A man and his wife get off an airplane at the Salt Lake City International Airport in January with the temperature outside well below freezing.
Most people would dread going home to a cold house, but in this case the man steps to the telephone, calls home and immediately his Home Manager system turns on the heat, starts the coffee pot and turns on a light near the garage.And all the while the couple has been away, Home Manager has been keeping the home secure.
This scenario might sound a little far-fetched, but such systems are available. A Home Manager system is being installed in a 6,500 square-foot house at this year's Parade of Homes built by developer Steve Sheffield.
Home Manager, a product of Unity Systems Inc., Redwood City, Calif., is being marketed in Salt Lake City by Roger Norman of Vanguard Control Systems Inc. Unity was founded in 1984 to manufacture and market an intelligent home control system that provides luxurious living and maximum economy that is easier to use than a microwave oven.
After watching a video about Home Manager's application and actually working with the system, it is easy to understand how much the system can benefit the operation of a house and keep it secure at the same time.
Norman said he is targeting the Home Manager for installation in houses ranging in price upward of $150,000, but he said Unity is coming out soon with a less expensive model for houses in the $50,000 to $150,000 range. The system can either be installed when the house is under construction or retrofitted in existing houses.
The main part of the system is the computer itself (about the size of a large suitcase), which can be located in a closet, and the small computer screen that is built into a wall.
After the system has been installed in a house or business, operation is rather simple because the operator touches the screen to set the programs. The operator is led through the various steps to make the settings that allow for constant temperature in each room, turning the sprinkling system on automatically and setting the security system and the many other features.
Indoor and outdoor lighting can be set to go on when a person enters the room and go off when a person leaves the room. Appliances can be set to start at certain times.
The temperature in each room is controlled by a motorized dampers in the heating and air conditioning system in homes under construction and motorized vents in homes being retrofitted. If a woman wants her sewing room warmer than the master bedroom, she simply touches the Home Manager screen and makes the setting.
Norman said the system pays for itself in a few years because of the energy savings.
But perhaps the biggest selling point for Home Manager deals with safety. The video shows a large house and a toddler getting near the swimming pool, an area that is off limits to the children. The system sets off a buzzer telling the mother that an unauthorized person is near the pool, and she runs to rescue her child.
Regarding security, the system can turn lights on and off automatically to give the impression that someone is home. When a window is broken or a door opened, the system sets off an alarm to the police.
Norman said another feature of the system should be especially gratifying to women. If a person talks his way into the house, suddenly attacks the woman and tells her to turn off the security system, the system can be programmed to set off a police alarm in the event the system is not turned off at the programmed time.
"If one burglary can be prevented, the system nearly pays for itself," Norman said.