Make the Most Of Your Landscaping Projects This Year With These Tips

(BPT) – Home improvement projects aren’t constrained to a single season, but during these warmer months, your focus is no longer simply on your home’s indoors. Now there’s outdoor yard work to do as well, and if you’re looking to recreate your outdoor space, your outside projects may include some landscaping. If you have landscaping as part of your to-do list this season, the right strategy can ensure that you get the most benefit from your landscaping goals with the least amount of headache.

To that end, here are five tips to simplify your landscaping projects this year.

Plan For the Entire Year.

Landscaping projects can be hard work, and because of that, you deserve to enjoy them for as long as possible. That’s why it’s important to plan your landscaping layout with the entire year in mind. Research your plant and flower options based on bloom periods and plant a variety so your yard is always being introduced to new pops of color. You should also add evergreen shrubs and other such plant life to your overall plan to give you a spot of color in the winter and preserve your landscaping look.

Be Mindful of Other Tools Outside Your Home.

When developing your landscaping strategy, you need to be aware not only of your home but the other vital components outside as well. Many homeowners are not mindful of their home’s HVAC units and may place landscaping solutions too close to the unit, which makes it difficult for techs to service the unit and exposes your system to the harmful effects of debris. Instead, plan to keep all landscaping at least two feet away from your HVAC system. This allows units like the Champion Momentum Variable Capacity Residential System to operate at peak efficiency and allows service techs to utilize its built-in advanced monitoring system to provide accurate readouts for faster annual service, maximized service life and improved comfort in your home.

Touch Every Corner Of Your Yard.

Your home is naturally the focal point of your yard, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. Creating a berm – a mound-type space that you can fill with rocks, wood chips or a flower garden – can add a pop of color and visual appeal to an otherwise plain area. These visual attractions can be placed anywhere, but adding one to an otherwise deserted corner of your yard is a great way to tie the entire space together and make the most of an unused area.

Add Plants That Fit Your Lifestyle.

When planning your landscaping project, it’s important to remember this isn’t just a one-time solution. Your landscaping will need continual work, and as such, your landscaping plan should be based partly on the time you have to dedicate to the project. For example, if you’re a person who appreciates beautifully colorful flowers but doesn’t want to replant them every year, you should start your project by planting perennials instead of annuals. Your time commitment in year one will be roughly the same, but you’ll ease your time requirements in the years ahead.

Monitor Your Budget.

Like many things, a lavish landscaping project can get away from you very quickly in the financial department. Veteran landscapers know that it becomes very easy to get swept up in the project and before you know it, you’ve added a slightly larger tree or another bush or two. Then you suddenly have unexpected costs heading your way. Instead of ending your exciting project on a bad note with a higher bill, plan out your budget ahead of time. Try to get as specific as possible with where you plan to spend every dollar. The more you can hold to each line item in your budget, the better you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary expenses throughout the process.

Making landscaping improvements to your yard can be a fun and rewarding project provided you follow a strategy that makes the best use of your time and money. Apply the tips above and you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully landscaped yard that you can enjoy every day of the year. To learn more about the Champion Momentum Variable Capacity Residential System, visit championhomecomfort.com.

Wildfire Protection Starts In These 5 Places

(BPT) – It’s National Wildfire Awareness Week. So, if you live in a wildfire-prone area, make sure you’re taking the right steps to stave off potential damage long before flames rage toward your doorstep.

And one of the best ways to do that is to take a look at the home itself.

“It’s a combination of the house materials, the house design and then everything around it within 100 feet that makes the difference between a safer home and one that has a greater risk of damage from wildfire,” says Michele Steinberg, manager of the Wildfire Operations Division for the National Fire Protection Association.

“All of our recommendations are really for well before the fire ever starts.”

Steinberg recommends paying special attention to these five spots around your house:

The Roof

Ensure yours is rated Class A, which means the covering and underlayment provide the most effective resistance to fire. It’s a big-ticket item for homeowners, but the most critical design item when it comes time to replace an aging roof.

