Maximum Value Technology Projects: Home Automation

To many homeowners, home automation is a foreign topic. Turning on the lights with a switch is the norm, so what's the big deal about having security, lights, media or any other home system regulated from a main port?

Home automation doesn't have to be intimidating. The key is to find the right balance that works for you and your home. By integrating aspects of the home that you consider most important, home automation can make life a little easier, and might even become fun to those who once feared the "big, bad, technology monster."

CURRENT TRENDS

  • "There's an app for that." Mobile devices are making their way into the home automation market and have become the biggest trend in recent years. By being able to monitor systems from a cell phone, you can increase security and lower utility costs, even when you're away from home. Close blinds, turn lights on or off and arm the security system all from your touch-screen telephone.

BIGGEST MISTAKE

According to appraisal expert Leslie Sellers, president of the Appraisal Institute, installation is key in home automation and should not be skimped on when trying to consider cost. "Bottom line," says Sellers, "if you don't know what you're doing, stay away and hire a professional." Save yourself the headache and start the project off the right way -- with someone that can get it right the first time.

EXPERT TIPS

  • On a Budget: With so much to do thanks to home automation, where do you start? Or better yet, where do you draw the line? The best way to stay on budget while looking to invest in home automation is to put together a list of actual needs you have and benefits you would like to see come from the investment. Whether it's hallway lighting for the family with kids, security automation for the frequent traveler, or a house maxed out with media technology for the entertaining guru, automation can be customized to your specific lifestyle.
  • Mid-Range/High-End: Realistically, home automation can indeed do just about anything you want it to. For the mid-range budget, if you focus more on necessities -- such as lighting and thermostats -- you can get a bigger bang for your buck. For those on a higher-end budget, all areas of the home, from lighting control to whole-house audio/visual distribution, security systems to HVAC control can be monitored with a complete home automation system.
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