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Emily Green



In-home automation is an industry that has enormous room for growth. During 2012 alone, according to ABI Research, more than one and a half million home automation systems were installed in the United States. By 2017, industry analysts expect shipments of these systems to rise to more than 8 million.

And when it comes to in-home automation systems, the latest market data shows that energy efficiency is leading the way. Here are a few reasons why.

It Saves You Money

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way — energy efficiency cuts back on energy usage, leaving more money in your pocket. There are easier, simpler ways to do things now, and people are taking advantage. The inflated cost came from motors and compressors that operated in air conditioners and heaters. Smarter systems work to cool us when we’re home and leave the temperature warm when we’re not.

Even when items are turned off, they’re still drawing power. Game consoles and movie players can draw quite a bit of power, even while in standby mode. This is called “phantom load” and can add up to 8 percent on your electricity bill. If you have a smart strip, though, it will stop the flow of energy to those devices.

One of the simplest and easiest ways to save money is switching to compact fluorescent lights. These cost about double what you’d pay for an incandescent light bulb, but they last up to eight times longer and are just as bright, if not brighter. If you combine this with an occupancy sensor, you’ll save even more and the lights will turn off if there’s either adequate light available or no one in the room.

To further the savings, shop around for an affordable energy rate. When you combine these methods of saving energy along with an affordable energy rate, you can create a sizable savings for yourself. Check out www.electric.com and find an affordable rate in your area.

It’s Less Taxing on Our Appliances

Over the past decade or so, there has been an increased push for greener technology, and it’s resulted in an entire line of Energy Star products that use very little energy while operating. These cut costs by up to ten percent each month. When our appliances don’t work as hard, we not only save money, but we ensure that those appliances are operational for a longer period.

Some smart appliances come with a built-in Wi-Fi adapter that allows the device to communicate with its creators, so if anything goes wrong, the company is immediately notified.

It Makes Our Appliances More Efficient

Like everything, the more you use an appliance, the more worn down it’ll become. Energy efficient technology prevents this from happening as quickly. With some systems, you’re able to remotely connect from a smartphone or a web application and turn on those systems. This prevents systems from running while they’re not needed.

As time progresses, though, these appliances themselves are becoming even more efficient. It’s estimated by 2015 that new air conditioning units will be 10 to 11 percent more efficient than the one’s currently on the market. These technologies will have compressors that allow the systems to operate with a range of variable speeds to keep homes cool during desired times.

It Saves You Time

With newer appliances, things cool down and heat up more quickly, not to mention run faster. While it may only save a few minutes each time, those minutes quickly add up to a substantial amount of time, and in today’s world, every second counts. How many times have you had to run the clothes or dishes through again because something was done improperly?

It Increases Your Home’s Value

Being energy efficient is the thing to do lately, and, as such, many buyers are in the market for eco-friendly and energy efficient homes. More and more people understand the benefits of energy efficiency, and they want to lower their energy bills without doing a ton of work. Because of this, homes will maintain or increase their value when energy-efficient tactics are used. On average, homes sell for eight to ten percent more if they weren’t certified. For the homes that were certified, they sold for 30 percent more.

No matter which way you look at it, energy efficiency is leading the charge in home automation. From saving time to saving money, it hits on all of the points that people care the most about, and when it’s time to move, it ensures that people get the most value for their home. It costs a little more up front, but the savings more than make up for any expenses.

Being energy efficient is possibly the easiest thing you could do for your home. Buy a few energy appliances, a few smart strips, and some CFL lights, and watch the savings pile on. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner!

Watching television shows, movies, and Internet videos on your TV has never been easier thanks to Roku 3. This all-access device is starting to make cable, satellite, and even over-the-air stations a bit nervous. Check out the five ways Roku 3 will change your streaming experience.

5. Access to Content


Image via Flickr by thetechbuzz


With Roku 3, you’ll have access to a very broad range of channels and content providers. Unlike cable where you buy a channel bundle that may include several channels you never watch, Roku 3 lets you pick which channels you want. Channels include big names such as Netflix, Hulu, Major League Baseball TV, and HBO.

Beyond the well-known brands, have fun sampling other content providers. For example, some popular tourist destinations offer their own channels with fun videos. Think beyond TV show shows and movies. Use your TV to watch comedic material from Funny or Die, or enjoy listening to your favorite radio station, even if it’s in another city, with Tune In. Spend hours diving into the depth of content that’s available to stream through your Roku.

4. On Demand Viewing

Most content available through Roku 3 is on demand. That means you watch it on your schedule, not when it’s broadcast or shown on cable. This changes the way you watch television shows because you no longer have to view episodes in order. While you’ll probably still want to watch “Downton Abbey” episodes in sequential order, choose whichever episode of “How It Works” that piques your interest.

3. Watch, Listen, Play

Before the Roku, there weren’t many devices that allowed you to stream TV or movies, listen to music, and play games all with a single unit. However, Roku makes it possible to do all three using one device and one remote. This means you’ll spend less time switching between your equipment and more time watching or doing the things you love. This is one more reason Roku has developed such a strong following: It brings together many functionalities in a single device.

2. Put Your Content on Screen

When you have friends or family over to your home, enjoy showing off photos of the kids or the fun you had on your last vacation with a photo slide show on your TV. It’s simple to do with the Roku app for your smartphone that puts your photos on the flatscreen.

1. Stream Content Quickly

Make sure you have reliable, fast Internet access, such as the 4G from CLEAR internet plans, so you can completely enjoy the streaming experience of Roku 3. Earlier versions of this technology took a bit of time to load content, or even pull up a different channel, but the latest iteration of Roku is built for speed.

The speed of this device may deal a fatal blow to Redbox, the DVD rental’s last ditch effort to make a comeback. With many new releases available to rent from Vudu for viewing via Roku streaming, you may have just watched your last rented DVD.

As Roku keeps introducing better, faster devices, all other traditional distributors of content such as cable,satellite, and DVD rental companies should pay attention, and probably start to worry.