The Gutters

Keep them free of debris such as leaves and pine needles, which can be ignited by swirling embers. “A wildfire doesn’t even need to be close to your house to cause a problem,” Steinberg says. “A blizzard of embers can pile up on roofs, porches and in gutters.”

The Foundation

It’s best that decks, porches and fences be made of non-flammable materials. Keeping their surface areas clear also is critical. Screening porches and decks with fine, metal mesh can help prevent embers from sweeping in to ignite leaves and other debris.

The Windows and Vents

Double-paned or tempered glass better withstands approaching heat. “I’ve seen cases where the outside window breaks but the inside pane stays intact, so you have that extra level of protection,” Steinberg said. And, if possible, build in under-eave and side-roof vents to make it more difficult for the wind to blow in embers.

The Landscaping

Keep organic flammable materials such as trees, shrubbery and even mulch from contact with your house. They can lead fire right to the siding. Store firewood at least 30 feet from the house because of the intense heat and large flames it creates when ignited.

Find out more about how the Wildfire Response Program can provide you with extra wildfire protection when you need it.

Simple Summer Home Maintenance Tips for Comfort and Energy Savings

(BPT) – Things will soon be heating up all over the country. In fact, the average U.S. household will spend 3 percent more on electricity bills this summer than in 2017, due to rising retail electricity prices and higher usage, according to the U.S. Energy Administration’s estimation.

Jennifer Franz, an energy efficiency expert at Lennox, says the good news is that homeowners can spend just a few hours before the season starts to make some quick fixes and easy improvements that will help them save energy and make them more comfortable all summer long, including:

Mind the Maintenance:

Schedule an annual routine check-up for your heating and cooling equipment to keep the system running as efficiently as possible, and check the air filter each month to see if it needs to be replaced.

Keep It Cool:

Add extra insulation to the attic, which will help prevent your home’s heating and cooling system from having to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature during the hottest months of the year.

Control Cracks:

Seal cracks around windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping to prevent conditioned air from escaping.

Set It and Forget It:

Install a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature at certain times of the day, automatically regulating the temperature when you’re away. In addition, always set your thermostat to the highest temperature you can stand to save the most money. Homeowners can save as much as 10 percent a year on cooling bills by setting their thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher than its normal setting for eight hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Make a Clean Sweep:

Decrease dust and dirt in the home by cleaning with non-toxic, natural household cleaners, such as baking soda, cornstarch or white vinegar, and using a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which will trap small particles like dust that others re-circulate back into the air.

Seal the Deal:

Examine the home’s pipes and connections, as well as all vents, and add caulking or sealant, if needed, to ensure they are air-tight.

Clear the Air:

Breathe easier this summer by installing a whole-home air purification system, such as the new Lennox PureAir S, which is integrated with your home’s heating and cooling system. These systems are much more effective at eliminating airborne contaminants than portable room air cleaners and don’t produce ozone, which is a known lung irritant.

Franz says homeowners should pay special attention to their heating and cooling system, which accounts for more than half of a home’s energy costs. “The easiest thing homeowners can do to save energy and stay comfortable during the summer – and all year long – is to change the air filter on their system regularly; however, if your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it’s time to consider replacing it with a more efficient system that will save significant energy and help lower utility bills.”

By taking on a few quick and easy home maintenance projects, homeowners can help reduce the amount of wasted energy, save money and stay comfortable as temperatures rise. To learn more about home energy efficiency and how to save money on utility bills, visit https://www.lennox.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lennox.

Rooftop Decks for Every Style

(BPT) – Fresh air, great views and capitalizing on unused space – it’s no wonder rooftop decks are a hot trend for suburban homes and urban apartment complexes alike.

Once reserved for the urban elite, rooftop decks are popping up all over the country as an attractive option that offers a mixture of space savings and an unrivaled view. The magic of rooftop decks is they take advantage of what was formerly unused space – the top of a building or the flat roof over part of a home – and reclaim it for a unique entertaining area or a family gathering spot.

