TODAY

TODAY   |  March 03, 2011

Money-saving tech gadgets for the home

From smart thermostats to security cameras and even a wind turbine, Lou Manfredini, host of TV’s “House Smarts,” reveals which new innovations can help you run a more energy-efficient home.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

AL ROKER reporting: This morning on TODAY'S HOME , cool new technology to make your home and your life more comfortable and efficient. Lou Manfredini , who's the host of the syndicated show, "House Smarts," is here with some innovative products. Always good to see you, sir.

Mr. LOU MANFREDINI (Host, "House Smarts"): Good morning, nice to see you. Nice to see you.

ROKER: So this is awfully cool stuff. I mean, I know we are talking, you know, everybody's talking about solar panels.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yep.

ROKER: But now we're talking about wind turbines ?

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yeah. I mean, the real answer I think for energy independence is solar and wind and this is one of the slickest ones that I've seen. There's a lot of different versions out there right now. This is the Honeywell wind turbine by Windtronics . It's a long name, but six foot in diameter will turn in less than a half a mile an hour wind. Its optimum wind speed is 12 miles per hour...

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: ...to produce 15 percent of the energy your home needs.

ROKER: Wow.

Mr. MANFREDINI: You can get a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Currently most states will give you that as well. It can mount on your roof...

ROKER: Uh-huh .

Mr. MANFREDINI: ...it can mount on a pole, and it integrates with your current power system.

ROKER: Right. So you have to have somebody come install it.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mr. MANFREDINI: About $9500 installed. But with those tax credits, this is -- mark my words, Al -- 10 years from now we're going to see these things and units like this everywhere.

ROKER: Mm-hmm. So basically you put two of these in your home, and you...

Mr. MANFREDINI: You could potentially do 30 percent of the electricity that you need.

ROKER: Amazing stuff.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Thermostats are getting smarter and smarter.

Mr. MANFREDINI: These are a couple of versions. The is the eccobee Smart thermostat. This is the Trane ComfortLink II . These are Internet enabled.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: They can allow you to control from your smart phone, from your computer.

Mr. MANFREDINI: They will give you these very detailed readouts on your energy use . They'll allow you to do zoning. This particular one by Trane you can even put an SD card in there and load images so you don't have to look at the thermostat stuff when you're not there.

ROKER: So you can stand there and look at your family album.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yeah, look at my family there. But then the other thing, too, is as we get older the buttons are nice and big.

ROKER: Right.

Mr. MANFREDINI: It's very intuitive. You just did a segment on all these...

ROKER: And, look, there's grandma.

Mr. MANFREDINI: She's freezing to death.

ROKER: My gosh.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Turn the blaze up here.

ROKER: Oh.

Mr. MANFREDINI: But this is the wave. This is something really professionally installed because it has to get integrated with your system.

ROKER: Uh-huh .

Mr. MANFREDINI: But the way to command the energy and your comfort by the use of these things is amazing.

ROKER: Right. And what are the costs roughly?

Mr. MANFREDINI: Well installed, you're probably somewhere around $600.

ROKER: OK. Security always a big concern.

Mr. MANFREDINI: First Alert , they know all about smoke detectors, carbon monoxide. This is an inexpensive, about $399, complete wireless system.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: You literally plus this in, you plus the camera in and it integrates quite nicely. You can look at these cameras and where they're looking at. A great application is if you want to know who's at the front door...

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: ...this screen comes in there and you can keep it there. If you want to keep it going, it records everything on a small little SD card .

ROKER: OK.

Mr. MANFREDINI: So it constantly recovers and covers and then you can delete that.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: And it couldn't be any easier to set up.

ROKER: And some of these systems actually you can monitor them online.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Yeah. That's terrific. This one doesn't yet.

ROKER: Doesn't do that? OK.

Mr. MANFREDINI: But I really like it for its affordability and what it does. Kids? All right.

ROKER: Kids.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Come on, stay with me on this.

ROKER: OK.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Potty training.

ROKER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MANFREDINI: The age-old thing, right?

ROKER: Right?

Mr. MANFREDINI: What happens if the -- first of all, you're touching the toilet seat . And the kids go in there like this...

ROKER: Yes. Well thanks for giving me that, Lou .

Mr. MANFREDINI: Well, it's clean. The toilet seat goes in there and what happens and you get a wet bottom.

ROKER: Right.

Mr. MANFREDINI: The people over at Mayfair , look at this.

ROKER: Ah.

Mr. MANFREDINI: Come on. Now that...

ROKER: Why didn't I think of that?

Mr. MANFREDINI: ...is high-tech right there. This is awesome.

ROKER: This is -- it's a convertible toilet.

Mr. MANFREDINI: It is. And so look at that. And then when you close it and then you come in there it sticks with a magnet. I know it's not high-tech, but high function.

ROKER: We like that. Very nice.

Mr. MANFREDINI: That's right . And, by the way, that's your biggest fan.

ROKER: Ho!

Mr. MANFREDINI: Pa -dum-bum.

ROKER: Lou Manfredini is here till Thursday.

Mr. MANFREDINI: That's right , enjoy the veal.