It is 6:30 on a cold January morning. You awake not to the raucous blat of an alarm clock but to the soothing sounds of Enya emanating from the Bose speakers hidden in your bedroom ceiling.
The temperature outside is a chilling 18 degrees, but your bedroom is a toasty 72 as your computerized heating system came on 15 minutes ahead of your wake-up.It's still dark outside, but the lights in the bathroom thoughtfully pop on, anticipating your momentary arrival. Your shower also expects you. The water has come on automatically at the temperature and pressure you like.
Getting dressed, you flip on the TV and turn to a special channel. The screen shows outside views of your property as seen by TV cameras mounted around the house. All is well.
It snowed during the night, but you don't have to worry about shoveling. A natural gas-fired boiler in the basement has been sending hot water through a system of pipes under your driveway and sidewalks, melting the snow before it can accumulate.
In your garage, you disconnect the hose that has been filling your car with compressed natural gas (CNG) while you slept and begin the commute to work.
Later, at the office, you wonder if the kids remembered to set the security system before they went to school. You dial home and ask the computer to check security. Sure enough, they forgot, so you punch in a code and the system sets itself.
If burglars do break in, or a fire breaks out, the computer will dial the office of the security company or fire department and alert them. It also will call you at your office and relay the information. At the same time, if the problem is fire, it will turn off the gas supply to your home.
Does all this sound impossibly futuristic? It isn't. The family who buys the "Smart House" nearing completion at the Mill Hollow subdivision will start living smart on the day they move in.
Mill Hollow, near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon at 7000 South, is the site of the 1993 Parade of Homes, and the Smart House will likely be the premier attraction at the show, set to open Aug. 14.
There have been other homes built locally that include various aspects of computerized "smart" technology, but Tom Landes, president of Americana Construction, said the Smart House he is building for the Parade of Homes is the first in Utah to implement the official Smart House systems.
Smart House L.P. is a consortium of 55 partners, mostly manufacturers, involved in producing components for the Smart House Home Management Systems. The systems control the heating/
cooling, audio/video, security and lighting in a home.
The Smart House coalition was organized by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center and includes an advisory council of utilities and trade groups.
Although the Mill Hollow Smart Home is Utah's first, it is estimated that 26,000 houses will have been wired for Smart House computer and materials technology nationwide by the end of the year.
In addition to Smart Home technology, the Americana house will also showcase natural gas. Along with the aforementioned driveway/
sidewalk heating system and the CNG vehicle fueling station in the garage, the house has a gas range, twin gas ovens, gas clothes dryer, gas barbecue and patio heater, gas fireplaces, and a computerized gas heating/cooling system that can provide provide different temperatures at different times of the day for four separate zones in the house.
All of this comes at a price, of course. Landes says the Smart House equipment has added about$35,000 to the price of the home and the specialized gas appliances and equipment another $15,000.
The Smart House is constructed of brick, stucco and sandstone with 3,500 square feet of finished space on the main and upper levels and another 2,250 square feet in the unfinished basement.
The price of the house has not been set - it had not been sold by press deadlines - but Landes said it will be in the range of $400,000 to $425,000. That includes the lot and the many extras always found on Parade homes.
Americana construction normally builds custom, pre-sold homes, but Landes built this one on spec for the chance to be Utah's first Smart Home builder.
Although the Parade doesn't start until Aug. 14, Landes said he has committed to having the house finished by Aug. 9 when many representatives of the Smart House consortium will be at the site for some pre-show promotions.
Two local electricians took special training to install the complex wiring for the Smart House, which is controlled by a Plexus panel located in the master bedroom. Those men have also been training other electricians in the technology. At one time, said Landes, a total of 13 electricians from independent companies were working in the house.
Despite the complexity, Landes assures that the Smart House technology is "user friendly." But just in case, the home's buyer will get plenty of help in setting up the system and learning to use it. It wouldn't do for the house to be smarter than its owners.