Home RenovationsSMART Homes January 23, 2021

Pros and Cons of Smart Appliances

Smart appliances can make life easier and more convenient. Since the technology is relatively new, many manufacturers are still working out problems and resolving glitches. Before you purchase a smart appliance, it’s important to understand what they have to offer and to be aware of potential pitfalls.

Popular Smart Appliances
A smart refrigerator can make grocery shopping easier. A camera allows you to peek inside the fridge even if you aren’t home, and you can keep a running list of what you need. You can also control the temperature and humidity to keep your food fresh as long as possible.

Smart refrigerators are much more expensive than traditional ones, and they are more expensive to repair. There is also the risk of viruses. If you have linked your email and social media accounts to the smart refrigerator, they could be at risk.

A smart dishwasher can help you get sparkling dishes every time. It can tell you if you need more detergent and can let you know when the cycle is done so you don’t have to get up and check. It can also help you save energy and water and notify you if the dishwasher is leaking.

A smart dishwasher is more expensive than a traditional one in terms of both purchase price and repair costs. You might be able to purchase an extended warranty for an additional cost.

Smart washers and dryers can make doing laundry a breeze. You can control the cycle from anywhere in your house and be notified when a load is done. You can even figure out which time of day is the best in terms of energy efficiency.

Companies that make smart washers and dryers still have some bugs to work out, and updates are not always provided automatically if the appliance was not purchased recently. That means you might be on the hook for updates and repairs.

Things to Consider
If you have several smart appliances, they can all be controlled from your phone. That can make it easy to monitor and control things at home no matter where you are.

With any type of smart appliance, hacking is a serious concern. Although safety measures are in place, they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and hackers are always looking for ways around them. You can protect yourself by using a secure internet connection, changing your passwords frequently and promptly installing updates.

Sometimes adjusting to smart appliances poses a challenge. If you aren’t tech savvy, you might find it confusing and overwhelming at first. The person who installs the smart appliances should thoroughly explain how they work, and you should be able to call tech support for help.

Are Smart Appliances Right for You?
Smart appliances can make life much easier, but they carry some risks. Security features need to be fine-tuned, but there are ways that you can protect yourself until they are perfected. You may decide that smart appliances are a worthwhile investment that can greatly improve your life.

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Home Decorating May 11, 2020

Is Granite on its Way Out?

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, granite countertops are in less demand today, while the use of quartz is on the rise.

Why? For one thing, man-made quartz countertops are offered in a far greater range of looks and feels. Reason number two: it’s a bit easier to maintain over the long haul, and it’s deemed a better environmental choice because it emits lower levels of radon—a potentially cancer-causing agent. To be fair, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the radioactive materials in granite countertops are far too minuscule to pose a health threat.

So what, exactly, is a quartz countertop? It’s made of engineered stone, composed of at least 90% ground-up quartz mixed with a binder (like resin) then molded into a slab. Because pigment is added during the manufacturing process, the sky’s the limit when it comes to color. And quartz is non-porous and fairly resistant to stains, mold and bacteria.

Unlike granite countertops, which require periodic resealing to maintain their beauty, quartz is low-maintenance, needing only regular cleanings with soap and water or a mild detergent.

Quartz can be more impervious than granite to cracking or chipping under average conditions, although it is not quite as heat-proof. Most manufacturers recommend using a trivet when placing scalding hot pots or pans on a quartz countertop.

Apart from durability and maintenance, quartz comes in an infinite variety of designs, ranging in look and feel from sleek solid colors to organic-looking variations that resemble real substances found in nature, like veined marble. It can have a smooth and shiny finish or a softer, brushed feel (almost suede-looking). Choose wisely because the design can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room.

Quartz counters may be a bit more expensive, up to 10 percent higher in cost than their granite counterparts, but shopping around and resealing over the years can mitigate any cost differences.

So, what side are you on? Natural stone mined from the earth or a man-made variation?

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