EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

October 21, 2012

Smart technology can help conserve energy use at home

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Hubbard said manufacturers are jumping on board, embedding smart technology in everything from air-conditioning compressors to clothes washers. “You’re going to see this taking off,” she said.

Evidence of the growing reach of smart technology is Lowe’s recent introduction of a smart home-automation system called Iris. It’s designed to be affordable for the average consumer, easy to install and capable of accommodating whole-house automation, said Kevin Meagher, general manager and vice president for Lowe’s smart home.

Iris comes in three starter kits ranging in price from $179 to $299. One kit focuses on home security and monitoring, allowing you to get notifications if a security sensor is triggered. One contains a smart thermostat and also lets you control one other electrical device in your house and monitor its power use. The third kit combines the features of the other two.

Each kit has a hub, which connects to a broadband router and communicates with the various devices in your home. All the kits are expandable.

The kits come with free basic service that provides a limited array of alerts and gives you remote control of some functions. But you’ll have to buy the premium service at $10 a month if you want a more sophisticated system _ for example, one that notifies you when your kids get home from school or automatically turns off items in your house when you use more than a predetermined amount of power.

Iris has been available online and at a limited number of stores since summer, and it’s expected to be in all Lowe’s stores by early next year, Meagher said.

Another smart device that’s gotten a lot of attention is the Nest thermostat, which was designed to automate and greatly simplify the process of programming a thermostat.

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