Just a decade or two ago, home automation was still something of a novelty. Some homeowners might have had programmable thermostats in their homes, but many probably hadn't thought of automating things like window coverings. Moreover, they likely viewed any home automation they did have as a convenience. Today, home automation is becoming an essential efficiency-enhancing element in many homes.
Right now, just fewer than 6 percent of American households have automated homes, but within four years that percentage is expected to triple to nearly 19 percent, according to data compiled by Statista.com. What's driving more people to automate their homes? A report by icontrol networks found security, cost savings and eco-friendly energy efficiency are what people find most exciting about home automation.
Heating and cooling, lighting and security systems are among the most common elements automated in homes, but they're far from the only ones that can save you money and make your home more efficient. Here are three surprising things you can automate in your home to further improve efficiency, boost energy savings and lower energy costs:
Shades, drapes, blinds, and awnings can all help control the amount of heat and light that enter your home. Selecting window coverings to block out light and heat in summer, and admit light in winter, can help your home's heating and cooling systems work more efficiently. However, the effectiveness of window coverings hinges on opening and closing them at the right time - something you may forget to do, or not be home to do.
Automating and powering window coverings can help automatically maximize their effectiveness. Depending on the climate where you live, automating window coverings could yield energy savings of 11-20 percent, according to a study commissioned by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Somfy's motorized solutions easily integrate with any home automation system, regardless of brand or technology, and offer many options for controlling window coverings. Select from a wide variety of hand-held remotes, sensors, wall switches, and the myLink app that allows you to control your motorized window coverings from mobile devices.
If you've ever been locked out of your house or had a guest arrive at your home when you were out, you probably wished there was some way to unlock your front door without a key - and from miles away. Smart locks allow you to do both those things and more.
You can replace or supplement an existing lock by installing a smart lock, and you won't need a professional locksmith to do it. If you can install a regular lock and operate a smartphone, you have the expertise you need to add and use a smart lock.
In addition to allowing you to lock and unlock your door without a key, smart locks also allow you to operate the lock remotely from an app on your phone. You can also receive alerts when the door has been unlocked - a great way to track the comings and goings of latchkey kids. Many allow you to generate a single-use digital key that you can email to guests or service providers who may need to enter your home when you're not there. Smart locks can also be paired with most popular home automation systems.
Many appliance makers are offering smart, connected appliances with the big draw being their "wow factor." However, some of the features of these appliances do hold the potential to improve a home's efficiency and energy savings.
For example, a refrigerator that tracks groceries and lets you know when you're about to run out of an important item could help you better plan your shopping trips. Fewer car trips conserves gas and reduces greenhouse emissions. Cooking is another area where automation can relieve some of the energy waste caused by human error. Smart ovens and cooktops can sense when to turn themselves off in case you forget to do it - reducing energy waste and fire risks.
More homeowners are discovering the convenience, security and efficiency advantages of home automation. Technology is helping make American homes more livable and enjoyable.