5 must have gadgets for home automation

Once the domain of tech millionaires and geeks (remember Bill Gates’ “smart house?), smart home technology has gone mainstream. A combination of voice-activated assistants, smart appliances, and apps are making life easier and more comfortable. Now you can create a remote-controlled home without emptying your bank account. Here are five affordable gadgets to get you started.

Amazon Echo

Even if you live alone, you can still talk to Alexa. At your command, she plays music, audio books, and changes the TV channel. Ask her a question, and she’s full of useful information about the weather, your grocery list, traffic, and that hot new restaurant across town.

The Echo communicates with your smart home appliances just as easily. There are a number of “Works with Amazon Alexa” certified products that integrate with the Echo. The device also supports IFTTT, which makes it easy to pair many other “non-certified” products (that may be less expensive) with the Echo.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Energy saving has never been this easy. The old-style programmable thermostats could only do the same thing, at the same time, but Nest learns what you like, when, and adapts to changing routines. It will automatically turn the thermostat down at night and raise it in the morning before you get up. By tracking your smart phone’s location, Nest can adjust the temperature to save energy, but still have your house comfortable when you arrive home. It’s IFTTT-compatible too, so it can “talk” to other smart devices.

GetSafe Wireless Home Security

Wireless home-security systems are portable, non-destructive to walls, and affordable.

This wireless home security system is portable, includes a full suite of HD video camera options, and offers 24/7 professional monitoring—all at an affordable price. GetSafe gives you control over your security system, from anywhere, using your smart phone. With just a tap of the app, you can watch a live video feed from your home, unlock the door for the pet sitter, receive security alerts, and more.

The system is scalable too. Buy only the sensors and cameras you need at first, and then expand the system when you move to a bigger place. It works with Nest and supports IFTTT, so you can integrate other home automation devices into your security system. It’s home security that easily adapts to your lifestyle.

Wemo Insight Smart Plugs

Most people can’t afford to ditch their non-Wi-Fi devices and buy a slew of new lamps, TVs, and appliances. You can make your existing items “smarter” and control them remotely with the Wemo Insight. Turn lamps, appliances, air conditioners, etc. on and off. As an added benefit, the switch tracks energy usage; you’ll know for sure how much that space heater really costs to operate. It’s versatile: the Wemo Insight is Alexa-certified, pairs with Nest, and supports IFTTT.

Netatmo Personal Weather Station

Monitor your indoor air quality and outdoor conditions with this home weather station. The indoor piece includes a CO2 sensor, and the outdoor section is waterproof. It’s expandable: you can connect additional indoor monitors, a rain gauge, or a wind gauge. Netatmo is Alexa-certified, and easily connects to your Nest Thermostat using IFTTT. Have it alert you when the rain stops so you can walk the dog. Check to see how much rain you’ve had recently before you water the lawn.

The Internet of Things felt like science fiction just a few years ago, but it’s reality now. Smart home automation is poised to make your home more comfortable and efficient. Even better, you don’t have to be Bill Gates to afford it!

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