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Archive for the 'Technology' Category

March 1st, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Electrolux-modular-kitchen-workzones

The role of the kitchen in our homes has changed dramatically over the years. What used to be a space simply used for food preparation has now become the hub of the home. Today, cooking is accompanied by a greater variety of activities such as entertaining, socialising, dining, working, laundry etc. As our use of the kitchen has changed, the technology that is used within it has had to adapt to meet our needs.

Nobody knows what the kitchen of the future will look like but with each new technological advancement the realms of possibility are extended ever further. In order to find out what exactly we can expect to see in terms of technology in the kitchen appliances of the future Freshome spoke to Stefano Marzano, the newly appointed Chief Design Officer at Electrolux, one of the global leaders in home appliances and appliances for professional use.

Read more on this interview on the future of kitchen technology from Freshome

January 10th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

The tech wires are all abuzz from all of the technical writers at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) currently on in Las Vegas.

The folks at Digital Trends shared some news that should have some impact on media room planning… Samsung’s new 55″ OLED TV.

Caleb Denison of Digital Trends writes:

We expected Samsung would bring an OLED TV to the show, and it has. Samsung’s 55-inch “Super OLED” TV looked pretty impressive from 75 yards away and the company promised it would be available sometime this year, though they didn’t get any more specific than that. Samsung made much of the fact that it makes 90% of the world’s OLED panels and that it is in a strong position to be the OLED market leader. We’ll see. Samsung still needs people to want to buy in to OLED and we’ve yet to see any digits relating to price.

For the full article and other highlights of the 2012 CES show, click here.

Hmm… 55″, super skinny OLED. Keep some open space in your floor plans folks, you’re going to need it!

December 13th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

As homes are being built tighter to save energy, effective ventilation is a must. Excessive humidity results in uncomfortable interiors, and provides an ideal environment for mould growth.

A recent article in Fine Homebuilding features a relatively new bathroom fan from Panasonic with sophisticated automatic controls.

Panasonic WhisperSense Bathroom Fan

WhisperSense fans have two levels of control: The default control is a motion sensor that activates the fan as soon as someone enters the bathroom. When the sensor detects that the person has left the bathroom, the fan continues to operate for an adjustable interval of time ranging from 1 to 60 minutes. The second level of control is triggered by a humidity sensor. After the interval of run-time initiated by the motion sensor winds down, the fan will stop—unless the humidity sensor detects that the relative humidity of the bathroom air is above the control’s humidity set point. If it is, the fan will operate until the room’s relative humidity drops to the set point (adjust-able from about 30% relative humidity to about 80%).

The trouble with humidity controls is that they need to be adjusted seasonally. During the winter, a bath fan may need to  run for just a few minutes to bring the relative humidity down to 40%. During the summer, though, the same fan could run all day and never reach the set point—especially in a house without air-conditioning. As long as a homeowner understands this concept and is willing to fiddle with the settings every May and October, humidity control can be a useful feature.

Read more from Fine Homebuilding about this smarter bath fan here… or read the specs from Panasonic here.

November 16th, 2011
By Vivian Martin
Dafna Zilafro modern living room
Many of us dream of a wireless home — a place where stereos, speakers and video components all live and work together without the eyesore of ugly wires.To that end, I have good news and bad news.There’s no such thing as a truly wireless home. Electronics need power. Those running on batteries have to be charged or plugged into an outlet. So, at the very least, there are power cords to contend with.

Then there’s the issue of quality and consistency. Most wireless audio and video devices use the same airwaves as cordless phones, cell phones and Wi-Fi networks. When all that data fights for space there are pauses, blips and dead air — like when a video playing on a computer stops and that “buffering” symbol starts spinning.

But new technology allows for increasing degrees of wireless connectivity within the home. At the very least, we can now stream music from different sources to various speakers around the home. It’s not perfect, yet, but it’s getting much better.

Follow the slideshow to review some of your options:

November 8th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Simple and sleek interiors are trending and the one thing that does not go with this is clutter. Those who are tethered to their iPads have a tendency to keep that same sleekness in their decor. So what do you do if you can’t imagine being in the kitchen without your iPad?…

Image courtesy of Design Milk

Or what if you want to stay wired during a nice leisurely soak?

Image courtesy of Design Milk

If you are all about minimalism and lack of clutter, Wallee – a company from down under has some accessories that you are sure to appreciate. A sexy little “x” mount allows portrait or landscape viewing of your iPad without unsightly mounting brackets. If you want to keep your unit safe and secure, this is a great option.

The video below shows just how simple this accessories work and keep your space clutter-free!

I checked with them and they are more than happy to ship anywhere world-wide!

I

November 1st, 2011
By Vivian Martin
Cord Management Straps contemporary cable management

As we all become more and more tethered to our electronic devices, wire management is a challenge almost everyone faces. It’s especially tough when trying to achieve timeless, uncluttered design. Who wants to see wires mucking up a beautiful composition?

Thankfully, our reliance on technology has created a market for managing it all – there are tons of products on the market to help us out, while creative homeowners and designers are coming up with solutions of their own to keep wires under control and out of sight.

Of course, the best solution is to fully integrate wires into a design (where possible), which requires a lot of planning and and healthy dose of construction. Follow the slideshow below for loads of inspiration to tame your tangled wires.

October 25th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

There seems to be no shortage of gadgets coming to market that make our lives simpler, more comfortable, etc. A new thermostat coming to market will help to save money, too!

