A Lean, Green Entertainment Machine

A New Hampshire Company Makes Home Entertainment Systems Affordable and Efficient

Written by Jim Cavan

A lean, green entertainment machineFall has arrived and winter is right around the corner. That means more days spent indoors, more early nights and, for some, more football.

For many people—and certainly for a number of guys—the arrival of fall means rekindling a months-dormant relationship with the living room and specifically, the television. Maybe your own room is of a Spartan sensibility: one or two couches, a nice recliner and a stand-alone television whose only speakers reside on the appliance itself. Maybe you don’t even have couches. Maybe you’re looking for an excuse to turn your living room into your own personal I-MAX theater.

Well, that might be a stretch. What’s less of a stretch, however, is that many people seek to improve their living spaces by upgrading their home entertainment systems. And while such systems are by no means cheap, one New Hampshire company offers an entertainment system that is surprisingly affordable and “green” as well.

After years working in retail selling home audio and video systems, Nahant, Massachusetts native Paul Ford decided he was tired of simply “pushing boxes out the door.” In 2005 he started his own business, Atlantic Home Systems, which provides custom home entertainment as well as home automation and energy management systems.

What exactly is an energy management system? In short, energy management systems allow homeowners to control the bulk of home appliances—from TVs to sidewalk lighting to heat and air conditioning—from one, easy-to-use interface. Because the systems offered by Atlantic allow the homeowner to put an entire home on a specific, set schedule, everything works more efficiently, saving money and reducing the home’s carbon footprint in the process. An online program even allows one to monitor the home and its energy use from the other side of the world. When the equipment on the interface is not in use, it goes into a “standby” mode, saving a significant amount of energy.

A member of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Green Alliance, a green business union launched in 2008, Ford has always harbored a keen interest in all things audio and video, boasting an extensive background and education in acoustical, audio and visual engineering. And because his Barrington home office is also his showroom, he feels he can provide a prospective customer with an authentic, intimate picture of what the systems will look like in their homes. “Having the showroom in my home, I can show people how the system actually works as a whole, for a real family,” said Ford.

Control PanelFord prides himself on sourcing a vast majority of his products from within the United States, including from one company in Norwood, Massachusetts that serves as a regular supplier—impressive for an industry where a only few world-strewn companies dominate the market. Additionally, Control4, one of Ford’s largest suppliers (particularly in the realm of energy management systems) is known for working with power companies that utilize “smart” grids which, because of their reliance on two-way digital technology, are far more efficient than standard energy grids.

After growing tired of simply pushing the most expensive products on customers while working in retail, Ford now sees owning his own business as an opportunity to work with a customer to find the system or program that is best for him or her. “Being independent allows me to buy only the things that I need, so all I have to figure out is the customer’s needs, lifestyle, budget and so on,” said Ford. “I’m not concerned with particular manufacturers or making profits on specific items, which means I can really work in the customer’s best interest to help him or her become more efficient.”

According to Ford, when it comes to creating one of his custom-designed systems, the sky’s the limit. “The nature of the system itself is that it is all retrofit-able, all wireless, and it can be easily adjusted and tweaked once installed,” he explained. “If you do it right, there’s no telling how much more efficient your home can become.”