Our home products expert, Tom Kraeutler, is the Host, Founder and Chief Home Improvement Evangelist of The Money Pit. He is a hands-on home improvement broadcast journalist and the kind of guy homeowners want to call at midnight when their basement floods. He first earned his home improvement stripes as a professional home inspector, amassing over 20 years experience learning how houses are put together, and how they fall apart!
Here are Tom's selections for the Most Memorable New Home Product Launches of 2012:
These windows are an excellent choice to replace old, drafty windows that are hard to open or require frequent scraping and painting. Andersen has made it so that installing these windows couldn’t be easier. The 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Insert Window is custom sized to fit inside an existing window frame. Just remove the top and bottom sash and insert the new window. It’s a great DIY project that requires only basic skills and no special tools. Plus, you can install the window from inside your home, making it easy to replace even second-floor windows. The tilt function makes it easy to clean them, and the low-maintenance exterior eliminates the need for paint. Plus, the high-performance Low-E4 glass provides superior energy-efficiency.
Every once in a while a company comes out with a truly unique innovation that completely takes me by surprise. Gyro is one of those products -- the world’s first motion activated power screwdriver. It’s really cool and fun to use. Here’s how it works: the trigger is on the back of it, so when you squeeze the Gyro you engage the power switch. To turn it on, you rotate it to the right. It starts very slowly, and the more you turn, it goes full throttle. To slow it down you simply turn it back towards neutral or center, wherever you started with it. And then to reverse the direction, you simply turn it to the left. Gyro was developed by Black & Decker to give users more control over the application, both in speed and direction. And at a suggested retail price of $39.99, it’s both innovative and inexpensive!
The age-old problem of leaving lights on in empty rooms is solved with the Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch from Lutron. It can detect motion so that it turns lights on when you enter a room and off when a room is empty. This hands-free technology makes life easier when you’ve got an armful of laundry or groceries, and it’s great for a household with kids who might not always remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room. It’s also convertible to manual on/off vacancy sensors for use in bedrooms and homes with pets. You can install it in 15 minutes or less, and it works with all types of light bulbs, including LED, CFL, tube fluorescent, halogen and incandescent. And by replacing just one standard light switch with a Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch, you can save up to $25 in energy costs.
This $10 million prize-winning light bulb is an answer to our energy future that’s here today – selected by the U.S. Department of energy as the most energy efficient-alternative to the standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. Philips 10-watt LED bulb lasts 30 times longer – up to 27 years!! – and can save you up to $165 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Wave goodbye to the hassle of changing bulbs frequently and pat yourself on the back for choosing a bulb that’s smart for the planet AND your wallet. Philips 10-watt LED bulb is fully dimmable and provides soft white light with virtually no UV in the beam, so it won’t fade fabrics. And it’s designed in a traditional bulb shape that will fit right into your existing fixtures.
As a nation, we flush away billions of gallons of water every day. You can be part of the solution by improving a water-wasting toilet in your own home. Fluidmaster’s Duo Flush is an innovative system that converts any toilet into a high-efficiency, water-saving dual flush toilet that saves you money to boot. It provides up to 50% water savings with every flush, and can knock your water bill down by more than $120 a year per toilet. It’s easy to install – takes just 20 minutes – and easy to use: Just lift the handle up for a half flush and push it down for a full flush. You’ll be reducing your annual water usage by more than 15,000 gallons, and the planet will thank you.