TIME Innovation

A Look Inside the Home That Made “Life Easier” for a Marine Veteran Who Lost All His Limbs

From moving cabinets to remotely activated light switches, the home is designed to support a life of independence

+ READ ARTICLE

Retired Marine Sergeant John Peck lost all of his limbs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in 2010.

After he was once pronounced dead, spent three months in coma, and went through years in recovery, he came to live in a home built by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Peck worked with the foundation to design a home tailored to his individual needs. With high-tech features such as moving cabinets, tablet-controlled lighting and an automated shower, his house is an example of how smart homes can enable those who are disabled to be more self-sufficient.

“The house can’t really solve your problems, it can help make your life easier,” Peck said.

In the video above, Peck gives TIME a tour of his home – and shares his passion for cooking.

The former marine, who dreamed of becoming a chef ever since he was 12-years-old, is now re-learning how to cook, thanks to a prosthetic arm, an accessible cooktop and a relentless determination.

“The first time I cooked a meal in this house, it took a while. I made leek and potato soup,” Peck said. “It was definitely interesting to be able to make stuff and not need help.”

TIME Smart Homes

Meet the Regular People Living in America’s Smartest Homes

From micro-housing to hurricane-proof walls, we look at some of the best solutions in U.S. home design.

TIME Innovation

Smart Home Gadgets for Stopping Disasters Before They Happen

+ READ ARTICLE

Whether I’m traveling or anticipating the arrival of guests, I worry something will happen while I’m gone. Did I forget to turn off the iron? Will my guests arrive while I’m out picking up more milk?

With a smartphone or computer I can easily allay these fears by checking on that iron or even unlocking the door. In fact, there are products that provide remote control or monitoring of most of the important systems in a home. Better yet, you can install most of these yourself.

Wireless video monitoring camera

Dropcam

Do you want to make sure the neighbor fed your fish, that packages aren’t sitting on your front porch or that Fido isn’t sitting on the sofa again? With a wireless video-monitoring camera, you can perform a visual check on your home while you’re away. The new Dropcam Pro is a good choice with its 130-degree field of view and ability to digitally pan and zoom (8x) in on a scene. Plus, it has enhanced night vision and two-way audio communication (for chastising Fido or otherwise). Video is encrypted and can be saved, based on your needs.

If you want to take your Dropcam Pro to the next level, take a look at the $29 Dropcam Tab wireless movement sensors. They attach directly to your door or window, sending an alert to your smartphone if someone opens or closes one. They’re also rated for outdoor use, so you can attach them to a gate or garage door if you’d like.

Price: $199.00 on dropcam.com, $199.99 on amazon.com

Belkin

Remote control electrical outlet

Plug any device into the Belkin WeMo Home Automation Switch and you can turn it on or off with your iOS or Android device. So you can make sure the iron is off and the front lights are on wherever you happen to be. You can also set the WeMo outlet to work on a schedule, turning on or off at certain times of day.

Price: $49.99 on belkin.com, $49.95 on amazon.com

To automate hardwired light fixtures, you’ll need aBelkin WeMo Light Switch instead. It looks and functions similar to a standard wall light switch, but also adds the same kind of functionality you get from the Home Automation Switch. The only catch is that you’ll need to do a bit of wiring to install it (or pay an electrician do it for you).

Price: $49.99 on belkin.com, $44.00 on amazon.com

Nest

Remote control thermostat

There’s no need to turn down the thermostat when you leave town for the weekend. The Nest thermostat has sensors built in so it knows when you’re away and will automatically go into energy-saving mode. You can also turn up the heat remotely with your iPhone or Android phone so your home is just the right temperature when you arrive. And best of all, it learns your preferences as you use it, eliminating the need to deal with complex scheduling.

Looking for an even smarter smart thermostat? Check out the Honeywell Lyric. The Lyric automatically turns your heat or air conditioning on based on the GPS location of your phone. If you’ve got a schedule that fluctuates wildly, the Lyric can make sure your home is the perfect temperature the moment you step through the front door, whenever that happens to be.

