Kevin Lintern and Martin Engelbrecht

HOMEFINDER: Putting home controls at your fingertips

Home automation is coming soon to a household near you

It may seem like something out of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous or MTV Cribs, but smart home automation is steadily becoming an affordable luxury for the average homeowner.

The OneTouch House specializes in home automation, allowing homeowners to natively or remotely control their home theatres, lighting, temperature and security cameras at the push of a button. The Saanich company can sync a broad range of technological devices to work in harmony, creating the perfect sense of atmosphere for any home.

“What we try to do is make a home that’s ubiquitous – everything’s together in one place and easy to use,” said co-owner Martin Engelbrecht. “All these systems are related to one another through our system.

“With the advent of the smartphone, that’s when it really took off. It’s not just the house on the hill, it’s available for everybody. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s not prohibitively expensive.

The OneTouch House started in 1999 as a regional installer for Shaw Direct, but soon turned to emerging technological trends and began working with sound and lighting systems.

For the last decade or so, Engelbrecht and fellow co-owner Kevin Lintern have been giving homeowners greater control of their homes for whatever best suits their lifestyles.

“There are many lighting systems out there and HVAC systems and music systems, and true home automation ties all those systems together so they can talk to one another,” said Englebrecht.

“When I press my automated door lock to lock my doors, because it’s on the central system, it can tell my lights to shut off, my music to shut off, my temperature to turn down, my blinds to lower. All those actions can happen from a single action.”

Using a single app on a smartphone or tablet, homeowners can monitor their security cameras, cool down their house when they’re away or turn their lights on or off – the options are almost endless and it’s all at their fingertips.

The OneTouch House is adept at the installation and customization of a variety of systems – including home theatres and security cameras – for your average home to a mega mansion. Engelbrecht said their team is experienced in setting up robust home networks to communicate with a homeowners’ devices, and the integration of one’s technological systems allows for better organization with fewer remote controls and gadgets to worry about.

However, recognizing that not every homeowner may want all the bells and whistles, Engelbrecht said they can be selective in what features they want for their home.

“Some people want media and entertainment, some people are only interested in lighting, some people want energy management, some people want it all – it really does vary,” he said, noting homeowners can also build their home automation system piece by piece.

“It’s homeowner-driven and it’s there to match their lifestyle.”

While there isn’t much that hasn’t been accomplished in home automation, Engelbrecht said they’re always looking at emerging technologies that can fall under their automation systems’ umbrella.

“There’s just so many applications of what you can do with the technology,” he said. “It’s what keeps the job interesting.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: Is home automation primarily a comfortable luxury?

Home automation isn’t just for comfort, it can help you save money, make your home more environmentally friendly and help you stay safe.

Some systems allow you to receive a text message the instant your home alarm goes off.

They can also link the nearest surveillance camera to your smartphone so you can view the situation from your phone and react accordingly.

Automation can also let you know if you accidentally forgot to close the window in your room, allowing you to keep tabs while you are at home, at a party or on vacation hundreds of kilometres away.

In addition to the safety aspect, energy efficiency can be improved by ensuring lights are off, garage doors are closed and doors are locked. Certain systems can even turn on your music slowly, raising the volume to gradually wake you up in the morning over 15 minutes.Another energy saving feature can help turn on the heat in the house an hour before you wake up, so the temperature is comfortable for when you start your day and you aren’t wasting energy during the night.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » Month as of Dec. 29/15  COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 436 / 389 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014

» 429  /419 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014

» 2,552 / 3,210 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, DECEMBER 2014

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