Are You Driving the New Granite Countertop?

Are You Driving the New Granite Countertop?

Homebuilders can look to the gap between the technology in our cars and the technology in our homes for profitable opportunities. Kitchen Photo Courtesy of URC

There’s a lot of talk today about new cars boasting much more technology than our homes. It’s true that if our homes were cars, they would be considered jalopies, still utilizing the technologies and techniques from a hundred years ago.

This point should be taken quite seriously by homebuilders. After all, when you drive a new car with its dashboard full of today’s technologies, you could be driving the new granite countertop option.

Though I am not convinced the car/home analogy is entirely apt. A high-performance car is not generally considered economical and green, while a high-performance home is often considered energy-efficient.

My own car, a new Honda Civic Hybrid, would certainly not be considered “high-performance,” but its features far exceed the technologies built in many new homes today. Wireless Bluetooth connectivity with my smartphone allows me to enjoy podcasts and music over the car speakers. It provides hands-free calling via my phone, even hands-free texting if I choose. I can issue voice commands for speed-dialing, see footage on a rear-view camera when backing up, and view my entertainment and communication options on my dashboard display, which also provides a breakdown of my ongoing fuel efficiency. I can scroll through display options to see the levels of charge in the car’s electric battery, whether the car is charging the battery or whether the battery is assisting the car.

When I’m driving I feel as if I’m in easy command of both my vehicle and my life. We should feel this in our homes as well. And the leap for getting to this kind of control in homes is smaller than you might think.

My car flashes a dashboard alert and emits an audible warning when I need to brake or veer from my lane without signaling — a connected home can send alerts as well, such as when someone enters via an electronic door lock or a security or safety sensor is tripped.

When I need a little more power in my car, I can turn off the Eco button or slide the shifter into sport mode to blast onto the highway or take a more spirited drive. We should have such override options in our homes as well. For instance, we should be able to set the thermostat remotely so the climate is to our liking when we get home. This merging of economy and efficiency is resulting in true high-performance homes that both save energy and keep us comfortable.

This is starting to happen. Production builders such as KB Home and Meritage Homes are installing Schneider Electric’s Wiser and Nexia Home Intelligence Systems into their new homes, offering some home automation and remote connectivity along with energy monitoring capabilities. High-end custom builders are doing even more. Some home control and energy management systems available today offer voice control and will likely soon evolve into gesture control.

Homebuilders certainly have a lot of catching up to do to make our homes as smart, convenient and appealing as today’s cars. But therein lies a huge opportunity to merge home convenience, entertainment and energy efficiency into packages that match the needs, lifestyles and desires of today’s tech-savvy homebuyer.

That means ubiquitous and seamless connectivity from smartphones, tablets and computers, streaming music and media capability with wired and wireless broadband connectivity, robust in-home networking, and easy automated energy savings.

Is home connectivity the new granite countertop? Not quite, upgrading connectivity to whole-home control and automation is the luxury granite countertop option. Basic home connectivity should come as standard.

After all, we shouldn’t live better in our cars.


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