As a kid, one of my favorite cartoons was “The Jetsons.” I loved watching the adventures of George, his wife Jane, their teenage daughter Judy, their brainiac son Elroy and their dog Astro. Their life was simplified by technology. They selected breakfast and got ready for their day with the push of a button. I figured life for me would be just like the lives of The Jetsons. I believed that technology would be far advanced by the time I grew up. Although we don’t have flying cars or robotic maids (just yet), many features of The Jetsons’ smart home do exist.

Home automation today gives homeowners the ability to control items and systems around the house with the touch of a button. To simplify the process, all compatible devices connect through a home network to allow control by panels mounted around the house, and may permit remote access from the internet. Owners can then monitor their home using an interface on their computer, tablet or even smartphone. Ultimate control is achieved through the ability to automate and schedule your home based on personal preferences.

Different components can be part of a home automation system, and owners can pick and choose based on their needs and lifestyle. Essentially there are three categories:

  1. Energy and lighting includes smart appliances, lighting, irrigation, thermostats and retractable awnings and shutters. Philips’ Hue Connected Bulbs, for example, let you change the color of your light bulbs and control them from your phone. This can be quite handy when setting a mood for a dinner party or a relaxing night.
  2. The monitoring and security category includes alarms, door locks, garage door openers, security cameras, sensors and smoke detectors. This can be one of the most costly categories, but incredibly beneficial. This mode of home automation can alert you to events that you might want to know about right away, like leaks or unexpected access to your home.
  3. The popular entertainment category includes music, television, video and sound. Crestron, an industry leader in this category, offers the ability to press the “watch” button to transform your living room into a home theater. According to their website, “the lights dim to 30 percent; shades lower 80 percent to prevent glare on the TV screen; the movie automatically starts playing [and] the volume set[s] to the perfect level.”

For non-techies, the words “home automation” may seem overwhelming. With so many components, it may be difficult to decide or even know where to start. I highly recommend starting with Nest, the “next-generation thermostat.” Imagine being at work and seeing on your phone that the temperature of your home is 65 degrees. You change the setting to 72 degrees, and by the time you get home, it is warm and toasty. Nest also learns your schedule, programs itself and remembers your preferences. This level of control provides convenience and energy efficiency for ultimate cost savings. Their website claims that Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20 percent!

The higher the level of home automation, the more costly it may become, so if you are on a budget, starting slow may be the way to go. Luckily, this trend is quickly catching on with home builders across the country and will hopefully become more mainstream here in Nashville. With the Google purchase of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion and Samsung’s Smart Home initiative, launched in 2014, it seems that smart homes are here to stay.

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As a licensed Realtor, Gabriela Lira specializes in helping her clients buy and sell homes in the urban core of Nashville and parts of Williamson County. One of the most involved and accomplished Realtors in the industry, Gabriela was a finalist for the Nashville Business Journal’s 2014 Women of Influence Award; that same year she was also nominated as an Emerging Leader in Real Estate by 12th & Broad. Her hobbies and interests include snow skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, gourmet food and wine and world travel.