IBS Kitchen, Bath and Laundry Tech Focus on Efficiency | TecHome Builder

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If the International Builders Show (IBS) and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) are any indication, the future is efficient and connected tech for the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.

The two shows were co-located at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For the many of you who were unable to make it to Vegas for IBS, TecHome Builder is showcasing some of the top trends that could have a massive impact on the industry in the coming year.

Emerging tech trends in the kitchen, bath, and laundry room:

Kitchen Trends-Signature Kitchen Suite

The kitchen is becoming the smart and connected hub of the TecHome of tomorrow. Signature Kitchen Suite, a new luxury kitchen manufacturer that launched the first day of IBS, has revealed a complete line of efficient and connected kitchen appliances and systems. All of Signature’s products are Wi-Fi enabled. This allows the homebuyer to remotely complete almost any kitchen task, including remote start or adjusting the fridge’s ice production. Tech like this proves that kitchen connectivity is beginning to move into the marketplace. It also demonstrates a way for builders to set themselves apart.

Kitchen Trends-Whirlpool Appliances

Whirlpool is also looking to cash in on the connected kitchen concept with Wi-Fi enabled products that use sensors to maximize efficiency and track energy usage.
Currently, Whirlpool products communicate with the Nest thermostat, but the company now plans to roll out additional connections, this year, to allow builders to market a fully automated home. According to Whirlpool, the company’s current lineup is focused on efficiency. A smartphone app allows homebuyers to check in on energy usage and address potential service needs. Signature Kitchen Suite and Whirlpool represent an emerging trend in new kitchens, the ability to remotely connect and maximize performance when needed.

Kitchen Trends Report

Houzz representative and economist Nina Sitchinava was available at IBS to discuss emerging residential trends with builders by going over the 2016 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

“The big takeaway is that kitchens are becoming the central hub that integrates with the rest of the home,” says Sitchinava. The report shows that about half of homeowners are using the kitchen space for entertaining and socializing and 33 percent of homeowners are choosing new kitchen appliances with tech-features such as connectivity, touchscreen displays or built-in recipes.

Viking’s new TurboChef wall oven is one example of the tech trend moving into kitchens. This model stores recipes in a color touchscreen that homeowners can then use to change settings to cook food to their preference.

Bathroom Trends-Niagara Conservation

Ease-of-use and efficiency appeared to be among the biggest bathroom trends at IBS. Niagara Conservation Toilets are said to be the most efficient on the market. These “ultra-efficient” toilets use 0.8 gallons of water per flush, allowing the builder to market a savings of up to 40,000 gallons of water per bathroom per year.

“We continue to push the bar toward higher efficiencies,” says Shane Miller, VP of sales at Niagara. “We’ve also seen a growing demand in multifamily applications.”

These toilets have a unique application in multi-family and high-volume buildings where the landlord can save significantly on annual utility bills while also marketing conservation and efficiencies.

Bathroom Trends-TOTO Toilets

TOTO’s line of smart toilets is a great option for luxury builders looking to market connectivity. “TOTO always has a great booth,” says Patrick Bentivegna of Benco Construction. “High-efficiency and smart are really what my high-end clients have been looking for these last few years.”

The Neorest H saves 35 percent of water annually while using connected technology to automatically open when someone approaches. A UV light and smart water system work together to cleanse the bowl and water after each use. “We are always looking for ways to make water work harder and to accomplish more with less water,” says TOTO representative Lenora Campos.

The significantly higher price point makes TOTO ideal for luxury homes, while the efficiency and lower cost of Niagara make its products ideal for multifamily and high-volume communities.

Bathroom Trends-Fixtures and Add-Ons

Efficiency moved beyond the toilet at KBIS with unique devices and products that complement the connected bathroom. Bathroom fixtures with touch technology from Brizo are designed with the simplicity and efficiency trend in mind. To promote ease-of-use these fixtures can be turned on by touching anywhere on the faucet. And to promote efficiency, the fixtures shut off after one minute of use.

Similar touch faucets from Kohler and Delta indicate that ease-of-use and efficiency are the main focuses among top fixture manufacturers. Some faucets require a physical touch, while others simply require the sensor’s beam be broken by an object.

Also worth noting, according to “Today’s Connected Home” education session at IBS, 42 percent of homebuyers are willing to pay extra for radiant heating in the bathroom. Builders can offer systems like Warmup radiant heating that use Wi-Fi to connect to smartphones while providing schedules and real-time energy statistics.

Laundry Trends-Electrolux

In response to consumer demand, Electrolux is looking to dramatically increase efficiency and performance by changing how the washing process is completed.
This new front-loading washer is the first major change to the appliance giant’s product lineup since 2008. It features a new process and circular control panel.

Electrolux is changing how detergent and water interact with clothes by pre-mixing and chemically changing the chemical composition prior to entering the washtub. According to Electrolux, this process increases the lifespan and durability of clothes when compared to traditional methods.

Laundry Trends-LG Electronics

Directly in line with emerging connectivity trends, the main improvement to LG’s lineup at KBIS was on stable connections and improving efficiency. This is done by changing when appliances draw electricity from the home.

All new LG appliances come equipped with Smart Grid tech and Smart Diagnosis. The Smart Diagnosis tech allows the homeowner to use a smartphone to diagnose potential problems with performance, while Smart Grid tech holds off on certain actions that consume a great deal of energy until peak hours.

LG and Whirlpool’s new tech demonstrates that efficiency and improvements to performance are major concerns for top manufacturers in the laundry area.