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How smart homes are set to change our lives

When you hear the term ‘smart technology’, you might immediately think of novelty gimmicks with limited capabilities. Based on early smart devices, you would be correct – remember the ‘next big thing’ VR headsets from the early ‘90s? 

However, sometimes gimmicks stop being gimmicks, go mainstream and end up playing an important role in our day-to-day lives. 

Think of early smartphone apps, for instance. What started as hilariously basic creations like ‘iBeer’, a virtual pint glass that you could ‘drink’ when tipping your phone horizontally, quickly morphed into endless possibilities. 

Less than ten years later, we can stream TV shows, edit photographs, access breaking world news and enjoy hours of group-chatting right from the palm of our hands. What was once a novelty concept has turned into a series of indispensable tools which make our lives easier.

This is exactly what is happening with smart homes. The innovations and technologies are moving at an incredible pace and will ultimately become mod-con staples that enhance the way we live at home. 

Here are just some of the ways that smart homes will change our way of life, including comfort, safety and convenience. 

 

Safety 

Smart home technology has the capability to be a huge deterrent for burglary or other potential safety breaches such as fires and carbon monoxide leaks. Gone are the days when ‘keeping the big light on’ when leaving the house was the most effective precautionary measure.

Thanks to fittings and integrations from the likes of Nest, we have the ability to transform your home into a fortress that can tell you if trouble is afoot, so you can act before damage is done. From an HD video doorbell app system that enables you to keep an eye on your home wherever you are, to a smoke and CO alarm that thinks, speaks and alerts you on your phone, these products are designed to optimise safety and security, giving you full peace of mind. 

 

Comfort and entertainment 

From entertaining to unwinding after a long day, our home should be a place of comfort and ease. There is a host of home automation technology on the market that has been designed solely for the enhancement of comfort and enjoyment. We work with Loxone, the market leader in smart home technology, to offer cutting-edge solutions. 

Whether it’s waking up in the morning to automatically lifting blinds and gentle lighting, or a ‘goodnight button’ which enables you to turn off electricals and activate alarms with one click, you can effortlessly glide through your day and save a lot of time in the process. When it comes to entertaining, think mood sensitive lighting design, multi-room audio speakers and home cinema technology. Now that’s how you take a dinner party to the next level. 

 

Convenience

Our homes should offer us sanctuary and an enhanced quality of life – we should not feel restricted or inconvenienced as we get older. That’s why home integrations that assist independence and convenience are only going to get more and more prevalent. From voice assists such as Amazon Alexa to self-opening blinds and smart temperature controls, it’s now possible for our homes to give us a helping hand if our mobility or physical ability is compromised. 

 

If you would be interested in installing smart home products or are seeking a full custom fit-out for a brand new home, our highly trained team is on hand to answer any questions. 

If you would like to arrange a visit or require a quote, get in touch today.

How lighting design could transform your home

As a homeowner, it’s easy to get meticulous about wall colours, furnishings and flooring – but have you thought about your lighting? Bad lighting can make or break the aesthetic of a room that you’ve spent hours painstakingly designing.

For example, if you’ve selected beautiful oak floors, warm cream paint and luxuriously plush furnishings, a fluorescent white ceiling light is going to undo all your hard work and spending.

 

Lighting designers and fitters are very aware of the ways in which lighting can transform your home. With so many options to choose from, we can help to guide you in the right direction – using your unique style as a blueprint. Modern style ceiling lights with sleek lines and futuristic glimmers appeal to minimalist and contemporary home or vast expanses, such as open plan living areas, loft apartments and barn conversions. Glittering glass chandeliers suit high ceilings, grand stairways or large entrance spaces in Georgian and Victorian-style homes – but do not look so chic in a small mid-city flat. In rustic homes, warm traditional lights and decorative shades create a cosy feel that looks just right.

 

In the majority of cases, your lighting style can be found in efficient LED bulbs, using 80% less energy and requiring reduced replacements. Another bonus with LED is that it’s much more customisable. From choosing your white tone to picking another colour altogether, LED allows your rooms to change in function throughout the day. From a brightly lit study area to a calming eating environment or relaxing chill-out zone.

 

LED strip is becoming increasingly popular within the home, once only seen in warehouses and commercial offices.

  • Along ceiling coving, LED strip lighting seamlessly creates a bright aesthetic without glaring bulbs or obvious fittings.
  • Fitting strip underneath individual stairs creates a lit walkway that is also modern and dramatic by design.
  • In the kitchen, LED strip along the toe kicks looks clean and chic. Underneath cabinets, it can light the worktops in a subtle way.
  • You’ve probably already seen strip lighting around bathroom mirrors, making getting ready a simple task no matter the time of day.