You’ll need to wait until August to pick up the $279 Lyric. The Nest, meanwhile, is available now wherever home improvement goods are sold.

Price: $249 on nest.com or amazon.com

Wally Home

Water and flood alert system

Will the leaky pipe you just fixed in the upstairs bathroom hold over the long weekend? With the Wally Hub, wireless sensors will monitor for changes in humidity and temperature under the sink, next to the hot water heater or by any other appliance or pipe you’re worried about. An included smartphone app will keep an eye on all your sensors at once, with mobile alerts delivered the moment a change in wetness is detected. With Wally, you can address small problems before they turn into a catastrophic ones, even when you’re away from home.

The Wally Hub comes with 6 sensors included for placement around your house. Additional sensors are available at wallyhome.com for $35 each, or 6 for $199.

Price: $299.00 on wallyhome.com

Chamberlain

Smartphone garage door opener

Did you remember to close the garage door? Eliminate any question with new Chamberlain MyQ Garage System, a simple-to-install add-on to most major garage door systems made after 1993. It connects to your home Wi-Fi, letting you use your smartphone to check whether you left the door up no matter how far you travel from home. And as we mentioned in our Father’s Day Gift Guide, the device can also deliver alerts to your phone whenever the door opens, letting you know exactly how long past curfew your teenager stayed out.

Price: $110.49 on amazon.com

UniKey

Remote control door lock

Expecting guests to visit while you’re away? You could hide a spare house key under the welcome mat, but that’s pretty dangerous — that’s the first place most thieves look. Instead, take a look at the Kwikset Kevo powered by UniKey, a deadbolt that can be unlocked with a key, an included Bluetooth key fob or a Bluetooth capable smartphone. Giving guests access to your home is as simple as using the Kevo app to send a digital key to their phone. You can choose to receive alerts when keys are used, and digital keys can be retrieved when the visit is over.

In Techlicious’s review of the Kwikset Kevo, we discovered the lock can be installed in 15 to 20 minutes. It’s powered by four AA batteries, which will need to be replaced about once a year.

Price: $219.00 on amazon.com

First Alert

Smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector

Having a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your home or apartment isn’t just smart safety sense. In many places, it’s the law. Get in compliance with the First Alert ONELink Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector with Voice. Should the detector sniff out smoke or a dangerous quantity of CO gas, an audible voice alarm will sound. And if you pair the device with an optional INSTEON Smoke Bridge and INSTEON Hub, you can have email or text message alerts sent directly to your phone. The system can even be set up to turn your home’s lights on in case of fire emergency, so you won’t need to worry about fumbling through the smoke.

Price (First Alert ONELink): $69.99 at smarthome.com, $61.75 at amazon.com
Price (INSTEON Smoke Bridge): $34.99 at smarthome.com, $34.99 at amazon.com
Price (INSTEON Hub): $129.99 at smarthome.com, $129.99 at amazon.com

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Innovation

This Is the World’s First Smart Ceiling Fan

Haiku Fan
The Haiku fan is the world’s first smart ceiling fan, designed with an on-board computer and array of sensors Big Ass Fans

It’s official: our homes are getting smarter. You can already automate many parts of your home from lighting to temperature to get it just the way you want it, but now there’s a new product to add to your home automation wish list.

The Haiku Ceiling Fan with SenseMe has Wi-Fi so you can control it from your smartphone (iPhone only for now, though an Android app is in development) as well as motion and temperature detectors so it can start cooling when it senses someone in the room. You can either program the Haiku or let it learn your cooling preferences over time, a lot like the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Though this seems like a great addition to our home automation toolkit, the high price tag—$1,045—does make us wonder just how much it’s worth not to have to turn our ceiling fans on and off.

After all, we could pick up a Nest for $250 and bank the savings while remembering to turn our ceiling fan on and off, though we probably wouldn’t be getting a fan as high quality as the ultra-efficient Haiku, whose super strong bamboo blades are hand-balanced for silent, wobble-free performance. It’s probably best to wait until more affordable alternatives appear on the market.

This article was written by Elizabeth Harper and originally appeared on Techlicious.

