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Smart Homes Save Time and Energy
Control sound, heating, cooling, and lighting systems using the Internet
Odds are each night you check to make sure the doors are locked, lights turned off, and windows closed. If you had a smart home, however, you’d be able to get into bed a few minutes earlier, and sleep knowing not only that your home is secure but that there is no phantom electricity being wasted by items that should be turned off.
Smart homes use a mix of hard-wired and wireless computer and network technology to automate the home. A central computer becomes the house’s hub. Want to watch a movie from your DVD collection? No need to search a dusty entertainment center for it. All televisions and stereos have access to your entire media collection, including movies as well as recorded TV shows. Or, if you’re crazy about having the proper lighting, you can program the perfect wattage for dinnertime conversation, or set up a “vacation” setting that makes the house look occupied in the evening even when it’s not.
Smart homes are complicated setups that require advanced computing skills to fully automate, so for most people these wouldn’t be do-it-yourself projects. But your home need only be as “smart” as you want it to be. You can have an entire home system where every outlet can be controlled from a master touchscreen or remote control or you can simply have a smart keyless door lock or set up a wireless full-house stereo system.
The Fully Automated Smart Home
When designing a true smart home, the options are limited only by your imagination, says Jeff Singer, marketing communications director for smart home industry leader Crestron Electronics, Inc. of Rockleigh, N.J. “At night, you can hit a button and all the lights go out, the shades come down, TVs and radios are turned off and the house alarm set,” Singer says. “We have a family that has a house in the Gulf Coast that’s susceptible to hurricanes. We automated their hurricane shutters so that when wind speed crosses a certain threshold, the shutters cover the windows and doors. We design a system to do whatever you want.”
All these functions are controlled by a color touch panel screen, a remote control, or a customized keypad. You can have these control units in any room of your house, or get portable units to carry around with you. While traveling, you can use a remote computer or a smart phone such as a Blackberry to access your Crestron unit and adjust the thermostat, view security cameras, or turn off forgotten lights. “You can also get e-mail alerts based on preset conditions, such as when your kids get home from school,” says Singer.
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