The average home spends more than $2,200 per year on energy bills and roughly half of this amount goes towards heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy.  When a programmable thermostat is set and used properly, a homeowner can save about $180 annually.  But the problem is, virtually everyone with a programmable thermostat doesn’t set or use it properly.  Nest Labs, a Palo Alto-based start-up, aims to solve this problem with a new thermostat that’s simple, sleek, intuitive, and smart.

Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive and founder of Nest Labs, said, “We’ve built the world’s first learning thermostat — a thermostat for the iPhone generation,” according to the New York Times.  It’s called Nest, and it’s going to be sold for $250.

Learn more about the Nest thermostat by reading the full article…

October 11th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

When was the last time you stumbled out of bed in the middle of the night to the call of nature? Or tip-toed to the kitchen for a late night snack or something to drink? Toe-kick lighting in the kitchen or bathroom can be both practical, good-looking and gentle on the eyes.

LED toe kick lighting contemporary bathroom

I was recently on a Parade of Homes tour where the ensuite implemented a very simple solution to bathroom lighting – they integrated a motion sensor with the toe kick lighting strip. I had an “aha” moment as I recognized this as being a simple and perfect solution. The gentle glow of the toekick light easily provided guidance along the essential path and bathed the entire bathroom in a soft glow. The added benefit would be an easier transition back to sleep.

Whether considering safety in the family bathroom or courtesy to your partner when using the ensuite, there is an automated lighting solution for you!

 

 

May 5th, 2011
By Vivian Martin
 

Registered Trademark of BuiltGreen Canada
 
Built Green™ promotes construction of buildings that are healthier for the occupants and healthier for the environment. Sustainable or “green” building practices can reduce the tremendous impact that building has on both people and nature.
▪    Better energy efficiency means comfort and long term savings for the homeowner.
▪    Healthier indoor air means comfort, better health and peace of mind for the family.
▪    Durable, reduced-maintenance materials mean a longer life for the home and long term savings.
▪    Preserving natural resources means leaving more for future generations to enjoy.
 
The homebuyer will know that their Built Green™ home represents their commitment to the environment, future generations and improving the way we live. Resource and environment-conscious homebuyers will look for Built Green™ certification when choosing their home.
A Built Green™ home certification offers participating builders an excellent way to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Market research shows that consumers take environmental concerns and long-term energy costs into consideration when making purchasing decisions.  Builders can demonstrate their environmental leadership by participating in Built Green™ and produce a great home.
  
 To learn more about the Built Green™ home, visit the CHBA-BC website or BuiltGreenCanada.

 

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient. 

 

Informing and educating the home-buying public on the value of a home that meets Built Green™ standards are one of the primary undertakings of the program. An informed buyer will recognize the value of greater energy efficiency, healthier indoor air, reduced water usage, and improved comfort.

Sustainable building practices go beyond energy and water conservation, resource efficient building materials and superior indoor environmental quality.

Some of the key benefits are:
▪    Lower electric and water utility costs
▪    Environmentally effective use of building materials
▪    Enhanced health and productivity
▪    Long-term economic returns
▪    Reduced environmental impact

April 21st, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Canadians are faced with a number of programs which quantify the energy efficiency and “green score” of their homes. As part of an ongoing series of articles on energy efficient new homes, we are presenting information and resources related to each program. This week, we will look at a national program, the R-2000 ranking.

 

What is R-2000?

R-2000 is made-in-Canada home building technology with a worldwide reputation for energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. The R-2000 Standard is a series of technical requirements for new home performance that go way beyond building codes. Every R-2000 home is built and certified to this standard.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association works with Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) Office of Energy Efficiency which manages R-2000 on behalf of the federal government in support of R-2000 technology, builders and consumers.

The R-2000 mission is:

“ To promote the energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of Canada’s new housing stock through an industry-led, market-driven, leading edge housing standard presented as a co-operative partnership of the private and public sectors. ”

A Brief History of R-2000

When the first “R-2000 homes” were built, it was difficult, even for the visionaries in the industry, to imagine the impact of the technology, and how it would revolutionize the industry.

  • It began in the mid-1970s with a research project in Saskatchewan to develop ways of building homes that were comfortable and healthy to live in during the frigid winters, but used much less energy than conventional homes. The forerunners of R-2000 were modest-looking homes, with thick walls and small windows—a far cry from today’s bright and sunny homes.
  • The research resulted in the “house as a system” concept—a major evolution in building science. “House as a system” thinking recognizes that the flow of air, heat and moisture within a home is affected by the interaction of all the components, i.e., everything works together. If you make changes in one area, it will affect other areas—a simple concept that has profoundly changed the way all homes are built today.
  • The R-2000 Program was created in 1981 as a partnership between the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and Natural Resources Canada to begin moving this exciting new technology into the marketplace. The R-2000 Standard was formalized, home builders were trained in the new design and construction techniques, and consumers began to learn about these “better-built” homes.
  • Since then, thousands of R-2000 homes have been built, and thousands of building professionals trained.
  • Indirectly, R-2000 has influenced the way every home is built today, spawning a new generation of better builders, better materials and products and better homes.
  • Periodic upgrading of the R-2000 Standard has ensured that R-2000 remains at the forefront of construction technology. Over the years, requirements for indoor air quality and resource conservation have been added, along with stricter energy targets.
  • R-2000 technology has enjoyed tremendous international success. Early on in the Program, R-2000 was “exported” to Japan as well as the US where it had a great influence on the evolution of energy-efficient construction. R-2000 homes have also been built in Poland, Russia, Germany, and most recently, England, as a collaboration between Canadian builders and British developers.

Content source: Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA). For more information on the R-2000 program, follow this link.

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

 



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