Cancel Your Gym Membership and Stay Fit at Home

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If you got a Fitbit or Nike Fuelband for Christmas, I’m sorry. It’s already obsolete.

Here at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I have found more wearable tech for tracking your exercise routine and overall wellness than you would find Darth Vader costumes at ComicCon. Seriously, wearable health tracker tech is everywhere!

While going to the gym has become a social activity for many health conscious homeowners, the idea of staying home to get fit may be a more affordable reality. I could give you a rundown of every amazing item I’ve come across, but the most complete home fitness system I came across at CES is from iFIT.

iFIT wants to make every facet of your health better from sleep monitoring to exercise routines to even what you eat. While many other companies have wearable watches and bracelets that connect to a mobile app, iFIT has a selection of products that connect to each other and create a holistic view of how to improve your health at home.

iFIT Vue bracelets and watches.

For example, let’s say you have the iFIT Vue wristband (scheduled to debut in Spring 2015), the iFIT Mix drink maker and the iFIT Fuse humidifier/air cleanser. All of these devices talk to each other to each other via Bluetooth to determine what activities you should or should not be doing the next day. The iFIT Vue tracks your sleep patterns and sees you are a bit restless. The Vue then triggers the iFIT Fuse to release a lilac scent to help you fall asleep faster. Then the Vue realizes you are about to enter a really deep sleep, but your phone alarm is set to go off in just 15 minutes which means you would be jolted awake so it tells your phone alarm to go off 15 minutes sooner to prevent you from waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

iFIT Mix and iFIT Fuse

Now your Vue and your Fuse devices talk to your iFIT Mix which concludes you need an extra shot of caffeine and protein in your breakfast drink this morning because of the restless night so it recommends a special mix to help you have a better start to your day. All this data is then used to adjust your recommended workout routine in the iFIT app to suit what your body needs in order to recoup.

iFIT wants you to use their entire suite of products to create the ultimate, personalized workout routine and create a healthier you. They have everything from a special bed to better track your sleep patterns, treadmills for home workouts, shoes for tracking steps and improving the way you walk and even a standing desk with a white board that transforms into a treadmill. Yes, that’s a right. A white board that turns into a treadmill.

Most of the iFIT products I highlighted are planned for release in 2015 and do not have pricing associated with each product yet. While I fully expect none of these products will be cheap, I think the argument can be made that the investment will definitely offset your gym membership fees over time. Plus you have the convenience of having your gym be right in your home. Sadly, that also makes it tougher to come up with an excuse as to why you aren’t working out.

Would you want this sophisticated a workout system in your home? Let us know in the comments and browse through all our discoveries from the 2015 CES at blog.coldwellbanker.com/CES

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Lowe’s Iris App Is Making Smart Homes Easy & Affordable for Homeowners

Imagine having the power to control everything in your home with the touch of a button. Turning your lights on and off, closing your blinds, or even letting your dog outside is all possible with a simple tap on your smart phone or tablet. It sounds pretty futuristic, but the Iris app by Lowe’s is making this a reality for homeowners everywhere.

Lowe’s describes the Iris app as a “remote control for your home.” Starter kits run as low as $179, so you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank to add helpful gadgets to your home, make your life easier, and keep your family safer. The kits are geared towards home security and energy conservation, but you can completely customize it to fit your home and your family’s needs.

Home Security
Contact sensors can be installed anywhere you want to monitor activity in your home. Placing one near a window is one of the most common uses, but you can also monitor your medicine or liquor cabinet. The sensor will alert you when someone opens the cabinet, which is a great way for parents to keep their children safe.

Motion sensors are a must for monitoring activity in your home, whether it’s from afar or when you just want to keep an eye on something from another room. One of the demonstrations we saw at CES showed a sensor in a baby’s crib, so parents can be notified when their child is moving around during the night.

Energy Conservation
The smart thermostat allows you to control the temperature in your home remotely, which is a guaranteed way to conserve energy and lower your monthly utility bill. Installing smart plugs allows homeowners to turn the lights on remotely so they never have to come home to a dark house again.

We also checked out the smart valve, which is a device that connects the main water supply in your home to the Iris app. The app allows you to turn water on or off remotely, which gives homeowners peace of mind knowing they can protect their home from any leaks or flooding, no matter where they are.

