An Introduction to Home Automation
In the computer age of the 21st century, more and more tasks are becoming automated. Automation can make things easier, safer, and often more cost efficient. What was once the stuff of world’s fairs and science fiction is today a reality, so learn about the benefits and capabilities of applying today’s technology to your home.
What is Home Automation?
Home automation is a general term that covers a variety of technological capabilities you can install in your home. Home automation can include controlling aspects of your home remotely through a computer or phone, programming electronic devices to respond automatically to certain conditions or scenarios, or centralizing the control of a variety of items in your home into a single control center.
Among the popular applications of home automation is lighting. Not only can you tweak the lighting controls and personalize their output to your needs, but it's also possible to save money by using the lighting more efficiently.
Control all the lights in and around your house from one central location. There’s no need to get out of bed or go downstairs if you forgot to turn off a light – just do it remotely!
Arrange for specific lights to go on and off at preset times. Have your lights go on when it’s time to wake up, turn on outdoor lighting when it gets dark, or have your lights cycle on and off when you’re on vacation.
Control your home’s lighting from a distance. If you’re returning home late at night and want your house illuminated before you arrive, just adjust the lights over the internet and save electricity.
In cold cities like Milwaukee, leave your heating on at a low temperature during the day (while you're out) so that the house doesn’t get too cold and freeze your pipes. Then program the heat to warm up the house 15 minutes before you arrive in the evening. If your plans change, you can reset simply the system using your smartphone, whether from your office or while you’re on the way home.
Not only does home automation make your home more efficient and easier to operate, it can also help you keep it maintained. Appliances may be connected to devices that monitor their activity; so that a self-monitoring furnace, for example, will remind you when it needs cleaning, and your air conditioner will report that it needs a new filter.
Home automation can also be used to effectively protect you and your loved ones. Beyond traditional smoke detectors and security systems, you can interconnect the technology in your home to awaken you with lights and sounds if a smoke alarm goes off, no matter what room you’re in. In addition, the same system is capable of shutting down all other audio and video devices in the home to eliminate distractions, and have it notify the fire department at the same time – all without you doing a thing.
Because home automation has virtually limitless possibilities, it’s difficult to put a price tag on it. You can have an electrician install an all-in-one system for anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000, which includes a flat screen TV, computer, digital thermostat, dimmer switches, wireless video cameras and more. Alternatively, if you only want to automate certain features or parts of your home, you can expect to pay an electrician roughly between $3 and $5 per square foot, depending on the features and accessories you select.
If you’re looking to install a home automation system, contact an experienced electrician. You’ll find that it makes your life easier and safer, and lowers your utility bills along the way.
Updated March 1, 2018.
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