How Automation Has Changed My Family’s Lives

Last year my boyfriend introduced me to the world of home automation.  For Christmas, he bought me the Philips Hue starter kit, Amazon Echo Dot as well as the Nest Smart Thermostat. Now I had heard about home automation for quite a while before this and I had been debating back and forth if home automation would be a waste of money or something that would be useful and he knew it.  He also knew that if he didn’t buy me the Hue starter kit and the Nest thermostat, that I would have kept debating and putting it off for as long as I possibly could.

Now a year later I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without having some of my home processes automated.  It’s honestly saved me so much money on heating, cooling and electricity bills — which is really important to me since I’m a single mom.  In fact, on average, people who automate their home save 15-20% a year on their bills per year.

 

Philips Hue Hub & Lights

home automation philips hue

In the past year that I’ve been using the Philips Hue system, I’ve changed every single light bulb in my house to the Philips Hue bulbs.  I did this because of how much money I can save by automating every light in my house. My kids frequently leave lights on all over the house when they leave a room and I had been previously wasting so much money.  With the Hue lights, I can check on my phone to make sure that my kids shut those lights of and if they didn’t, I can remotely shut those lights off from the Philips Hue app or from the Apple Home app. I can also dim any of the lights in my house at any time so my kids can sleep with the dim light on or I can work on the computer at night without having to have my bright lights on in my room.  

Studies have also shown that lights dimmed to 50% last twice as long as bulbs that aren’t.  Though Philips Hue bulbs can last up to 15 years or 15,000 hours and they save you money since they use 80% less power than an incandescent bulb.  Let’s compare really quick:

Philips Hue bulbs last 15 years or 15,000 hours, depending on what comes first.

Regular incandescent bulbs last between 1,000 and 2,000 hours at max.

If you take into consideration a box of regular incandescent bulbs cost $10-$15 a pack for bulbs that last maybe 1-2 years depending on how much you use the bulbs.  Philips Hue bulbs start at $15 per bulb for 15 years of life and trust me, you’ll be using these a lot less because of how you can shut them off remotely and dim the light.  You’ll ultimately be saving so much money in both the cost of light bulbs over those 15 years and on your electric bill.

I use both the Hue app and IFTTT to automate my lights even further and I’ll let you in on how I have them set.

  • I have my lights set to go off as soon as I leave my house and get approximately 8 feet from my house.  
  • I have my hallway lights (up and down), living room light and nightstand lights set to automatically go on as soon as I get 8 feet away from my house and arrive back home.
  • I have my bedroom light and my girls’ lights set to gradually go on every morning at 7 am.   This mimics the actions of the natural sunlight. This has been so helpful for all of us and helps us to wake up and get out of bed more easily.
  • I have my girl’s lights set to go off gradually at 9:30 pm (their bedtime is between 10-10:30) to slowly get them wound down to “bedtime mode”.  I have my own bedroom light set to dim to 50% at 10 pm and to be completely off by midnight.

My main bedroom light is the White Ambiance bulb which allows me to change the light as I see fit.  This allows me to use a bright white/blue toned light when I want more of a natural light or an orange/yellow tinted light when I want to relax at night.  There are so many options for the Hue bulbs, I love it.

We also use the Philips Hue strip lights to make our home more interesting.  We have them behind all of the TVs in our house to add more visual appeal when the lights are off.  We’re considering using this under our kitchen cabinets in order to add some visual appeal to our kitchen.  Since we have shiny blue/gray kitchen cabinets and a black backsplash I think this would look so amazing!

 

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

home automation tp-link

Since I have devices in my home that I want to automate but otherwise couldn’t I bought a few of the TP-Link smart plugs.  I love the fact that I can control these with the Kasa app on my iPhone and can even dim any lamps that I have connected to it.  I use my smart plugs for:

  • I have a smart plug connected to the power strip that controls my office lights (I use two Ottlights in my office)
  • I have a smart plug connected to my fish tank light so I can automate when the light on my 75 gallon goes on and off

I also have a smart plug stored away in my outdoor Christmas lights.  Since I have to plug my Christmas lights into the outlet in my garage, I connect the power strip to a smart plug so I can automate when my Christmas lights go on and off each evening and night.  