It’s never been easier to have a smart home, and Lowe’s Iris kits are the perfect way to get started. Tweet us @coldwellbanker and let us know how you would customize your home, and make sure to visit our our CES blog page to check out all the latest trends in home technology. You can follow our CES adventure in real time by searching the hashtag #CBCES.

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4 Sizzling Kitchen Innovations for the Ultimate Smart Home

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At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, there was plenty of food for thought with regards to smart kitchen technology. From refrigerators with ultimate organization to under-cabinet tablet holders, one didn’t have to look too far for the latest kitchen gadgets and appliances. Whether you’re an Iron Chef or an amateur cook, here are our picks for the ultimate smart kitchen.

The Coolest in Food Organization

It may not look revolutionary, but at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, LG released their new Mega-Capacity French Door Refrigerator with Door-in-Door organization. With 32 cubic feet of storage space and fingerprint resistant stainless steel, this monster of a fridge is certainly a feast for the eyes. But, the real treat is what’s hidden inside. The Slim Spaceplus Ice System lives inside the door, freeing up room for things more important than frozen water. There’s also Door-in-Door Easy Access which keeps the items you use most frequently front and center and makes the fridge more energy efficient.

The Hottest Oven Around

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Another brand cooking up great things in the kitchen space is Samsung, which launched its Club des Chefs in 2013, an initiative that brings some of the culinary industry’s finest together to develop top-of-the-line appliances for the modern-day kitchen. Samsung claims to have “revolutionized everything but the kitchen sink.” One such innovation includes the FlexDuo Oven, which is a multi-tasking chef’s dream, as it allows you to cook two dishes simultaneously without having your cherry pie smell like turkey.

The Recipe Reader’s Game Changer

Though it isn’t directly involved in the preparation or cooking of food, one appliance that has become a staple in the kitchen is the tablet. We use it to read recipes, watch cooking demos and play music. Well, we found a solution for easy retro-integration of a tablet into the kitchen. See how easy the Upper Desk Tablet Mount makes recipe reading in the video above.

The Home Brewer’s Best Friend

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There’s even something for the home brewer. Forget the wine fridge, now you can brew your own private label craft beer at the touch of a button with the PicoBrew, which is a CES 2015 Innovation Award honoree. According to the Seattle Times, the PicoBrew makes “advanced beer making more accessible to the masses, similar to what espresso machines have done for coffee at home.” Cheers to that!

For more updates from Coldwell Banker live at CES 2015, follow the conversation by searching #CBCES or visit blog.coldwellbanker.com/ces.

Header image courtesy of Samsung.

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Insulation Types and Options for Philly Rowhouses

As the temperatures begin to fall in Philadelphia, the side walls of your rowhome feel warm, but cold air seems to flow freely through the walls on the front and back of your home. Since heat rises, all the warm air in your home might travel upwards, only to escape out of an uninsulated roof or attic. What you need is insulation to keep your home warm through the winter and to help reduce your energy bills. Understanding your options when it comes to insulation types will help you make the right choice for your home.

Insulating the Roof or Attic

If you happen to live in a Philadelphia rowhouse that does have an attic, one easy way to stop the warm air from seeping out of your home is to add fiberglass insulation to the attic. Insulation types that work well in attic spaces include blown in fiberglass or fiberglass batts. The Philadelphia Rowhouse Manual advises against stuffing the floor or walls of your attic too tightly with the insulation. Instead, you want to fill the area loosely, so that there’s room for air to circulate.

Plenty of rowhouses in Philadelphia don’t come with attics, but instead have flat roofs. The process for insulating attic-free homes is slightly different, since there’s no floor or wall to insulate. Instead of using fiberglass blown-in insulation or batting, it’s usually recommended that you use foam boards or structural insulated panels between the roof’s material and the decking. Foam boards are typically a lot smaller in size that fiberglass options, but provide a lot of insulation. According to HouseLogic, rigid boards such as structural insulated panels tend to cost more than fiberglass or other options, but also provide greater energy savings.

Insulating the Walls

The structure of many rowhouses in Philly can make insulating the walls a bit tricky. In many cases, adding insulation to the interior front and back walls can be a major project, as the walls are typically made of solid plaster, which can be filled by blown-in insulation. The masonry or brick exteriors of many Philadelphia homes can also pose a challenge.