“Especially when we’re working in cities, rooftop decks are essentially reclaiming space for a family that probably wouldn’t have any outdoor space otherwise,” said James Muckinhaupt, a senior builder/project manager for Mosaic Outdoor Living, a high-end custom deck builder in Colorado.

All that newfound space can present a challenge to designers and the homeowners they serve as they try to define the space to make the most of the rooftop deck’s open layout.

“If designers don’t really delineate the space well, we’ve found the decks end up being a giant space that’s never fully utilized by the homeowner,” James said.

James and his wife, Mary, a custom furniture consultant, offer some advice on how to turn your rooftop deck into a personal oasis and get the most out of the space.

1. Define the Use

Mary said defining how the deck will be used the majority of the time is the top way to make sure the space fits the homeowners’ needs. Questions like, “Will the deck host weekly family dinner?” and “Will you use it daily for drinks and lounging?” help determine whether a kitchen/dining area is needed and how much seating should be included.

“It’s also important to know the average number of people they expect to fit on the deck,” Mary said. “If we don’t furnish and set the deck up so it’s conducive to their needs, we’ve found that people don’t use the deck.”

2. Stay True To Your Style

Most people have a style or color scheme they are already drawn to. A good designer will pay attention to the rest of a homeowner’s space and incorporate that theme into the rooftop deck to create a cohesive style from interior to exterior.

3. Focus On Materials

Materials have a huge impact on the final look of the deck, whether it’s sleek tile, decorative concrete or luxury composite lumber. James said his rooftop decks are primarily Envision(R) composite lumber by TAMKO, because of the wide variety of styles the boards can accommodate, taking on everything from the look of exotic hardwoods to distressed reclaimed barn wood.

4. Add a Covering

Regardless of how the deck will be used, it’s nice to have a covered area to escape the heat of the sun or the rain. Depending on the homeowners’ needs and budget, the covering can be anything from a grouping of large umbrellas to a covered structure with glass walls.

5. Include a Fire Element

If adding a covering helps extend deck season through the extreme heat of summer and the rain of spring, including a fire element extends the deck’s use through the fall and winter. This could be something as simple as a fire pit or as elaborate as a built-in fireplace.

“Between a shade covering and a fireplace, you’re extending deck season to 70-80 percent of the year, depending on where you live,” James said.

6. Work With the Views

In the process of deciding where to add a covering and how to position furniture on a rooftop deck, consider the natural views. One area of the deck may offer superior views, either of nature or of a cityscape. Position furniture to open up to the best view and construct deck coverings and any needed walls, to obstruct any undesirable views.

“The view is one of the best things about a rooftop deck, so we want to focus the seating around whatever is the best view,” Mary said. “If there are great views on multiple sides, we’ll recommend using swivel chairs to give people the best of both.”

The Most Common Causes of Homeowners Insurance Claims

(BPT) – The value of homeowners insurance is often thrust into the national spotlight when natural disasters happen. The devastation and financial loss they can cause reinforces the importance of making sure you have adequate insurance coverage to rebuild if disaster strikes your home. In 2017 alone, the U.S. was struck by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events, resulting in a record-breaking $300 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Thankfully, most Americans don’t experience large-scale natural catastrophes, but millions of homeowners do experience some kind of property loss each year and need to make an insurance claim. The most commonly reported homeowners insurance claims are actually the result of events that can occur at any time, so it’s important for homeowners to be prepared for these potential risks.

Water Damage Claims Are Most Common

“Water claims are the ones we see most often,” says Christopher O’Rourke, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. “While certain perils are seasonal, water damage can occur any time of year. It’s important for homeowners to conduct routine maintenance of appliance hoses and water pipes to make sure there aren’t cracks or leaks and, if any are detected, have them repaired or replaced immediately.

“Another thing everyone can do to protect their homes from leaks is turn off their main water supply when they’re away for an extended period of time. No one wants to return from a relaxing vacation to find water running through their home.”

Smart home technology also delivers an extra layer of protection for homeowners by providing 24/7 monitoring to help detect water pipe leaks. Professionally installed water pressure sensors, for example, work with most smartphones and can, among other things, automatically shut off the home’s main water supply if a leak or burst pipe is detected. And the best part is that insurance companies like Mercury Insurance will often provide a discount for homes that implement this technology.

O’Rourke also notes that most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage caused by rising water from storms or overflowing bodies of water, so he recommends homeowners consult with their local insurance agent to learn how to protect against these types of events.

Fire Damage is a Concern For Homeowners

While water claims are the most common, fire damage is another possible concern for homeowners and can be caused in several ways. The National Fire Protection Association reports nearly half a million structure fires occurred in 2016, resulting in $7.5 billion in property damage, and wildfires ravaged California in 2017, leading to one of the year’s billion-dollar disaster events. O’Rourke suggests controlling the things you can and mitigating against the perils you can’t.

“Most home fires happen when people are inattentive or negligent. These fires are preventable if people don’t leave things like lit stoves, fireplaces, candles or portable heat sources unattended. You should also refrain from overloading electrical outlets and using appliances with frayed electrical cords,” he says. “These things seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many claims we see that result from simply not paying attention.

“Wildfires can be extremely scary and dangerous and there is often little warning when they sweep through areas, leaving homeowners little time to protect their homes. Most of this work needs to be done before a fire erupts. Homeowners can mitigate against this risk by keeping their yards free of dry brush, grass clippings and twigs, keep tree branches trimmed and bushes pruned. They should also make sure their roofs and gutters are cleared of leaves and debris.”

Theft Can Be Costly

Theft doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to the physical structure of a home, but it too can be costly and it often leaves homeowners feeling scared and violated. The FBI’s Universal Crime Report estimates 1.5 million burglaries occurred in 2016 – with residential properties accounting for 69.5 percent of these offenses.

Homeowners can help safeguard against theft by taking simple, but often overlooked precautions like ensuring doors and windows are locked, and not leaving spare keys in easy-to-find locations. Several smart home devices can also aid in deterring potential thieves by allowing homeowners to adjust lights, monitor security cameras and activate security systems from their smartphones even when they’re away from home.

“Our claims team strives to get our customers back on their feet after a loss. Our hope is that people never experience such an event in the first place, but if they do we want them to know that it is our goal to help them get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible,” adds O’Rourke.

Mercury Insurance provides homeowners with additional tips to protect against common insurance claims. Visit https://blog.mercuryinsurance.com to learn more.

Hard Water Proves Hard on Your Wallet

(BPT) – Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, can be found in nearly 90 percent of American homes. These minerals cause scaling, a buildup that clogs waterlines and plumbing forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. The scale may also harbor bacteria. The only way to truly remove the hard and soft scale from household water systems is with salt-based water softeners.

The environmental and cost benefits of salt-based water softening are significant. Hard water scaling can cause your showerhead to lose up to 75 percent of its flow rate in just 18 months. Hard water also interacts negatively with soap, reducing its cleaning power. Soft water is up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used.

According to the Water Quality Research Foundation for washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains from clothing was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water. In fact, soft water can reduce soap use by as much as half. Hard water can also reduce the efficiency of water heaters and increase electricity costs by as much as 48 percent, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Hard water scaling doesn’t just harm your appliances and wallet, it can harm your health as well. The piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces that don’t permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria.

Researchers at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University found bacteria may grow in pipes filled with both hard scale and soft scale at the same rate. This is important new information because some forms of water conditioning produce this soft scale. The only solution is to remove both hard and soft scale in the pipes with a salt-based water softener.

Hard water you use to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables may actually contain more bacteria, and the problem isn’t only in the kitchen. When you take a hot shower the steam you are inhaling can also contain the same microbial contamination that is in the rest of your plumbing, exposing you to bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire’s disease.

A salt-based water softener is the most functional and cost-effective means of removing hardness minerals. It is a time-tested, highly reliable tool to improve health and to lower maintenance costs for home appliances like dishwashers and washing machine. It also reduces the need for detergents and high-water temperatures, leading to a smaller household carbon footprint.

