According to Laura Hubbard, spokesperson for the Consumer Electronics Association, “Smart systems allow automatic or remote control of an array of devices that affect our heating, cooling and electrical costs, such as thermostats, lights, window shades, appliances and electronics“.
“Typically you can use a small phone, tablet or computer to see what’s running and how much electricity’s being used,” Hubbard continued. "You can then use that information to make decisions, such as turning off your cable box when you’re away (remote access)".
Many home technology systems have a “plug-and-play” simplicity, and affordable options are as close as your local big box store. Ian Hendler, director of business development for Leviton Manufacturing (maker of home automation devices), believes that the biggest factor in that change is the rise of wireless technology. He also pointed out that the term “wireless” isn’t entirely accurate; truly wireless technology uses radio frequency to send signals, while other technology is more accurately referred to as “no new wire” or power line networking (the signals travel over the home’s existing wires).
Sometimes the two technologies can even be combined.
A few of the many impressive functions of smart home systems include: Entering a code that not only unlocks your front door, but also automatically turns on the lights, plays your favorite music and gets your bath ready! Smart technology is also being embedded in many home appliances, such as washing machines and air conditioners
A recent smart tech innovation introduced by Lowe’s earlier this year was the home-automation system known as Iris. It’s affordable, easy to install and is capable of accommodating whole-house automation, according to Kevin Meagher, general manager and vice president for Lowe’s smart home.
Iris is available in three starter kits, with prices ranging from $179 to $299. One kit focuses on home security and monitoring; one contains a smart thermostat and also lets you control one other electrical device in your home and monitor its power use; and the third one combines the features of the other two.
All three kits come with free basic service that provide remote control of some functions and a limited variety of alerts.
The Nest thermostat is another smart device, which was designed to automate and simplify the process of programming a thermostat (“most programmable thermostats don’t get programmed”, said Kate Brinks, director of corporate communications for Nest Labs Inc). The Net will: Sense your presence, enabling it to adjust the temperature if you’re home or when you’re gone. It will also learn your schedule from the adjustments you make to it (by unit dial or remote operation)!
For more info, go to www.lowes.com (for Iris and Nest).
Source: “Smart behavior”-McClatchy Newspapers-The (Sunday) Vindicator, October 21, 2012