Your best option for adding insulation is to position pieces of wood or metal along the walls, putting fiberglass batts between the pieces. Finish the project by covering the wood or metal and insulation with drywall. Adding insulation in this manner will mean that your home’s interior becomes a bit smaller. But what you lose in space, you’ll make up for in warmth.

Go Pro or DIY?

Once you’ve figured out the insulation types that are most appropriate for your home, the big question is: Do it yourself or hire a professional contractor? While it might seem easy enough to add some types of insulation, such as fiberglass batts in the attic, others require professional installation — for example, foam boards added during a roof update or blown-in insulation.

Even if you’re confident in your fix-it skills, if you’re not familiar with the city’s rules for adding insulation or are unsure of what type of insulation will work best in your home, hiring a licensed contractor might just be your safest option. Adding insulation to your Philadelphia home before the freezing winter weather hits means you’ll enjoy more heat in your home and more money in your wallet.

Image Source: Flickr/Jeff Egnaczyk

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Bringing Modern Bathroom Designs to Your DFW Home

Your bathroom is functional but boring. It works, but it’s ugly. Or maybe it’s just in desperate need of an upgrade. Regardless of your reasons for renovating, consider some of these tips for bringing modern bathroom designs to your DFW home.

Fresh Floral Fun

Floral designs have been a part of bathroom decor since the start of indoor plumbing. Forget the gaudy floral wallpaper of yore, however, and brighten your bathroom with the real thing: Try adding some lovely floral arrangements. A colorful spray of flowers can help small bathrooms feel larger and dark bathrooms feel lighter. Be careful not to overdo it, however. Use one floral piece as an anchor or focal point for your bathroom instead of overwhelming it with a garden’s worth of blooms.

Adapt this decorating technique to suit your own preferences and change up your bathroom design easily, season by season. If fresh-cut flowers appeal to you, simply choose an attractive vase and change out the blooms periodically. If you prefer the low-maintenance demands of faux flowers, browse local craft stores for sprays that perfectly accent your overall decor.

Bright Walls, Light Walls

Modern designs are moving away from the bold colors favored a decade or more ago — think about the reds, purples, and deep blues you may have seen while house hunting in the early 2000s. Instead, “less is more” has become the reigning ethos of modern bathroom designs here in the Metroplex area.

But this doesn’t mean “white or bust”! Instead, coordinate all the colors you use in your updated bathroom around the one subdued color of your choice. While picking your counters, floor tiles, and plumbing fixtures, look to weave that color throughout, whether it’s an airy beige, a gentle blue, or a hint-of-sun yellow.

Spotlight Your Bathroom

Forget subtle lighting and consider illuminating your redesigned bathroom with a mixture of natural and lamp-based lighting. Remember that brightness helps open up a space, which is a great rule of thumb to keep in mind if you have a smaller bathroom. You don’t need to go overboard, however — you can substantially brighten your bathroom with indirect lighting that reflects off the ceiling or wall while filling the space attractively.

Coordinating Accents

You’ve already got your floral accents, bright light, and subtle wall colors. Now it’s time to coordinate artfully. Playing off the same colors you’ve woven through your walls, counters, floors, and fixtures, choose a few coordinating colors to emphasize. Highlight those colors with both usable and decorative towels, as well as in artistic pieces you may choose to add to your space. An abstract design over your commode, a tranquil country scene behind your soaker tub, or some beach prints above your towel racks can finish bringing together your modern bathroom designs.

Image Source: Flickr

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What Is a Co-Op? Here’s What You Need to Know

If the question “What is a co-op” has been playing through your mind lately, that means you’re probably heavily considering buying a place in NYC, where co-ops are a big part of the home-buying landscape. Congratulations: You’re about to embark on one of the most exciting, challenging, and ultimately fulfilling rides of your life. Buying a co-op in NYC is a process quite unlike buying a home anywhere else, so familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of it will help you figure out if it’s right for you.

What Is a Co-Op?

Buying a co-op in NYC doesn’t mean that you’re buying the apartment itself. A corporation owns the building the apartment is in, and you’re buying shares in that corporation. Once you’ve bought the shares, you’ll have a proprietary lease, which will entitle you to live in the building. The amount of shares you have in the corporation will most likely depend on what how large and expensive your apartment is; the larger and more expensive your apartment, the more shares you’ll own. Here are some key points to keep in mind.

