As a former home automation installer and a former manufactures rep, I have observed many trends. The following items are certainly the hottest trends this year in home technology.

VoIP (pronounced Voice over IP) refers to making telephone calls using your high-speed internet connection. This technology is gaining ground very fast, as new users are discovering it is 50-75% cheaper the comparable standard telephone service and congress is standing behind the technology for now, no taxes or legislation to mess it up – yet… The a catch? Several more variables in losing your dial tone: Power outages, internet downtime, and equipment failures are just a few problems you may encounter using VoIP. Also, If you are dropping the standard phone line, and you have a security system you will need a cellular or radio back up for safety reasons.

Retrofit home theaters. With the cost of movie tickets approaching $10, it makes it quite expensive for families to enjoy movies and snacks at the theater. There are new techniques and processes to install a home theater in your existing home. Many of the processes are for noise reduction, so you don\’t have harmonic vibrations in the home, or annoy your neighbors. Living in a townhouse, row house, or other multiplex homes, you can now “pump up the volume” with bothering others!

Security Cameras. Many cities now require visual verification prior to dispatching emergency services. Approximately 9 out of 10 alarms are false. Cameras in the home can quickly verify that the alarm is actually triggered by a burglary. In addition, many new parents are now installing cameras to check in on their children while they are away to ensure safety.

Home Offices. Today more and more people telecommute. The reasons may very—but the fact is home offices are now becoming a necessity for many homeowners. Proper planning can provide you with all the technology you need in either a new home or a remodel. If you are ready to start thinking about your custom workspace, keep the following in mind: your personal work style; essential services such as Internet & telephone; and office needs such as printing, wireless networks, file storage and audio distribution.

Lighting Controls. Reliable lighting control used to be reserved for the wealthy. The rest of us were reduced to live without lighting control or the unreliable X-10 technology. In the last few years two new technologies arose. UPB (Universal power line bus) and RF (Z-Wave). These new products have provided us with more selection, more reliability, and the best part—they cost about the same as the major branded X-10 products.

Energy Savings. Recent energy cost have us all looking for ways to reduce the utilities budget in the home. Home Automation is stepping up to the plate. Home automation can manage the thermostat (typically the largest load in the home) based on actual occupancy rather than when you think you will be home. Lighting is the second largest load, home automation will turn off the extra lights when they are not needed. Using motion sensing, occupancy sensing, and other types of lighting controls, home automation can shut the lights off behind you!