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4) Different lighting scenes can be preset for different events such as entertaining, away, coming home, etc. This is excellent to recall favorite lighting levels automatically. It also avoids you having to go throughout home and set dimmer levels. Dimming lights saves considerable energy and dramatically extends life of light bulbs. An incandescent light at 90% will last almost twice as long as same light at 100%.
5) Motion-activated lighting automatically turns on bathroom lights to 25% if you get up between 12:00 midnight and 5:00am, avoiding harsh light on your still sleepy eyes. If you walk out of your bedroom door late at night, a path is lit to kitchen for you at 35%.
6) You get an email notifying you if your security system is tripped or disarmed. This is great for knowing when kids get home after school or alerting you to problems when you are away from home. E-mail and pager alerts can be used for a variety of conditions that may need monitoring such as low fuel-oil, occupancy or motion in certain areas, or water leaks in mechanical or utility room.
7) Skylights automatically close in response to rain and/or wind.
8) If upstairs windows are open, heat in those rooms is disabled to avoid wasting energy and a message is displayed on home’s touch panels to alert you.
9) Weather information can be displayed on home’s touch panels. If wind speed increases to beyond 50mph, protective shutters can be activated over windows.
10) Motorized window treatments can be lowered automatically in response to direct sunlight. This prevents fading of valuable furniture, carpets and artwork. It also reduces interior heating, reducing AC expenditures.
11) You phone from your car while returning from a ski trip to ensure your hot tub is warmed up and ready to jump in immediately upon your return.
These are just a sample of different home automation applications commonly used to enhance lifestyles, save money and conserve resources. The possibilities are almost endless, limited only by your budget and imagination.
Steve has 15 yrs in electronics. He is a CEDIA certified designer with ISF and THX certificates. Experience includes: installer and programmer; system designer; business unit director for an a/v importer; sales rep for a CE distributor; and principal of a $1.5M+ CEDIA firm. He's now senior sales engineer for Digital Cinema Design in Redmond, WA. See him at The Home Theater and Automation Guide