Solutions to First World Problems

My husband and I have recently had one of those conversations that makes you feel distinctly adult. No, I’m not talking about deciding whether or not to pay for the sexy channels (we have the Internet that shit just isn’t worth it). What we discussed was whether or not we would look for a bigger house stay in the one we have.

For reference our house is not at all large. There are three bedrooms, exactly enough for the four of us, and two and a half bathrooms. Our square footage is probably about 2000 but that number includes the finished basement. Right now the house feels a bit cramped. That’s mostly due to the fact that every room in our house has some form of baby stuff or toddler toys strewn everywhere.

Ultimately when Don and I looked at our finances and the things we wanted to do in the future as well as the fact that two children is just enough for us thank you very much, we decided that staying in our current house is the right move. As the kids get older they’ll spend less and less time in the house anyway and our property taxes and mortgage are more than manageable.

With that decision being made we could start making a very nerdy list of improvements we wanted to tackle. At the top of the list are boring things like finishing the fence around our backyard and painting the downstairs. Those things do not involve technology thus they are boring and stupid (or necessary and grown up, whatever). At the top of my nerd list is slowly retrofitting the house with home automation toys.

Ultimately home automation is the solution to the world’s stupidest first world problem. I mean honestly having lights and heating/cooling that I can control from outside the home really solves nothing more than maybe saving us a couple of bucks on our energy bill every month. The thing is it’s really fucking cool. I like cool things. I love cool things that involve technology. You can see why this nonsense appeals to me right?

I’m sorry I can’t let you do that, Elaine.

I’ve decided that the first step to this will be to upgrade our thermostat to the newest iteration of the Nest. I’ve always been impressed with the device especially it’s ability to learn habits and to be configured remotely via an app. I realize there are other options in this space but I really love the look and feel of the Nest. The interface is simple which means it won’t be overwhelming for my husband to use. Plus, pretty blue and red lights! I like shiny things! I’m not unlike a squirrel.

After the thermostat is upgraded I’ll start tackling all of the lights hard-wired into switches. I have some dimmer switches I want to add in the dining room and the basement. After that’s done I can tackle wall outlet solutions for the remaining lights. Part of the draw to a side project like this is that I can step through the whole thing one room at a time. There isn’t really a ton of money that I have to put down all in one go, aside from the Nest itself and some of the initial home automation tools. It’s the perfect project for a nerd who has to pay for food and clothing for two rapidly growing children.

What I’m wondering is if any of you folks out there have done any automation in your homes? What technology did you go with X10 or INSTEON? Is there anything vital I need to know before I get started? Give me all your knowledge Internet! Save me from having to Google this further.

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About Elaine

Mom, engineer, writer, gamer, gym rat. Ain't nobody got time for excuses.
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3 Responses to Solutions to First World Problems

  1. Melissa says:

    I think there is still a sensor outside on my front porch that set off a sort of bell when someone came to the door. My office used to be in the basement, and that way I didn’t miss the UPS guy. We had a camera (X10) involved at some point also..but then the kids came and I do NOT want that doorbell thing waking napping children, so we stopped with all the home nerdery. Now we stick to xbox and recorded tv and that’s the extent of our home technology. Sorry. I have no knowledge, our X10 stuff was ten years ago..my oldest is about to turn ten. ten. holy crap.

  2. Kevin says:

    I say Insteon. It’s more modern, capable of doing more, and mostly backwards compatible with X10. Also, look into Indigo ( http://www.perceptiveautomation.com/indigo/index.html ) as a controller. You can run it off the computer in the basement and use it for Macro like functionality and your remote connections.

    Let me know if you want help, I did automation stuff in high school.

    • Elaine says:

      I might just take you up on some help. I think Insteon is the right call. I didn’t realize it was mostly backwards compatible with X10 which is a nice feature.

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