9 Gadgets for the Home That Will Actually Save You Hours of Work

Don’t let your richly hued Chesterfield sofa and your shelf of first editions suffer because you don’t have the time! Automatic shades, like these wood venetian blinds by Serena, can be programmed to go up when you get up and down before you go to bed. But more importantly, they have a function that automatically adjusts the positions of the slats based on where the sun’s position in the sky. And manufacturers have hundreds of styles and material to choose from nowadays, so you don’t have to settle for a corporate office look circa 2005.

“Automatic window treatments save time in your morning and evening routines by allowing you to set automated schedules that will open and close window treatments for you,” LaBoda says. “You also won’t need to sacrifice functionality for aesthetics.”

4. Smart lightbulbs

WiZ 60W A19 Color LED Smart Bulb

Taking the smart outlet idea and running with it, smart lightbulbs like the ones by WiZ not only come with on/off functionality and easy integration with the usual smart home hubs, they can also adjust their warmth and coolness, change colors, and help stave off the winter blues or let you set mood lighting for a room much more quickly than sparking up the fireplace and throwing your deepest red scarves over the lampshades.

“This bulb is inexpensive, practical, and actually a lot of fun,” says Manhattan-based interior designer and CAVdesign founder Jennifer Levy. “You can change the color temperature to mimic daylight, which is great in the winter months, you can set it to wake you up with a virtual ‘sunrise,’ and even set a mood with a fireplace look. I use one in my home office/guest room, and I’d love to try it in a kid’s room both as a nightlight and a way to set the tone for make-believe play.”

5. Smart thermostats

Some devices are about saving time and money. In the winter, you probably spend more of both simply to keep your home warm. In the summer, the same goes for keeping cool. And in the old days, that meant running into the basement to adjust the heater, or from window unit to window unit, to get the air conditioners to find exactly the right temperature to keep everyone happy.

Self-regulating thermostats, exemplified by the Nest Learning Thermostat, save you the trouble of manually adjusting the temperature and, of course, are compatible with major smart hubs like Alexa Amazon and, naturally, Google Nest. But it also has a self-regulating function, so you don’t have to run over to turn up the heat every time a chill wind blows through and rattles the windows.

“These have been around for a while, and one of the features is that they ‘learn’ your patterns and create settings based on that,” Levy says. “Another great feature of the Nest that I personally use is that I can monitor the temperature in my Airbnb house upstate and can adjust it via the app prior to guests arriving.”

Google Nest Learning Thermostat

6. Self-leveling laser levels

We don’t blame you if you’ve started getting the impression that smart devices are dominating the field of time-saving devices for the home—voice-activated smart hubs have clearly become a power to reckon with. But designers like LaBoda swear by older yet still cutting-edge tech, including self-leveling laser levels, which have introduced a degree of quick and easy precision previous generations could only dream of: a 1/8-inch accuracy at 30 feet (and up to a 165 feet range) without a ton of painstaking effort. (The general standard for tolerances in construction is 1/4 inch for every eight feet.) In other words, you’re less likely to have to start over hanging that painting all over again if you use one of these instead of relying on your shaky tape measure readings and eyeball estimations.

“Laser levels save time on design projects by quickly and accurately providing horizontal and vertical reference lines to help you with a variety of tasks, from hanging art to installing wall paneling,” LaBoda says.

DEWALT Line Laser, Self-Leveling, Cross Line

7. Color-matching apps and sensors

It’s a lot of fun to paint the rooms of a new home. It’s not fun to spend hours going through color swatches to make sure your child’s room comes out looking like that delicious mint green you wanted and not day-old pea soup. Color-matching apps have come a long way to much more accurately match and represent the actual colors that could be on your walls. Some of these apps do this by working with color sensors, like the Nix Mini 3, which has an built-in reference of hundreds of thousands of brand-name paint colors and doesn’t require calibration.

“Color-matching apps are a useful tool that reduce the need to endlessly thumb through paint fan decks and spend money on unnecessary paint samples by quickly matching your color sample to the closest brand name paints on the market,” LaBoda says.

Still, you’re the one who’ll be living in the space, so it remains a good idea to double-check color-matching app results with old-fashioned physical eyeballing. “Even with a great tool, I still stand by getting a sample and viewing it in your space,” Levy says.

8. Augmented reality goggles

Augmented reality has always promised a way to blend hypothetical environments with physical reality—which, if you think about it, is essentially what architects and interior designers (not to mention ambitious homeowners) do. Even so, people still tend to ignore the possibilities of AR and virtual reality and dismiss them as thousand-dollar gaming gadgets. Newer models such as the Apple Vision Pro have made such technological strides, however, that experts like Levy can envision them becoming tools of the trade.

“The Apple Vision Pro is a game changer and provides a huge potential,” she says. “Imagine being able to rearrange your virtual living room, changing the feel of the space by repositioning the furniture, or even testing out a full makeover with new pieces, wall colors, and lighting.”

9. Variable Speed Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

One of the first lessons you learn as a new homeowner is that keeping your house at a comfortable temperature is not always easy, and it’s not uncommon to spend way more time than you expected trying to maintain a cool enough temperature to help baby sleep yet get the heat up high enough to keep older family members warm. Variable-speed air conditioners and heat pumps take the guesswork—and the running around from control to control—out of the equation for you. HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins host Anthony Carrino, who’s also a spokemsan for Trane Heating & Air Conditioning, likes that company’s XV20i Variable Speed Air Conditioner and XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed heat pump.

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