Future-proof your home with Smart Home Technology and Universal Design Features

Smart Home

Ready to Remodel Your Northern Virginia Home?

If you’ve lived in your home a while, or even if you’ve just purchased it, chances are that the home is not yet up to date with smart technology. Once the walls are closed, it is difficult to add wiring. If you’re ready to remodel, now is the perfect time to future-proof your home with smart home technology solutions and Universal Design features.

Smart Home Technology Solutions

Wiring for the Future

smart homeFuture-proofing your home includes updating the wiring for Internet and TV, sound and video, automation, and appliances. As much of the wiring can be run behind the walls, now is the right time to incorporate smart home technology into your remodel.

  • Internet: prewire each area where the Internet will be accessed with dual jacks with coax and a cat 5e. Install two cat 5e cables where a phone will be used.
  • TV: For the best picture quality, use tri- or quad-shield RG6 coax cables with a 77% high-density braid. For flexibility on locations, run all Internet and TV wiring from a single box in the basement or garage through the attic or crawlspace.
  • Sound & video: Hardwire data lines and data connections into the remodel for optimal TV and gaming functionality.
  • Automation: Smart home technology can run temperature controls, lighting and security to maximize energy efficiency.
  • Appliances: Connect data lines to appliances and HVAC systems to create alerts.

Smart Home Technology Devices & Systems

Smart Home

Smart homes are quickly becoming the standard, with technology touching every room and all major home systems. The connected systems are easily monitored and controlled through your computer or an app. (See our related blog post titled: Smart Homes are the Future.)

  • Smart thermostats: Control your HVAC systems with a smart thermostat that can be programmed to, or learn, your heating and cooling schedules.
  • Home security: Video doorbells and home security cameras help protect your home, and provide security lighting.
  • Lighting: Program lights to turn on and off. Operation can be set on a schedule, controlled remotely, or use sensors to detect activity within a room. Save up to 90% in energy with LED bulbs throughout the home vs. traditional light bulbs.
  • Audio: Stream your favorite music to any area of your home. Use voice activation with cloud-based voice services like Amazon Alexa.
  • Smart smoke and CO2 detectors: These not only sound an alarm, they can notify you or a designated contact if activated.

Think Energy Efficiency

Did you know that more than 40% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. operates buildings, with most powering appliances and building-related equipment? Smart home technology is exceptional at energy efficiency, with a number of ways to protect your home, the environment, and your utility bills.

  • Windows: With high insulation ratings, energy efficient windows help prevent heated or cooled air from escaping from your home, and help reduce heating and cooling bills. Look for soft-coat Low-E glass that offers the best UV protection and overall U-value for Northern Virginia homes.
  • Appliances & Equipment: Save between 10% and 50% in energy each year by using Energy Star®-certified appliances and equipment like washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, air purifiers, room air conditioners, ceiling fans, and office equipment. In 2020, Energy Star helped Americans save more than 520 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and avoid $42 billion in energy costs.
  • Roofing: Green materials help to reflect heat from the home, and can resemble typical roofing products like shingles and slate. Look for an R-value of 30 or higher.
  • Insulation: Spray-foam insulation can work together with your green roof to deflect heat, and keep your home cooler naturally.

Eco-Friendly Products

Smart Home - solar panelsYou can make smart home choices in many of your selections by choosing sustainable products and systems. Sustainable home improvements have been shown to reduce your impact on the environment and save money, along with improving your health.

  • Recycled materials: Think of how many ways can you incorporate recycled or reclaimed materials into your home—in your flooring, beams, doors, wood, and other items. You’ll reduce waste and enjoy the cost savings.
  • Low VOC paints: VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are often found in paints and refrigerants, and can cause both short- and long-term health issues. Choose products with a low VOC.
  • Low-flow toilets: You can save up to $110 a year by switching to low-flow toilets, cites the EPA. In addition, they can last longer—up to 30 years!
  • Tankless water heaters: an on-demand water heater heats water when an actual demand is made, and delivers heated water only for as long as needed. Properly maintained, they last longer than regular water heaters (20+ years vs. 10-15 years), and can be up to 34% more energy efficient for smaller households, states Energy.gov.
  • Sustainable landscaping: Conform your landscaping to its natural environment and eliminate the need for watering, fertilizing and maintenance.
  • Solar energy: Installing solar panels, attic fans, water heaters and exterior lights are another way to be eco friendly. Use the sun’s natural energy to power your smart home.

Even the house itself can be sustainable, with tiny houses, prefabricated, zero-carbon and passive homes becoming more popular. (See our Guide to Eco Friendly Home Design.)

Smart Future-Proof Design Choices and Universal Design


What is Universal Design?

Universal Design creates products that provide accessibility to people with a wide range of abilities, disabilities, and other characteristics, and are suitable for use by everyone—not just those with disabilities. They may require minimal physical effort, like an automatic door, or flexibility in use, like audio or written instructions.

When you’re ready to remodel your Northern Virginia home, think ahead to your future needs:

  • Will you be aging in place?
  • Will older or younger generations be moving in with you for multi-generational living?
  • Do you have health or mobility issues that will require modifications down the road?

By combining Universal Design and smart home technology into your remodel now, you’re future-proofing your home, and thus avoiding costly renovations later on. It’s the smart thing to do.

Integrate Smart Home Technology and Universal Design into Your Home with Schroeder Design/Build

Ready to remodel? When it comes time to incorporate smart home technology and Universal Design into your Northern Virginia home remodel, trust the experts at Schroeder Design/Build. We’ve been remodeling homes since 1986, and just surpassed our 1000th happy client!

