Friday, 11 July 2008

Introducing Home Easy

One of the things I've been giving consideration to while choosing my media server is home automation. I don't want to go crazy about it and have everything in the house hooked up to a computer so curtains open when alarm clocks go off, or alarm clocks go off earlier if it's freezing outside (to give more time to scrape ice), etc. I'm more interested in a few subtle things to help be more green at home, and possibly to help with security, anything I can get that adds convenience is a bonus but not necessary for me.

The first simple step I've taken along this road is to get some stand-by power savers that are getting ever more popular these days. The one I went for was the introductory pack from the Home Easy range which are manufactured by Byron and retailed exclusively through B&Q.

The pack gives you three radio controlled sockets into which you can plug your devices at home, and a remote control to turn on/off the sockets. So, by plugging in my TV, DVD, Wii, and other devices to one of these via their 4-way extension lead I can turn off a whole bunch of stand-by with the click of a remote control button anywhere in the house.

The Home Easy range is relatively complete for a UK home automation solution not based on X10. The kit is reasonably priced too with the 3 sockets and remote costing £20, unlike X10 end points. One of the reasons for choosing Home Easy over another popular standy-by saver is that the range is more complete, but also the protocol is well known so third parties are starting to produce devices compatible with Home Easy too. For example, rfxcom have certified their transceiver to work with Home Easy so it's now possible to computer control Home Easy devices - nice!

The next tentative steps I'll be looking to take on this road are having a home on/off switch. It's annoying having a single remote control, it's small, you have to find it, and it might be upstairs/downstairs and probably not where you are. I want to take advantage of the home easy grouping facility to have a switch that basically turns my house on or off. We should be able to leave the house (or go to bed) and turn all the stuff we're not using off, and turn back on again when we get home (or wake up).

Just this one purchase can save me anywhere between 20 and 50 watts in stand-by power. At 10 pence per kilowatt hour (typical rate) I'll get my £20 back with just 6 months usage. So it's green and saves you some dosh too, bonus!

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