It seems as if all the latest trends for homes talk about ways to make your home “smart”. Innovations in home automation that are available now allow you to connect, monitor and control multiple systems and appliances from wherever you are with a smartphone, tablet device or computer.

“But do I really need that?”

If you’re unsure that you want or need to add smart home devices, we have a few ideas that you might want to try, just to get started. They can save you time and money and we think it’s worthwhile to explore at least some of the basic devices that can make your home smarter and your life easier.

Better Thermostats and Smoke Alarms

Programmable thermostats have been around for quite a while now. They use a timer to automatically adjust the temperature setting at certain times of the day for comfort and energy efficiency. What’s new about them today is there are devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat. You’re teaching it your preferences and schedule every time you adjust the temperature. Before you know it, it’s programmed itself to maintain your comfort. An Auto-Away mode for energy efficiency kicks in when it detects no one is home.

Smoke alarms are much improved now, too. The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm units have simple green/yellow/red status lights and send low-battery alerts to your phone (so there’s no low-battery chirping in the middle of the night). Plus, if you burn your toast, you’ll get a simple “Heads-Up” alert instead of an ear-piercing alarm blast.

Photo of U by Moen smart home shower system

Photo courtesy Moen

A Smart Bathroom? Yes!

This is a great place to “dip your toe in the water” of smart home innovations. Touchless faucets and no-touch toilets that flush with a wave of your hand are great if you’re concerned about the spread of cold and flu germs. Advanced showering systems let you pre-program water temperatures for an at-home spa experience. You can control water, sound, steam and lighting elements with a touch-screen interface. This allows each user to customize settings for their preferred showering experience.

Amazing Smart Appliances

Lots of people have gotten used to asking Amazon’s Alexa to play music or give them the latest news or weather. But if you’re ready to go a step farther in smart home technology, many appliance manufacturers have added Amazon Alexa connectivity to a broad range of products, including refrigerators, dishwashers, wall ovens, ranges, washers, dryers and more. With voice-activated controls, you can preheat the oven or check on the internal temperature of a roast while it’s cooking. You can use voice commands with a smart refrigerator to find recipes, start a shopping list, or use Amazon Dash to reorder supplies.

Smart shower connected to Alexa

Photo courtesy Moen

Safety and Security

Whether you’re at home or away, video doorbells such as Ring or Nest Hello let you see who’s at your front door and even talk to them without opening the door. You can get alerts to your smartphone when packages are delivered, and even record suspicious activity, day or night, around your entryway.

Photo of Ring video Doorbell for smart home tech

Photo courtesy Ring

Smart locks can secure your home not only with traditional metal keys, but with fobs (like a keyless car fob) and smartphone apps. Encrypted controls let you buzz-in your guests when they show up early or keep track of when teenagers come and go.

What are you ready to try?

An ever-growing number of other household devices can be controlled right from your smartphone. If you’re comfortable with going all in, integrated automation is available for monitoring and controlling devices from different manufacturers with a single system: interior and exterior lights, thermostat, garage door, window shades, security cameras, pet door and water heater.

It’s a great time to consider integrating whatever level of smart home automation will suit your lifestyle – even if it’s only trying 1 or 2 new things. It will make your life easier!

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