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Home Automation Enhances Your Lifestyle and Saves Money - Exciting Home Automation Applications

Wouldn't it be nice to have your home take care of things for you, automatically, without you having to lift a finger? You bet it would. That is the promise of home automation. There are many different systems, especially in larger homes, that can benefit from being integrated. Some of these systems include security alarm, HVAC, audio / video, and lighting. Home automation integrates these systems together, enabling them to function more efficiently, improve functionality, conserve resources and enhance your lifestyle.

That's the name of the game; an enhanced lifestyle. Everyone can benefit from a better life and modern electronic systems can help provide it. In addition, as the cost of resources continues to rise and the price of electronics continues to fall, home automation systems will prove to be even more cost effective. The combination of the modern consumer's thirst for convenience and increasing economic advantages will propel home automation more into the mainstream.

So, what are some of the fun things a home automation system can do for you? Here are some common applications:

1) As you pull up the driveway you press a button on your key-fob remote. The security system disarms and a path is lit from the garage to the kitchen. Your favorite music comes on in the kitchen and family room. Five minutes after you arrive home the lights in your mudroom and garage hall turn off.

2) As you leave, you arm the security system into away mode using your key-fob remote. Your lights turn off throughout the house, saving you from going around turning off different lights throughout the home. Your blinds close. Your music turns off. If you have forced-air heat, it is set back. All from one button press.

3) Set whole house scenes for different events to include lighting, music, HVAC, and security. Example: A) An entertainment scene would have the lights set to the "entertain" preset, the security system off, the music to the appropriate party play list, and the HVAC set-back a few degrees to compensate for the added body heat from the additional people in the house. B) The "Holiday" scene could run concurrently with other scenes and turn the Christmas lights on and play the Holiday music play list through the outside speakers.

4) Different lighting scenes can be preset for different events such as entertaining, away, coming home, etc. This is excellent to recall favorite lighting levels automatically. It also avoids you having to go throughout the home and set dimmer levels. Dimming lights saves considerable energy and dramatically extends the life of light bulbs. An incandescent light at 90% will last almost twice as long as the same light at 100%.

5) Motion-activated lighting automatically turns on the bathroom lights to 25% if you get up between 12:00 midnight and 5:00am, avoiding harsh light on your still sleepy eyes. If you walk out of your bedroom door late at night, a path is lit to the kitchen for you at 35%.

6) You get an email notifying you if your security system is tripped or disarmed. This is great for knowing when kids get home after school or alerting you to problems when you are away from home. E-mail and pager alerts can be used for a variety of conditions that may need monitoring such as low fuel-oil, occupancy or motion in certain areas, or water leaks in the mechanical or utility room.

7) Skylights automatically close in response to rain and/or wind.

8) If upstairs windows are open, the heat in those rooms is disabled to avoid wasting energy and a message is displayed on the home's touch panels to alert you.

9) Weather information can be displayed on the home's touch panels. If the wind speed increases to beyond 50mph, protective shutters can be activated over the windows.

10) Motorized window treatments can be lowered automatically in response to direct sunlight. This prevents fading of valuable furniture, carpets and artwork. It also reduces interior heating, reducing AC expenditures.

11) You phone from your car while returning from a ski trip to ensure your hot tub is warmed up and ready to jump in immediately upon your return.

These are just a sample of different home automation applications commonly used to enhance lifestyles, save money and conserve resources. The possibilities are almost endless, limited only by your budget and imagination.

Steve Faber has almost 15 years in the custom installation industry. He is a CEDIA certified designer and Installer 2 with certifications from both the ISF and THX. His experience spans many facets of the industry, from the trenches as an installer and control systems programmer, and system designer, to a business unit director for a specialty importer of high end audio video equipment, a sales rep for a large, regional consumer electronics distributor, and principal of a $1.5M+ custom installation firm. Steve is currently is senior sales engineer for Digital Cinema Design, a CEDIA member firm in Redmond, WA. He is on the web at

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