In addition to controlling AV with IR, I also control the lighting and mode of the house. I use HomeVision Pro which understands, recognizes and can send IR codes.
If I'm in the basement and I pause my TiVo, it turns up the lights upstairs in case I'm going up for a drink. Or I can push 01 on my remote to manually turn on the main hall lights (and 02 for my stairs, etc).
I push 99 (like nighty night) if I want to manually tell the house we're going to bed. This turns up all the lights for 5 minutes, turns off all AV equipment, sets the alarm, etc. (The system can tell if we've gone to bed and ensure lights are off, AV off, security on, etc. However, this method is a manual way to force the system into goodnight mode, and gets used regularly since it makes it easy to turn everything off and make sure the lights are on to check on the kids and go upstairs, etc.)