What is home automation?

Learn about home automation and the convenience, security, and energy savings it can provide.
Home automation is setting up your home to automatically do the things around the house and yard that you'd normally have to do yourself. And although we've made much progress as a society for decades now with the invention of household helpers like the dishwasher, the washing machine, the microwave oven, etc., the emergence of the personal computer and the internet has taken home automation way beyond the walls of your home and the fence around your yard.

Before you get too excited about all the fun things you can do while your home is doing the dirty work, keep in mind that it's vastly easier and cheaper to install a home automation system in a new home. That's because the majority of the wiring connections and equipment need to be installed behind the walls.

Let's take a look at some of the wiz-bang features of home automation and the benefits of such features to you and those around you.

Comfort and Convenience
Perhaps the most obvious benefit to home automation is the convenience it provides. Depending on the cost and complexity of the features installed, your home can automatically do all kinds of things for you. It can set your lights and appliances to come on at a certain time or when a certain person enters the room. It can water your houseplants, feed your pets, and fertilize your yard.

The right home automation experts can even set up your home with a refrigerator that keeps track of the groceries in it, prepares a shopping list for you, and order your groceries over the Internet. Of course, you need to have a grocery store in your area that takes Internet orders and delivers to your home, but the technology is there.

Imagine having your home wired to be the perfect temperature in each room to suit your preferences. Imagine having your water come out at the exact temperature you desire. Imagine your favorite mood music and lighting coming on just as the oven dings to let you know that your pot roast is done. Just imagine that the possibilities are endless, because they are!

Health and Independence
For most people, these home automation perks are just that - perks, and expensive ones at that. However, for some people, like the elderly and the disabled, it's an opportunity to get back some fundamental human needs, like good health, security, and independence. Home automation systems can take care of jobs they are no longer capable of doing themselves, which in some cases, can mean the difference between having to go to an assisted living facility or staying in your home. Homes can also be outfitted with intercom systems that are programmed to remind people to take their medicine, lock the doors, go to a doctor's appointment, etc. They can also monitor vital signs and much more. This type of automated care for the elderly and disabled is called assistive domotics, and a big downside to it is the lack of human contact you would have from healthcare specialists or family members. Another downside is that insurance doesn't cover home automation - not yet anyway.

Energy Efficiency and Financial Savings
Being able to set the electricity in your home to turn on and off automatically whenever you need it keeps you from accidentally leaving on things like lights, laptops, and heaters when you aren't using them or don't need them. And having a system that monitors the amount of energy you use (in real-time) can also be a huge help. After all, just being aware of how much energy you're wasting (and how much money it's costing you) is half the battle. Most people, once they're aware of the problems, will do what they can to correct the issues. That's especially true when you have a system that makes it so easy.

Security and Accessibility
Arguably the greatest benefit to home automation is the increased security it provides. You can get some more common, but upgraded features, such as automatic lights and motion sensors, as well as alarms and flashing lights that go off when an intruder is detected. A big security difference with home automation is that all the electrical wiring and equipment we mentioned earlier is connected wirelessly through the computer network in your home and controlled through your personal computer. This means you can access your alarm system remotely from any computer with an Internet connection. In fact, you can pretty much run your entire household remotely from your computer. Now, that's high tech!

Still curious? Search for home automation experts in your neighborhood on Kudzu.com to find out more.

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