Unautomate the Unpredictable Parts Of Your Life

This week I have talked about using a sprinkler system and the importance of keeping the system properly maintained. I also brushed on air conditioning and comfort. Talking about both those things got me thinking about another aspect of maintaining a home, automation.

I am a big fan of automating my finances. I am a software developer by degree and automation is something that I really enjoy creating and using. It can really simplify things, when used properly.

On the other hand, when automated and forgotten, things get put out of mind and run their own course which is not always what you initially desired. So, not to be confused with Baker@ManVsDebt’s book, Unautomate Your Finances (affiliate link) I want to talk about unautomating some of the aspects of your home.

First, one of the big new things in the past decade has been having a programmable thermostat. You can create a schedule and your thermostat will adjust on a set schedule. This is a pretty cool concept and I do have a programmable thermostat at home. You can set it to cool down the house when you anticipate being at home, and you can set it to turn the temperature to a more cost friendly digit when you plan to be away. The same goes with the heating side of things.

Here’s my problem with all that. When we first got our central air installed, we started using the programmable thermostat. We set it to our estimated schedule but we soon found that we were changing the temperature twice as often as the thermostat’s program was changing it.

You see, the thermostat doesn’t know if I change my schedule. It doesn’t know if I plan to stay out later on one particular night, or if I plan to be home early.

Personally, my schedule changes pretty drastically. I have a wife and kids and if they decide we are going to go to Grandma’s house for the day, and stay there till 10pm that night, that’s what happens!

The same goes for the sprinkler system. The system is awesome, don’t get me wrong. You can set it to water the lawn at specific times, during specific days. You can even set each sprinkler head to run for a different duration. But the weather in Utah is almost as unpredictable as my wife and kids. Earlier this week, it was 100 degrees and as dry that guy’s armpits on the AXE commercial, after the weird stranger puts antiperspirant in them. Today, there is a very high chance of rain for the rest of the week, and it’s rained every day since Monday.

One of the tips in my How To Create A Lush and Beautiful Lawn Inexpensively was to not run the sprinklers when it’s going to rain but when it’s on an automatic schedule, and I’m not there, it runs and floods the lawn whether I like it or not.

So, what can you do about these two problems as well as any other unpredictable aspects of your life that are on an automatic schedule?

Unautomate things! One of the main things I thought about when reading Unautomate Your Finances (review to come) was getting your hands dirty with your finances. Getting hands on and knowing exactly what was going on with things as well as controlling things yourself. That principle also applies to these parts of life that can but don’t have to be automated.

Instead of allowing my thermostat program to control my schedule, we turn off the automatic program and control it manually. Yes, some nights we come home to a hot house and have to be uncomfortable for about ten minutes. It’s better than leaving the house, or not even getting home till late in the evening to find your air conditioning has been keeping your vacant house a pleasant 70 degrees (with an outside temperature of 110) for the past 8 hours.

Instead of setting and forgetting my sprinkler system schedule I wait till I’m ready to go to bed at about midnight, and turn them on myself. Yes, I have to actually switch the sprinkler system to run. But that’s far better than allowing the sprinkler system to run when it’s raining, flooding the lawn and wasting not only a presious resource, but my moneey too!

The best thing to do is figure out the things in your life that actually benefit from being automated, and take advantage of those. For the other automated aspects, if they are ending up being wasteful, cancel the automation and get hands on.

In the end, computers can’t predict the unpredictability of human life.

Image by tallkev

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4 People have left comments on this post



» MFONo Gravatar said: { Aug 2, 2010 - 05:08:05 }

Great message. For me, the only part of my finances that I automate are savings. That is the easiest way to save I feel. As soon as I get paid, $200 comes out of my bank account. I prefer to pay all my bills manually. I am a huge fan of the debt snowball. And being able to manually enter the amount I want to be taken out of my bank account to pay down debt is not only extremly usefu, but it's a huge confidence builder:)
My recent post Saving for a Down Payment as a First Time Home Buyer

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I agree, I also automate my savings but pay all my bills manually. I find that because lack of savings doesn’t have an immediate negative effect on my life, I don’t remember to put money away. Since I started automating my savings, we have put away way more than we even thought we could.

[Reply]

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

The feeling, the endorphin release from some things, is a huge motivator 🙂

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