What Smart Homes Can Do
Smart Home systems use an integrated network of wires installed in the home’s walls and floors to control systems such as security and sprinkler systems, lights, stereos and certain appliances, thermostats, even drapes. The network is connected to a central computer and remote-controlled from anywhere in the house or by computer from anywhere in the world.
There are Smart Home systems available in a number of price ranges, but to have a house like the Jetsons’ you better be ready to invest anywhere from several thousand up to tens of thousands.
Presently, less than 1% of the homes in the United States have Smart Home capabilities.
Smart Home Technologies
The most expensive Smart Home technology can be programmed to anticipate your needs and wants. For example, you might program your house’s routine for your return home from work – opening the garage door could turn on the outdoor lights to your door, disarming your security system, and turning the television on to your nightly news.
Other systems for Smart Home technology include pet care, intercoms and phones, cameras and surveillance, solar and energy saving devices, and various convenience devices. They encompass a variety of different aspects of life.
Less Expensive Alternatives to Smart Homes
Though Smart Home technology is an exciting new idea, there are few people who can afford it. However, there are things you can do in your own home for a small fraction of the cost that provide many of the same benefits. Light timers, programmable thermostats, and occupancy or motion sensors for lights are excellent ways to conserve energy around your home. Programmable thermostats, which turn your heat and/or cooling down while the house is empty and restore the temperature at a pre-set time, will pay for themselves in a very short period of time. Occupancy sensors turn the lights on when you enter a room and turn them off when a determined amount of time passes with no movement in the room, cutting the cost and waste of lights left on in empty rooms.
Installing a few of these pre-cursors to Smart Homes may not be as exciting as opening your drapes by remote control, but it is more likely to save energy and money.
See The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency for simple practical energy-efficiency ideas.