How to Save on Home Automation Expenses

SAVE on home-automationJust because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  This old cliché still holds true today.  Especially if you’re debating on having a Home Automation system installed in your house.

Home Automation systems can perform a variety of amazing actions. Whether it be regulating the temperature of your fish tank or hot tub, turning on the lights when you walk into your house, or raising and lowering the window shades at a designated time. It’s this kind of magic that makes Home Automation so appealing—and expensive.

Home Automation involves a mixture of different brands of products.  Getting several different products from several different companies to properly work together can become costly.

There are ways to save on costs while still covering as many of the key features of a Home Automation system as you can. For example, try not to have fancy setups in your home automation system such as having a hot tub turn on when a sensor notices that your car has pulled up into the driveway. Adding processing intelligence to your Home Automation system drives up the price. Another example is having a simple off button on a keypad that you push to turn off all the lights in the house rather than automating the lights to turn off whenever the security system triggers them.

You can also reduce the cost by limiting the number of products and systems your Home Automation system controls. Any time one system—like lighting—communicates with another system—like security, the cost can increase. For instance if you integrate audio/video distribution, HVAC and motorized window shades into your Home Automation system it will cost even more.

Programming a Home Automation system to sync the operation of the lights, thermostats and other devices can sometimes take a lot of time therefore costing a lot of money. So it’s important to decide whether it’s worth it to have the lights dim or the window shades close at a certain time of the day, or if you’d just be satisfied by pressing a couple buttons to make it happen.

Programming isn’t the only expense that you’ll incur when you bring a lot of products into your Home Automation system. The more you choose to automate the more hardware you will most likely have to buy. For example, you could easily use a programmable thermostat to adjust the heating and cooling automatically.  But you’ll need more processing power, more equipment, and a more sophisticated interface to make that thermostat adjust whenever you walk into your home theater room, open the draperies, or when you modify the settings from the screen of your TV.

Some tips to help keep costs down:

Be Realistic. Focus on what you need, rather than what you want in your home automation system.  Do you really need a sensor by the driveway to trigger on the lights on the front porch? Probably not.  Many security systems can control your home’s thermostats and lights, as well as protect your home.

Think Return On Investment. Choose features that offer a good return on investment—like heating and cooling control. Automating your HVAC system is one of the last things you often think about doing in a home automation system. In areas where energy costs are high, this has the highest payback of all the systems.  Automating the lights can also control your energy use.

Common Interface. Use a home automation system that will let you control devices with something you already own—like your iPod or iPad.

Don’t be Oversold. It’s often the subsystems you connect to your Home Automation system that raise the price.  For example, one brand might play at 20 watts per channel and cost $300 per room, while another plays at 200 watts and costs $2,500 per room. Be sure to understand what you’re getting for your money before choosing your subsystems.

Ask for Less. There is more than one way to set up your in the world of home automation. Always ask your Custom Designer if there’s a more economical way to get the features you want out of your home automation system.

Go Lite. In an effort to make their systems more marketable, many home automation companies offer less expensive versions of their elite home automation systems. Usually, these versions offer the same basic features as the expensive version, but on a smaller scale and without all the bells and whistles.

Line It Up. Ask your Home Automation Designer to break down everything you want to do and show you line by line what each item will cost.  If you have the time and money, anything can be done.  It’s important to ask how much time and money each component will add to your bottom line.

Expand Later. You don’t have to have everything done at the same time. You can start with one room and then expand the Home Automation system later. Most Home automation and control systems are expandable.  For example, if you have your media room and master bedroom integrated now, you can call the Custom Designer back next year to add the kitchen, dining room and rear deck.

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