News / Media

Make a home smarter with automation systems

October 07, 2011

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Who wouldn’t like an extra set of hands around the house? Or some help with basic, everyday activities such as keeping your home comfortable? And if that extra help could also make your home more energy efficient, reducing your utility bills, wouldn’t that be an added bonus?

Home automation, once considered a luxury, is doing those tasks for more homeowners than ever before, and in ways that may surprise you. Many homeowners recognize the importance of saving energy, something that benefits the environment and their budgets. Three key areas of home automation that influence energy savings are window coverings, thermostats and lighting.

Heating and cooling accounts for the largest portion of a house’s overall energy use. Artificial lighting also contributes to home energy bills. Automating these areas of the home that consume the most energy allows users to improve energy efficiency.

Window coverings

You may think of your window treatments as more of a design statement, but window coverings, from blinds to shades, can help control the flow of sunlight into your home. In summer, drawing the blinds can help keep the interior of your home cooler. Opening window coverings when it’s cold outside in the winter can allow more warming sunlight to enter your home.

By automating your window coverings, you can better control the amount of light, and heat, entering your home, even when you’re not there. You can program an automation system to close window coverings after everyone has left the house for the day to help keep things cooler in the summer.

Or, in the winter, when many of us leave the house before the sun is up, an automation system can open window coverings to allow sunlight and warmth into the home after the sun rises.


Turning your thermostat back between 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day can save you as much as 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, Programmable thermostats allow you to automate temperature changes in your home.

In summer months, you can set the thermostat to allow the temperature in your home to rise higher so the air conditioning runs less when no one is there. The same technique can help reduce heating bills in the winter. By setting a programmable thermostat to change temperatures when needed, you can achieve more precise control over the temperature in your home without the risk of forgetting to set the thermostat back every time you leave the house.


Artificial light is another major energy user in households. Reducing electricity usage can be as simple as turning off lights you leave a room.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:16:00 GMT

A Look Ahead at New Homes of 2015

By Erika Riggs, Zillow October 11, 2011

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If you had asked someone in the 1960s what the home of 2015 would look like, chances are they imagined something akin to The Jetsons’ home complete with Rosie the Robot and other space-age appliances that dressed and fed the family.

But, rather than space-age technology, the biggest thing that is expected to change in future single-family homes is the size.

“Homes will get smaller,” says Stephen Melman, Director of Economic Services at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington D.C. “We asked builders, ‘what do you anticipate the new home size would be by 2015?’ ”

According to the results of the study, surveyed home builders expect new single-family homes to check in at an average of 2,150 square feet. Current single family homes measure around 2,400 square feet, which is already a decrease from the peak home size in 2007 of 2,521.

While the decrease in home size has a lot to do with the recession, many believe that the real estate changes will stick around even after the economy and home values get back on solid ground.

“Although affordability is driving these decisions, smaller homes are a positive for builders,” said Melman. “It allows for more creative design, more amenities, better flow. It’s an opportunity to deliver a better home.”

Other things that make up the home of 2015? No more living room. According to the survey, 52 percent of builders expect the living room to merge with other spaces and 30 percent believe that it will vanish completely to save on square footage. Instead, expect to see great rooms — a space that combines the family and living room and flows into the kitchen.

Expect to see more:
- spacious laundry rooms
- master suite walk-in closets
- porches
- eat-in kitchens
- two-car garages
- ceiling fans

Expect to see less:
- mudrooms
- formal dining rooms
- four bedrooms or more
- media or hobby rooms
- skylights

Many of these changes reflect a desire for builders and consumers going green. Smaller space means more efficient heating and cooling. Ceiling fans distribute heat evenly while skylights, on the other hand, release heat.

However, as builders look to go green, they’ll be installing energy-efficient windows and compact fluorescent and LED lighting, as well as water-efficient appliances and plumbing.

Additionally, many new homes will have the baby boomer population in mind with walk-in showers, ground-floor master bedrooms and grab bars.

“A bigger share of the new homes will be purchased by people 55 or 65 and older,” said Melman. “They’re more likely to have more cash for a down payment, but they’re empty nesters, so they don’t need five bedrooms.”

Home digital control panels can help manage security and energy consumption.