 

Whether you’ve purchased a new home, are currently building one or wish to refit an existing proper, we suggest that you take some time to consider your lighting design.

  • Think about how you use the rooms in your home and the time of day you most often use them.
  • Consider the age and aesthetic of the property – either be in-keeping with this or add striking accents that compliment it.
  • Talk to a professional about how you could create energy-saving innovations around your home.

 

We’re well versed in lighting design, having spent years installing all manner of beautiful solutions in homes of all sizes and ages. If you’re stuck for a lighting solution or are struggling to find the right design – please give us a call and one of our helpful team will be happy to have a chat with you.

What’s your lighting personality?

One of the great things about custom lighting is that you can influence the mood of a room and adjust it according to what activities you’re doing.

If you’re studying, cooler light is more stimulating. If you’re reading before bed, a warm light will soothe your eyes and get you ready for a snooze.

 

There are loads of different ways to make your lighting work for you – but what does it say about you?

 

Party people

You’re the life and soul of your friendship group – you love to host and can’t wait for festive seasons to roll around.

Your focus is the lighting in the entertainment space of your home – the open plan kitchen and dining areas. To make the kitchen stand out, you have LED strip lighting under the counters. It’s discreet, yet stylish and looks great when all the main lights are out. You’ve opted for dimmable downlights around the room and colour changing options wherever possible. You’ve also integrated smart home controls, which can be altered from your phone. You love changing the colour sequences when the eating is finished and the dancing begins. If you’re having a party… we’re awaiting our invitation.

 

Dinner party foodies

Sophistication is the name of the game for you. Cool white lighting suits the elegant aesthetic of your home décor, but you like having the option to dim the main lights as the evening rolls in.

You love inviting friends over for a chilled evening of wine, cheese, and canapes. The dining room is the heart of your home and you’ve chosen statement fittings to create talking points. A modern chandelier wouldn’t look out of place in your home and delicate side lights illuminate walkways. Chrome light switches and Touch Pure controls are your fixtures of choice.

 

Family fun

As a young family, there’s nothing you love more than spending quality time together. You love hanging out in the living room and using your smart home for great entertainment and impromptu colourful dance parties.

You’re health-conscious and use biodynamic lighting [link to biodynamic lighting post]. The children’s bedrooms are softly lit, with the option to change the room colours. You’ve installed moonlight lighting in the hallways, at floor level, to allow the children to walk to the bathroom at night.

In the main rooms of the house, you often use the main lights and keep fussy sidelights to a minimum. Simplicity and functionality are the main bonuses of any of the smart home features you purchase.

 

Retire by the fire

Keeping the lights down low and the aesthetic cosy is what you’re all about. Warm white, concealed lighting gives your home the chilled out vibe you love to relax in. Wherever possible, you avoid bright or cold lighting and prefer to stick to traditional side lamps and sunset style tones. For getting up in the morning, you favour your Touch Nightlight Air which wakes you up slowly with ambient light and a digital clock face. The option to change the colour of your lights is appealing, but you prefer to stick with the reds, pinks, and yellows, so you haven’t installed it in every room.

The triple-click function is your favourite feature as it allows you to turn off all the lights once you’re in the comfort of your bedroom.

 

Do any of these sound like you? Or, perhaps, you’d like to know more about your lighting personality? Give one of our friendly team a call and we can discuss your needs. We’ll even pop over and learn more about how you use the space in your home.

 

With years of experience, we can suggest the smartest and most beautiful additions to compliment your home and your routine.

 

Lighting done right: How to sensitively light your home

The key to creating the right ambience in your home is great lighting. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune – but some clever tweaks and interesting focal points can really make a big difference.

Let us walk you through the different rooms in your home and how to light them effectively.

 

Bedroom

In the bedroom, it’s important to focus on where the natural light is coming from. In general, you wouldn’t put your bed under the window, so focused lighting is useful around the bed area. Avoid having main lights over the bed, but instead, opt for warm coloured sidelights.

A nice way to distribute light in the bedroom is to have several dimmable ceiling lights.

Think about where your mirror is, or where you get ready in the morning. In the winter, this area may need extra lighting.

 

Bathroom

No one wants to stand in a coldly lit, bright white box when they haven’t got any clothes on. Opt for downlighters with a warmer white bulb. For extra light, install LED strip around mirrors or inside cabinets – these only need to be on when you need them.

 

Living space

This is where lighting can get funky! Think about how you use the space and incorporate lighting around this. If you have a long dining table and you enjoy entertaining, consider a feature light above. If you like the feature light in an open plan kitchen and dining area, you can use this as the main source of light and compliment it with custom strip lighting around the kitchen cupboards.

