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By Steve Adams

The Patriot Ledger

Smart home technology systems allow customers to keep an eye on their homes from afar and shave their utility bills.

Using wireless adapters, the program links appliances and lights to a homeowner’s Internet connection. Away from home, customers can use a smartphone app or web page to adjust their thermostat, turn lights and appliances on and off and monitor living spaces with webcams.

The user interface also allows customers to track electricity usage throughout the house, and turn off power-hungry lights and appliances.

A Parks Associates survey indicated that many consumers were interested in buying smart home products if it could help them save 10 to 20 percent on utility costs.

Equipment manufactured by Control4 of Salt Lake City, Utah, allows customers to monitor electric usage and automate heating, cooling and lighting systems remotely.

Everything in the house is networked. If you’re logging in from your office, you have your own (web address) and you control anything in the whole house.

For now, smart home systems remain a niche market favored by early technology adopters. People with smartphones are significantly more interested in energy-monitoring systems, according to Parks Associate research.

Parks Associates estimates the percentage of households with an energy management network will rise from the current 2 percent to 13 percent by 2013.

Growth will be driven by two groups: the “home safeguarders” who are primarily interested in security and utility savings, and the “life maximizers” who want more digital control over their dwellings.

“These are the people who are willing to pay additional money,” said Sikes, the Parks Associates president. “It’s not so much a savings issue as they want more control over their home and their lifestyle. Having slick iPhone apps will certainly be a way to make people more interested.”

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