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Smart tech upgrades to improve home function

If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.

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When smart home technologies first emerged, their purpose was largely for convenience and operating the devices was often clunky. Today, smart devices seamlessly integrate into connected home systems to make living more efficient, improve home security and even offer advantages for your health.

If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.

Energy Consumption
Smart lighting is among the most prevalent of smart functions on the market, largely because of the multiple benefits it offers. You can set regular lighting patterns and also manage those lights from your smartphone, so forgetting to turn off a light is no longer an issue and you can fool would-be-thieves into thinking the house is inhabited when you’re away.

Another consideration is climate control, which accounts for a big chunk of a typical household’s energy consumption. The idea of programming your thermostat is nothing new, but smart thermostats take programming to a whole new level. Not only can you schedule temperature changes to coincide with your coming and going (and manage those changes with an app when you’re not even at home), today’s smart thermostats also have sensors that learn your daily habits and can adjust the climate accordingly.

Air Quality
In an average home, the pollutant level is normally low when people first enter the house, or after effective ventilation. However, after an extended period of time, daily activities can raise the level of humidity and carbon dioxide to unhealthy levels that can cause headaches, dizziness and sleepiness, and can contribute to long-term health issues.

“Few are aware of the impact of indoor air on their health and wellbeing, but the air we breathe is just as important as the food we eat or the water we drink,” said Kent Holm, senior vice president of global product management with the Velux Group. “An average adult breathes in around 4,000 gallons of air every day and spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors. A healthy indoor climate goes way beyond simple convenience.”

Opening skylights in conjunction with vertical windows removes polluted air from the home and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle.

In addition to manual controls, smart sensor technology monitors carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature in the home and data from local weather station forecasts to automatically open the skylights if fresh air is needed. The system can also automate skylight blinds.

Peace of Mind
Home security takes numerous forms, from detecting threats like fire or water to physical barriers at the home’s entry points. Smart technology is transforming the way homeowners manage their home’s security and giving them added confidence that their families are safe within those walls.

Smart smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors offer enhanced sensory features as compared to traditional models, in addition to sending alerts to your smart devices when you’re away. A smart sensor can also alert you of changes in your home’s moisture level due to leaks or humidity so you can take preventive measures

Smart garage door openers and door locks make it easy to program access to guests who may not have a key or gain access when you’ve forgotten your key. Other smart security devices like doorbell and flood light cameras help you keep tabs on the traffic around your home.

Learn more at whyskylights.com.

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Home Care

Spending time on household chores may improve brain health

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

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Photo by @deconovo from Unsplash.com

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

“Scientists already know that exercise has a positive impact on the brain, but our study is the first to show that the same may be true for household chores,” says Noah Koblinsky, lead author of the study, Exercise Physiologist and Project Coordinator at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI). “Understanding how different forms of physical activity contribute to brain health is crucial for developing strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.”

In this study, published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, the researchers looked at the links between household chores, brain volume and cognition in a group of 66 cognitively healthy older adults living in the community. The participants attended three assessment visits at Baycrest Hospital, including a health evaluation, structural brain imaging and cognitive assessment.

Participants were asked about the time they spent on household chores, such as tidying, dusting, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, heavy housework, yard work, home repairs and caregiving.

The researchers found that older adults who spent more time engaging in such activities had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did. This was observed in the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory and learning, and the frontal lobe, which is involved in many aspects of cognition.

Although it is possible that individuals with larger brains are more likely to take up household chores, there could be several explanations for the brain benefits of household physical activity.

First, we know that heart health is closely tied to brain health. It could be that household chores have a similar effect on the heart and blood vessels as low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Second, the planning and organization involved in household chores may promote the formation of new neural connections over time, even as we age.

Third, it could be that the older adults who engaged in more household chores spent less time being sedentary, which has been shown to be associated with negative health outcomes, including poor brain health.

“Besides helping to guide physical activity recommendations for older adults, these findings may also motivate them to be more active, since household chores are a natural and often necessary aspect of many people’s daily lives, and therefore appear more attainable,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, Senior Scientist at the RRI, Director of the Ben and Hilda Katz Interprofessional Research Program in Geriatric and Dementia Care, and senior author of this study.

This study was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

As a next step, the researchers would like to assess household physical activity more objectively using wearable technology. With additional funding, they could also plan controlled trials with the aim of increasing individuals’ household activity and studying brain changes over time.

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Home Care

Fresh ideas for home upgrades

Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out.

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Photo by Daiga Ellaby from Unsplash.com

Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out.

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider these tips:

Make function a priority.

While aesthetic changes may boost value and please the eye, be sure to consider upgrades that make living easier, like organization units that give you more space or upgrades that create additional living space.

Keep budget in mind.

Make a list of the projects you’d like to complete and estimate how much each will cost. Use the list to determine what you can afford to complete now.

Do your research.

If you’ll be making a significant purchase such as a new vacuum or grill, be sure to explore your options, read reviews and shop around for the best prices for greater confidence in what you choose.

Set yourself up for a more enjoyable spring with more home and garden tips at eLivingtoday.com.

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Home Care

When to update home and garden goods

As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

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Photo by Tom Byrom from Unsplash.com

Investing in quality products, properly maintaining and storing them all have an impact on how long they’ll stay in good working condition.

As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

Lawn Mower: If your mower needs a repair that exceeds its value, it’s time for a replacement. However, there may be other signs that an upgrade is warranted. Rough operation, frequent breakdowns or other indications of faulty performance deserve a second look. Before you buy new, remember to check your warranty to determine whether repairs might be covered.

Vacuum: Many homeowners discard their used vacuum when it stops picking up dirt and debris as efficiently as it did originally. Before you move on, be sure to check that performance issues aren’t the result of clogged hoses or a filter than needs cleaning or replacing. A belt may also be worn or need adjusting. Other signs it may be time to replace the vacuum include damaged or frayed cords, motor issues like overheating or making strange noises.

Grill: A grill may last anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the quality of the materials and how it is maintained. However, it’s common to have to replace parts along the way. Signs you may need a new grill include a firebox (the main enclosure) with cracks, rust or holes and burners that distribute heat unevenly. Damaged grates can affect even grilling if they’re warped or if they’re flaky or rusted, they can contaminate food. If you’re not able to replace the grates, or any other essential part, including hoses and connectors for a gas grill, you’ll be better off replacing the unit.

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