It’s true that technology makes our lives easier, but with a constant stream of new gadgets on the market, we are often too busy keeping up to utilize their full potential. Streamline areas of your home with these great technology tips, and find better ways to enrich your life with convenient tools.
Photography: ERIC PIASECKI1 of 15
Install a Multipurpose Screen
Setting up a monitor in your kitchen makes room for precious counter space, and can be used as a way to refer to a recipes online. It also works double-duty as a television. Just be sure to keep it a safe distance from the sink and stove.
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Beat the Heat
The area where you store your video and audio systems can often overheat and become cluttered with cords. Make a few holes in the back panel of the cabinet where they’re stored to ventilate the area -- and it will work even when doors are closed.
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Get a Remote for It All
How many remotes do you currently own? This handy device, which operates many electronics, eliminates the confusion of having several remotes -- and it can work from as far as 50 feet away!
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When you’re under a table trying to sort out a tangle of cords, they often all look the same. Make finding the right one easy by creating labels from leftover bread-bag clips. Just write the name of each device on the unprinted side of a clip with a permanent marker, and attach the clip to the proper cord.
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Plug In Seamlessly
Accessibility is important, so the power strip in this home is turned so that the plugs are facing forward. Printed labels identify each plug, and a built-in line conditioner prevents power surges.
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This ingenious recharging hub is crafted from two hinged boxes. A power strip is anchored inside the bottom box with Velcro fasteners, and cords are threaded through grommets to the top box, where cord hooks hold each device in place. The box is left open when recharging to avoid heat buildup.
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If you prefer to charge your devices in a hidden place, dedicate a drawer for them. With a few easy steps, you’ll be able to charge away without any hassle.
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They need to be exposed, but in-wall versions can be painted to match a room's wall color and some bookshelf speakers can be fitted with grates in coordinating colors.
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Keep a Safe Distance
Every electronic device -- even a seemingly low-tech lamp or stereo -- emits an electromagnetic field (EMF). Since we still don’t know how EMFs affect the body, it’s important to keep a distance. The closer you are to an electronic device, the stronger the EMF exposure.
Use a headset for your cellphone and don't sit directly in front of the TV or press your nose to the microwave while it's running. If you install a Wi-Fi hub in your home, place the beacon away from frequently used areas, and set your laptop on a desk instead of directly on your lap.
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Learn the Best Time to Buy
New models of electronics are usually introduced in late spring or early summer, and again in the fall. The best sales tend to happen during the holiday shopping season and in early spring.
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Use a Multitasking Dock
If your television comes with the correct connection you can simply plug in your iPod dock to watch movies and TV shows you’ve downloaded, present slide shows of your photos, and listen to music -- all through the television.
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Don't Sacrfice Style
People think they have to buy media furniture to house their electronics. Why not use a piece you already love instead? This vintage armoire was slightly remodeled by replacing the original shelving with compartments designed specifically for components and media storage.
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Did you know that the average home creates more pollution than the average car? If you're not ready to swap your old appliances for energy-efficient ones, start using them in greener ways.
For laundry, skip hot water unless the load is unusually soiled. Don't overcool your refrigerator. Use a thermometer to check the settings: The fridge should rest between 37 and 40 degrees, and the freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. Scrape, but don't rinse, dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, unless you're not running it right away. Set your home computer to go into "sleep" mode after a short period of inactivity, instead of relying on a screen saver.
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Pass It On or Recycle
Donating your gadgets to a good cause is wonderful way to give it a second life. If it is no longer usable, though, you can recycle it.
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Some electronics cannot be recycled in the normal way. There's a long list of hazardous waste that should never be thrown in the garbage (to familiarize yourself with it, visit: epa.gov/msw/hhw-list.htm).
Many communities offer safe hazardous-waste-disposal sites and events. Check with your local landfill or health department to find out the rules in your area, and follow them.
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