Call Before Digging When Landscaping This Spring

(BPT) – With spring having officially begun, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals across the country will roll up their sleeves and reach for their shovels to start projects that require digging this season.

During the transition into “digging season,” Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is the first step toward protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line.

Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one-call utility notification center.

According to data collected by CGA in a phone survey in February, millions of American homeowners will likely do DIY projects involving digging this year, but 36 percent of them do not plan to make a free call to 811 before digging. Extrapolated to the full population of U.S. homeowners, approximately 48.3 million people will dig this year without first calling 811.

A utility line is damaged every nine minutes in America because someone decided to dig without making a call to 811 to learn the approximate location of buried utilities in their area. Unintentionally, striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, serious harm to yourself or your neighbors, and significant repair costs.

As a result, CGA offers the following tips to make sure you complete your project safely and without any utility service interruptions, so you don’t become a statistic.

Here’s how the 811 process works:

1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

4. Only once all lines have been accurately marked, carefully dig around the marked areas.

There are nearly 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States, which equates to more than a football field’s length of utilities for every person in the U.S. Your family depends on this buried infrastructure for your everyday needs including electric, natural gas, water and sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone. With that much critical infrastructure underground, it’s important to know what’s below and call 811 before digging.

To find out more information about 811 or the one-call utility notification center in your area, visit www.call811.com.

How Many Miles Per Gallon Does Your Home Get?

(BPT) – Everyone wants the inside scoop on how to get the best deal. Ironically, consumers will do a bunch of research over a $500 smart phone and relatively little for the largest purchase of their lives, their homes.

Most home buyers focus on price and payments, however, factoring in a home’s energy consumption costs could save tens of thousands of dollars over years of ownership. Comparing the performance and construction quality of one home to another is often not apples to apples. Newly built homes tend to be more energy efficient than older homes, but total performance is also influenced by the builder and design, said CR Herro, a building scientist and vice president of environmental affairs for Meritage Homes.

Home Energy Rating Score

When buying a new or resale home, buyers can use a shopping tool to help them understand the anticipated costs of a home’s energy bills. The Home Energy Rating Score, or HERS, is the industry standard for measuring a home’s energy efficiency. It was created by the not-for-profit Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet), an independent consortium of building scientists and construction experts.

Think of HERS like miles-per-gallon fuel economy for your car, except that a lower HERS is better:

* According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical resale home in the U.S. rates a HERS 130 and costs approximately $200,000 in utilities over a 30-year mortgage.

* Utilities for a home that scores 100 would cost 30 percent less, saving $60,000 in operating cost.

* Utilities for a home that scores 65 would cost approximately half, saving $100,000 in operating cost over 30 years.

Some builders, such as Meritage Homes, design homes to capitalize on energy efficiency and can achieve HERS scores lower than the 2016 U.S. average of 62 by including high-efficiency heating, cooling, windows, lighting and insulation in all their homes.

How To Know the Score

“Knowing the HERS score of your home can be the difference between a European vacation every few years or a kiddie pool in the driveway,” said Herro. “A lower HERS score could also raise the value of your home because the rating is being added to home appraisal standards.” Proposed federal legislation also could provide mortgage borrowing advantages for homes with low HERS, he added.

More than 2 million homes in the U.S. have been HERS rated for energy efficiency, generating energy savings of $268 million in 2016 alone, according to RESNet. More homes are being rated as home builders increase their participation in the HERS program and post the ratings for the homes they build. To find the HERS for a home, a list of participating home builders and tips for improving the energy efficiency of your home, go online to: http://www.hersindex.com/knowthescore/.

Protect Your Home From Termites This Spring

(BPT) – Spring is officially here, bringing flowers, greenery and increased pest activity. Because termite evidence is more noticeable in warmer months, it is important to check for any warning signs every spring. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a termite infestation in the first place.

Keep Shrubs Trimmed

Well-maintained shrubbery looks nice, but it also serves an important purpose: Trimming shrubs reduces the likelihood termites and pests will enter your home. Stray branches that touch a house’s exterior provide pests with direct access to potential entry points. By properly maintaining landscaping, you can make access more difficult for these unwelcome houseguests.

