out more about HVAC services, check out https://stuartproair.com for information. There are some HVAC – based companies that provide services to customers who require HVAC maintenance. Many HVAC services find that using hvac software could help them manage their customers and services, giving them the support they need.

You are the controls; the controls are you.
Certainly there’s no shortage of excellent gadgets and gizmos designed to keep you safe, happy, and entertained at home. But the current evolution in home automation is about integrating all of a home’s systems into a centralized control that can be accessed from multiple entry points — home-based touch pads, computer screens, land-line telephones, cell phones, and mobile devices, such as iPads.

“Homes have their various systems,” says Mark Colegrove, Director of Sales and Marketing for Homeseer Technologies. “Lighting, entertainment, security. However, most of these systems don’t talk to each other. We’ve focused on integrating these systems, building a personalized experience based on your preferences, then automating everything so it works seamlessly, without any intervention.”  Home Automation Trends 

Leading the integration revolution are two components — switches that respond to automated signals, and easy-to-use software that allows a computer or dedicated controller to broadcast signals to its family of controls via wireless, infrared, radio waves, and hardwired connections. If you want to learn more about signal conditioning and controllers, check out www.vega.com/en/home_us/company/blog/2019/electronic-signal-conditioners.

Many types of switches are of the plug-and-play variety, making them off-the-shelf ready for the tech-savvy DIYer. For $30 to $100, you can plug a smart switch into a wall outlet or change an existing wall toggle switch to a smart switch that has a variety of capabilities, such as turning on and off devices and appliances:

At certain times of the day. at sunset, sunrise, or any programmable time.
when motion is sensed or when a signal is detected, such as the sound of a doorbell. In response to voice recognition.  In response to temperature variations. Settling into the software interface, a homeowner can set up and direct the switches to accomplish any number of tasks. Your individualized program is then available via the internet from anywhere in the world, and can be adjusted with the click of a mouse or the tap of a smart phone screen. The result is a highly personalized environment — a house that reacts to individual needs and wants, and even anticipates changes.
Controlling your home with app-titude  Home Automation Trends 

Most manufacturers of whole-house automation systems have jumped on the app bandwagon with programs that allow you to adjust appliances, review surveillance footage, tweak temperature and humidity settings, lock (or unlock) your front door, and a host of other controls — all from any remote location.
Unfortunately, most apps are proprietary for that manufacturer’s controls and devices. Fortunately, that’s changing, and the home automation industry is moving toward system controls that are brand agnostic. In the mobile department, apps for Windows®, Windows CE, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad are leading the way, and the open-sourced Android market is starting to heat up.
An app sampling:
Control4 My House: Whole house audio, video, lighting & HVAC control from your iPhone or iPod Touch (I found out on this important site on how I could control large appliances such as HVAC Systems through an app). The app requires a Control4 home automation system. The app is free, but Control4 requires you to buy a Mobile Navigator’s license for $300.
iPhone for Homeseer: A free app that offers full control over systems installed by Homeseer.

CF iViewer: A free app with full control and feedback from your home automation system onyour iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, including live status information about your home’s temp, lights and energy consumption.
over automated devices from HAI. Price: $49.99 (HAI also has apps for Windows Smartphones).

Green, automatically
Energy management is another hot home automation topic. With a full array of energy consumption data available via touchscreen, energy-aware homeowners can keep tabs on hot water usage, solar gain, HVAC output, and temperatures throughout the house. Control functions let the owner adjust temps and other variables to lower energy use.
“It’s the Toyota Prius dashboard effect,” says Greg Rhoades, Assistant Director of Marketing for home automation giant HAI. “If you can see how much energy you’re using you’re probably more likely to reduce that energy consumption.”
Manufacturers like HAI are already moving toward the next step, which is to work with utility companies so that residential energy-management software and hardware can work with real-time cost data to automate home systems for maximum efficiency. For example, if your local utility signals that energy costs for certain off-peak hours are the lowest available, the home system can respond by adjusting heating appliances, such as a high-capacity hot water heater, to power up at that specific time. Similarly, air conditioning might power down during peak pricing, if only for a few minutes, to trim costs.
Bells and whistles? Sure—imagine your console screen can run graphs comparing your energy usage this month to last month’s, or last year’s. Or that you can chart your energy consumption versus national averages, or use the data to display your personal carbon footprint. The engagement possibilities alone are a gateway toward better energy management.

