Why Make Your Home a Smart Home?

Part of the Smart Homes For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A smart home is a cutting-edge, fully connected home. Turning your home into a smart home gives you a lot more than the title of techie king of the neighborhood. By networking your home, you can do a bevy of things, including the following:

  • Access the Internet from anywhere in your house: A home network lets everyone share in the broadband wealth, so you can stop fighting over the one computer with the high-speed connection. What's more, by having a communications backbone (wiring infrastructure) in your house, you can let anything — from your TV set to your car — tap in and make use of that connectivity.

  • Remotely control your home: After your home network is connected to other networks, such as the Internet, you can suddenly do amazing things from almost any interconnected spot. The ability to control a device after it is hooked up to the network is limited only by the openness of the device itself. (In other words, the only limit is the degree of controllability of the device — your home's infrastructure won't hold you back.)

    Want to turn on the kitchen lights and fire up the coffeepot from your bed? Click your remote control, and out go the lights. Want to check the babysitter while you're at your neighbor's party? Log into your home's controller from your neighbor's computer (or on your cell phone) and check up on things.

  • Save time: Think about how much time it takes every day to open the shades, turn on the morning news, let the dog out, and so on. Wouldn't you like to do all that (and more) with one command? By programming these chores into task profiles, you can.

  • Save money on electronics: With a true home network, you have to buy fewer devices to outfit your home. Instead of having a VCR hooked to every TV set, for instance, you can centralize this functionality and distribute the signal around the house through remote control as you need it. The same is true of almost any network-connected device, such as a DSS satellite receiver, PVR, and cable box.

  • Save money on communications costs: By centralizing access to certain telecommunications services, you can cut monthly service costs. For instance, with a home-network backbone, both you and your spouse can connect to the Internet on separate computers while sharing one line and one account. What's more, you can share a high-bandwidth option — such as a cable modem, DSL link, or HughesNet-type satellite service — with the entire family.

    You might already have a single broadband link to share with everyone at home. But if your connection is like a lot of peoples', it goes down more often than you prefer. Some people are installing two broadband connections (one as a backup) in their homes. Being able to have the kids do homework and mom and dad do their necessary browsing is starting to become mission-critical. So a home network will help you share this backup line too!

  • Save money on your home expenses: A wired home can turn back those thermostats when you're away on vacation or cuddled under your blankets at night. It can turn lights off automatically, too. Over time, you may save a surprising amount in heating, cooling, and electricity costs.

  • Save money on the future: At different times in your life, you may find yourself changing the way you use certain rooms — a guest room becomes a nursery or the garage becomes an office, for example. Changes like these can be expensive if you try to bring your network along for the ride. Instead, have a flexible home-network design — one that's future-proofed for all sorts of contingencies — and save money down the road.

  • Be more flexible and comfortable with your technological assets: A home network frees you from being tied to one spot for one activity. For instance, when working late at night, you might want to move the laptop to a comfy recliner instead of a damp basement office. And you can with a distributed means to access the Internet — and therefore your centralized e-mail, calendar, and contact database. The latest home networking technology will route your HDTV signals around your house, freeing your TV set to be anywhere a wireless signal can reach!

  • Lose more fat: A smart home won't stop you from eating chocolate cake, but it will spice up the exercise room. You can run Internet access, CNN, or exercise videos over your home network to help you keep pace and pass the time on a treadmill or bicycle. And, with Internet access, you can access many of the neat new software programs that combine with new exercise equipment to provide passing scenery or live competitors as you row, row, row your rowing machine!

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