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Four ways to make your home smarter with the push of a button

The Nest Learning Thermostat is on display following a news conference Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in San Francisco. Google's Nest Labs is releasing new versions of its surveillance video camera and talking smoke detector as part of its attempt to turn homes into yet another thing that can be controlled and tracked over the Internet. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The past few years have seen a recent boom in smart-home technology, with new kits, sensors and gadgets flooding the market.

There are many benefits of home automation. Of course, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars to automate your house to do what you want it to do, but with the devices changing so quickly, it’s a good idea to study up on what your goals are and then prioritize what you choose to automate.

Here are just some of the devices in your home that you can take more control over, particularly when you’re not around:

  • Thermostats – The right temp, at the right time.

You want to turn the air conditioning down when you leave the house and it’s sometimes hard to remember to do when you’re rushing around to get to work. But you can buy a programmable thermostat that lets you set the schedule in advance, and some even let you change the temperature from your phone, computer or a tablet.

  • Lighting – Where you want, when you want.

If you’re dining out, you want lights to come on as you return or to fool intruders while you’re away. You’d also like lights switching on and off when you leave town. And what about having lights come on when someone enters a room, but then go off when that person walks out? You don’t want a controller for every light fixture but you might want at least some long-distance control over lighting.

  • Garage doors – Open says me.

Do you often get to work and start wondering if you closed the garage door? Have you even called the neighbors to ask them to check on it for you? Now you can actually buy garage door openers with smart phone capabilities that allow you to check your door and even close the door remotely.

  • Door locks – Quick access, near and far.

You can control lots of these devices individually after installation, but many of them can be controlled simultaneously with an up-to-date, automated home security system. That type of system can also provide cameras at your doors or inside your house to record what’s going on when you’re not around. You can even have alarms to alert you via phone or tablet when you’re away from home if there is an unexpected visitor to your home, fire breaks out, there’s a carbon monoxide emergency or there’s a water leak of some kind.

There are also electronic smart hubs on the market that can be the brain for controlling your many automated gadgets, even ones from different manufacturers.

The right hub can send messages to your phone or tablet and you can send messages back. Apple and Google have developed software that can perform the same functions as a hub would through the use of your smartphone.

Just don’t forget to keep your smartphone charged up and turned on!

For more information on where to start your home automation, as well as other DIY tips and information for all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at – Arizona’s most trusted Referral Network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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