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HVAC home improvements: There's an app for that

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ November 29, 2011

If you're reading this, you already have a remote means of controlling your HVAC at home as well as monitoring your security. Using a smartphone or computer with web access, today's homeowner can log into a secure website to check if their doors are locked or to turn on their heat before they leave work for home.

Let's start with an easy HVAC home improvement project that can pay for itself. By using a programmable thermostat, ENERGY STAR says you can save as much as $180 annually on utility bills. Depending on your choice of model, a programmable unit can actually cost less than $180. Of course, if you really want remote access, you may pay more for high-end hardware or service.

Make a digital home improvement

Installing a programmable thermostat is a matter of correctly marking your wiring as you remove the old unit and attach the new one. The Honeywell Aube Telephone Controller, for example, allows you to use an online or smartphone system that is password enabled. Turn on your heat remotely or call and turn your heat off if you don't plan on coming home for the night.

The Radio Thermostat company makes a remote, programmable model that allows you to adjust HVAC settings as well as other connected devices by smartphone. The remote controller by Venstar relies upon uses voice recognition access giving you direct control over your heat or air conditioning as well as turning on house lights for your return. Or, you can call and turn off lights you may have left on when you went to work.

Doors have their apps, too

Ever drive off for a long weekend or vacation and leave your front entry doors unlocked? Or, maybe you locked them, but can't remember. Schlage is a trusted name in door locks. Now they offer remote-controlled locks that include Schlage LiNK, a software program that pops up on a smartphone or computer to let you lock or unlock doors in your home. Check the status of your home security. Adjust your thermostat and operate home lighting.

Have friends or family arriving for a stay? They can call on your cell and you can open the door for them, remotely. Lock bumping is the technique that burglars use for picking a tumbler lock. Today's keyless, digital entry locks make the job a whole lot more difficult.

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