Home Wise

Summer in Santa Barbara? The Best Tech for Travelers

You may be headed for vacation, but that doesn’t mean your house can take a break. Invest in these seven smart devices and prepare for liftoff knowing your home is in good hands.

Words: Paulina Pinsky | Illustrations: Arina Shabanova

Maintain the grounds with Rachio

This smart sprinkler system and connected app allow you to specify grass type, shade levels, and soil by zone. Worried about unpredictable weather? Rachio automatically adjusts, taking into account the forecast as well as current conditions. Available at rachio.com; compatible with Amazon, Google, and Nest products.

Save up to 50% on water bill

Protect your property with Canary

This security camera is programmed to automatically activate when you leave the premises and disarm upon your return. If tripped, you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone with the option to sound a 90-decibel siren and notify the authorities from afar. Available at canary.is.

Secure the perimeter with August Smart Lock

Double-check that your entrances are secure from your phone — and, if not, lock them from thousands of miles away. The device, which integrates with your deadbolt, can create virtual keys for the house-sitter; it even logs who was there and what time they arrived. Available at august.com; compatible with Amazon, Google, and Nest products.

Light up the night with Wink + GE Link

Pair GE Link’s LED bulbs with the Wink app to set up an automatic schedule mimicking your daily routine, and even the neighbors won’t know you’re gone. From table lamps to garden lights, the bulbs work indoors and out. Available at wink.com; compatible with IFFTTT and Amazon products.

Save the environment

Cool your home with Ecobee

Control this smart thermostat’s temperature settings from your phone, reducing energy usage while you’re gone and ensuring a temperate climate upon arrival. Better yet, the device will issue an alert should it detect any problems with your heating or cooling systems while you’re away. Available at ecobee.com; compatible with IFFTTT, Amazon, and Apple products.

Pamper the pets with Rover

Whether your dog or cat likes to stay on their home turf or they’re ready for a mini-vacation of their own, find a top-reviewed caretaker for house visits and boarding alike, backed by premium insurance for any accidents. Book at rover.com

Stock your fridge with Instacart

Who wants to return home to a bare cupboard? As you taxi down the runway, open the delivery app on your smartphone and order some fresh staples — milk, fruit, yogurt — to arrive within the hour. Order at instacart.com; compatible with iPhone andAndroid phones.

How will you be spending your summer? Come see all Santa Barbara has to offer, leaving your home in good hands. 

How can you instantly make your home environment healthier?

uHoo quietly monitors air quality within a home. | Source:  Uhoo  air site

uHoo quietly monitors air quality within a home. | Source: Uhoo air site

Raising the Oxygen Bar

New technology is making it easier than ever to improve the air quality in your house. From reducing allergens to eliminating toxins, find out which new devices are changing the game in our company magazine Compass Quarterly.

In the past few years, we’ve undergone a health awakening that has extended beyond tracking our steps, bedtimes, and sinful bites to each inhale we take under our own roofs. Enter the new uHoo indoor air toxin sensor. The sleek hourglass-shaped gadget, about the size of a soda can, busily monitors an unprecedented number of air contaminants.

“UHoo has eight dedicated sensors — the most on the market,” says Dustin Jefferson Onghanseng, who came up with the idea for the tool with Brian Lin during a 24-hour hackathon. Users can keep tabs on temperature, dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and humidity — plus carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, and air pressure to boot.

Why the need for so much information? Well, we spend 90% of our time inside, and that trapped, recirculating air is definitely dicey. In fact, it might even be more polluted than the toxic brew you inhale while walking outside in some of the world’s smoggiest cities. Study after study in recent years has shown that breathing unhealthy air can exacerbate allergies and asthma, cloud concentration, disrupt sleep, and even trigger illness.

Muse Residences, in Sunny Isles, Florida, was developed in partnership with wellness firm Delos. | Source:  Delos  press release

Muse Residences, in Sunny Isles, Florida, was developed in partnership with wellness firm Delos. | Source: Delos press release

Delos, a wellness real estate and technology firm, is behind the Well Building Standard. The company paired with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to create a specialized lab devoted to studying how the makeup of the air inside our homes (along with light, sound, and temperature) boosts or busts our mood, health, and productivity. With those findings in mind, Delos also designed health-minded amenity packages in Massachusetts’ new mid-rise Fuse Cambridge apartment building. Among the offerings are primo air purifiers that wipe out everything from pollen to pet dander to neighbors’ cooking aromas.

Those who buy the multi-million dollar condos in Zaha Hadid’s New York City work-in-progress, 520 West 28th Street, will enjoy indoor air that’s been filtered a whopping four times. And luxury developers known for adding a LEED-certified sheen to old homes, like Troon Pacific Custom Residences in San Francisco, are considering their potential buyers’ health as well as the carbon footprint by installing state-of-the-art ventilation systems and formaldehyde-free cabinetry. Starting this year, builders can even find drywall that absorbs airborne chemicals.

Developers like Troon Pacific Custom Residences are seeking greener materials and infrastructure for new projects. | Source:  Troon residential  site

Developers like Troon Pacific Custom Residences are seeking greener materials and infrastructure for new projects. | Source: Troon residential site

Air purifiers themselves have undergone a revolution in response to this clean-air craze. And some of the newest models are impressively innovative. Take the Molekule. Instead of relying on a conventional HEPA filter to trap chemicals, this contraption breaks them down at the molecular level into water and carbon dioxide. The creator, a chemical engineering professor, spent 20 years perfecting the seemingly space-age product.

Dyson’s Pure Hot+Cool Link not only heats and cools; it cleanses the air around it. | Source:  Dyson  site

Dyson’s Pure Hot+Cool Link not only heats and cools; it cleanses the air around it. | Source: Dyson site

Even the household giant Dyson has jumped on the breathe-better bandwagon. Its Pure Hot+Cool Link is a fan/space heater combo that claims to remove 99.97% of allergens and pollutants using a 360-degree glass HEPA filter. Put the device on “auto mode,” and it will constantly respond and adjust to your home’s temperature and air quality. Link it to your smartphone to track pollutant levels in real-time as well as study trends over the course of a day or week.

BreezoMeter reports neighborhoods’ air pollution on a block-by-block basis. | Product design by:  Ilya Tsuprun

BreezoMeter reports neighborhoods’ air pollution on a block-by-block basis. | Product design by: Ilya Tsuprun

Dyson uses BreezoMeter to relay this information — which happens to be the same tool that real estate agents have started co-opting to provide potential buyers with the air pollution levels of specific neighborhoods or blocks.

So, sure you could get a temperature-regulating, sleep-tracking mattress or a mood-enhancing lamp to feel healthier inside your house. But to take the most holistic approach to wellness at home, you’d be wise to improve on — or invest in — that invisible element we can’t live without.

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