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Posted by chantal Fri, 04 Nov 2011 16:36:00 GMT

Inside Automated Haunted House

A Control4 system automates some creepy effects, including guillotine, three-headed dog and lighting, for a Halloween haunted house

By CE Pro Editors, October 31, 2011

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Enter one of the first rooms on this ghoulish garage tour, and a skeleton jumps out of a shipping crate, a red light glows and a three-headed dog barks and growls.

That’s just one of the automated effects set up for Halloween in this three-car garage in a suburb of Seattle.

Every October for the past three years, the Griffin and Petrie families have converted their garage into a haunted house, with the shock, scare and awe delivered by a Control4 HC-300 processor.

Brett Griffin, who sells Control4 systems for Definitive Audio, rigged the garage with motion sensors, relays and timers, all linked to the Control4 processor, which was programmed to enact a different frightening scene when each sensor is tripped.

In the final chamber, a trigger starts an MP3 of a priest reciting “Our Father” over wall-mounted Control4 speakers. A young lady in a guillotine pleads for mercy … the lights go out … there’s darkness … a brief moment of silence … the sound of the guillotine blade slices through the air … and a head thumps to the floor. It’s automation at its scariest.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:38:00 GMT

Remotely view your security cameras from a Smartphone, iPhone or iPad

Audio Impact can help you monitor your home, anytime, from anywhere. We even make it simple, with specially designed systems, that work with Apple, PC or Google phones. Now when you are out and about you can always check in and see that everything is in order. You can check on the kids, or check on that “thump!” at night. Our systems even allow you to turn lights on remotely, or set lights to work on a schedule.

We would love to come over and check out what we can do for you. Give us at ring at (858) 271-4154 or email us at and we can set up a time.

Posted by chantal Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:00:00 GMT

Yacht Takes A/V to Sea

Published Sep 28, 2011 By Megan Koontz

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“Out of sight, out of mind” is a dual-meaning phrase that is understood when enjoying the luxuries onboard Tony Nelson’s yacht, The High C’s. As she eases out of the harbor, her passengers slip away from the stress of life onshore, feeling total relaxation and comfort.

The discretely hidden systems that are carefully designed, programmed and installed by Audio Video Excellence offer a complete escape without the burden of bulky boxed machines and tangled wire messes.

Nelson’s 74-foot Viking is well equipped, with five staterooms, an enclosed fly bridge, spacious salon and a fulltime crew. Nelson relied upon AVX to technologically enhance the quarters with several plasma TVs, the convenience of a media server and the integration of the entertainment elements with the necessary navigational electronics.

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Posted by chantal Tue, 25 Oct 2011 16:15:00 GMT

Audio Impact Installation of the week: Family Room TV Installation

This home needed a simple, elegant solution. Our client purchased this home in La Jolla and wanted a Home Theater and easy-to-use remote.

Audio Impact sprung into action, calling on it’s general contractor to frame out the existing opening to match the home’s decor and allow for the Samsung UN55D6000 TV to be installed on a swing arm. We fitted the home with an Integra 40.2 Receiver and Control4 Remote and brain (SR-250 and HC-200). We used our client’s existing Sony Blu-ray player, Nintendo Wii and Time Warner cable box. The end result is a magnificent looking installation with a simple control solution.

Call us so you can see what we can do for you!



Posted by chantal Thu, 20 Oct 2011 16:56:00 GMT

Home theatre apps take over entertainment

Move over movie critics, remote controls and TV listings


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New apps for smartphones and tablets are normally used on the go, but there are several that make sitting in your home theatre more enjoyable.

No, the apps can’t set up your system - but one can help you better understand the words used to describe home theatre technology.

It’s called Home Theater Glossary, was developed by Deep Powder Software, and is available from the App Store or the Android market.

It gives definitions for some basic words and common terms. They can be searched, or looked up alphabetically, offering simple results for even the most complex terminology.

If a word you need to know is not listed, well, there’s a direct feedback feature so you can bring the developers up to speed!

“Clicker” apps

A number of apps are available that turn your mobile device into a fully functional remote control.

RedEye, for example, controls almost any equipment that receives infrared control signals - TVs, cable boxes, stereos, DVD players, VCRs and more.

The iOS or Android app is free. A small hardware device actually generates the infrared signals; it’s available online and at some retailers (here in Calgary, Memory Express is one).