TIME Gadgets

6 Gadgets That Help You Save Energy (and Money)

Getting a handle on your household energy consumption can save money and the environment. Your heating and cooling usage is an obvious target, but did you know it’s also important to monitor your gadgets and electronics gear?

The average US household spends $100 per year powering products that are turned off or in standby mode, according the the EPA. And, nationwide we spend $10 billion a year in energy costs.

Below you’ll find devices that help determine where you’re losing your money and ensure you keep spending under control.

Saving money on heating & cooling

b-and-d-tld100-300px
Black & Decker

Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector

You’ll see big savings on your monthly energy bill when you stop heat and air conditioning from leaking out of your house. A thermal leak detector, like the Black& Decker TLD100 can show you where your home’s leaks are. Once the device has read the ambient temperature, you can start checking around windows, door frames and other places air could be escaping. The light will change to red for warmer spots and blue for cooler spots. You can set the temperature tolerances to one, five or 10 degrees.

Price: $35.10 on Amazon.com

nest-2-300px
Nest

Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat (2nd Generation) is smart enough to know when you’re away. So if you forget, it can lower the temperature about two hours after you’ve left. It’s continually monitoring your habits, so it can automatically adjust the temperature based on your needs. And, Nest lets you know when you’re saving energy, rewarding you with a green leaf icon. Even small changes to your thermostat settings can impact your monthly energy bill. For instance, each degree above 68° F can add three percent to the amount of energy needed for heating, according to the Edison Electric Institute.

Price: $249 on Amazon.com

Reducing energy use

belkin-conserve-monitor-300px
Belkin

Belkin Conserve Insight Energy-Use Monitor

Want to find out which electronics items are the biggest energy hogs in your home? Plug suspects like your networked printer, TV or even a whole powerstrip into the Belkin Conserve Insight Energy-Use Monitor to find out. It tracks and displays the annual cost (based on the pre-loaded U.S.-average rate or your own rate), CO2 emissions and power consumption. And if the outlet is hard to reach, the display’s six-foot cord make it easy to put it in a place that’s convenient to read.

Price: $26.99 on Amazon.com

belkin-wemo-insight-switch-300px
Belkin

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Curling irons, space heaters, coffee makers: they’re all easy to accidentally leave on when you’re rushing out the door. So to ensure they’re turned off, you can plug them into a Belkin WeMo Insight Switch. Remotely check in on an appliance or electronic device and turn it off (or on), set a schedule and monitor and control energy usage. If your device is on a switch, like your lights, try the WeMo Light Switch. It works with your existing wall plates.

Price: Belkin WeMo Insight Switch: $59.99 on Amazon.com, Belkin WeMo Light Switch: $49.99 on Amazon.com

monster-mp-ht-800g-powercenter-300px
Monster

Monster MP HT 800G Home Theater PowerCenter

When you’re TV is off, you don’t need your DVD player, surround receiver or game system turned on. With The Monster MP HT 800 G Home Theater PowerCenter with Monster GreenPower, you plug your TV into the green master plug on the lower right, and the outlets on the same row to the left, the GreenPower outlets, shut down automatically when the TV is turned off. The three outlets on the top row stay on, so you can continue to record programs on your DVR. In case of a power surge, you’ll get 2160 Joules of protection and an alarm will sound. If your powerstrip is buried at the back of your entertainment center, try the Belkin Conserve Switch Energy-Saving Surge Protector. It comes with a wireless remote for turning off power.

Price: Monster MP HT 800G: $56.56 on Amazon.com, Belkin Conserve Switch Energy-Saving Surge Protector: $25.98 on Amazon.com.

lutron-maestro-motion-dimmer-300px
Lutron

Lutron Maestro Dimmer with Occupancy Sensor

Have a light someone’s always forgetting to turn off? Install a motion-sensing light switch that will automatically shut off when the room is empty, like the Lutron Maestro Dimmer with Occupancy Sensor. It has a 150 degree motion detector with an angle up to 30 feet. You can set the sensitivity and the time or operate it manually. The light will go back on at whatever dimming level you set it at last. For use with incandescent and dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs.

Price: $31.76 on Amazon.com

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser