Smart home app

The change of season is a good time to think about creating a Smart Home. As the length of day changes, so do our routines. Our sleep, work, and school schedules all change. The secret is to prepare for those seasonal changes by renovating your home to become a smart home. I’ve done just that so here’s my recommended list on where to start, and what to add later.

A smart home starts with a smart speaker and display

A lot of people may already have a Smart Speaker and Display in their home. They might use it to play music or watch videos. What they may not realize is they already have the bedrock of a smart home. Virtual all smart home gadgets—from smart speakers to smart security cameras—use smart speakers or a smart display. With voice assistants, you can control a variety of different devices hands-free. Imagine turning the lights off, locking the doors, and arming the security cameras with your voice. Voice assistant allow that to happen—even in bed before you go to sleep. 

My tip is to have more than one smart speaker or display in the house. I recommend having one in the kitchen, bedroom, and even the bathroom. The more, the better. I’ll explain later on why. 

Smart lights in smart home

Adding smart lights and smart light switches

Having a smart home is a different experience. You have to get used to talking to your house to turn devices on and off. The best way to start is with Smart Lights. Essentially, there are two ways to do this. One is by retrofitting  a home with Smart Bulbs. These lights connect to your home Wi-Fi network. They are also multi-colour, allowing you to change the colour with voice commands or on a smartphone. The other method is installing new Smart Switches. Instead of lights, the switch itself connects to the home Wi-Fi network. This is especially a good option if you don’t need multi-colour lights, or you’re using different types of light bulbs. 

In my home, I have both but I recommend people start with smart light switches. Smart light bulbs require voice-control exclusively. That means you can’t use the light switch anymore. If the light switch is off, you won’t be able to turn the light on from voice commands. With smart light switches, you have two options to control lights. Use or voice, or use the switch. This was a game changer in my bedroom. Sometimes I use the light switch, but at night I always turn the lights off in bed through voice commands. This is my Handy Andy tip of the day—install a smart light switch in your bedroom. Thank me later. 

Smart lock in a smart home

Install a smart lock on your front door

If you want a smart home gadget that you’ll use everyday, get yourself a Smart Lock. It’s one of those upgrades that you will never regret. Your life will change forever, and I speak from experience. Smart locks provide a variety of different ways to open your front door. One option is using a key. If that’s how you prefer to get in, then you can continue to use a key. Another option is a pincode. We already use pin codes for our bank cards, why not do the same for our front doors? A third way is our smartphone. We rarely go anywhere without our phones so it makes the perfect virtual key for smart locks. 

I’ve installed smart locks for my own home, and other family members. I even let them pick their own personal pin codes so they don’t forget. The one thing to look for is what happens if the battery dies. While they all provide low battery alerts, you need a plan B just in case. Many now have USB-C ports to connect a power bank for emergency power. However, my tip is to buy a lock box and store a backup key. I attached a string to my key so it can’t leave the lock box. This gives me peace of mind knowing I will always be able to get into my home. However, day to day, I love the pin code entry. 

Smart thermostat in a smart home

Upgrade your home heating with a smart thermostat

Our heating bills change through the year. In the summer, we are trying to stay cool indoors. In the fall and winter, we heat our homes to stay warm and cozy. Smart Thermostat are one of the best investment you can make for your home. I call it an investment for good reason. Over time, a smart thermostat will save you money. However, it’s important to know what type of heating your home has. Most people have central, forced air heating. A single thermostat controls the heating for the entire house. Other homes may have electric baseboard heating. In this case, each baseboard is controlled by its own thermostat. 

Thankfully, there are smart thermostats for both types of heating systems. These thermostats give you multiple options to control your home heating. Use your voice or set schedules from an app on your smartphone. Many thermostats incorporate AI that assess your occupancy schedule and adjusts the heating accordingly. Over time, this can reduce energy usage without compromising comfort. Basically, everything is happening in the background without you knowing. The only thing you’ll notice is the savings on your heating costs. This makes for another Handy Andy tip—smart thermostats are smart investments.

Renovate your home into a smart home

We all know seasons change, it’s a fact of life. The secret is getting ahead of it. Always winterize your house before winter. Think of cooling solutions before a summer heat wave. The key is being proactive rather than reactive. Renovating your home to become a smart home is proactive. It sets you up for success. Kids will love not having to carry keys to school. Set light schedules in their rooms to reinforce healthy bedtime routines. Use smart speakers as a backup alarm clocks for new work schedules. With a smart home, the possibilities are endless.   

To get started, read this smart home buying guide. It will tell you everything you need to know to setup a smart home from scratch. Get ahead of the seasonal changes by renovating your home into a Smart Home.  

Andy Baryer
Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here