Automated home systems offer security, energy savings

A home automation system integrates all of the subsystems of a home – from temperature and lighting controls to security and audio/video systems – into an easy-to-use interface that can control the various systems via a remote, smartphone or computer. Angie's List found many automation systems include alarm systems for things like fire and carbon monoxide, water and motion detection. Home automation systems can also help reduce your energy bills.

There are many subsystems that can be brought together by one simple interface that you can use anywhere with your tablet or smart phone. The options include:

• Lighting Control – Turning them off, or seeing what lights are on in your house
• Garage door – Closing it or opening it from anywhere.
• Water detector – If a pipe bursts or there is a leak, you are notified.
• Alarm System – Turn on or off anywhere. You can let service people in your house if you are away.
• Access codes – You can set up different access codes for different users – pet sitters and children. You receive alerts when those are used.
• Safety Lighting – At night from your car you can hit a home button to create a pathway to light the house for safety.
• Thermostat control – You can control the temperature in your home from anywhere.
• Television – you can use one interface to control all aspects of your TV such as DVD player, cable and even changing channels and controlling volume.
• Audio – You can install a surround sound audio system and control all the speakers in different rooms. The can all play the same music or if your kids want to listen to their music in their room they can while you enjoy what you like in another.
• Video – You can set up cameras in each room and view your house from anywhere.
• Remote appliance control: One popular example is the automated stove. With an automated stove, you can program it to start preheating at a certain time of day so it's ready for use when you get home from work.

Home automation systems are a significant investment. They start around $2,000 but can grow to much more depending on what the homeowner wants. It can certainly make life easier and safer and you can even save money from your Home Automation system.

Savings:

• Many insurance companies offer discounts on homeowner's policies if the home is equipped to an automation system that has security monitoring.
• As the cost of energy continues to go up, people are also becoming more conscious of the amount of electricity they use. As a result, there has been a growing demand for components that remotely monitor energy usage of specific appliances. The technology can automatically shut off appliances when they aren't in use to conserve energy.
• More utility companies nationally are offering what's known as demand response programs. The programs allow homeowners to earn dividends for limiting their energy use during extreme hot or cold spells when the energy grid is strained and utility companies are forced to buy surplus energy at a higher cost.

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