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Efficiency in the home: There’s an App for that!
April 25, 2011
You might be overwhelmed with new Apps for your phone these days, but I bet you have found some that help you to run your business more smoothly or organize your life a little better There are now many applications that are related to control of features in your home that also offer opportunities for reducing your environmental footprint Some promote ways to save energy, while others help to improve performance and service of major appliances The new Apps are just scratching the surface of home automation potential and running our homes more efficiently – on their own.
Control Apps – In my opinion, the most exciting feature of home automation are Apps that give you control over your alarm, lights, AC, and other home features User control and programming also offers the largest potential for energy savings.
One example of a relatively recent home application, the Alarm.com, gives you remote control over your home alarm system This enables you to view alarm and zone history and also turn the system on or off The App can even email or text you reminders to activate your alarm if you have forgotten Several more sophisticated Apps/programs take control to the next level and coordinate different home systems through one interface Imagine, activating your alarm as you leave the home in the morning – and your home automatically raising the AC setpoint, turning off lighting, activating motorized treatments/shades on south facing windows and doors, etc…You can also program these systems to control the home with different instructions for certain times of the day – similar to your programmable thermostat.
Service Apps – Another area that technology will help around the home is with the maintenance and troubleshooting of major systems/appliances in the home Miele, a major appliance brand, just came out with “RemoteVision”, a service that remotely monitors enabled appliances These appliances connect to the internet through your router and communicate with their monitoring center They are able to track refrigerator temperatures, internal errors, and detect abnormalities If the center detects a problem, they will contact you to schedule service for the affected appliance.
Leak detection technology is also advancing to help prevent catastrophic water damage to homes Through sophisticated systems that measure water flow or simple water sensors, leak detectors can tie into alarm systems and alert you to potential leaks This type of technology advance pays for itself over time through reduction in homeowner insurance Eventually, all home appliances can be connected to an OnStar-like service to monitor operation and coordinate service.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an App to put these systems in your house You will likely need to hire an expert who has automation experience with new construction and/or retrofits Fortunately, there is a growing amount of hardware for either application and growing knowledgebase for installing them Wireless systems have also come a long way in the past few years and offer most existing Winter Park residents the opportunity to add some automation to their home at a relatively low cost.
All of these technological advances are allowing more coordination between major home systems/appliances and are helping to make homes run more efficiently Eventually, I predict these Apps to help extend the life of appliances, reduce energy and water consumption, and make life a bit simpler so we can enjoy more of the little things in life (Like turning off the lights without getting out of bed.)