Home Automation

If sustainability and convenience hit a crossroads, home automation would be the intersection

Picture this: You've just pulled out of your driveway – 15 minutes late to work on a Monday morning – when you suddenly remember that the coffeemaker is still on and you forgot to turn the heat down in the house. But you have zero time to spare to do anything about it.

If you’re like most busy Americans, this probably sounds familiar.

But Monday mornings like these – or any other time when forgetfulness strikes during your getting-out-of-the-house routine – may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to trends in maintaining smart homes.

These days, automated technology is allowing many of us to program the energy consumption of just about anything in the house (pets, spouses, and children excepted, of course). And beyond the immediate benefit of convenience, many of these gadgets are supporting sustainability in residential energy strategies and helping consumers cut costs.

Home automation essentially allows you to program and remotely access various security- and energy-related household features. While most practical systems focus on energy and security, high-end systems can control anything from opening and closing drapes and blinds to adjusting swimming pools and A/V equipment.

Wireless power controls and programmable thermostats are the two primary ways that home automation can help you save on energy.

Wireless Power Controls
As the name implies, these controls operate through a wireless signal. They can be tied into a home automation system for remote access to check the status of devices and/or engage them.

Automated drapes and blinds can close to block the heat of the sun during certain periods of the day to avoid spikes in energy consumption. Controls on a coffeemaker can allow you to program on and off times or check its status to make sure you turned it off. Lighting controls provide similar advantages by allowing you to check that lights are off when rooms are unoccupied.

Programmable Thermostats
According to Consumer Reports, programmable thermostats can translate to an average savings of $180 a year on energy bills by lowering the amount of heating or cooling during periods when you don’t need it. Most models allow consumers to program settings for each day of the week, and most feature clear onscreen prompts to help avoid energy-wasting mistakes in programming.

Linking a programmable thermostat to a home automation system takes the device one step further. Consumers can leverage the benefits of heating/cooling control by remotely adjusting the home’s thermostat and getting real-time alerts when settings change.

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