photos © Jonna Reilly Photography

Home Automation Competition Turns up the Heat

Home Automation Competition Turns up the Heat

Everyone has been there. It’s the middle of the night and one of your smoke detectors is beeping nonstop. You think there’s no way it’s a fire. The dumb thing must be malfunctioning/needs new batteries/is such a pain because all you want to do is sleep. So you stumble around the house trying to figure out which device is ruining your life. Once you identify the culprit, you get a chair, climb up and unscrew it. You’ll deal with it in the morning, or in a week… or whenever.

Now might be the time to deal with home automation advances. You can turn to Google Nest Protect, a smoke, carbon monoxide, heat and motion sensor. Nest Protect has a human-sounding, automated voice that literally tells you, “Heads up, there’s smoke in the hallway.” So you know when and where there’s an actual problem. You also get a verbal warning before an alarm. It goes a step beyond other automated voice alarms. That’s because you can control Nest Protect from your smartphone or tablet. And it acts as a nightlight if you physically need to check out a potential issue.

Google purchased Nest Labs in early 2014 and introduced Nest Protect and its counterpart Nest Thermostat to a wider audience. Nest Thermostat learns every time you use it. You simply use it like a regular thermostat. It will remember your choices and program itself accordingly. All you have to do is turn a ring. Many people would admit Nest just looks cooler than a regular thermostat. It’s small, circular, domestic (hence the name) and streamlined.

Nest knows to turn the temperature down when you leave or at night, and it turns the temperature up when you come home or wake up. Nest says thermostats control half your energy bill. So the energy conservation may save you money as well. Of course you can also set the temperature from your smartphone. Nest Thermostats run $250 per unit. Nest Protect units are $99 each.

Just this month Nest announced a Works With Nest Initiative. Nest is partnering with several companies to help conserve energy in customers’ homes. Two smart lock companies – August and Kwikset Kevo – can alert Nest to warm or cool the house upon your entry or exit. Nest can work with Whirlpool washers and dryers, too. Nest will alert these machines when you’re home so they can switch to quiet mode.

honeywell-lyric_000In June 2014 Apple’s home automation partner, Honeywell, unveiled the Lyric thermostat, a Nest competitor. Just like Nest, Lyric can be controlled remotely from an iPhone or iPad. It also can learn from your schedule and adjust itself accordingly to save energy and money. Honeywell says Lyric is different from Nest in that Lyric features a Fine Tune option. Fine Tune adjusts the temperature based on an algorithm that accounts for indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity.

Lyric sells for $279 a unit. Because Lyric is not owned by Google and Honeywell is an Apple partner, Honeywell hopes Lyric will be music to the ears of iPhone and iPad users who might not trust the Google product.

When it comes to buying or selling a home or condo, put your trust in Jim Miller and JM Partners. Contact them at 773.617.6638 or