Update (9:00 PM): Following storms that swept through the Chattanooga area both on both Saturday and Sunday evening, EPB is working as quickly as possible to restore power to about 500 customers who continue to experience outages due to damage to the system. Over the last two days, the Smart Grid has prevented outages or auto-restored power to about 10,100 customers. EPB will continue working until all customers have power. Please check back for additional information. You may also refer to the Outage Map or call EPB Customer Service, 423-648-1EPB (1372).
Anyone who has ever built or remodeled a home knows it is important to think about the future: What needs will my family have in the future? What can I do to ensure my home stays at or above market value? What should I add to accommodate for new technologies?
This last question addresses a concept known as future-proofing. It means to build or remodel a home so that it is ready for future technologies by pulling conduit and wiring for data and video to certain parts of the home.
"Future-proofing is important to do so that homeowners are ready for future developments," said John Watts, senior supervisor of energy and communication services at EPB. "It's a lot cheaper to pull the wire now than go back after the fact and reinstall it."
Adding appropriate wires, conduit and cables is not that much more expensive than standard installations because most contractors run data and video from points in the home to the utility point on the outside of the home, Watts said.
Below are four things to keep in mind when future-proofing.
Proper wiring and equipment
For maximum Internet speed, each living space needs to be prewired with dual jacks with coax and a cat 5e at every coax location. Two cat 5e cables are needed in areas where a phone will also be used.
For optimal picture quality and reduced interference, tri- or quad-shield RG6 coax cables with a 77 percent high-density braid or higher should be installed for TVs.
"These cables only cost about $6 more than a 60 percent coax for a 2,500-square-foot home," Watts said.
Additionally, all coax and cat 5e wiring should be run from a single, easy-to-get-to distribution box in a garage or basement. This will make it easy to change TV, phone and computer locations in the future.
"Running 1-inch conduit from this box to an open attic or crawlspace will make it easier to add wiring options in the future," Watts said.
Sound and video
Preparing for your home's entertainment options during a build or remodel is crucial.
"It will be difficult and expensive to install this after the home is built," Watts said.
Although wireless connectivity is a great option for some applications, video bandwidth is accelerating at a faster pace than current wireless capabilities. So the data connections for electronics should be hardwired. For example, if you don't install wiring to a TV hanging above your fireplace, it will either have to be offset or put on top of the mantel.
"If you don’t wire for it, forget it," Watts said. "It will be difficult to get data lines to this location after the home is finished."
It's also a good idea to install data lines to all TVs and gaming systems, Watts said.
"A lot of apps you might want on a TV may not be 100 percent effective on a wireless network," he said. "Imagine a highway with no lane dividers. It's just chaos."
It would be wise to go ahead and install automated lighting, heating and security, according to Watts. In the very near future, people will expect it, he said.
"We're getting to the point that the cost will make automated products significantly more accessible," he said.
As more people set up smart homes to control their lights, temperature and more with a smartphone or tablet, companies are developing products that are more intuitive. An example is Honeywell, which has created a digital thermostat to help reduce power bills.
"These devices learn how and when you use energy—when you make breakfast, take showers, head out the door for work or school and when you go to bed," Watts said. "As they learn these patterns, automatic adjustments are made to maximize energy efficiency."
Products that make your home smarter are a good investment in future-proofing, as they will eventually become standard.
Those building or remodeling homes should install data lines to where their appliances and HVAC systems will be, as we can expect future systems like these to send alerts when maintenance or repairs are needed.
"It will always be more expensive to upgrade a house for technology once the walls are put up," Watts said. "Building a strong infrastructure now for data will pay off in countless ways over the many years that people will live in their homes."
John Pless is the public relations coordinator at EPB.