If you don’t consider yourself a “techie,” smart home technology might be intimidating to you. Many people, myself included, assume that new technologies are difficult to install or use and are only meant for people who are at the highest levels of technological facility.
That’s just not true. As I’ve ventured into the world of smart home products, one thing has been extremely clear: smart home product designers put usability and simplicity at the forefront of their products. These are some of the simplest devices to use and install that have ever been created – their whole purpose is to make your life easier! You’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re writing them off, I promise.
Looking for a good place to start with smart home technology? A smart outlet is a great introduction to what these devices can do for your home. In fact, I just made it the very first smart home product addition to my own home. Check out all of the uses I found for a smart outlet in my house in the video below.
The Product: Wemo Insight Wi-Fi Switch
First, let’s talk about the WeMo Insight Switch, which is the specific outlet I used in my own home in the video above. This device is an excellent smart home starting point for a number of reasons, but to me the number one is the ease of “installation.” You just plug the device into your existing outlet, download the WeMo application on your smartphone, and connect your phone to the device’s wi-fi network. After that, you can start using it immediately, and it is surprisingly simple.
The WeMo device has a number of other checks in the “pro” column, including that it integrates with Amazon’s Alexa to allow voice-controlled use and that the WeMo app tracks how much energy you are using through the device as well as how much that energy use is adding to costs on your monthly bills.
Living Room or Reading Lamp No Problem
Plug in your living room lamp or a reading lamp in your bedroom to the smart outlet so that you can control the light source without having to get up from the couch or your bed. This is also useful for security purposes, if you’re going to get back to your house after dark it is nice to be able to turn on a light remotely so that potential security threats will think someone is home. The WeMo device featured above even allows you to schedule a light to turn on as soon as the sun sets.
Coffee Maker: Automatically Turn On & Off
Want a pot of coffee to brew the moment you wake up? You can schedule your coffee maker to turn on at the same time as you set your morning alarm clock, which will save you time as you go through your morning routine. Even better, if you accidentally forget to turn the hot machine off when you leave your house, the smart outlet will allow you to turn it off remotely as soon as you see that it is still on.
Time your Outdoor & Decorative Lighting On & Off
Outdoor lighting is another great security asset, but can also be of a more decorative nature in the case of holiday lights. These lights can be especially difficult to remember to turn on and off, because doing so often involves unplugging the light source outside in cold temperatures at night! Using a smart outlet allows you to set a timer on your lights, so that you can essentially forget about them as soon as you hang them up.
Automatically Turn off your TV
I’m a person who needs some light background noise to fall asleep at night (much to my poor husband’s dismay) and will frequently leave the television on when going to bed. A smart outlet can be set to switch your TV off at a specific time each night, so that it can help you fall asleep but not keep your significant other up all night! The same method could work for a personal stereo.
Never forget to Turn Off Your Curling Iron Again
Anyone who frequently uses a curling or flat iron knows the dread that takes over when you can’t remember whether or not your turned the device off or not in your rush to get out of the house. Nobody wants to spend their day worrying that they are burning their house down or, on a lower level, damaging their counter tops. A smart outlet is invaluable in these situations. You can shut off power to the outlet for a worry-free day. As long as you can connect to wifi, you can access your outlet remotely. This applies to any other household appliance that could catch fire or cause other major damage if left on too long. I would recommend getting a smart outlet for every socket that you use for this type of device, as both a safety and anti-stress management tool!
Turn off your Crock Pot While You’re at Work
Many people leave their crock pots on during the day while they are away from home, since they produce a fairly low-risk level of heat. A smart outlet can help you cook dinner properly, though, allowing you to cut off the heat source as soon as your meal’s recipe dictates, so that you won’t arrive home to overcooked soup! (Just make sure to return home relatively quickly after the heat is turned off, so that your food doesn’t spoil.)
Never leave the Fan or Humidifier On Again
Much like the television mentioned above, some people like to fall asleep with the sound of a fan or need a humidifier to help them with their allergies at night. However, leaving either of these devices on all night can create more problems: the air becomes too cold or over-humidified. If you’re worried about your health, this can be detrimental. Allowing the device to run for just the right amount of time, and then switching it off mid-sleep can ensure that you get just the evening air quality you need to feel your best in the morning.
I forgot to Turn Off the Space Heater: Not Anymore
Space heaters have a sort of bad reputation for two valid reasons: they are fire-hazards when left on too long and they are energy hogs that exponentially raise your electric bill’s tally. Much like other devices that need to be managed for safety reasons, a smart outlet can ensure that you don’t leave your heater on too long or accidentally leave it running while you’re out of the house. The WeMo smart outlet mentioned in this article goes a step further in helping you deal with problem number two. Data collected by the outlet will appear in your smart phone application, showing you how much use the outlet is getting, how much energy is being expended, and an estimate of how much it is adding to your bill’s rates.
Smart outlets are a great introduction to the world of smart home technology, and their varied uses make them a great asset to any home. You might find yourself a convert once you get this highly functional taste of home tech. If you do decide to dig deeper into this world, we recommend trying out smart light bulbs as a second step!
Looking for more technology to add to your home? Check out our smart home product section! Or, take a look at these other smart outlet options:
- Ankuoo NEO Wi-Fi Smart Switch with Home Automation App for iPhone and Android Smartphones ($23 – $37)
- WeMo Switch, Wi-Fi Enabled, Control your Electronics from anywhere, Compatible with Amazon Echo ($40 – $50)
- iDevices Switch – Wi-Fi and HomeKit (with Siri) Enabled Plug ($43 – $49)
- WenTop Wi-Fi Remote Control Outlet Switch Wireless Smart Plug ($25 – $60)