With more and more people now working from home, for many of us, our Smart Home focus has somewhat changed over the last few months. Security is less of an issue since we’re often there keeping an eye on things anyway, so issues like convenience and (especially) energy savings have taken centre stage. For instance, when working from home, people tend to use a lot more electricity than when going outside the home to work. My own home’s electric bill can certainly testify to that! These days, our computers are constantly plugged in, we require more heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, and any conveniences that make our lives easier are always welcome. Join me today as I explore a few ways to adapt your smart home existence to the new normal.
Smart Home conveniences
Something that I scarcely heard much about before everyone started working from home is face-to-face video meetings online. Before this year I had never participated in one myself; now I seem to be doing them all the time. Yes, the times they are a-changing, and one way to keep up with the direction things are moving in is by developing your own Smart Office at home.
One valuable category of gear with which to outfit such an office is Smart Speakers, Displays, & Accessories. For instance, a smart display allows you to engage whichever smart assistant your model of display has built in (i.e., Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, etc.) for things like setting your schedule, finding useful information online, and having the aforementioned face-to-face meetings. Not only are such devices convenient, but they will also help you considerably in being more productive at work.
Other conveniences of smart speakers and displays include their ability to help you control all of your other smart home devices. You can give voice commands for pretty much anything your other smart devices can do, provided they’re paired with your smart speaker or display. This means that you can control your lights, raise or lower the temperature on your thermostat, manage home security cameras and other devices, and so much more—all with voice based commands. And more and more smart home control is coming every day, so things are only going to get better.
Another smart home innovation that’s worthy of mention is the category of Smart Gardening, which allows you to grow all manner of herbs and other goodies right in the comfort of your very own home. With everyone spending more time at home these days, why not grow a little bit of your own food right inside the house? No outdoor space is required to grow a small garden, and you can do it at any time of the year as well.
Among the things you can easily grow are basil, parsley, thyme, peppermint, red kale, wild strawberries, and more. And you needn’t have a green thumb either. These smart gardens employ a “set-it-and-forget-it” method of gardening that allows even the most inept horticulturist to achieve beautiful and delicious results in the shortest of time-frames. You’ll get joyful bounty and a tasty sense of accomplishment with your own indoor smart garden, and it may even save you one or two trips to the grocery store!
Smart energy savings
If you’re spending a lot more time in your house or apartment these days due to working from home, you’re probably finding that your energy usage has gone up proportionately with the time you’re spending inside. And that’s because when we’re at home we’re inevitably using more electronic devices and keeping the heat/AC and lights on at times when they’d normally be off. This is a great reason to switch (if you haven’t already) from traditional lightbulbs to low-energy LED Smart Lights.
Smart lights are not your typical lightbulbs. You can control them remotely with an app on your smart phone, you can set them to timers to come on and go off at the times that are most convenient, and, of course, they can provide big BIG energy savings. If you’re now working every day from home, that last factor alone is going to be the key one! Having lights on to see to work by isn’t so bad at all if those lights are smart LEDs.
Another great energy-saving smart home device is a smart thermostat like those from Google Nest. This is because Smart Thermostats have numerous power-saving features, such as the ability to learn your schedule (i.e., your comings and goings) and heating/cooling preferences over time and learn to adjust the temperature in your home accordingly. Now that we’re all spending a lot more time at home, our energy needs have changed in a major way. Having a smart thermostat to help keep our energy usage in check is a great addition to any smart home.
Among their many other talents and abilities (depending on the brand and model you choose) are app-based control via your smart phone, a Weather Aware feature whereby the thermostat monitors and adapts to external weather conditions, and compatibility with an ever-growing list of thousands of other smart home devices. What this last point means is that your smart thermostat can tell your other smart home devices what to do based on specific conditions. With these abilities combined, smart thermostats have the potential to save you 20% or more on your monthly energy bills.
As you can see, the state of our smart home existence has clearly changed over the past few months, but it certainly hasn’t gone away. The more time we all spend at home, the more convenient our smart homes should become. And although we may not have to be as security conscious as we’ve been in the past since we’re always at home on guard anyway, there’s still as much call for convenience and energy savings as there’s ever been.
Take a look at Best Buy’s extensive Smart Home selection and see what tickles your fancy, then let us know in the comments section below how your own smart home needs have evolved over the past few months of spending more time than usual at home.