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Ways to squeeze out more smartness from a smart home

(TECH NEWS) Smart devices are a godsend for the busy, those that can’t be bothered, and the curious, but it’s important to be smart about what you’re signing up for.

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internet of things

Getting things under control

Smart Homes and Wi-Fi-connected devices have brought us a number of benefits. A fully connected house can be controlled from a smart phone, and personally, I love the ambiance of my Philips Hue lights. As homeowners, renters, or landlords, controlling energy costs is a big focus.

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Does having a lot of connected devices draw more energy? Are we making our carbon foot print worse? Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of research suggest that smart homes and connected devices can do a lot to make us MORE efficient.

Almost everything can be “Smart” nowadays – thermostats, water heaters, meters, plugs, lighting, irrigation, ovens, even crock pots (for us geeky lazy chefs). The “Internet of Things” that we create in our home is constantly growing. There are a couple of cool ways that smart devices can impact our power bill:

You hold all of the power

Smart thermostats, for one, (like Nest) are helpful for a number of reasons.

Routines are one way – by automating a routine where we aren’t cooling a house that we aren’t even in. You can also change the temperature if you forget to set it before you leave for work (just pull over if you do – no home automation and driving). Lastly, you can learn a lot from analytics that show you your usage and how often your system kicks on.

Although it should be noted that a house without good airflow and ventilation won’t benefit too much, using those sweet analytics is the best way to maximize savings.

Heating and cooling costs account for 48% of the typical energy costs for a home.

I’m from Texas. So I know how important it is to stay cool.

Convenience makes a huge deal

Smart lighting is often brighter and more efficient (the joy of LED!), and has the ability to set lighting preferences (dim, have it adjust based on natural light, or set to schedules)which can lead to energy savings. And if you are running late (as we often are), and you happen to leave all your lights on – turning them off remotely can save energy costs.

Smart meters can tell you what in your home is using a lot energy – indicating potential issues and showing you ways to save.

Irrigation options like Cyber-Rain exist as well – with reducing the usage and waste of water by anticipating weather conditions. Although not directly related to your carbon footprint, saving water and reducing water loss is a big deal (particularly in California!).

Do your homework

That’s not to make things too rosy. A lot of smart appliances are more sugar than sustainability, but can help with other aspects of sustainability. Smart fridges for example, with remote cameras, can help reduce food waste and can ensure you don’t buy too much or forget the milk has expired.

Smart home devices can really impact our energy usage if we embrace automation and utilize analytics.

Otherwise, things like constantly playing with your lights (they change color!) or that fancy smart security system may end up just pulling more power from the grid. Like any tool in our life, there is an opportunity for the opposite effect (higher electric bills) if we don’t use the tools correctly.

Smart homes require making smart decisions. If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, use smart devices to correct the human error (leaving your lights on) or help you make a better decision (cooling your home when you’re actually there, etc).

Mo’ devices can mean mo’ money – but only if put yourself in the know.
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#smartenergy

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Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

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Real Estate Technology

Crowdseekr is a search engine for real estate crowdfunding opportunities

(REAL ESTATE) If you’re looking for investors, or you’re an investor looking for a real estate opportunity, Crowdseekr is the perfect resource to post or find what you are looking for.

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CrowdSeekr has been around for less than a year and is developing a powerful tool for discovering real estate crowdfunding investment opportunities from multiple platforms.

Crowdfunding seems like a natural fit for the real estate market. According to investopedia.com, “crowdfunding makes use of the easy accessibility of vast networks of friends, family and colleagues through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get the word out about a new business and attract investors.”

In that regard, crowdfunding has the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors from whom funds can be raised beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives and venture capitalists.

But the playing field is filling up fast. Industry experts point out that in the US alone, there are currently over 150 real estate related crowdfunding sites. It is estimated that by 2020 this will be a 220 billion dollar industry.

That said, CrowdSeekr (headquartered in Oklahoma) is banking on developing a powerful tool for discovering real estate crowdfunding investment opportunities from multiple platforms. Investors will be able to use CrowdSeekr’s advanced search tools to identify real estate crowdfunding projects that meet their investment criteria.

According to a recent investopedia article, CrowdSeekr creates a powerful marketing channel for real estate crowdfunding platforms by reaching more investors than they could have otherwise acquired by themselves. CrowdSeekr follows suit, and allows investors to conduct customized searches across multiple crowdfunding platforms. Investors will benefit from a site that offers many deals in one place and robust search options.

One thing that industry experts are wary of is the undercapitalization of many crowdfunding startups. In fact, to get started with crowdfunding in real estate, say many real estate professionals, the trick is going with a firm that’s going to be around for a while.

