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We all know that the population is ageing. The baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at amazing rate. Right now, in North America 11,000 people turn 65 EVERY DAY. By 2030, 20% of the population will be over 65. But this is a new generation of seniors. They want to remain active, many want to keep working as long as they can, and they want to remain in their own homes in the neighbourhoods they love.
Their children are busy, or may live in another city and can’t provide the daily support they need. Seniors want to feel like they have their freedom without being controlled. Home automation can play a large role in making this possible.
It can make seniors feel confident staying in their own homes years or even decades longer. While home automation has benefits for people of all ages, there are some aspects of this technology that appeal in particular to ageing homeowners. Here are some of the important ones to consider:
Security: Seniors want to feel that they will not be a victim of undesired intrusion. They feel especially vulnerable if they live alone. Home automation can offer a wide variety of ways to offer piece of mind.
Security cameras to show the outside of the house are a good start, but even more important is the ability to answer the door from anywhere in the house and see who is there before deciding to open it.
If they feel unsafe, they can easily connect to emergency services. For added security, family members or caregivers can monitor the condition of the home from anywhere in the world on a variety of devices.
Improved lighting is also a strong source of security. Clear bright lighting that turns on automatically in the house or yard can often put seniors at ease. Turning lights on and off from bed is a major comfort. Coming home to a well lit property is also important.
Window Coverings: Precise and safe closing of blinds with the touch of a button is another way to make seniors feel secure in their privacy.
Technical Security: A home automation system can detect dangers like water leaks, gas leaks or even more important, temperature changes and alert the homeowner or someone off site to the nature of the problem. Appliances that have been left on can be turned off from bed or from outside the house.
Mobility and comfort: For arthritis sufferers, converting routine tasks to simple push buttons can make a big difference in comfort; from something as simple as a push button front door system that eliminates the need for door keys to running the washing machine or dishwasher and turning on the television. When every room in the house is connected to the system, there’s no such thing as running for the phone or rushing to answer the door, both dangerous situations for seniors.
Medical Support: A lot of confidence can be gained by wearing a â€œpanic buttonâ€ at all times. Pressing that button can send a message to family or emergency services or both. Adding this to the home automation system can be a major source of comfort to older home owners.
Leisure and Entertainment: The new generation of seniors are not only interested in movies and television. They are one of the fastest growing groups on social networks as they find they can keep in touch with both old friends and young family members through the internet. They can benefit from the improved visual and sound quality of home theatre with built-in internet connection. The hard of hearing can have their own wireless headsets to enjoy the sound the way they want it. With the touch of a button, the homeowner can send a Facebook message to a friend, or connect with a grandchild face to face on Skype.
Many people will say â€œthat sounds great, but how can seniors afford it?â€ A better question is â€œHow much can we save by staying in our own home for many years instead of moving into an extended care facility?â€
The new generation of home automation products is far easier to integrate in to an existing home. Through the use of single-cable and wireless solutions, the amount of labour and disruption can be kept to a minimum. With systems that run on ipads, and new competitive pricing from the major manufacturers that comes from increased production, home automation is within the reach of more and more people all the time.
If you have parents that are seniors, you owe it to them to openly discuss how they intend to live safely and comfortably in their own home. A home automation specialist can discuss a solution that is custom tailored to meet the needs and budget of you or your loved ones.
If you watch TV commercials for Home Depot, they will tell you can do most projects in your home easily. All you need is a little advice and the right tools. Does this apply to home automation? There are several web sites out there now that want to sell you home automation kits. They will tell you it has â€œeverything you needâ€ to start wiring up and controlling your house. They all use words like â€œeasyâ€ and â€œsimple.â€ Are they?
First, we should look at what we mean by home automation. Because there is no legal definition of the term, there are some companies that will sell you a kit that will allow you to dim a few lights, turn the heat down during the day and turn the lawn sprinkler on and off. In many cases, you are left with a small button or keypad to operate those functions, which isn’t a lot more convenient that the switches you have now. On the other hand, you may be buying a very complicated system that can turn into a nightmare and end up requiring professional help to bail you out. That can get expensive,
So, can you DIY a home automation system? The answer is yes and no. Maybe you have an exceptional skill set and want to give it try, but you should be aware of what you need to know. Let’s look at some of the skills you would need to automate your own home.
Product knowledge: Are you aware of the many different systems that are on the market, and what the problems and benefits are? For example, you may be offered a very inexpensive X-10 kit. You would need to know that this is not considered professional grade, does a poor job of giving you feedback on the status of devices and is no longer being developed. What about a UPB system? Do you know the electrical challenges of this option, and its relative high cost? Or Insteon? It uses the wiring in your house, but it assumes that every switchbox has a neutral ground. That usually isn’t the case in older homes. Are you qualified to figure that out? And those systems are just for simple functions. Are you up to date on the latest true high-end systems from Creston, AMX and Lutron â€“ the companies that are on the leading edge of home automation? If you are planning on anything more than a few lights and a sprinkler, that’s the kind of equipment you’ll need, or you may be throwing money away on a low quality dead-end system.
If you feel uncomfortable with choosing the right products, you need the services of a home automation professional.
Electrical skills: Home automation almost always requires changes to electrical systems. As noted above, grounding becomes important. Lighting may have to replaced to be compatible with dimming, or dimmers may have to replaced to work with automation. In many jurisdictions, you are required to use a licensed electrical contractor to do this kind of work. Did you consider that in the do-it-yourself budget? Do you know an electrical contractor that is familiar with home automation, or will he learning about it on your time and money?
If you have any concerns about the electrical part of the job, you need the expertise of a home automation professional. They have the skill, experience and personnel to take care of this part of the job quickly and more importantly, safely.
Wiring: What do you know about wiring? How are your cable-pulling skills? Are you prepared to knock holes in your drywall and feed cables through your house? Here’s a simple way to tell if you should be handling wiring. Is the black wire the power or the ground wire? The answer is both. It could be the live wire in A/C and the ground in D/C. If you didn’t know that, you really need a home automation professional to wire your house.
Connecting to the outside world: How are your computer skills? A home automation system will probably interface with cable TV, the internet, satellite radio, your iphone and many other sources. If you aren’t tech savvy on all these devices, use a pro.
Audio: Unless you are an enthusiastic audiophile, you will find this one of the most difficult skills. How many speakers, where, how powerful an amplifier, how many zones â€“ all questions best left to the pro’s. We do not recommend anyone trying this at home.
Service and support: Is it important to you to have a satisfaction guarantee and long term support? The on-line company that sells you a home automation kit will not support your installation. If you install it on your own, you’re also on your own when it doesn’t work. If after-installation support is important to you, you’ll only get that from a home automation professional.
In short, if you have exceptional handyman skills and are looking for a fun project, you may try automating a few lights in your house. If you are looking at a well supported future proof system that controls your home reliably and communicates seamlessly with the outside world, invest your money in a professionally designed and installed home automation solution. OneTouch Automation is ready, willing and able to help.