New homes are going digital

October 6, 2012 - | Source : Brent Wilker, Marketing manager for Conasys Inc.

Admittedly, the title of this column is a little odd. What exactly does a "digital home" entail?

new-homes-going-digitalWith the recent advances in new home technology, it can mean a variety of things.

From “smart” thermostats to online portals to manage your service and warranty, builders are getting creative with introducing technology into our homes to make homeownership easier and more efficient.

One of the trendier technologies I’ve seen in the new home space in recent memory is the new digital thermostats. There was a time when thermostats had to be adjusted manually in real time. Then, thermostats could be programmed based on schedules, days of the week and time of day. Now, “smart thermostats” learn your habits and take into consideration environmental factors such as where you live and how large your home is.

Based on this information, it continually adjusts to account for your comfort, as well as energy conservation. How about that? Saves you money and keeps you happier in your home — what else could you ask for? If you are interested in learning more about this technology, I recommend you check out Nest’s offering ( This product was created and launched by the same people that helped create Apple’s iPod & iPhone — not a bad resume.

A common technology used by large U.S. homebuilders that is gaining traction in Canada is homeowner portals, accessible via computer, tablet or mobile phone. The features of these portals vary from builder to builder, but the more comprehensive versions act as a library for the home’s components and store all of the essential information required for ongoing operation and maintenance.

Fully searchable, a homeowner can access the manufacturer’s documentation for each product, automatically receive reminders and instructions for scheduled maintenance and it can be transferred to subsequent homeowners.

Imagine buying a home and having such a resource come as a standard? It would certainly be far more comforting than getting a binder stuffed with loose papers and receipts, something most of us have experienced when buying a home. Leading GTA builders such as the the VANDYK Group, Molinaro Group, Heathwood Homes and Signature Communities among others are now providing this technology as a standard with their homes.

Although somewhat of a novelty, I think it is well worth mentioning considering the climate of Ontario. By now, you have probably heard of heated floors, which is essentially a heated mat underneath your floor to keep your feet warm. But did you know about heated driveways, sidewalks and even gutters? It’s true — a world where shoveling snow is the exception, not the rule. Controllable via a manual device or through sensors that detect snowfall, this technology will surely be catching on here in the great white north.

If you are in the market for a new home or are considering a renovation, it is well worth your time to explore some of new technology available for homeowners. Happy hunting!

– Brent Wilker is marketing manager for Conasys Inc., and consults to the hew home construction industry. Find him at or

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