When the phone rings in Pierre Metivier's Gilbert home, a computerized voice tells him which line to answer. "The house talks," he says. "On Sundays it tells me to take out the green garbage."
The house also automatically closes the blinds at sunset, turns the air conditioning on economy mode when Metivier sets the security alarm, and forwards his work calls to his cell phone when a garage sensor shows his van is not there.
Metivier's house is a smart home.
"It's not something that's a necessity," says Metivier, owner of the Phoenix-based Automated Living. "But once you're used to it, it's hard to live without it."
In the past decade, homeowners are automating everything from their home theaters to security systems.
"In the last few years the price of automation has come down to the average homeowner," says Stephen LeRouge of Home Automation, which is based in New Orleans. "We are bringing it down to the price of $300,000 house-price range."
It costs between $5,000 and $60,000 to completely automate a home and is typically done in the construction phase.
The latest trend in home automation is to hook up your home system to your personal computer network. Some even come equipped with a USB port you can plug into any computer and adjust your air conditioning and security system from anywhere in the country.
"Here in Arizona, the most practical and common thing to automate would be the thermostat," says LeRouge. "You hit the away button as you leave your house and the thermostats would automatically set back to a higher level for your workday."