Modify Your Landscape

It’s important to make smart decisions when adding landscaping, because termites are more attracted to some materials than others. Instead of traditional mulch, opt for synthetic mulch or pea gravel. These alternatives are less attractive to termites than wood-based mulch.

Maintain Home Exteriors

Termites need water to survive. Controlling excess moisture can help reduce the risk of an infestation. Regularly maintaining home exteriors, such as wooden siding and windows, can help you detect and repair leaks early.

Monitor Interior Moisture

Many homeowners forget to think about moisture inside their homes, particularly in basements and crawlspaces. Properly ventilating these areas helps minimize the amount of moisture around floor joists and subflooring. Reducing moisture in interior spaces can help reduce the likelihood that termites will take up residence in your home.

If you suspect you may have a termite problem, the best solution is to call a pest professional such as Terminix. Termite warning signs include blisters in wood flooring, hollowed or damaged wood, and evidence of swarms such as discarded wings, mud tubes and droppings that resemble sawdust or coffee grounds. Early detection can prevent a small termite problem from becoming a widespread infestation.

High-Tech Bathroom Trends for 2018

(BPT) – Technology is trending in home design and decor this year, and some of the most dramatic, futuristic and fun tech trends are showing up in the bathroom. From glass doors and windows changing from clear to opaque with the touch of a button to toilets transforming the whole experience of going to the loo, it’s all about high-tech tricking out your oasis.

Here are four tech trends that will take your bathroom into hyperspace.

1. Privacy Glass

Glass blocks are opaque but let in some filtered light; blinds or shades get in the way. The answer? Privacy glass. It is an ultra-futuristic special adhesive film that’s cut to fit your existing glass doors and windows. Tap an app on your smartphone and transform your glass from opaque to transparent instantly. (Alien technology? We can neither confirm nor deny that.) It gives you privacy when you need it and lets the sun shine in when you don’t, and eliminates the need for shades or blinds, giving your bathroom a sleek, clean look.

2. High-Tech Toilets

This is not your father’s WC. Toilets today offer technologically advanced features like sensor-operated seats and lids, night lights, deodorizers, self-cleaning technologies and heated seats.

A toilet with a TOTO WASHLET electronic bidet seat is a coup de loo that leaves you cleaner and more refreshed than you’ve ever felt after a bathroom break. Operated by remote control, it’s completely hands-free and offers comfortable, warm, aerated water to cleanse, warm air dryer and heated seat. No need for toilet paper.

The Aquia IV High-Efficiency Toilet Dual Flush and WASHLET+ S550e combine seamlessly (no visible cords or hoses). This elegant design features high-tech innovations to make your life cleaner, healthier, less complicated and more beautiful – auto-open/close seat and lid, electrolyzed water to keep your toilet bowl hygienic without harsh chemicals (better for the environment and your pocketbook), and in-bowl deodorizer. The new DYNAMAX TORNADO Dual-Flush Technology cleans the entire bowl and rim with 360 degrees of cyclonic rinsing action. Its CEFIONTECT glazed surface is smooth down to the nano level, preventing matter from adhering to its surfaces. Visit www.totousa.com to learn more.

3. High-Tech Warmers

While a warm bathroom floor isn’t new, some manufacturers are taking it up a notch by making it digital. These systems feature a mat that’s installed under your tile. It’s Wi-Fi enabled and connected to a digital thermostat that you control from your smartphone.

Make your towels toasty, too, with a towel warmer. Pop your towel into what looks like an ordinary bathroom cabinet, but it’s really a hidden, stainless steel warming drawer, and your towels will be toasty by the time you’re finished with your shower.

4. Digital Steam Spa

You don’t need a major remodel to get a steam shower. There are kits for that! They’re digitally operated steam generators that even include aromatherapy features (think eucalyptus steam when you’re stuffy with a cold).

The bathroom is the place where you start and end your days, your oasis for renewal. With these new high-tech products, you can design your perfect retreat.