Save Money by Putting Home on Autopilot

Savant Home Automation Control Media Room
Savant Home Automation Control Media Room (Photo credit: Gramophone Maryland)

(ARA) – Every homeowner can remember a time when they wondered, “Did I lock the front door this morning?” or “Did I leave a light on?” Others can attest to that feeling of dread knowing their air conditioner is running full blast while they’re away on a weekend trip. There’s nothing worse than worrying about the security of your home – or your rising electric bill – while you’re away.

Fortunately, recent advancements in home technology offer peace of mind when it comes to energy efficiency, security and time savings. Almost any home can be put on “autopilot” without breaking the bank. Many areas of the home can benefit from some simple technology upgrades.

Efficiency
Heating and cooling a home accounts for 50 percent or more of a home’s energy bill, so it’s important to incorporate the latest technology to make it as easy as possible to be as efficient as possible.

“We have seen some great advancements in home technology that maximize the energy efficiency of heating and cooling products,” says Bobby DiFulgentiz, an energy efficiency expert with Lennox International. “For example, as thermostats become more advanced, homeowners now have the ability to optimize home comfort and energy savings.”

One example of these smart thermostats is the Lennox icomfort Wi-Fi thermostat. Homeowners can maximize energy savings through its one-touch away mode and remote control capabilities. Additionally, the thermostat communicates with a home’s HVAC system and provides real-time alerts to service providers regarding any maintenance issues that need attention. The icomfort Wi-Fi also is the only thermostat that can blend into its surroundings by using customizable “skins” that match wallpaper or paint, or even allow it to be disguised as a piece of art or a family photo.

Water usage also is a concern when it comes to efficiency. Homeowners can cut down on water bills by using home sprinkler systems that incorporate Wi-Fi technology. These systems allow homeowners to start or stop sprinklers from anywhere, avoiding water waste when heavy rains have already saturated the lawn. Many systems now even include wireless capabilities that prevent sprinklers from activating during rain or freezing temperatures.

Security
Homeowners can rest easy, thanks to automated systems that ensure their home is safe and secure. Companies now offer products that check, open and close garage doors directly from a smartphone, tablet or computer. There are also lock systems that respond only to the fingerprints of residents of the home. If that’s not enough, new technologies send text or email updates when doors are locked or unlocked, and can remotely lock doors through Wi-Fi.

Time Savings
Finally, kitchen appliances are beginning to integrate technologies to streamline the day-to-day routines of homeowners, allowing for maximum time savings. Consumers can take the hassle out of finding the perfect cooking setting by using a microwave that can scan a bar code on a dish and automatically adjusts to the correct time and power for the particular product. Ovens equipped with Wi-Fi allow cooks to monitor their meals on a mobile device and put the crock pot to shame.

Families can also save time while enjoying the convenience of home automation. Wi-Fi-enabled mailboxes send text or email alerts when mail has arrived. Parents can even save the time it takes to beg their child to stop playing video games by using a tool that automatically limits the time spent on an electronic device.

Peace of mind isn’t all about expensive, over-the-top upgrades. Home automation can save time and money, and offer customized comfort and security, often through simple technology tweaks.

Save Money, Protect Your Home This Summer

English: modern front load tumble dryer, pictu...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After an abnormally warm winter and spring, many homeowners have already begun sweating the inevitable increase in their electricity usage that arrives along with warm summer weather. In addition to the longer days and more frequent thunderstorms most regions experience every summer, the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting record high temperatures across the country in 2012.

The combination of those factors can wreak havoc on a home during summer months. Power Home Remodeling Group offers the following tips for protecting your home and wallet by saving energy this summer.

  • Cut down your AC usage by turning the thermostat up during the daytime hours when no one is home, or consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  • Replace air conditioner filters every month to increase your unit’s efficiency and productivity.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate cool air but remember to turn them off when leaving the room.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade AC units, but make sure they don’t block the airflow.
  • Run dishwashers and clothes dryers at night to reduce heat production in the home during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Install door sweeps on the bottoms of all doors leading outside so that they lightly graze the existing threshold and keep hot air outside, and cool air in.
  • Place electronic equipment like televisions and computers away from thermostats where the heat they produce could cause the AC to run overtime. Likewise, position the thermostat away from direct sunlight which can cause it to read a higher than actual temperature.
  • Keep shades and blinds closed during the day to block out the sunlight and keep the house cool.
  • Close any AC intake vents that are low to the floor and open those that are high on the wall to ensure warmer air is cycled back into the home through the AC system.
  • On the hottest days of the summer, switch the fan mode on your thermostat from "auto" to "on" to continuously cycle the air and make the temperature on all floors feel consistent.
  • Seek out drafts around kitchen and bath vents, doors, windows and outlet covers with the help of a stick of incense. Light the stick and wave it slowly in front of those areas to see where the smoke is drawn out. Repair any leaks by sealing with caulk or weather stripping and replacing trim.
  • Avoid using the oven on very hot days. Instead, cook using an outdoor grill or microwave.
  • Investing in new doors and energy efficient windows can protect window treatments, floors and furniture from fading due to sun damage.
  • Swap old lightbulbs out for energy efficient, compact fluorescent bulbs that emit a brighter light and last longer.
  • Secure loose shingles, replace damaged sections of the roof and gutters and clear gutter blockages to prevent ultimate gaps and holes that can lead to leaks and the escape of cool air.
  • If replacing a roof, consider using pale-gray shingles as they will attract less heat than darker shingles.

In addition to these tips, energy and savings-conscious homeowners can conduct a home energy assessment through a do-it-yourself energy review or by hiring a licensed company. By seeking out air leaks and inspecting insulation, lighting and heating/cooling systems, homeowners can easily target the energy-sucking culprits around their homes and determine solutions.