Home automation is exactly what it sounds like: automating your home. It’s all about comfort and convenience. If you’re buying a new house and have the opportunity to create a “smart” home and can afford it, don’t miss out. Last month, a friend purchased a modern home in Washington, D.C., and invited me over for dinner. We drove to her place after work and as soon as we walked inside, I noticed her TV was already on, something was cooking in her oven and the coffee pot was brewing. She had used her cell phone from the car to turn on the devices before we arrived, and transformed them from everyday household appliances to information appliances: the ultimate in programmed convenience.

Though complete home-automation systems are fairly expensive and currently geared towards high-end homes (costs may run in the six-digit range, if you choose to include all the bells and whistles), much of this technology can be purchased and installed inexpensively. Most of us already have some type of automation in our homes from automatic garage openers to programmable set-back thermostats and remote-control audio. However, complete home automation can bring all these separate devices together in a reliable system and save you time and energy.

This month, we explore some home-automation solutions in our cover story on page 26 and explain how the demand for structured wiring and home-automation products presents unique opportunities. Fact is, more customers are choosing contractors who are able to provide total system integration in home packages, so if you haven’t entered this market yet, I encourage you to do so.

Next time your freezer suddenly stops working, just think how great it would be if it were to send you an e-mail at work to warn you of the problem and then contact its service provider to schedule an appointment for repair. You would have less hassle and more time on your hands. Hope you enjoy the issue. EC

STANIMIRA Z. STEFANOVA, Editor