1. Your lender will need to approve the co-op before it approves your loan.

Before approving you for a loan for your co-op, your lender will check out your co-op to make sure its finances are in good condition. Work with a real estate agent and a real estate attorney in order to make sure that the co-op you’re interested in has good financials before you move ahead.

2. In addition to paying for your own co-op loan, you’re going to have to pay monthly maintenance fees.

Once you work out how much you’re going to have to pay each month in order to pay for your co-op loan, you’re going to have to make room for the monthly maintenance fees as well. Those maintenance fees will be used to pay for everything necessary to keep the building running and in good order, including things like salaries for the workers, real estate taxes, the building’s water bill, and repairs. You’ll also be contributing to the payment for the underlying mortgage of the entire building.

3. You’ll need to come to the table with all your financial information wrapped up tightly and ready to go.

If you’re the type of person who’s generally uncomfortable sharing personal information, get ready to be ripped out of your comfort zone. You’re going to have to come to the table with your financial fingerprint, including several years’ worth of tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements.

4. If you’re planning on renting out the place, check out the co-op’s rules before signing on the dotted line.

Many people intend to increase their bottom line by purchasing and then renting out co-op apartments. If you intend to do this, check out the co-op’s rules regarding rentals before signing your contract. Some co-ops have very lax rules regarding rentals, while others refuse it outright or have extremely tough restrictions. You’ll need to find out if the co-op’s rental rules are worth your financial time.

Image Source: Flickr/John Weiss

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Why It Might Be Time to Get a 4K TV for Your Home

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At CES, every TV imaginable is on display. And they all look magically delicious. But I have had an issue with the 4K craziness because I questioned whether it’s realistic that the average consumer would be able to enjoy the amazement of a 4K picture on a regular basis at home.

If you’re not familiar with what 4k TV is, it means the TV can display 4,000 pixels and is also referred to as Ultra HD. The picture quality is vastly superior to even the most high end 1080p HDTVs.

While anyone can buy a 4K TV, there’s a limited supply of 4K content available. Plus, you need to wait for your cable or satellite provider to be able to broadcast at a 4K level and for the box/connection to your home to have enough bandwidth to receive it. That’s a lot of variables that gives me pause for concern before plopping down significant cash to get one of these new TV sets.

That is until I walked the floor at CES and talked to a few of the 4K TV manufacturers.

LG had the largest display of 4k TV’s, including some with Swarovski Crystals embedded in them. But beyond the actual TV sets they also had demos of 4K programming from content providers like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu Plus and even DirecTV. The Internet-based providers were expected to have 4K content available in Q1 while DirecTV was promoted as debuting later this year.

This is good news for home owners who have Netflix, Hulu or other digital content subscriptions. 4K level content is going to be readily available to you in 2015. With cable providers and satellite companies already feeling pressure from these digital competitors, I fully expect we’ll hear about FiOS and Comcast promoting 4K content in the near future as they want to avoid yet another excuse for home owners to “cut the cord.”

Is the 4K picture that great? Yes, it is.

So far my favorite TV has been this 85 inch beauty from Sony. I am currently an owner of a Sony Bravia so I do have a predisposition towards Sony TV products whose picture quality I consistently find to be greater than competitors. What I also like about this set is it comes with a built-in stand so you don’t have to hang it on the wall or buy an enormous TV cabinet to put an 85 inch TV on.

The only drawback is that you have to find someplace to put your speakers, DVR, Xbox, etc. That’s a problem I’d like to have.

The 4K revolution is set to begin. Will you jump on board or are you going to wait until it becomes more readily available? Let us know in the comments and follow all the CES news from our content team by visiting blog.coldwellbanker.com/ces.

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Live from CES: A Smarter Home = A Smarter Family

There are three major takeaways I am leaving with after Day 1 of CES:

1) Saying “Smart Homes are the thing of the future” is a cliche. Smart Homes are NOW.

2) Creating a smart home is surprisingly more affordable than I expected.

3) A Smart Home runs in parallel with a Smart Family.

As our #CBCES team explored the over 2 million square feet of exhibit space, we saw everything you could possibly imagine in a smart home from light bulbs that play music to home robots that put Rosie from the Jetsons to shame. But the thing that ties almost every product together is most definitely a smart phone. Nearly every exhibitor did their product demonstration right from the palm of their hand furiously swiping through pages of the app to get through their well rehearsed sales pitch. With each app came a promise to give homeowners an easier lifestyle by means of efficiency, control and automation not just for them but their entire family.