If you have an island or a breakfast bar, perhaps trimless downlighters might illuminate the space discreetly – allowing the children to do their homework whilst you get cooking.

 

In the living room, think about how it gets used. If this is a predominantly adult space, you might want to incorporate some feature lighting in the form of dramatic light shades or modern style chandeliers. Dimmable switches and warm white bulbs are a must in here.

If you find the living room is used more by the younger members of the family, fit brighter lights and limit the number of decorative sidelights. If you like to chill out as a family, colour changing lights are incredibly popular with many of our customers.

 

Outdoor

Lighting is just as important outside as it is inside!

Keep the BBQ area well-lit so you can enjoy yourselves outside well into the evening. Lights integrated into the patio or around the edges of the house are discreet and less disturbing for neighbours than lofty spotlights. If you have a pool, LED strip can frame the edges in a refreshing blue that’ll also illuminate the garden.

Sitting out enjoying the stars? Dim the lights with dimmer switches on your exterior lights too! You can also integrate your outside lighting with your smart home, enabling it to turn on and off when you’re away. Outdoor lighting can be beautifully aesthetic, but make sure it’s serving it’s safety purpose too.

 

Building a new home? Upgrading your current property? Our team comprises of lighting experts with years of experience. From your local semi-detached to footballer’s mansions, we know how to make good use of your space. Check out our Instagram page for some striking lighting design before & afters.

The 411 on bio-dynamic lighting

If you want to take care of your eyes, find you often get headaches, or need to be able to work from home – then you need to know about bio-dynamic lighting.

Artificial light and our constant connection with technology means that we’re often exposed to more light than our eyes can cope with. Blue light, which is immitted by our phones, tablets and laptops, inhibits our ability to sleep. As a nation, we’re becoming tired and crabby.

So, what can we do about it? Other than living outside or operating by candlelight (fire hazard, not recommended), we can simply adapt our modern lifestyles to better suit the needs of our body – with bio-dynamic lighting.

 

A few key points about light…

Cool tones and high brightness is absorbed through our eyes and causes a spike in Cortisol – the stress hormone. Too much Cortisol is very dangerous for our bodies and puts us under a lot of pressure. However, we need Cortisol to get things done, so a boost in the morning gets us up and alert for the day ahead.

 

In the evening, when we’re trying to wind down and get ready for a restful sleep, deep colours and low light help to lower Cortisol and relax the brain. This is why doctors advise against using your phone in bed or watching TV to get off to sleep.

 

Why we need better light in our homes…

There are several reasons to have better lighting environments in our homes:

  • If you work from home, adaptive lighting can help to create a highly productive work environment.
  • For children doing their homework, blue light can help them concentrate.
  • If you suffer from SAD (seasonal affected disorder) or depression, many studies indicate that clear, natural-toned light can have an extremely positive effect.
  • If you’re less able, having lots of sun-like light in the home can be beneficial, when you aren’t able to get outside.

 

How to incorporate biodynamic lighting…

Using a system like the Loxone Smart Home lighting system allows you to control many aspects of the light in your home.

  • Choose from an array of colours: yellow for concentration, green for calm, violet for creativity, orange for comfort, red for relaxing – and so on.
  • Fade light in and out, rather than shocking your body with overly bright lights at the flick of a switch.
  • Use moonlight lighting if you wake up in the night, this prevents your body from waking up too much and allows you to relax back to sleep.
  • Automatic brightness means that the lights in your home will adjust to the natural light, allowing as much natural light in as possible before slowly brightening themselves.

 

Biodynamic lighting is coming to the attention of many conscientious homeowners. Not only is intelligent lighting good for you, but it’s designed to be beautiful too. Change the lighting around the home to create cosy areas, a party vibe or a sophisticated dinner setting.

Lighting is so much more than a bulb and a switch – let us show you what lighting can really do! Get in touch today to hear more about our home automation and intelligently adaptive lighting products.

 

A Day In The Life Of A Smart Home

You might be wondering, how will a smart home improve or change my life? Well, the best way to illustrate this is to take you through a day in the life of your average smart home.

So, here goes…

 

7am – You wake up in a cool room, the perfect temperature in fact. Thanks to your intelligent smart heating, the bedroom heat adapts to your daily movements. You reach over to your phone and turn on the bedroom lights – soft warm lighting lulls you awake.

 

7.10am – You slip out of bed and head for the shower. The bathroom is warm, towels are toasty, the water is hot, all thanks to your smart heating. Soft lighting gradually brightens as you go about your routine, waking you up to a new day.

