Too often I find myself taking way too much time to figure out easier ways to control my smarthome devices, but I think many of us (including myself) forget that there’s a better way: not having to control them at all.
There are definitely a lot of ways you can control smarthome devices quickly and easily, but voice commands have arguably become one of the easiest and quickest—especially with Alexa and Google Assistant both constantly adding support for more and more smarthome products.
However, the best way to control your smarthome devices is automating them—your smarthome just does things without you even having to think about it. And there are three main ways to accomplish this: geofencing, scheduling, and using sensors.
Use Geofencing to Automate Your Home Based on Where You Are
We’ve talked about geofencing before, and while it’s not necessarily a smarthome-specific feature, you can definitely take advantage of it in your own smart home.
In the smarthome sense, geofencing lets you automatically have various smarthome devices turn on and off (or perform some kind of action) based on you leaving or arriving home. And it uses your phone’s GPS to determine this.
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For example, you could have your smart lights automatically turn off when you leave the house, and turn back on when you come back. You could also have your thermostat automatically turn itself down when you leave, and then turn back up when you get home. You could even set it up so that your thermostat turns back up the moment you leave work, so that your home is at the proper temperature right when you arrive.
Most smarthome devices support some kind of geofencing, and even if they don’t, you can usually do it through IFTTT if the device supports that instead.
Put Your Smarthome Automation on a Schedule
If you’d rather not use up your phone’s GPS for smarthome duties, you can always stick to a much simpler method—schedule your devices to turn on and off at certain times.
For example, I have a schedule set up for my Ecobee3 thermostat that changes the temperature at certain times throughout the day (you can do the same thing on the Nest Thermostat). I also schedule some of my smart lights to turn on certain times, as well as turning them off in case I forget.
Most smarthome devices allow you to set up a schedule to automate them, The only downside, though, is that it’s something really only aimed at users who are creatures of habit. If you leave work at the same time, come home at the same time, and go to bed at the same time, then scheduling can be perfect. However, if your daily agenda varies, this may not be for you.
Scheduling is also useful when you’re away from home for an extended period. For example, you could schedule your lights to turn on and off while you’re away on vacation, so that it appears more like someone is home.
Use Sensors to Trigger Smarthome Actions
Perhaps the granddaddy of home automation is the use of different sensors—like motion sensors or door and window sensors. The first thing you might think about when it comes to these kinds of sensors is home security and detecting intruders, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
If you have a smarthome hub from the likes of SmartThings, Wink, or Insteon, you can connect all sorts of sensors to it—as well as link your other smarthome devices to the hub. From there, whenever a door opens or motion is detected, you can trigger an action that another smarthome device will perform.
It could be something as basic as turning on the closet light whenever you open the closet door (and turning if off when you close the door), or something as complex as turning on everything in your house whenever you come home from work and open the front door.
I use door sensors for super-simple things like automating lights, but it’s something that’s really convenient and I don’t even have to think about flipping the light switch anymore—it just does it for me.
You can even get other types of sensors—like water leak sensors—that can really help add to your peace of mind.
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