By Jeanette W. Bennett, Photography by David Blackhurst
Tim and Annette O’Loughlin spent three years designing the floor plan of their future home. They attended home shows, bought a piece of ground in Pleasant Grove and cut out pictures in magazines.
When Tim finally got tired of commuting to work in Orem from Midvale, the couple dug the hole for their home and Annette moved to Idaho for a few months with their three boys.
For six months, Tim had two full-time jobs: he worked from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Vantage Controls, and then from 3 p.m. to midnight he worked as a general contractor — as well as a subcontractor — on his home.
As the systems integration manager for Vantage, Tim had seen automation systems put in million-dollar homes, and he had observed the high percentage of happy customers who enjoyed increased energy efficiency, safety and ease of living by using automation technology. He set out to make his 1,940-square-foot home just as tech-savvy as the mansions he helped create.
“I’m a geek so I love technology, but I can also see the practicality of these features,” Tim says. “These systems can pay for themselves over time by using energy as efficiently as possible.”
For example, pushing the “good-bye button” as the O’Loughlins leave the home turns off all of the lights and adjusts the thermostat so it isn’t cranking heat or air conditioning unnecessarily.
Annette, who works from home processing mortgages, says her favorite feature is that their young sons can open the blinds easily with a push of the button, and they can also control the brightness of the lights in their bedrooms and bathroom.
“I also like the motion detector lights in the closets and pantry,” she says. “That way I know we’re only using the electricity that we actually need. Plus, I never fumble trying to find the light switch.”
Annette’s office is in the basement, and as she comes down the stairs, a sensor turns on the stairway light so she can safely hit the landing.
“I was concerned that the kids might play with the system,” Annette says. “But it has worked out well. They know how to use the features they need — and they love the automatic lights in the closets.”
The system is connected to an astronomical clock, which adjusts itself according to the longitude and latitude of the home. For example, the exterior lights come on at sunset, and the system adjusts itself to know when the sun sets throughout the year.
In addition to being energy-efficient, this highly wired home also has safety features. For example, if you hit the literal “panic button,” it turns on all the lights in the house and flashes the exterior lights, making it easier for emergency vehicles to find the home. The wall-mounted units and hand-held remotes have a user-friendly interface that doesn’t feel overly “techy.”
“There is not a lot of maintenance with this system,” Tim says. “It takes care of itself.”
Another energy-saving tip the Pleasant Grove family utilizes is to not shine the lights at 100 percent. The O’Loughlins have their lights gradually fade up when they are turned on, which alleviates the problem of shocking a cold filament that can burn out quickly.
“Our home knows how we live and helps us do it in an efficient, easy way,” Tim says. “Plus, we’ve had fun adjusting the features as we go along.”
Speakers are connected to the bottom of the deck for backyard music.
This wall unit gives full access to all of the automated features in the home, including cameras that show the driveway and front porch of the Pleasant Grove home.
Tim O’Loughlin did all of the wiring for the automation in his home.
Timpanogos is the best feature in Utah Valley, and the O’Loughlins use their motorized blinds to open their view from the family room. Their large east-facing deck is ideal for family barbecues or evening chats. A sound system brings music to the outdoors.
Annette O’Loughlin’s favorite room is the kitchen, where family and guests gather around her granite countertops and clear alder cabinets. Her double convection oven allows her to fix several items at once.
This hand-held remote has a user-friendly interface to turn on lights, crank music and open the blinds.
Numbers tell the story of one home with thousands of wires
3 Years the O’Loughlins owned their Pleasant Grove lot before they built their home
6 Months it took to build their home
1,940 Square feet on the main floor and also the basement
7,500 Feet of Romex electrical wire in the home 16 Motorized blinds in the home
30 Different Vantage Controls products in the O’Loughlin home
0.5 Acres that the home sits on