Much has been said about making newer homes more energy efficient. Improvements in HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) technology, solar panels (especially here in Southern California), insulation materials and techniques, and water heaters have all brought serious cost savings to homeowners. And while some of these systems may take years to pay for themselves, many can pay themselves off in less than five years. Home automation systems have also been touted to help improve the overall efficiency of houses. But how do they stack up
What is Home Automation?
There are plenty of terms that are thrown around in the world of smart home technologies, but what makes a home both smart and automated? It starts with a control system that connects the various and otherwise separate systems within the home. Typically lighting control systems, audio-video, HVAC, pool and spa control, and alarm system would all be included in an automation system.
The capability to control all of these systems from one location such as a touch panel, iPad, or your smart phone creates a great deal of convenience for the homeowner. And for many this is enough to justify the cost.
Tying all of these systems together can also make them even more efficient. One example might be in controlling your heating and cooling costs. A smart home system can detect whether or not a room is occupied and adjust the temperature accordingly. It can also turn off the lights in that room after a certain length of time with no activity. This offers a cost savings across two different systems.
Another interesting example might be your hot tub. Let’s say you’re going out of town for a couple of weeks. One of the more popular features in an automated home is “Away” feature. When you leave your home you set your status to “Away”. This automatically puts the lights onto a schedule to make it look like someone is home. It turns the air conditioning to a minimal setting, and ensures that your hot tub is turned off. This can represent a significant cost savings in gas or electricity.
In a home with standard lighting you typically have two choices for a light. On and off. With a lighting control system you can preset each lighting circuit to come on at a specified level. This means instead of running your lights at 100% all of the time, you can run them at 75% instead. This represents a 25% cost savings over time. And since lights are something that are used all of the time, this can add up.
In addition to added efficiency, you can add convenience features as well. Pressing a single button on a keypad next to your bed that turns off all of the lights in the house can save you time and frustration. The system can even be programmed to leave certain lights on in the case of small children in the house.
Integrating the lighting system with your alarm can cause all of the lights to quickly turn on in the case of an emergency or break-in. This can be a life-saver in a town like Los Angeles where home invasions are an unfortunate reality.
True Cost Savings?
So do home automation systems offer true cost savings over time? When they are properly installed and integrated they most certainly can. Most systems are quite expensive, but if well designed and implemented the system should pay for itself in 5 to 6 years. For more information on home automation systems check out some of these manufacturers: Crestron, Control4, and Savant.
For more information about a Control4 home automation system in the Los Angeles area contact Audio Video Experts. Their systems are designed to enhance your enjoyment of your home as well as improve it’s overall efficiency.