Security meets health care

On the home front, a system can offer a friendly, easy-to-use touchscreen interface for email, photos and music that also provides both email and voice reminders for doctor’s appointments and medicines. Video chats allow family members, doctors and other caregivers to check in on a regular basis.
While web cam monitoring has been around since way before Robert DeNiro snuck a video cam into Ben Stiller’s bedroom in Meet the Parents, current home systems can employ multiple tactics to keep your home safe. For example, motion detector technology allows you to keep tabs on everyone’s movements inside and outside your home, and radio frequency I.D. tags can even let your system know who belongs there — and who might not.
On the practical side, imagine your housekeeper is due to come over every other Tuesday between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. You can program the system to allow entry at that time, and for your video cam to flash footage of your housekeeper via iPhone for positive I.D. Your system can confirm that the housekeeper has vacated the premises on schedule, and that the house is again locked and secure. Parents can apply a version of this scenario to confirm that young kids are home from school safely, on-time, and without any boyfriends tagging along.
Variants of security systems — easily monitored from remote locations — are a boon to the care of the elderly and infirm. On the home front, a system can offer a friendly, easy-to-use touchscreen interface for email, photos and music that also provides both email and voice reminders for doctor’s appointments and medicines. Video chats allow family members, doctors and other caregivers to check in on a regular basis.
More sophisticated tools are making their way to market, too. Motion-sensors imbedded in flooring can be programmed to “remember” the footfalls of the inhabitants, and to send out a warning signal to caregivers if an abnormality occurs, such as might happen if someone suffers a stroke. The sensors also send alarms for falls, and at the absence of normal everyday movement and activity.
“The grand idea of automation,” says Greg Rhoades, “is that while the individual control is great, what you’re really after is an eased lifestyle with less worry.”
Geeks not required
Thankfully, understanding modern home automation doesn’t require a degree in geekology. Nevertheless, before you plunge into the wild world of home automation, here’s a few techno-terms for the types of home automation systems you’re likely to encounter:
Zig bee and Z-wave are wireless home networking standards that let compatible devices share data, such as on/off commands for light switches, security sensors, smoke detectors and thermostats. They have extremely low power requirements and an effective range of up to 300 feet, making them ideal for household management.
X-10 is a protocol that carries control signals across standard electrical wire that already exists in the walls of your house. X-10-enabled devices are used for simple controls, such as turning lights and appliances off or on. The wired connections make the signals extremely reliable. Most X-10 products are reasonably priced, and the fact that they communicate using existing wiring means costly rewiring is unnecessary.
Insteon uses existing wires (power line) and radio-frequency communications to control automated devices. Insteon helped pioneer reliability for automation—a command sent through an Insteon controller is instantly confirmed; if something interrupts the transmission, the system immediately sends a back-up command.

Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains

Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains

Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains – Window films are a great way to save energy, especially in hot climates.  They not only save energy but also filter UV rays to protect your furniture and interior items of the home.  The more you learn about Window Film, the more inspired you’ll be by the possibilities. It makes truly satisfying projects easy to tackle in just a weekend. And there are so many ways it can improve your home life, from decorative updates to light control to safety enhancements.  There are many classes of window films: Privacy and decor films, Heat control window films, Glare control films, and safety and security films.  Contact Ted at Plano Texas Handyman for more information and how these films can make you home more efficient.  Call us at 214-507-3415

The basic principles presented on our pages titled “About Solar Gain,” “Window Selection Guidelines,” apply aftermarket window films to windows with after-market or retrofit plastic window films as well. The difference is that window films are generally a retrofit option to replace your windows in Houston, intended to fix a problem with excessive solar heat gain and/or solar glare from an existing window while window coatings are generally applied in a glass factory, usually in a large vacuum chamber. Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains

In the past, and in many cases still today, after-market films blocked more light than heat which can be installed in your home by contacting the window replacement plano tx. Consequently, if they were dark enough to protect an interior from strong direct solar radiation, they also tended to make the room rather dim in appearance. With such films, the visible transmittance (VT) value was lower than the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), opposite from what is wanted in most U. S. climates. In worst cases, the window was so dark that you had to turn the electric lights on in the daytime to see properly, and you still had to suffer the consequences of excessive heat gain! Such films are still available, but should seldom be used in hot climates. Be careful to avoid them when you can.

The old-technology films are characterized by accomplishing their solar heat gain rejection through absorbing the whole solar spectrum, preventing its direct entry into the home. The problem is that the film heats up a lot and, when applied to a single pane of glass or the inner pane of a double pane window, most of their heat is conducted, radiated, and convected to the interior of the building, making the room hotter than it should be. This defeats the purpose of the film, to reduce solar heat gain, because much of the incident solar heat still enters the room. Less light is admitted as well. Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains

Furthermore, many double pane window manufacturers void their warranties if the homeowner puts a window film on their product. One reason for this is that when the film gets hot, it makes the pane it is affixed to get hot as well. The glass expands, and expands more than the outer glass without the film. This difference in expansion can create stresses in the window which in worst cases can cause the window to break, through no fault of the window. If you wish to apply window film to a double pane window, make sure the window manufacturer will continue to back the window warranty.

Modern, High-Performance Window Films
To avoid the unfortunate consequences of excessive solar heat gain, window film manufacturers have been working to develop modern products which block more heat than light, doing it by reflection of the unwanted infrared radiation contained in the solar rays, while still admitting adequate amounts of visible light, necessary to see the outside, and to provide good daylight illumination of the interior. Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains

In order to get the right kind of window film for your window, look for the Visible Transmittance (VT) value for the film when applied to a single pane of clear glass. Then find the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) for the combination. If the VT value is greater than the SHGC value, you have the right kind of film for a hot climate window, but be sure to check the window manufacturer’s warranty before applying the film.

