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The 10 Best Home Innovations of the Decade

It's been an exciting decade for both professional and DIY renovators alike. We've seen dramatic ups and downs in the market, and amazing changes in technology. Here are 10 innovations that redefined the technology, safety and convenience of the home-improvement industry.

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home internet of things AndreyPopov/Getty Images

The Internet of Things

As far as technology goes, nothing has been as influential as the rise of the wired home. Commonly called “IoT” the Internet of Things includes everything from Internet-connected thermostats, security systems and doorbells to the voice assistants that can control and automate all of those and more.

Learn how to install the Ring Video Doorbell 2:

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home energy saving Alberto Masnovo/Getty Images

Energy Savings Incentives

The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit encouraged homeowners to upgrade windows, doors and insulation, plus other energy-saving upgrades. Both remodelers and DIYers benefitted from this boom, and millions of homes became more friendly to both the environment and utility budgets.

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tool battery Anna Makarenkova/Getty Images

New Battery Designs

For cordless tools, the biggest game changer has been battery technology. In the last 10 years, tool batteries have gotten lighter, more resilient and more powerful. Plus, chargers have also improved, allowing for faster charge times. The next time you’re perched on top of a ladder while holding a cordless drill over your head, be sure to thank the designer of that battery!

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permeable paversvia

High-Tech Pavers

Pavers that “breathe” and allow water to pass through them have been around for years, but the last decade has seen dramatic improvement in their resilience and cost. These new pavers have allowed homeowners to replace traditional driveways with a durable, green ground cover. In addition to looking great, permeable pavers promote healthier lawns and reduce the load on city stormwater systems.

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Tankless Water Heaters

Reducing energy bills and freeing up floor space in your utility closet, tankless water heaters heat your home’s water right in the pipes. Without the need to keep gallons of water at temperature, tankless heaters eventually pay for themselves. Even better, as they become more widely used, their initial installation price will likely continue to go down.

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LED Lights Come of Age

When the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) went into effect in 2012, the days of incandescent light bulbs were numbered, and alternative designs, such as CFL and LED, rose to take their place. While the popularity of CFLs flared and faded, LEDs are now the heir apparent to the classic Edison design. Inexpensive and long-lasting, LEDs consume far less energy and generate less heat than a traditional bulb.

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mini split air conditionerWstockstudio/Shutterstock

Mini-Split HVAC Systems

The argument over what temperature to keep a home has probably been going on since the first time a Neanderthal dragged a burning bush back to the cave! Mini-split HVAC systems allow users to adjust the temperature range to suit individual residents, even down to individual rooms. With surprising ease-of-use and no need for extensive duct work, mini-split HVAC systems are rapidly becoming a more common choice during home renovations.

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Hardwood Alternatives

It used to be that if you wanted a wood floor you had two choices: hardwood or the less desirable engineered substitute. But over the last decade, newer, more robust manufactured materials have become more affordable and better designed, while alternate materials, such as bamboo and cork, provide solid materials at a reduced price and from a renewable resource.

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in floor heat adventtr/Getty Images

Embedded Heating

Popular in applications ranging from behind mirrors (to prevent steaming) and under tile floors (to prevent post-shower cold feet), embedded heating has become an affordable luxury for many homeowners. Radiant heating can be used throughout a home to generate a warm, consistent feel, as an alternative to the extreme ups and downs of traditional central heating. Heating membranes can even be installed outdoors, beneath pavers or poured sidewalks to melt moderate snow and ice accumulations.

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Threat Detection

Over the last decade, monitoring threats, such as CO, fire and burglars, has gotten much easier. Cloud-integrated security and sensors make it possible to keep a virtual eye on your home and send potential problems straight to authorities. Even simple changes have made big differences: Smoke detectors are now available with 10-year batteries that last the detector’s entire working life. You’ll never have to hear the annoying beeps of a detector with a fading battery again!

Is your technology spying on you? Here’s how you can tell.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.