Whether you’d like to control your home’s lighting for security reasons, turn down your thermostat from an app to save energy, or simply stream your favorite music throughout your entire home (because hey, it’s cool!), there is a smart home gadget for you.
Of course, we’ve all heard the stories about the billionaires in Silicon Valley who can control every square inch of their home from a satellite. And while we think that’s really cool, it’s not exactly practical — or affordable — for the average family. Here are a few tested-and-approved products and ideas that won’t break your budget:
1. Smart lighting is one of the easiest things to integrate into your current home. One of the most popular current products is Philips Hue. Calling itself “personal wireless lighting,” Philips Hue allows you to change the color and brightness of the lights in your home from an app, and offers features like motion sensor lighting and timers. One of our favorite things about the system is its ability to gradually simulate natural sunlight in the morning to gently wake you up – much better than our obnoxious iPhone alarm! The system ranges in price depending on the bulbs and accessories purchased, but you can start a simple lighting system around $50.
2. If you’re interested in saving energy, you’ll love PECO’s newest energy alert feature. Sign up on their website to receive free text messages or emails to let you know when you’re using a lot of electricity — no surprises on your next bill! Plus, be sure to explore PECO’s website for personalized suggestions on how you can save energy and money every month. (You may have seen this one advertised on TV, too!)
3. One of the easiest ways to integrate technology into your smart home is to add a “home automation hub.” Amazon’s Echo is one of the most popular options on the market and can stream all of your music, answers questions (using “Alexa”), reads audiobooks, and can even control your thermostat and lights (including Philips Hue!) for just $180.