Remotely Control Your Home – From Locks to Lights
JM Construction recently explored how smart appliances and fixtures can add convenience and comfort to your life. But what about the rest of your home? Today’s technology can help you remotely control and schedule your lighting, HVAC, and more – which means a more comfortable, efficient, and convenient life for you and your family.
Controlling your home’s lights with your smartphone isn’t just about turning them on and off. Today’s offerings from brands like Philips and GE feature adjustable colors, tints, and brightness, so you can make adjustments based on your mood. Relaxing after dinner with some wine? Dim the lights a bit. Having a fun birthday party? Go crazy and light up the room in vivid blue, green, or pink. You can also create schedules for your lights so that you aren’t wasting energy when they’re not needed, and can arrive home from work to a fully lit entrance, kitchen, and living room.
Getting started with smart lights is easy, but certain brands require a few extra steps. While some smart bulbs can send and receive signals directly from wifi, most require a bridge that translates an industry-standard signal into something your wireless router can understand. (These plug into your wall outlet and an ethernet port on your router, and you only need one of them.) Starter packs are available which include both a set of bulbs and a bridge so you don’t have to wonder if you’re buying compatible products. Once you’ve set everything up via wifi, you’ll be able to control your lights via your smartphone (in an app or with a voice assistant) or your smart speaker such as Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod.
Remote Electrical Switches
Need the power to control the, well, power? Smart plugs are your new secret weapon. The tiny accessories are placed between your AC outlet and whatever you’re plugging in, and allow you to turn on or cut the power remotely or on a schedule. If the kids have used up their TV time, you no longer have to confiscate the remote – you can cut the power right from an app. Or if you prefer your coffee within 30 seconds of waking up, you can schedule your coffeemaker to turn on a few minutes before you do. Smart plugs are also useful if you don’t want to dive into smart lighting but would like the convenience of remotely flipping the switch on a lamp. You can even set a countdown timer so you can read for a half hour in bed and then have your bedside lamp automatically turn off so you know it’s time to get to sleep. Best of all, they’re inexpensive – you can find Kasa’s Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini for about $10. The days of those complicated and bulky manual timers are finally over.
The device that arguably kicked off the smart home trend is the Nest Learning Thermostat. Smart thermostats track your patterns to learn when to automatically raise or lower the heat in your home. Some can even detect if anyone is home and adjust the heat or air conditioning as needed to save on energy (and your bills) automatically. Again, it’s easy to turn the air conditioning on as you leave work so you can arrive to a cool home, and can be controlled from your phone or a smart speaker.
Smart thermostats are particularly helpful for those with second homes. It’s much easier to arrive to a comfortable temperature and to leave for a week or two without worrying if you’ve properly turned everything off. Furthermore, controlling the heat remotely provides peace of mind when preparing for a winter storm if you don’t live close by. Second homeowners are likely familiar with setting the heat low in the winter to save on oil costs. That means that when the power goes out, the house can go from chilly to freezing very quickly. By remotely turning the heat up to 70 degrees before a storm hits, you can buy more time for the power to be restored before the pipes freeze.
The only downside of smart thermostats is that you may need an HVAC technician to help with the installation, though this depends on your home’s wiring.
One of the smartest investments in your smart home might be the cheapest – and simplest. Leak detectors are small sensors that can be placed under the kitchen or bathroom sink, behind a toilet, or anywhere prone to moisture. If water hits the device, it will send an alert to your smartphone so you can investigate and fix the problem. These tiny devices can end up saving you quite a bit of money when they help you catch a leak before major damage is done.
It’s 2022 and we’re still using bits of metal to unlock our doors? Smart locks let you and your guests enter with your phones – and let you lock and unlock your door from anywhere. Whether you have guests arriving while you’re out or need to let the cable guy in, you no longer have to rely on hiding a key under a rock in the backyard. Most smart locks fit right over your existing manual locks, so installation is easy. Best of all, you can cure the classic “Did I forget to lock my door” anxiety in a matter of seconds.