To learn more, or to schedule your free initial consultation, contact Schroeder Design/Build at 704-449-1400 or info@SchroederDesignBuild.com.

Schroeder Design/Build 2020 CotY winner

Smart Homes Are the Future

Incorporating smart technology into your home has been a major area of growth for the remodeling industry over the past few years. And homeowners are excited about the possibilities for their homes. With products ranging from temperature controls to air filtration systems, smart homes are the future.

The demand for smart home technology grew during the pandemic and is expected to increase by up to 24.4%, or to a more than $317 billion industry by 2026, according to ABI Research.

They define six key concepts in smart homes:

  • The Sentient Home – The smart home automatically adjusts to changes in real time, with options from individual preferences to weather
  • The Cooperative Home – Smart home technology is embedded into a network of homes within the same locality for manage, control and share resources
  • The New Lifestyle Home – Supports simple and flexible changes in the use of spaces to adapt to the variety of activities they are used for
  • The Home as a Business – Supports revenue-generating services
  • The Low Impact Home – Pushes towards zero environmental impact through automated controls over types, generation, delivery, consumption and disposal of goods/services
  • The Marketplace Home – Smart home management providers look for ways to engage with consumers

Smart Home Technology for Wellness

Since the pandemic, Universal Design has increased in popularity. Families were forced to look deeply at their living situations and wanted to make changes to suit their changes in lifestyles and wellness routines both now and into the future. Some people moved younger and older family members into their homes and created multi-generational living arrangements. Others looked at the long-term benefits of staying in their homes and wanted Aging in Place technology for both safety and wellness.

Smart technology addresses wellness with:

  • Products that kill airborne viruses and germs and improve indoor air quality. This antimicrobial functionality is added to home HVAC systems.
  • Smart thermostats to control temperature and humidity levels
  • Water filtration systems
  • Touchless faucets and automatic soap dispensers
  • Touchless lighting
  • UV-Spectrum sanitation
  • Bidet toilets to allow personal sanitation without having to use the bathtub

Smart Home Technology for Safety

Falls Church, VA-Contemporary Master Bathroom Walk-In Shower and Soak-In TubToday’s smart home technology involves a wireless network that controls many of the features in your home. It can be controlled either individually or universally via a smartphone app or tablet.

Kitchen fires are one of the largest concerns for safety, especially when a burner is left on. Smart technology can alert the homeowner and allow remote access to turn it off. Interactive induction cooktops paired with smart ventilation hoods can further enhance safety and enable faster cooking speeds. It can also alert homeowners to a water leak from the refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, or water heater and enable remote shut-off of the water source.

Safety in the bathroom can include water temperature controls, voice-activated lighting and faucet operation, automatic toilet seat raise/lower functionality, and touchless faucets.

For safety, the demand includes:

  • Smart door locks that record and send alerts when someone enters or leaves, or can lock or unlock via an app
  • Access code locks
  • Video doorbells
  • Internal and external security cameras
  • Alarm systems
  • Lighting controls, and systems that “learn” your routines and automatically turn lights on and off in conjunction with room occupation
  • Power generators
  • Hot water temperature controls to avoid scalding injuries
  • Voice-activated technology

Smart Home Technology for Energy Savings

Using programmed or pre-preprogrammed settings for energy and water usage can create significant savings over the course of a year. It can also increase awareness to energy and water consumption and usage.

In the kitchen, refrigerators are offering separate cooling areas and even inventory tracking through the use of barcodes and sensors to reduce food waste. And embedded cameras that let you actually see what’s in your refrigerator via an app. Food composters and discarded water recycle unused resources into new uses.

Have you heard of Miele’s Invisible Kitchen Concept? Imagine a countertop that weighs your ingredients via an embedded scale or a projector that displays recipes virtually onto your countertop. A refrigerator that communicates with your stove and other appliances to create meal plans and cooking options. A virtual assistant that creates recipes. Or an entire line of handle-less, built-in appliances. This futuristic kitchen design concept is networked and convenient to provide the ultimate cooking experience. “[This] brings a new sense of creativity to the game. Cooking once again becomes exciting and fun,” said Axel Kniehl, executive director of the Miele Group.

You can even set up command systems. For example, if you’re going to bed, you can announce it to your voice-controlled device that will then shut off lights, televisions and other entertainment items, lock doors, turn on cameras, and adjust the thermostat.

Other items for energy savings include:

  • Low-voltage LED lighting
  • Power strips and charging stations for multiple charging ports
  • Virtual assistants

Smart Home Discounts

Some insurance companies encourage smart home technology by offering smart home discounts of between 5% and 20% on your premium due to the minimized damage risk to the home. Others may offer free or discounted systems, activation and installation fees or can stack more than one discount.

Common items that can make the home safer and help to support a claim, should one be needed, include:

  • Security and alarm systems
  • Smart smoke detectors
  • Interior sprinkler systems
  • Gas and water shutoff systems
  • Video recording

Contact Schroeder Design/Build

At Schroeder Design/Build, our focus is creating our clients’ dream homes. And that can mean adding in the dream features offered by smart home technology. Smart homes truly are the future.

The best time to add this technology into a home is during construction—whether you’re remodeling or building a new home in Northern Virginia. This way the wireless connectivity can be added into the design and incorporated into the structure without disruption.

You may also want to design your home around the smart home technology you want to add. It’s much easier to do it now while you’re considering construction than to try to retrofit it into your home later.

Schroeder Design/Build offers both design and construction under one roof for your convenience. Use our team of experienced architects and inspiring designers to help you bring your concepts to life. And check out our Portfolio and our social media links for inspiration!

Contact Schroeder Design/Build today.