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The keys to an affordable home automation system

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Updated: 1/17/2013 10:09 am

(BPT) - As a concept, the “connected home” probably sounds like a wonderful idea to any tech enthusiast. As a reality, it also probably feels very unattainable to the average homeowner making the average salary.

While the benefits are appealing, the thought of installing technology that can tie together things like lighting, heating and air conditioning, and security sounds like an expensive proposition that can only be afforded by homeowners who live in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

Not true.

Recent advancements have made the prospect of affordable, advanced home-automation functions much more realistic for the average homeowner.

“The value of a home security system to improving safety is well-known; a five-year study by Rutgers University of Criminal Justice concluded that residential burglar alarm systems did decrease crime,” says Robert Puric of home-security giant Honeywell. “Homeowners are now using the same concept of connectivity to not only improves their life security but their lifestyles as well, and they're doing it affordably, too.”

Honeywell, for example, recently introduced a wireless controller that allows homeowners to control their lighting, locking, heating and air conditioning and (of course) security from a single touchscreen device. More than simplifying control, however, the device (called Tuxedo Touch) can help these systems work together. Tuxedo Touch can manage security, door locks, up to four video cameras, lighting, automated shades and temperature controls. It can be managed and controlled within the home through an iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Internet TV or any other compatible wireless mobile device, using either Wi-Fi or Ethernet - and literally at a fraction of the cost of a typical home-automation system.

Additionally, home automation helps homeowners save even more money by cutting back on energy consumption. Automation systems can automatically reduce energy-using features like air-conditioning, heating, lighting or shades whenever the system's security function is armed - which usually indicates the home is unoccupied. These types of features can have a significant impact on energy bills to save money.

This app-free, remote access provides homeowners with multiple lifestyle benefits, not the least of which is improved personal safety. Homeowners can:

* Manage their home's energy efficiency. A home security system not only keeps the home's contents and people safe, it can help control energy costs as well. These systems allow homeowners to remotely change or set programmable thermostats, lower or raise automated blinds, and turn lights on or off. Or, users can set the system to automatically reduce energy-using features like air conditioning, heating or lighting whenever the system's security function is armed - which usually indicates the home is unoccupied.

* Access video cameras that function as part of a security system. These cameras enable homeowners to not only see who's at their door, but also access real-time images or view video clips of what's going on inside the home. With Honeywell Total Connect remote services, homeowners can receive an alert that a child has arrived safely home from school, keep an eye on their pet, or take note of when a package has arrived on their doorstep.

* Prevent home-damaging crisis. By placing environmental sensors in risk-prone areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, utility rooms or unfinished basements with exposed pipes, homeowners can monitor for leaks, floods or extreme temperature changes. Used in conjunction with a remote services product, environmental sensors can help homeowners catch potentially costly problems. Knowing right away that a pipe has burst or a leak has occurred can give homeowners the opportunity to repair the problems before they cause extensive damage.

“In the past, separate keypads controlled security, heating and air conditioning, lighting and other systems,” says Puric. “Wi-Fi technology has made the concept of the 'connected home' a reality. Home security and communication in one has never been easier or more affordable to achieve.”

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