 

7.30am – Everyone heads downstairs for breakfast. You reach over to your Touch console and click the blinds open, start your morning playlist and turn on the under counter lighting. Phewf, that took all of 3 seconds. Time for some food!

 

7.35am – You burn the toast, but don’t worry… you didn’t set off the smoke alarm. Your intelligent smoke alarm knows the difference and simply sends an alert to your phone, which you silence.

 

8am – After a fresh slice of toast, it’s time to get dressed. Because you’ve got personalised lighting design in your bedroom, the dressing table is well lit for applying make-up and the main mirror is lit by soft lighting. Once you’re decent, you click your Touch console to open the blinds and double click lights off as you head back downstairs.

 

8.30am – With everyone dressed and ready, it’s time to leave… wait! Has anyone left their bedroom lights on? Are the straighteners still on? Is the heating still going? No worries, just triple-click the Touch console and all the lights and standby items will shut off.

And the heating? You’ve got 6 pre-programmed slots throughout the day, plus you can turn it off with your phone at the touch of a button.

 

11.30am – Ping! Your video doorbell system lets you know that someone is on your doorstep. You open up the app and speak to your local delivery driver, asking them to leave your parcel in the step as you’re ‘just in the garden’.

5pm – Time to head home, but before you do, you click the heating on. You’ve got guests coming over and you want the house to be nice and warm when they arrive.

 

7pm – You put the kids to bed and set their bedroom lights to a low light red tone, to help them get off to sleep. You remind them that if they need the toilet in the night, the motion-activated moonlights will turn on to light their way (it’ll also let you know they’re up via your phone, but they don’t need to know that).

 

7.30pm – Adult time! You tap your Touch control to play some smooth tunes and soften the lighting. As people arrive and the room warms up, the heating slowly decreases and the blinds gradually close as the sunset drifts away.

 

11pm – You double click the Touch console as you head up to bed, your way softly lit to prevent the children from waking. You jump into bed and quickly check that the house alarm and external motion sensors and cameras are on – perfect.

 

Wake efficiently, go about your day seamlessly and sleep soundly – knowing that your smart home has you covered.

Sound like something you’d like to incorporate? Fancy gaining back the time taken by 50,000 extras tasks a year? Let’s chat.

Saving Money With Home Automation

Contrary to what some may think, home automation is actually a great way to start saving money on your utility bills. From the point of installation, many home automation integrations work to efficiently heat, light and protect your home.

You can also feel good about the money that you’re saving, knowing you’re helping the environment too.

Water damage

Clever gadgets, like the Loxone Water Sensor, can prevent major expenditure on repairs after water leaks. Simply place the battery-operated water sensor in flood-prone areas, such as laundry rooms, kitchens and boiler rooms. The inbuilt water sensor detects leaking water and informs the Miniserver. Depending on the settings you choose, you’ll be notified by phone, email or through your audio system. Plus, with a battery life of two years, you won’t be spending a fortune on Duracell!

 

Heating bills

Save up to £130 a year on your heating bills? Sounds tempting, right? With the nifty Hive thermostat and smartphone app, you can set 6 individual time slots for your heating and hot water. By fitting your heating and hot water around your daily routine, you’ll never waste money on warming up an empty house.

Heading out? Simply knock the heating off with the press of a button, wherever you are!

 

Stand-by killer

That cheeky red light that peaks out from underneath the TV is no more! Your smart home can automatically take devices off standby and off the grid, when you aren’t using them. Safe, efficient and a super quick way to save money – especially if you’re away on holiday or don’t use the device for several days.

 

Nest security  

One of the most horrific ways to lose money is through a burglary. In 2018, police recorded a 22% increase in robbery offences[1], prompting an upsurge in the numbers of people choosing to purchase home security. Nest security systems are among some of the most highly regarded – featuring: person, motion and sound detection, night vision cameras and 24/7 streaming. As with many home automation devices, you can view your entire security system from your phone. This enables you to check on your property and receive alerts, wherever you are.

 

Loxone lights off

One of the simplest and most effective ways to save money on your electricity bills is to turn lights off when you don’t need them – but who wants to be constantly flicking switches on and off, or stumbling down the hallway to turn the bathroom light on?

With Loxone systems, your lights automatically turn off when you aren’t in the room and pop back on when you are.

 

The Home Solutions Group are proud providers and installers of all of the products mentioned in this article. Not only are we passionate about saving our customers money, but also have an environmental agenda.

            If you’re thinking about investing in a smart system, but you’re concerned about the associated costs, please allow us to break it down for you. Simply give us a call and we’ll put your mind at ease.

[1]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingjune2018#latest-figures