 

Nest Thermostat

home automation nest thermostat

This has been one of my favorite home automation products as it’s saved me the most money.  Did you know that 56% of our electric bill per year comes from heating and cooling? That’s absolutely insane and that blew my damn mind, but I definitely do believe it because of how high my electric bill was prior to getting this Nest Thermostat.

I have three Nest Thermostats because I have a 3-zone heating/cooling system in my house and I installed the first thermostat that we got.  I was so nervous to install this thermostat because I had never messed with a heating/cooling system before but it was so simple.  I was able to install it (while Facetiming with my boyfriend to make sure I didn’t screw anything up) within a half hour.  My boyfriend installed the other two just because, well, I asked him to do it. That’s what men are for!

I love the fact that I can control my heating and cooling settings from my phone and my family loves that too.  The Nest Thermostat learns your habits, learns what temperature you like and when and comes up with a smart schedule so you don’t have to really worry about changing the temperature unless you want to.  You can also edit the schedule that Nest comes up with but I find that it’s pretty smart and comes up with a great schedule on its own.  The Nest thermostat also knows when you’re home and when you’re out of the house and it puts itself on Eco mode when you’re not home to save even more energy.  (But still keeps your house at the ideal temperature so you’re not freezing or boiling when you get home.)

I don’t know what I would do without the Nest Thermostats.  I know that sounds a bit dramatic but the way this product has impacted our house is amazing.  It’s saved us so much money and so much frustration messing with a traditional thermostat. (I could never figure out a traditional thermostat.)

 

Amazon Echo Dot

home automation amazon alexa

Amazon Echo Dot/Alexa has been such a big help in our house.  We have one in the living room, my office and my bedroom and everyone in the house use this  We love that we can ask about weather and traffic and get the information we need instantaneously.  My kids also love that they can ask “her” any questions that they want an answer to and they can easily get the answer without bothering me. (Ha, Mom life!)  My mom and girls also love that they can control our Nest Thermostat and Philips Hue system by just asking Alexa to do simple things like turn off the lights, ask what the thermostat is set at or changing the temperature with voice commands.  We also can connect to other Echo Dots in the house so we can “page” upstairs and downstairs. No more screaming up and down the stairs to get the attention of someone else in the house!

What we’re adding to our home automation system:

Logitech Harmony Elite – We are adding this to our home automation because we’re lazy.  Just kidding, well, sort of! We absolutely love the idea of controlling everything connected to our TV from this one system and I think it will be very useful especially for my mom and my kids.  We also love that it’s compatible with the Amazon Alexa system.

August Smart Lock Pro – When we moved into this house the doorknob/lock was so hard to open and close, probably because it’s a very old handle and deadbolt.  While I have mastered opening and closing the door pretty easily my mom and kids still have trouble figuring it out. Since we are very much into smart products and home automation we decided to get a smart lock for our home.  We looked into many different smart locks and decided to purchase the August Smart Lock Pro because of its features. This will be our next addition!

Smart Garage Door Opener (Haven’t chosen which one) – We’re considering also purchasing and installing a smart garage door opener but we haven’t chosen which one yet.  Honestly, we also haven’t done any research on them yet but we’ve seen them at Lowes. We’ll be researching this last but we are strongly considering one.

We LOVE home automation and honestly, we never thought we’d be so dependent on it.  One day our entire house is going to be smart and we won’t feel a single ounce of guilt about it.  It started out being about laziness but it’s turned into saving us so much time, money and frustration.  If you’re considering automating anything in your house I definitely suggest that you make the move! It’s probably one of the best things you could ever do for your home.

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