Imagine being able to start brewing your morning coffee on a cold day, crank up the thermostat, and open your window shades to light up the room – all before crawling out of bed. A number of new products have hit the market in recent years, allowing tech-savvy users to transform their homes into something straight out of Star Trek.

If you're tired of juggling remote controls, the following next-gen features will help you on your way to designing a tech-friendly home.

Smart Home Technology

A number of companies have anticipated the move toward fully-networked living spaces, and Savant Systems is at the front of the pack. Savant puts all of your home automation at your fingertips, enabling you to activate exterior floodlights, adjust your heating and cooling systems, close your window shades, and monitor your security cameras, all from any Apple-based device.

Savant's technology also caters to your audio and video preferences, with multi-room access to your AV library. The company's website features videos of the system in action, filmed in its Manhattan-based mock smart home.

Smart Grid Options

Tricking out your home's automation capabilities can be about more than just living easy – it can also contribute to sustainability. Many cities throughout the country have been incorporating smart grids into their infrastructure, improving electronic communication technology to provide you with a more reliable, economical, flexible, and sustainable power supply.

Along the same lines as smart home technology, this system takes advantage of smart meters, replacing the old analog electric meter on your home with a digital version that can record usage in real time. Hooking into a smart grid system allows you to monitor your power use, adjust your appliances around peak load times (when the power grid is most heavily used), lower your electric bill, and put less strain on the environment at the same time.

You can find out if access to a smart grid is an option where you live by looking up the electric division on your city's web site; the U.S. Department of Energy also has a lot of helpful information on the subject.

Structured Wiring

That brand new flatscreen you picked up at Best Buy might claim that you can use it to surf YouTube, Vimeo and other online destinations, but many models can't use your wireless broadband connection. Setting up a structured wiring system in your home will prepare it for the next century of connectivity.

Structured wiring is essentially combining all of your home communications wiring into one system, rather than the daisy-chaining style through which many older homes are wired. Getting your home telephone network, Internet connection, security system, etc. wired properly into one structured system will provide for a more efficient home infrastructure, and you'll be able to hop online with that new TV in any room in the house. While you're at it, replace a few of your wall outlets with USB ports, and you''ll never have to search for that adapter again.

While some of smart home technology providers like Savant Systems will take care of this for you, it can come at a hefty price tag. If you take a more DIY approach to networking your home systems, it might be a good idea to begin by finding a certified electrician in your area who can set you up with a structured wiring system as a start.

Whether your goal is to increase your ease of living, leave a smaller footprint on the environment, or a little of both, updating your home for the next century is a step in the right direction. And the nice thing about designing a tech-friendly home: the music sounds great.

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