The smart home holidays are looming, and now it's time to address those pesky problems you encounter every year but don't do much.
Whether it's automating climate control with a smart thermostat or smartening up your holiday decorations. Today, we've got some simple holiday solutions based on several recent reader queries.
We won't require you to have any tech skills, or you won’t need to spend a fortune, either. While we'll be actively recommending some products to help you achieve these holiday solutions.
- Keep Your Kids On Track With Alexa Routines
- Automate Climate Control The Easy Way
- Upgrade Old Appliances with Smart Plugs
- Automate Outdoor Lighting and Decorations The Easy Way
- Control Your Christmas Tree Decorations Using Voice Control or IFTTT
- Get Involved With Santa Through Google Home
- Seasonal Smart Doorbells
1) Keep Your Kids On Track With Alexa Routines
If you’ve got younger kids at home over the holidays, it’s easy for things to get out of control.
Why not make full use of Alexa to create routines designed to keep your kids on their toes?
If your son has a regular weekly commitment for soccer practice, create a simple routine to:
- Announce your kid’s name on household Echo devices. Announcing especially useful if your children have Echo Dots or similar devices in their bedrooms
- Inform your child of the weather so he can dress appropriately
- Play some motivational music
- Announce that it’s time to leave for practice
You can personalize these routines with ease in the nimble Alexa app. From encouraging your teens to tidy their rooms to helping younger kids get ready for a holiday outing. Routines are a great way to get the best out of Alexa.
If your children don’t have a smart display, keep your eyes peeled for the all-new Echo Show 8. This scaled-down unit sits neatly between Echo Show 5 and the original Echo Show, which is now going strong in a second iteration. Surprisingly, Amazon has discounted Echo Show 8 by $30 before it’s even available. Pre-order now as the smart display is ready to roll on November 21.
2) Automate Climate Control The Easy Way
With those cold winter evenings coming fast, smartening up your thermostat is one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re toasty all holiday season. The best thing, you can optimize comfort levels without lifting a finger and save money by more efficient use of energy and reduced wastage.
Why, then, are we suggesting the hardwired ecobee4 WiFi Thermostat?
If it’s hardwired, that means a great deal of trouble, right?
It doesn’t have to be that way if you opt for our professional installation and training service.
We appreciate that not everyone has the practical ability to install more complex smart devices. We also understand that calling in a private contractor can be costly.
Our partnership with HelloTech allows you to get this smart thermostat and much more installed at rock-bottom prices by qualified, vetted technicians.
So, in the spirit of today's solution-based approach, click to add Expert Installation before checking out with your ecobee.
Once you’ve got the all-new thermostat in place, you’ll be able to use Alexa for voice control without needing an Echo device. Your trusty virtual butler comes baked in and is just one more reason to invest in ecobee.
Throw in some room sensors and enjoy precise climate control over the holiday period and year-round.
If you want hands-free and remote control of your thermostat, ecobee4 remains the most reliable choice in a crowded vertical.
3) Upgrade Old Appliances with Smart Plugs
How can you smarten up old Christmas lights rather than spending out on replacements?
Well, all you need is a smart plug, and you can enjoy remote control of any older traditional appliances.
We especially like this TP-Link Mini WiFi Plug for how you can get instant remote control of lamps, fans, small heaters, coffee machines, and more. You won't need to invest in a third-party home hub, which makes this a beginner-friendly solution.
You'll be able to embrace voice control as well, but you will need an Echo device for Alexa functionality.
How about if you fancy heading outdoors? Well, you can opt for a module rated for outdoor use to bring those decorations under your complete control.
4) Automate Outdoor Lighting and Decorations The Easy Way
You've got several outdoor modules at your disposal. If you know Insteon, the first thought that coming to mind should be the singing praises of Insteon's classic Outdoor On/Off Module.
Luckily, GE makes a great Z-Wave-enabled smart plug fully weatherproofed for use in even hostile conditions. All you need to do is plug your landscape lighting and Christmas decorations into this smart plug, and you can take the helm wirelessly from indoors.
You’ll need a home hub from one of the following brands:
With that in place, you can schedule your lights to come on when you get home from work and go off when you decide its best.
The rugged unit is built to take some pretty heavy punishment, and this is an inexpensive way to automate your lighting and decorations.
5) Control Your Christmas Tree Decorations Using Voice Control or IFTTT
If you fancy using your old Christmas lights, but you wish they were a little bit smarter, why not power then up with a Wemo Mini WiFi Smart Plug?
We touched upon IFTTT earlier this week. By using this third-party service to create applets, you can arrange for your Christmas tree lights to go on when your gifts are dispatched from Amazon or according to certain weather conditions.
With a smart speaker or smart display in the mix, you’ll also be able to control your old, dumb Christmas lights using simple voice commands.
The best thing about this simple solution is you can once again use your existing lights.
6) Get Involved With Santa Through Google Home
Something for Google Home fans next since so many holiday tricks seem to be Alexa-based.
Google has a Santa Tracker with plenty to keep the kids occupied.
In the run-up to Christmas, you’ll be able to ask Google Home where Santa is and what he’s up to.
You can get your kids realistically interacting with Santa. They'll even be able to leave their list on a hotline for Santa's elves to send out… If they've been kind enough, of course.
Santa Tracker is a gentle way to teach your kids more about using Google Assistant without it seeming like an IT lesson.
7) Seasonal Smart Doorbells
Our closing holiday solution day is the easiest of all…
Just head to the Alexa app, then go to Cameras Settings > Doorbell Announcements and add your seasonal jingles.
As a parting shot, if you’re tempted to treat yourself to a new Echo device, look out for the forthcoming Echo Studio, the upscale smart speaker available for pre-order now, and due to launch December 13.
Well, you should now have a few tricks up your sleeve for your smart home holidays.
All the solutions we've served up today are beginner-friendly, so there's no excuse not to get involved. If any of the above devices tempts you, why not sign up for our email newsletter? You’ll qualify for 20% off your first order here at Smarthome.
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