Make your home smarter and more efficient this winter

(BPT) - The coldest time of the year can also be the busiest. With holiday entertaining, overnight guests and winter getaways, it can be hard to ensure your home heating and other systems are performing for optimal comfort and efficiency. In addition, the Department of Energy reports that no matter what energy source you use, heating this winter will cost more, an important consideration since heating and cooling typically makes up about 54 percent of your utility bill.

Now, thanks to new home automation technologies, you can run your home in a smarter and more cost-effective manner than ever before - from wherever life takes you - even from a smartphone, tablet or Web connection.

For example, the Nexia(TM) Home Intelligence system from Trane(R) and Schlage(R) allows you to remotely manage multiple systems throughout your home, including heating and cooling, door locks, video surveillance, lights, shades and energy usage via any Web-enabled computer and most smartphones. Designed for today’s mobile lifestyles, it helps you make everything in your home speak one simple language. Visit www.nexiahome.com for more information. 

Such technologies are growing rapidly in popularity as they become more affordable and easier to use. According to ABI Research, the number of home automation systems sold in North America is expected to grow to about 6 million by 2016, a six-fold increase since 2011.

Smart temperature control for better comfort     

Comfort and efficiency starts with smart temperature control for many homeowners. Picking up relatives at the airport? Kick on the heat in the guest bedroom from your smartphone while waiting at the baggage claim. Does one of your guests have allergies? Activate your system’s allergy clean cycle to temporarily boost air filtration and clean air output. Need to adjust home temperatures from your office if a sudden cold snap is predicted? It's all possible with an automated system. 

For example, the Trane ComfortLink II Control works as an up-to-the-minute weather station inside your home. It can provide you with access to weather information, temperature control and air quality from afar via your smartphone, computer or tablet. In addition, you can create automated heating and cooling schedules to save energy while no one is home, an added advantage if you’re trying to better control winter utility costs. Visit www.trane.com for more information. 

Smart security for peace of mind

With all of the family’s comings and goings this winter, home automation can help keep your property secure while you’re away. Planning a weekend at your second home during the holidays? Technology can help you monitor and manage security at your primary home while you’re gone. Need to let a pet sitter inside while you’re on vacation, or open a locked door for a family member who lost a key? Now you can.

Schlage, for instance, offers indoor and outdoor cameras that let you view activity around the home or yard. It also offers keypad deadbolts and levers that let you grant access to your home via scheduled codes when you’re not there. You can even receive a text or email alert when there is activity around the home, for greater peace of mind.

Smart connectivity to fit your lifestyle

When it comes to home automation systems, you can often pick and choose which devices you wish to control, for smart and efficient use of your budget, too. For example Nexia users pay a monthly subscription fee and then select from up to 200 different devices that can be purchased separately or bundled together, making it easy to expand the level of control as lifestyle needs change.