Controlling home appliances is a very interesting topic. A simple hardware is capable of controlling entire house. Lighting or heating water is not difficult to control. Internet or SMS can be used to manage this but it comes with some serious security issues. Breaking into a miniature server connected to the Internet may result in big troubles at home. That's why bespoke software is the best solution.
The first version of home automation was built using an old cell phone. The system operated reliably for many months controlled by 8-bit microcontroller with a few kilobytes of RAM.
first prototype based on Analog Devices ADuC841
first final version controlled from SMS messages
digital barometric pressure sensor
second version based on RaspberryPi
this is what happens when I am left home alone for a few hours...
system control page screenshot