"I can put my air conditioner on two hours before I get down to my beach house, and it'll be very comfortable when I arrive," says the businessman, 61, who also has burglary and fire alarm systems in his Wynnewood home, as well as a programmable thermostat, and sensors on the sump pump and basement walls to detect flooding.
In The Jetsons, the 1960s cartoon classic, George Jetson and his family lived in a futuristic society with housecleaning robots and programmable appliances. (George also logged on to FaceTime chats with his boss, and he read his news from a screen.)
Now, 50 years later - and nearly three decades after the technology hit the stores - such innovations are within reach of the typical homeowner. Because installation is easier and costs are lower, more people are enjoying their "smart homes" - residences designed to control tasks like alarm systems, door locks, lighting, music selection, video surveillance, and temperature control with a smartphone or tablet.
Andy Soloski, a sales representative at JM Resources in King of Prussia, which installs security and home-automation systems, says that as more people have been carrying smartphones, his company in the last two years has had a 10 percent surge in revenue linked to connected-home technologies. The smartphone acts as the interface between the communicator (homeowner) and a central hub or controller (an installed device that functions as the home's brain).
"From a practical standpoint, no one has to take a half-day off from work to meet a repairman anymore," says Soloski, who zoned his own house with a smart thermostat that saves him about 20 percent on annual utility bills.
Smart-home technology started out costing an arm and a leg a decade ago, "upward of $3,000 to $5,000," depending on the bells and whistles, says Rich Dotti, owner of Seven Systems L.L.C. in Vineland. Nowadays, it's more affordable, with Dotti's packages starting around $800 for installation. Smart-home products are extra, and there are monthly monitoring fees of $10 to $15.
In the past, smart electronics were trickier to install. Wireless systems have replaced the need to fish wires through walls, smoothing the way for installation in older homes, too.
Dotti says most people start with a standard security system. As families' lifestyles evolve, the systems can expand and additional smart products for discerning shoppers can be retrofitted. "It's getting to a point where there's not much you can't monitor or control."
Begin the day by watching CNN and turning on the lights in the bathroom, hallways, and kitchen from the comfort of your bed. The system turns to "off" mode when everyone leaves for the day.
Want to know whether your daughter came home after soccer practice? It's all captured on the point-of-entry camera at the front door.
Worried that your elderly mother is wandering the house at night? Check your e-mail alerts to see whether she tripped the bed sensor.
Closets, doors, and bureau drawers can all be equipped with gadgets to alert homeowners if the hired help has been peeking through your underwear.
There are even infrastructures that signal you left the garage door open on your way to work (you can close it remotely).
If you don't own a smartphone, companies like Control4 offer the ability to manage your home with a universal remote that lowers the blinds, dims the lights, and turns on the music, all while beef bourguignon roasts in your smart oven for your dinner party.
Meanwhile, environmental experts are hailing this technological wave and see it as enhancing green living. Associate professor Jin Wen in Drexel University's engineering department says "products have become more user-friendly" and are "revolutionizing the ways consumers are saving energy."
As traditional incandescent lamps are phased out, says Christopher Thompson, founder of the West Coast lighting design firm Studio Lux, eco-friendly fixtures and bulbs seem to be the guiding beacons for smart-home lighting aesthetics. Thompson also formats houses with personal lighting networks he calls "pathways," where lights adjust when someone enters or leaves an area, helping to keep energy use down.
These emerging energy-saving features will arguably lead to more money in homeowners' pockets, says president and general manager Scott Harkins of Honeywell Security Products Americas in Melville, N.Y. The next big thing, Harkins contends, will probably be apps on smartphones that will allow homeowners to collaborate with utility companies, thus knowing when there's a spike in service. The creation of smart outlets could potentially show - via your smartphone - that your refrigerator is on the fritz.
The billion-dollar smart-home-equipment market has big-name corporations noticing.
AT&T announced plans this month to roll out its home-automation initiative. Comcast already offers similar services with installation beginning at less than $500. And last year, Lowe's home-improvement stores began selling Iris systems, $299 DIY starter kits providing a home-management system.
Undoubtedly, possessing the latest technology suggests a certain cachet for some homeowners; for others, it's just about knowing who's at the front door.
"This next generation of homebuyers has grown up with connected lives," Harkins adds. "Probably, the connected home will one day be expected and be part of a standard lifestyle."