Home automation systems offer centralized control over not only residential lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units, but also smaller home appliances and security systems, thereby making life simpler and more convenient throughout the home. Although these products come with an initial cost, they are designed to save the money as well as the energy and time of the consumer.
This article highlights the monetary savings of automated HVAC, electricity, and security systems in general terms and discusses the specifications of several products that make up the most popular items in the home automation market.
Programmable thermostats are the frontrunners of the home automation market and are increasingly popular in residential settings. Because they learn your preferences and usage patterns in order maximize efficiency, these kinds of products are invaluable to homeowners as energy saving devices. Over a period of a few years or more, the money spent on initial thermostat purchasing and installation is offset by a significant savings on electricity bills.
Of the top programmable thermostats on the market in 2015, the Nest Learning Thermostat (was $249 on Nest website) ranks at the very top. Once installed, it quickly learns your personal temperature preferences and after a week or so of teaching begins to work on its own, turning heating and air conditioning on and off when your home reaches temperatures it recognizes as preferences in your home. If you have multiple thermostats in your home, they can all be controlled remotely and independently with the Nest Mobile app. The thermostat comes with an Away function that, when activated, keeps the energy use to a minimum and reactivates with a sensor when someone enters the home again. For further energy saving, Nest is also equipped with a Leaf function that alerts you to the settings that will conserve the most energy. All of these features save energy in the home which, over time, will also save you money on your energy bills. With an initial cost of $249, the Nest thermostat is not the cheapest on the market, but outranks others in terms of performance, energy management, and design. Other popular programmable thermostats include the ecobee3, ecobee Smart Si, and the Honeywell Lyric.
Not to be forgotten, automated air quality devices further increase the efficiency of a home and can be controlled remotely in order to save on electricity and maximize output without wasting energy. Birdi is a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector that also tracks pollen, humidity, and pollution, among other air quality issues in the home. If you are looking for a home automated humidifier rather than a monitor, the Holmes Smart Humidifier is configured with the Wi-Fi powered, remote controlled WeMo app and can be monitored and controlled from any smartphone, computer, or tablet.
Automated HVAC systems are not the only centralized, network controlled products on the market. Lighting control systems such as timers, room occupation and daylight sensors, and dimmers are also widely used and offer the same benefits as HVAC home automation products. Many homeowners are first attracted to such controlled lighting systems because they increase the convenience of electricity use in the home, but their energy (and thereby money) saving benefits are also significant. The ability to remotely control lighting when out of the home increases home security and saves unnecessarily high electricity bills by setting timers for lights to come on and go off throughout the home as well as by allowing homeowners to turn off forgotten lights, even when they are away from home.
The WeMo family of home automation services offers a wide array of lighting products that can be linked to, monitored by, and controlled by the WeMo app. LED bulbs and smart switches can be set to turn on and off at specific times, saving energy and money and offering peace of mind when homeowners are away. The OSRAM LIGHTIFY LED bulbs that come with WeMo can also be dimmed remotely by adjusting the white spectrum of individual bulbs, leading to further energy savings. While WeMo is probably the most popular brand on the market in terms of automated lighting services, others such as Lutron and hue offer similar products and services, Wi-Fi connectivity, and energy and bill savings.
Security systems give homeowners peace of mind and have been regularly used in homes for decades. Home automation systems that incorporate home security further alleviate fears by communicating remotely with homeowners via Internet and smartphone applications when they are away from home. Because these smart security systems can sense movement, burglaries, and even irregularities in carbon monoxide and smoke levels in the home, any potential issues that may come up when the homeowner is away can be dealt with in a timely manner and therefore ultimately save money on damages and any other costs incurred.
Popular home security brand Honeywell offers several home automation products that set up and bolster the security features of the home, including remotely accessed cameras and home locks that can be linked to the existing home security system and locked and unlocked via computers and smartphones. Other products from Scout, which works with Nest, and Nest's own Nest Cam provide the same security features and can be set up and linked via WiFi and controlled via smartphone applications.
About the Author
Bryn Huntpalmer is an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Decor and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.