Ethan recommended the site SmartHome, which offers a veritable "Automation Univeristy" to educate you on incorporating automation in your home. From product reviews, videos, and a run down of all that can be automated in your home, SmartHome is a great resource.
And, just to whet your apetite, here's their list of common home automation application for the home.
• Check up on the babysitter while at work, or your home while on vacation, through an Internet-connected video camera.
• Adjust the thermostat while you lie in bed, or from a cell phone on your way home from work.
• Heat the hot tub or turn on the oven on the way home from work through the cell phone.
• Eliminate the need to walk around the house turning off lights before exiting the home or going to sleep, turn off all house lights with the touch of a single button.
• Set a series of events for your morning routine, designate the thermostat to warm the room, have lights gradually increase intensity, ensure the coffee begins brewing and the television turns on.
• Program your security system to alert you through e-mail or phone when the system detects activity in the home while you are away.
• Organize and control every component of the home entertainment system-- television, DVD, VCR and whole-house audio -- with a single touch-screen remote from anywhere in the home.
• See who is at the front door without leaving the comfort and safety of your couch through a display on your TV screen showing the visitor at the front door.
• Control all scheduled tasks, such as watering the lawn and outdoor lighting, with a simple computer program.
• Ensure pets are automatically fed, provided new water and clean litter while you are away from home.