In other words, work with a crowdfunding company that will survive. That means well-capitalized. What scares many industry professionals is the number of crowdfunding companies out there that are headed up by two students who just graduated from college, and who aren’t capitalized themselves.

Crowdseekr doesn’t seem to have that problem. According to crowdfunder.com, Tim Strange, the co-Founder of CrowdSeekr.com is a thirty-year veteran of commercial real estate brokerage, investments and sponsorship having closed over $1 billion in transactions. Strange is also the president of the largest Rotary club in the world. Strange has sold and leased more than 7 million square feet in transactions valued at almost $1 Billion.

If time is money, as the old saying goes, then the ensuing New Year will tell if Crowdseekr has the right stuff to make it in today’s crowdfunding market.

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Real Estate Technology

Smart home features your clients will be asking about now and in the future

The smart home is no longer a theory, it is becoming mainstream, so you should know the different options in case clients ask, “does this house have X, or do Y?”

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SMART HOME

It started with smartphones. Now watches, cars, and, yes Realtors, even houses can be wired for smart technology. The following is a bird’s eye view of all of the features you’re either being asked about currently, or will be asked about in the future.

Locks, lights, appliances

Devices with smart technology allow home owners to control several household appliances and amenities, from locks to lights to window blinds, all through a single device. Smart devices are convenient and also help make homes more efficient, saving home owners money on utilities.

For example, smart thermostats can often be controlled remotely, and the smartest actual memorize your habits and routines to automatically adjust the house’s temperature for your comfort. If you find yourself turning on the AC each night before hitting the sheets, a smart thermostat will quickly learn to do it for you. Many thermostats come with motion sensors, so the thermostat adjusts depending on whether or not you are home.

Power, security, sprinklers

Home owners can also manage power use by using smart power strips, lighting, timers and monitors, and appliances that can be controlled remotely. Smart power systems provide feedback about power use, showing how to optimize efficiency.

Smart devices are available to run home security systems, including alarm systems and cameras that live stream to your smartphone, so you can keep an eye on the house while you are away.
You can even install a smart garden irrigation system that responds to weather conditions and waters your garden even when you aren’t home, saving you time and money.

Combining functions

Many smart devices combine functions, controlling your thermostat, your appliances, and your security system all at once. Complex smart home systems often run through a central hub that uses the wireless spectrum to network each appliance with your handheld device. Homey comes recommended as a particularly cute and useful hub that responds to voice commands.

The smart home device market is embryonic, but growing quickly. Your more tech-savvy clientele may want to know if the properties you are showing already have, or could become equipped with the smart home devices.

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Real Estate Technology

Cam’s 360 degree view in real time could change home tours forever

(TECH) Virtual tours just got awesome. Luna, a 360 degree camera in beta, is the size of a golf ball, waterproof and streams its video feed live.

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luna 360 cam

Homebuyers know that no matter how many videos they watch, or photos they click through, nothing can replace the experience of walking through a potential home. Although photos and videos will never fully replace the experience of being somewhere in person, Luna, a new 360-degree camera, promises to bring users one step closer to the real life experience by providing them with panoramic photos and videos.

With its unique dual-fisheye-lens design, Luna is a great marketing tool for real estate professionals that want to give customers a 360° virtual home tour. The spherical camera is about the size of a golf ball, just six centimeters in diameter and a little over 180 grams. Users just click the top of Luna one time to take a panoramic 360° photograph, two times to take a video, or hold down the button to shut off the camera completely.

The camera uses intelligent auto-stitching software, so images are automatically created in the panoramic view and users need not bother with the hassle of other stitching programs.

There are few places that can’t be captured by Luna’s unique camera, especially with it’s host of accessories that make it possible to fly Luna on a drone or attach it to a fishing rod. With its waterproof enclosure, agents can use Luna to show customers the bottom tiling of a swim pool, or create a video of the property grounds despite the drizzling rain. And, with Luna attached to a flying drone, why not take a closer look at the roofing?

Luna’s convenient size and easy-use features make it possible for agents to take and operate the camera almost anywhere. And with a whole host of accessories, the exploration opportunities are virtually endless.

From a marketing perspective, perhaps Luna’s best quality is its ability to stream 360° content live over the Internet. Consumers can watch on their phone or device as their agent gives them a live preview, or they can take independent control over the camera and decide where to look. This feature allows customers to explore interactively with a unique 360° view, as if walking through the house on their own.

Although Luna is still currently in beta, it promises to be a great device for real estate agents looking to bring their remote consumers one step closer to a real walk through experience. The unique 360° photos and video can be used to create interest in their properties online, and hopefully convince potential homebuyers to take a live-streaming virtual tour.

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