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Genevieve Gorder shares 5 ways to make your home smarter

Becky Bracken is a writer, reporter and blogger with a specialty in communications technology. Equal parts nerd and pop culture junkie, Becky distills the latest tech news and trends with a distinctly human approach. Read more of her wor...

Is your home smart? HGTV's Genevieve Gorder explains how to bring your home up to speed

Just like every other aspect of your life, it's time to start thinking about how technology can improve your home.

Smart home technology, according to HGTV's star designer Genevieve Gorder, isn't something aspirational, it's a smart investment of your time and money.

"When it comes to smart home technology, you should update so you're not working so hard for your home, it's working for you," Gorder says. "People think home technology is too unaffordable, too unavailable. But the answer to how to get started is probably already in your pocket."

Your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, and the apps it supports for security and other home controls, is the perfect place to start integrating tech into your house, according to Gorder. She admits, however, that these mobile tech home controls do take some time to learn and get used to, but the time investment is well worth it. In the end, you've got a control panel for your entire home that can control everything from the temperature and light to security features, like home video monitoring.

"I do this in my home and it doesn't come easy," Gorder says. "But once you've got it, you've got it."

Gorder has also recently partnered with solar company Sunrun, which will install and manage solar panels on your home for little to no money down. In the past, she says, solar was too expensive to install and maintain, and the return on the investment wouldn't come until 20 years down the road. Today, there are more options for home owners to go solar.

"This isn't just something we deserve, but something we should be able to have," Gorder says. "The sun belongs to everyone."

Gorder is also a big fan of her Bluetooth Wi-Fi home audio system, which, she says, lets her dance freely in any room of her house.

"It's a beautiful thing," she adds.

Next month, Gorder heads to Hawaii where she'll be working on her latest HGTV project, and she hopes to integrate some of these smart home technology solutions into her designs. It's important, she says, to keep fresh on the latest smart home technologies and to keep investigating new tools and solutions that might be right for your home.

"This is something that changes so fast," Gorder says. "You need to talk about this every quarter or so."

Here are five simple tech tips from Genevieve Gorder for a smarter home:

1. Install USB ports around the house

Everything these days comes with a USB charger, so why not outfit your home with USB ports for mobile devices or running all sorts of electronics? It's an inexpensive upgrade, and many people think they're the power outlets of tomorrow. Plus, it will really impress your techie friends.

2. Try a mobile security app

Your smartphone is a powerful home security tool thanks to the many apps available that let you monitor and control everything from video cameras to door locks, from anywhere in the world. Wouldn't it be nice to check in on the kids while they sleep when you're on a business trip in Milwaukee?

3. Bluetooth home audio has come of age

Cut the cord on your tunes with a wireless home audio system. No more ugly five-foot speakers and hanging, twisted speaker wires in the 21st century. And since it's controlled by your smartphone, you can enjoy wireless access to an entire world of digital audio, on demand. Oh, and with one of these smart little systems, everyone in the house can listen to their own music in their own room. Sia in the front and Barney in the back!

4. Control energy consumption from your mobile device

As if your smartphone isn't already doing enough to make your life easier, now there are apps that let you control the temperature and the lights in your home from wherever you are. No more nagging "Did I leave the AC on full blast?" worries on the way to work, and no more fumbling around in the dark to kick on the lights.

5. Check out solar

Sure, we'd all love to power our homes with clean, renewable solar energy, but in the past that has meant a huge upfront investment and expensive upkeep. Sunrun, a company Gorder endorses, offers a solar service that lets you start realizing the savings of solar without the gigantic upfront cost.

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