How to Make Your House Smart(er)
A smart home is one that utilizes “smart” technology which saves you work on a daily basis. Here are my top tips for smart-ing up your house without breaking the bank.
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Technology is constantly on the move and constantly evolving.
(Trust me, as someone who makes a living on the internet, I wish it would slow down every once in a while. The stubborn internet gremlins refuse to be slowed.)
If we want to stay with the times, it is important for us to make changes to the house we live in and bring it into a new era.
As fun as it would be, we aren’t literally suggesting time travel. Bummer. That sounds way more fun. *pouty face* Instead, we are talking about a smart home.
Before you start thinking Jetsons on me, a smart home is one that utilizes “smart” technology which saves you work on a daily basis. Now, your security cameras may not be as much fun as a hoverboard, but when your teenager’s friends try to sneak out during a sleepover, they’re way more useful.
Here are my top tips for smart-ing up your house without breaking the bank.
One of the first things you can do to make your home smarter is to buy a smart speaker.
There are multiple types of speaker you can buy for the home, and one such as a Sonos will link up to your phone with ease, or this little beast, which is one of our family favorites. As long as you are in the range of the speaker, you can click play on your phone and you’ll immediately have music blasting through the entire living space. This is great for parties because you won’t keep having to walk over to the speaker to add new songs to your playlist!
As well as having a smart speaker inside the house, it can be fun to have one on the outside of the house. For example, you could have a speaker in your garden which will allow you to have parties and enjoy the atmosphere outside during the summer.
If you have a pool (or a toddler with access to a hose), waterproofing is a must. This little guy is waterproof and very inexpensive, but if you’re okay paying a little more for it, this one simply can’t be beat and comes with a crazy long battery life.
Whatever smart speaker you pick, this is a fun (and relatively inexpensive) gadget and will be something which makes your summer days more fun.
I told the tale of Dobby and Kreature (my two nerdily-named Roombas) in my post on how to futurize your house, but I’m going to sing their praises again here, because these are probably the two nouns in my house that save me the most time on a daily basis.
Both are app-controlled robot vacuum cleaners and they are members of the family. Seriously. Most days I like them better than my actual children (who seldom vacuum). Both of these little guys were gifts (each from different, very loved family friends who have...you know...met our dogs and know what shedding damage they can do).
We have a two story house, so each “house elf” (aka vacuum) stays on one floor and cleans their own domain. At exactly 9:00am, they both start vacuuming, so while I’m doing my morning rounds of windexing, wiping dog drool off walls, and starting laundry, I’m also technically vacuuming two places at once.
If that isn’t the biggest benefit of technology, I really don’t know what is.
Our dogs’ shedding was getting so bad that, before our majestic robot helpers arrived, I was literally vacuuming some areas more than once a day. I cannot overstate the joy these little guys bring into my life.
Smart lights are a great way to make the house feel like something from the 31st century right away.
You can buy lights which will change colour and brightness depending on what you are looking for and these can be a fun way for you to add some technology to the house.
We have these little guys set up in a few “mood lighting” type locations like under the lip of our kitchen counter, behind the headboard of our bed, or inside the top frame of our toddler’s open-face closet (best nightlight ever...and can be controlled from my phone without leaving bed if she wakes up at 3am freaking out because it’s too dark).
I also have a few of these lower-cost alternatives in key lamps throughout the house. They still get the full range of 16 million possible colors (which is totally unnecessary but way cool), but aren’t as pricy.
Added, bonus, all of these can be controlled via your trusty Alexa.
What could be better than controlling your home heating when you are out of the house?
Let’s say it is a cold day. You might not want to have the heating on all day while you are out of the house, but if you don’t have it on you would come home to a cold house. With a smart thermostat, you will be able to hook up the heating to your phone and this will allow you to switch it on when you want and switch it off when you need to. For example, if you were on your way home, you could set your heating to come on, and by the time you reach your house the home will be toasty ready for you!
We have this one set up, one for each floor (because that’s the way our weird house was wired by the previous owners) and I seriously don’t think I could go back to a manual version.
At the time of writing this, I’m currently 6 months pregnant, which means (for those of you not being used as an incubator) that I wake up 1-5 times a night in a full-body sweat. Super fun times. Fortunately, with these guys I can go on my phone and turn on the fan without leaving the comfort of my bed. Life. Saver.
Seriously, along with our robot vacuum deities, these guys are at the top of my recommendation list.
There are a few ways that you can protect the outside of the home and make it feel more secure.
The first way to do this is to install some cameras around the home which you can hook up to your phone. We have three of these guys (bought as a three-pack on a special sale day) set up, one per entrance/exit to our house. I can’t tell you how much these guys get used. Like the vacuums, lights, and thermostat, they hook up right to your phone, which means you can see them from anywhere. Dogs barking? Check the cameras from the nursery to make sure no one is actually at the door. Worried you left the door unlocked? Zoom into the video to see the latch position from your desk at work.
Seriously, these are amazing!
Setting up cameras on all of your entry/exit points is a huge weight off your shoulders. It will allow you to always keep an eye on your property from any angle...from the front door where delivery people always creepily look into your house to the french doors at the back of the property your teens always use to try to sneak out).
How many times have you missed a parcel because you were at work or out elsewhere?
Having to pick up a parcel is always a chore and it can be something which takes a lot of time out of your day. Instead, a video doorbell will allow you to answer the door on your phone and tell the delivery driver to place it in a safe place.
Personally, I’m saving up for one of these guys next. I love the idea of being able to allow people temporary access to my house without actually giving them a key.
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So there’s my list of ways to make your home smarter. With the exception of the door lock (which is only a matter of time) these are all things we’ve actually implemented in our house and absolutely love.
Let me know which are your favorites or if you have anything to add to the list!
As you can probably tell, I’m kind of a sucker for app-run smart home technologies, so I’d love to hear what works for you guys.
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About the Author
Founder | Contributor
Liz (or Dr. Mommy, as her toddler started calling her after learning what a PhD was) is the happily sleep-deprived mom of a baby boy (and professional raccoon noise impersonator), a sparkle-clad toddlernado, a teenage stepdaughter, the canine embodiments of Pinky and The Brain, and a rabbit of unusual size. During nights and naptimes, she uses her PhD in business psychology as an author, speaker, and consultant. She also serves as an executive and principal for three companies, two of which she co-founded with her very patient (and equally exhausted) husband.
My Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
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