Home automation systems commonly control lighting, home theater and entertainment systems, appliances, home security systems, door locks, and manage energy efficiency.
People unfamiliar with the concept of “home automation” may picture George Jetson’s space house, his robot housekeeper and dehydrated food.
The truth is automation can mean different things to different people, but in broad terms, home automation can be defined as any technology that is used in or around the home that simplifies tasks, makes life easier, improves safety, and reduces long-term costs.
Home automation can be very simple – or it can be used to a smart home that would spark envy in George Jetson.
Lighting control kits can be purchased for as little as $60, though more complete house-wide systems can run homeowners thousands of dollars.
One of the most beneficial features of home automation is that most systems are designed to be expandable, meaning homeowners can grow their systems as their budgets, needs, and interests allow.
Lights that turn on and off when someone enters or leaves a room.
Remotely monitoring and managing home climate.
Thermostats that respond to the number and placement of people in a room.
Remotely preheating an oven.
Unlocking the front door when a homeowner pulls into the driveway.
Managing yard sprinklers via a smartphone app.
Viewing home security cameras from a remote location (work, smartphone, etc.).
Any piece of electronic equipment that can be controlled remotely or automatically falls under the larger umbrella of “home automation.”
When it comes to home automation, some skeptics may ask, “Why?” If you turn lights on and off when you enter and leave a room, why do you need a sensor to do it for you? The truth is, home automation is about more than convenience. There are practical applications for everyday problems. Home automation can not only make a home more efficient by reducing water, gas, and electricity consumption; it can also save home owners in other ways. Rather than paying a security company a monthly fee, for example, home automation can create a safer home for a single, up-front charge.
For homeowners curious about home automation, it can often make sense to begin by tacking on an automation project to another home renovation project. If, for example, you are planning on opening up your kitchen, just add lighting and appliance controls to the project plan. If you’re thinking of converting your garage or basement into living space, add climate controlled automation to your list.
Home automation is becoming more popular and more affordable for homeowners. The simplicity and the benefits of making a home “smarter” can be seen almost instantly, and many homeowners with extremely smart homes started out with one, small project before becoming hooked on automation. As more homeowners identify tasks that can be automated, the industry will likely continue to expand, and smart homes will be the rule, not the exception.