Anybody who grew up watching the Jetsons or the original Star Trek can attest to the fact that an automated home has been an aspiration for decades. Like rocket boots and wrist communicators, science and science fiction have been working together tirelessly to bring us closer and closer to that imagined reality. Today, while food replicators and robotic maids are not yet available to us, there are still many things we can do to automate our own lives.

If you think about it, you can probably name several areas of your life that you have already automated. Automatic bill payments, direct deposits, garage doors and morning alarms are just a few common examples. So what is stopping you from getting the most benefit from available technology?

So what should you automate? Anything that needs to be done repetitively can be automated. This can be anything from turning on security lights around your house to adjusting your air conditioner. Many an automation saves both time and money over time. A good example of this is the installation of retractable screens and awnings.

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Installing motorized retractable screens in rooms that get a lot of sun exposure can keep cooling costs low by preventing the sun from heating the room during the hottest hours of the day. Many screen systems are automated and can be programmed to descend during specific hours or use a sensor that lowers the screen as the sun’s intensity increases. These are also ideal for enclosed porches and mudrooms. Retractable awnings for the outside of your home not only increase property values but make enjoying your patio or deck much more convenient.

Inside the home, there are numerous ways that are safe and easy to automate your home. There are numerous devices available that work with your smartphone that allow you to turn on lights, game consoles, kitchen appliances, and block or select television programs. A small investment in an electronic device that connects with your home’s WiFi can put you in control of almost anything electronic in your home remotely.

In most cases, the more things you automate, the more likely it is that you will need multiple devices and multiple systems. The best way to cut down on this is to include sensors and switches in your home’s automation. The best examples of this are automated door locks and home security alarms. Sensors can also be used on lights if security is an issue for you.

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Automating your home can be a crazy ride. The sheer number of devices, software and systems designed to automate your living space can be dizzying. The jargon is confusing and the technology is always improving. It’s safe to say that if you want to fully automate your home you are going to have to invest hundreds if not thousands of dollars into proper equipment and software. However, my suggestion is to start small and focus on those things which will bring you the most financial benefit. Automated window screens and thermostats are easy to procure and are a safe investment in your home. They also save the average customer hundreds in heating costs every year.

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