Beacon, from Griffin Technology, ( also turns a smartphone into a remote control.

Another software and hardware combo, it uses Bluetooth signals from your device and converts them to the infrared that most TV and stereo components expect.

You can change channels on a set-top box, pump up the volume on your sound system, program your DVR, and more through your touch screen display.

Logitech is releasing a similar product, a wireless device that connects to your iPad, iPhone, or Android smartphone and turns it into a universal remote.

But its new Harmony product line actually adds more features to the iPad version (over the smartphone apps).

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Posted by chantal Thu, 20 Oct 2011 16:23:00 GMT

The 2012 New American Home

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Now under construction near Orlando, Florida, The New American Home (TNAH) 2012 is a re-interpretation of the Classic White Box of the 1960s and ’70s made popular by leading architects such as Le Corbusier and Richard Meier.

Phil Kean of Winter Park, Florida, the architect and builder of the 2012 home, seeks to honor the architecture of the past while taking advantage of current technologies and design trends. Kean is focusing on functional and transitional spaces and attention to detail instead of square footage and the design uses space efficiently to create a calm and serene living environment.

The latest green building products and methods are factored into every aspect of the home’s design. Kean hopes the home will achieve “emerald” status under the green building certification process administered by the NAHB Research Center and based on principles set forth in the ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard™ certified by ANSI - “Emerald” is the highest of the four levels of achievement a home can attain.

TNAH 2012 Certifications to be achieved:

- National Green Building Standard “Emerald Status”

- US DOE’s Energy Star

- FGBC (Florida Green Building Coalition) Platinum certification

- Florida Yards and Neighborhoods designation

- Florida Water Star designation Progress

- Energy Home Advantage Program

- US DOE’s Builders Challenge


Now in its 29th year, The New American Home (TNAH) is constructed annually in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show to showcase innovative construction technologies and the latest building products. NAHB will hold the 2012 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, February 8-11.

NAHB and Hanley Wood’s Builder magazine co-sponsor the show home.

As NAHB’s official show home, TNAH gives building industry professionals an opportunity to see design trends, construction techniques, and materials that can be used in any new or remodeled home. The showcase products in the home are provided by members of the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council.

Kean has designed The New American Home 2012 to take maximum advantage of Florida’s friendly climate. Walls of movable glass panels and motorized screens provide a seamless flow from the indoor to the outdoor spaces.

At 4,181 square feet, the home will be the smallest in The New American Home series in many years. It will be displayed as a two-bedroom floor plan that will appeal to empty nesters, and will have four additional rooms that could be converted to bedrooms if needed.

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Posted by chantal Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:14:00 GMT

2011 Custom Retailer Excite Awards Winner: ClareHome Controls Home Automation System

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ClareHome is the first home automation system managed from the cloud and runs on a Mac. From the ClareCloud, integrators configure, deploy and monitor ClareHome, while end-users download and create their own interfaces. Absolutely unique to home automation, end-users can take control with ClareHome. No other solution allows users to download new home controls and make them functional within minutes all without the help of a programmer or a technician. It is simple to own and simple to change.

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Posted by chantal Tue, 11 Oct 2011 16:13:00 GMT

Draper Takes Exterior FlexShades Outside

Designed to block sunlight and heat, this option offers numerous control options.

September 29, 2011 by Rachel Cericola

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Sometimes you can’t escape the sun—even in your own home. For those with a lot of windows, Draper has announced Exterior FlexShades.

As part of the company’s growing line of solar control products, these motorized shades can keep out sunlight and heat. However, having these shades cover the outside doesn’t just make for a more comfortable temperature. It saves you money on heating and cooling costs, and can protect furniture and floors from fading.

According to Draper, the best place and time to stop that heat and glare is outside, which is why Draper’s Exterior FlexShades are installed outdoors. Don’t expect to have to get out a ladder when it’s time to draw these shades, though. Instead, plenty of control options are available, including the option to integrate into an existing home control system. It’s also available with crank or clutch operation.

Because it’s located outside, this system is very quiet. However, it’s also protected from the elements via heavy-duty cable guides or side channels and an aluminum headbox that’s both weather- and insect-resistant.

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Posted by chantal Thu, 06 Oct 2011 16:12:00 GMT