A smarter home makes a smarter family.

While I can clearly understand why thousands flock to innovative products on the entertainment side of smart homes, like the incredible 4K TV for example, what really stood out to me was how brands are changing the way parents care for their kids as well as their own parents. Let’s dive into how a smart home is changing how parents take care of and monitor their children.

The Evolution of the Helicopter Parent

A “Helicopter Parent” is a term coined by the media for parents who pay extreme attention to their children, meaning they constantly hover. A helicopter parent can mean anything from the parent who snoops through their children’s text messages to acting like their personal secretary.

Today I realized that the helicopter parent of the future will evolve into a group of parents who will know everything from the second a child leaves their bed to their exact location at any given moment.Here is a round up of some of the products that parents can use in their smart home to better connect them with their children.

Sleep Number Sleep IQ Bed

“Family connected, sleep perfected”

This cloud connected mattress syncs with your smart phone to track your child’s sleep and adjusts the comfort to an optimized Sleep Number®. Talk about dynamic comfort! Here are some of the other standout features for parents…

1) Monkey Alert: “No More Monkeys Jumping Out of Bed!” If a child is out of bed, up late or restless parents will receive an alert on their phone. The app also lets you set bedtime goals so is takes the stress out of a parent and child’s bedtime routine. When a child gets in bed at the predetermined time they get their star for the night.

2) Twinkle Twinkle When a child gets out of their bed a light under the bed will turn on.

3) Lifts Them Up Whenever I had a wicked cold growing up my mom would prop some pillows under my mattress to make me feel better. The Sleep IQ bed has a head tilt feature that removes the need to prop up the mattress with pillows.

4) Monster Scanner Quite possibly my favorite feature, the sleep number app banishes unwanted creatures not only under the bed but in the entire room with a monster detector feature.

TempTraq

When you think about “wearable technology” you may think about a Fitbit or Google Glasses. Temptraq, which was unveiled today, is taking wearable tech to an entirely new place with their new “wearable bluetooth thermometer patch.” TempTraq is the first and only 24-hour intelligent thermometer that senses, records and sends alerts of child’s temperature to a parent’s mobile device. Now if this isn’t helicopter parenting I don’t know what is. Gone are the days of checking in every few hours with an old school thermometer! Check out how it works…

Video Surveillance

Not only can parents now track a child’s every move via smart phones and wearable technology but they can also watch! A major theme at this year’s CES was video surveillance. The show had every type of video camera you could imagine from a wireless baby monitor called the ibabi HD (pictured to the right) to Sengled Snap, an led lightbulb that has an integrated ip camera, speaker and microphone. Oh and this bulb won’t burn out for at least 17 years! Not only is this a “bright idea” for home security but it is also a great way to keep tabs on your family members while you are home or away. Look out for our video on this super cool lightbulb later this week!

In addition to parent’s connecting with their children via technology, another theme that ran concurrent was watching over elderly parents. Technology enables older parents to keep their independence and allows their children to have piece of mind. Products like Onelink by First Alert offer both home and personal protection through a smart device. As a caregiver you can set up connectivity with things in an elderly parent’s home from temperature adjustments, smoke and carbon monoxide detection and even monitor their home via video surveillance.

With over 20,000 new product launches at this year’s CES I am sure there dozens of other products that I could add to this list and I look forward to exploring them during day 2.

Follow our adventure in real time on twitter with #CBCES.

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iSensor HD: For the Security Conscious Home

I grew up in a house that beeped every time you opened a door to the outside. Evidently it was a security system feature to let you know someone was entering or exiting the house. Made it extremely difficult to sneak out at night, but that system might as well be from the Flinstones era with the new home security systems being unveiled at CES this week.

Netherlands-based, Amaryllo International, boasts the world’s smallest home security system they call the iSensor HD. It’s an easy to install security camera that offers 240 degree panning, mobile push alerts with visuals when alarm is triggered and 256-bit encryption.

For me the biggest question is how easy is it to install? From the looks of it the iSensor HD is about as simple as installing a new wireless doorbell. Hang it on a wall. Connect it to your home network. Then setup the app and system to the settings you want.

The iSensor HD is being promoted for use both at home or even at an office, but can it compete with the likes of DropCam? Only time will tell, but iSensor appears to be as simple as it gets.

Here’s a video highlighting some of the basics of what iSensor HD can do:

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