The Light-to-Solar-Gain (LSG) ratio is the VT value divided by the SHGC value. The higher this ratio, the more spectrally selective the film and the better it is for hot climates. It is difficult, however, to achieve LSG values greater than about 1.2 with window films. Soft multi layer coatings inside double pane windows, however, can achieve values as great as 1.6, providing good transmission of visible light (no dark appearance) as well as good solar heat gain rejection. In order to achieve good solar heat rejection with either a window coating or an applied window film, the SHGC value needs to be low (below approximately 0.3 to 0.5) to be effective—the lower the better. With an LSG ratio of only 1.1, for example, this means that the visible transmittance (VT) value will be about 0.33 to 0.55. Low values in this range can impart a dark appearance to the glass and may be objectionable. For sunrooms with vast expanses of glass exposed to the direct sun for much of the day, however, values as low as 0.3 to 0.4 for the VT should not be objectionable, especially since these values can produce SHGC values below 0.3 to 0.4 with window films having LSG values greater than 1.0. Window Films, Energy Efficiency, Solar Gains

Shiny Reflecting Appearance
The lightest LSG film is often made of metallic material or is otherwise reflective. The reason is that reflective films reflect the unwanted solar heat gain away from the window before it can be absorbed. Tinted or absorptive films block solar gain by absorbing it in the film, heating the film, and dissipating this heat to the inside and the outside of the room. Unfortunately, when applied to the inner surface of a window, much of this heat conducts, convects, and radiates to the interior, defeating much of the purpose for which the film was intended. Reflective films reduce the absorbed solar heat and reflect more of the blocked solar heat back outside.

Unfortunately, many homeowners associations object to the use of shiny- or mirror-appearing coatings on the windows of homes in their jurisdiction. The reflecting value of a film is quantified by its visible reflectance (VR) value. The higher the reflectance, the shinier the window will appear. This is objectionable on the inside at night because the window looks more like a mirror than a window and during the daytime the same is true when viewed from the outside.

If this is a potential problem for you, find the maximum value of the visible reflectance in your homeowner association’s rules and make sure your window films do not exceed this value when applied to the inside surface of the window glass in your home.

Fortunately, high-LSG window films should be available which achieve their solar heat gain rejecting properties by being highly reflective over the invisible infrared portion of the solar spectrum while being only slightly reflective over the visible portion of that spectrum. The consequence is that such films reject by reflection most of the invisible infrared heat radiation from the sun while passing most of the visible light.

The infrared portion contains nearly half the heat of the solar spectrum, so reflecting all of this radiation would, by itself, reject almost half the solar heat gain while still permitting much of the visible light to pass through the window. This effect is more difficult to achieve with applied plastic window films than with multi layer coatings applied in a vacuum at the glass factory, which is why the latter generally achieve higher LSG values than can be found with plastic window films.

Shopping for Window Films

When shopping for window films intended for residences in hot climates, insist on high LSG products, having values exceeding 1.0. Then look for the lowest SHGC value you can find in a film that is not objectionably dark to the eye.

The human eye is very good at seeing small differences in brightness (illustrated by the differently tinted window panes in the photo to the left), but the eye is not that good at perceiving absolute brightness levels. The eye adapts to changing levels, and you can see just as well in a room illuminated with 1000 lux of light as in one having 1500 lux. The consequence is that a film sample held in the sales room or even placed over a window in the store may appear dark in comparison to the uncovered glass adjacent to it. But when it covers a large expanse of glass in your home, and there is no uncovered glass to compare it to, you might not be able to tell there is even a film on your windows! This makes it somewhat difficult to know from looking at samples in the store what film will be too dark for you when installed in your home. Perhaps the sales person has a room with window film on all the windows. If so, look at that room and decide if it is bright enough for you. Then ask the sales person what the visible transmittance is for that film. The room will appear darker on an overcast day than on a sunny one, and electric lighting can alter your perception of room brightness, so you may wish to make your observations with the electric lighting temporarily turned off.

If you cannot determine an acceptable VT value for your window film from the samples and demonstration windows in the store, you can use this guideline:

For moderately well shaded, vegetative exterior scenes, keep the visible transmittance (VT) value above about 0.45 to 0.55.

For a bright, unshaded exterior scene, especially one with bright, highly reflecting surfaces in view outside the window, choose lower VT values, in the range from 0.25 to 0.4. Be careful with values at the lower end of this range. If the application is for a sunroom, the result might be too dark for you. For a sleeping room, however, the somewhat darker film can help avoid window-produced glare. For more on this subject, see our short glare tutorial.

Color Issues

To obtain the highest LSG window films sometimes the resulting film has a slightly colored appearance. This color should not be evident when looking through the window from the inside, but it might be more obvious when looking at it from the outside. This is most likely a consequence of the manufacturer’s efforts to achieve the high LSG ratio. By narrowing the spectral region through which solar radiation can pass to just the visible portion, sometimes light at the edges of the visible gets clipped, cutting out either some of the blue light or some of the red at the other end of the spectrum (or both). The best way to tell if this is objectionable when applied to the windows in your house is to place a fairly large film sample on your window and look at it from the outside. Try to look only at the patch of film sample in making your judgment. This way you are less likely to be biased by the subtle difference in color between the filmed and nonfilmed areas.