Friday, October 24, 2014 · 9:31 a.m.
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Through Comcast's Xfinity Home service, customers can manage home features, such as the thermostat, from anywhere. (Photo: Staff)

Comcast’s Xfinity Home service is giving customers the power to control features in their home—such as a thermostat, alarm system, smoke detector or lights—from anywhere with smartphones, computers and iPads.

“These kinds of things allow you to save money today,” Jim Weigert, vice president and general manager of Comcast Chattanooga, said.

The service became available last April, but leaders have recently added new features, such as the smoke detector connection.

The service uses a sensor with the detector that senses heat or smoke and sends the homeowner a text message about the potential fire. The system also alerts the local fire department, Comcast leaders said.

The service may be bad news for teenagers hoping to sneak in or out of their houses unnoticed.

Customers can get sensors on their windows and doors and set individualized “rules” to customize settings.

For example, a customer can designate that each time a specific door is opened, they receive a text message.

The service also makes it possible for a camera to take photos or video of a door when it is opened. Or cameras—which have night vision—can be used just to monitor a room or door.

The system is wireless and backed up so that even if power is lost, it will work, Comcast representatives said.

“The possibilities are endless,” Andy Harrison, outside sales representative with Comcast, said.

For those who aren’t comfortable with smartphones or computers, the system can also be controlled with a key fob.

Harrison and another outside sales representative, Robert Moody, said that the service allows for customers to think outside the box and utilize it in a very individualized way.

And there are more features in development, such as an application on the cable box that will allow the user to view a camera at the door on the television from the couch. So, if someone knocks on the door, and a customer isn’t sure if they want to answer it, they could check to see who it is from the television, Weigert said.

EPB is developing similar products to provide energy savings.

Company spokeswoman Deborah Dwyer said last week that when EPB’s smart grid is complete, leaders will start rolling out products that will allow customers to reduce power usage during peak demand hours. That will save customers money and relieve some stress on the system.

For example, energy would be in high demand during a 100-degree day, and customers could choose to have EPB control when an appliance, such as a water heater, is on and off so that it won’t run when demand is high, according to Nooga.com archives.

Weigert said that the company doesn’t reveal specific numbers of users for a product but that there has been positive response to Xfinity Home.

“It keeps getting more popular,” he said

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