(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.
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.
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.
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.