Home Tips & Tricks

Make Your Home Smart

posted by Travis June 14, 2016 0 comments

With rising temperatures homeowners may notice an increase in their utility bills. This is the perfect opportunity to upgrade your house to a smart home.

Imagine, you leave work for your commute home, your thermostat knows you’re on your way so it starts cooling or heating your home. As you arrive at you driveway, your exterior lights turn on and your garage door opens automatically. You walk into your home and the light or a group of lights turn on. When you walk upstairs and hop into bed, the downstairs lights turn off and the upstairs lights dim or turn a soothing color.

Here are the best ways to get out there and take that leap into the future.


The first step that many people take into the smart home arena is a connected thermostat. Thermostats are simple to install and in most cases offer immediate reductions in energy consumption. Over time they learn your routines and preferences, allowing them to keep you comfortable while saving you money in the long run. In fact, many energy companies like them so much that they offer free learning thermostats as an incentive for using their service and to help alleviate strain on power grids during peak hours.


Another common entry point is lighting. If you haven’t noticed, incandescent bulbs are being replaced by energy efficient LED lighting. Next time you go to replace a light bulb, you can purchase a typical LED bulb, however, for a few dollars more you can get a connected bulb that knows a few tricks that other bulbs don’t. Phillips Hue starter kits may seem like an expensive investment at $179 – $199, but when you consider the 25,000 hour lifespan, energy-sipping 11-Watt usage, the included wireless bridge and a host of features, that cost becomes an afterthought. Hue and Friends of Hue let you paint your home with color, enhance entertainment by interacting with music and media, can give the appearance that you’re home through scheduling, and can even sync with sensors to give visual cues in addition to your alarm if carbon monoxide or smoke are detected.

Voice Control

Smart thermostats and lighting aren’t the only entry point – Amazon has introduced a voice controlled assistant that really gives you the feeling you’re living in the future. The Amazon Echo makes you feel like the captain of a spaceship by following your spoken commands. In no time at all you’ll wonder how you ever lived without a personal assistant. Cooking in the kitchen and starting to get a little warm, “Alexa, set downstairs temperature to 72°.” Following a recipe and need help with a conversion, “Alexa, how many ounces in a pint?” Maybe you want to scrap the whole thing, “Alexa, order pizza.” Yes, you’ll soon discover that you have a magic genie that grants simple requests. From playing your favorite Spotify or Prime music to re-ordering diapers as soon as you discover you’re running low, this assistant truly makes your home smarter.


Sensors in your connected device can alert you to activity in your home like smoke detection or water leaks while you’re at home or away. You can also receive notification to other activities in and around your home like opening doors or your garage, movement in your home and even activity at your front door.

Peace of Mind

Don’t remember if you closed the garage? Maybe you need to let a friend or family member into your house. With a smart garage controller you can check if your garage is open and you can open it remotely to allow access to your home. How about a smart lock for your front door? If you use a cleaning service or have house guests you can provide them with a “Digital Key” or passcode that expires or allows entry during specific hours. All of that and you never have to worry about being locked out of your home again or leaving behind a spare key.

As you can see, smart homes are modular. You can add devices to them as your need or budget allows. After adding new devices you may find that you start to get app overload. An app for lights, an app for your thermostat and an app for your irrigation system. It may be time to add a smart hub. A hub is a central device that controls all of your connected devices through one app. You can find a pretty extensive review to help you make an informed decision from May of 2016 over at thewirecutter.com.

Additional Perks

One last thing to add to the conversation, smartphones and wearables. With so many smart phone owners and the newer entry of wearables. With these devices that know your whereabouts, your home can feel like it knows your next move before you do. Using just the smart device or by incorporating recipes from IFTTT (If This Then That) you can trigger actions based on your location or activity.

As always, let us know what your favorite smart home gadget or automation recipe is in the comments below. 

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