Beat the winter blues with smart technology
A warm and inviting home is always a pleasure, but it’s never more important than when the nights lengthen, the temperature plummets and the rain keeps pouring down. In winter we’re more dependent than ever on our homes as a place of warmth and light – which is why it’s the season of peak energy use.
So, as the days grow short, and bulbs and boilers go into overdrive, what are the ways to keep your home warm and welcoming, without running up bigger bills? We’ve put together some home technology highlights we've found to help you through these darker days.
Be warm and efficient with smart heating
Did you know you can decrease your carbon footprint and ensure your home is toasty at the same time? With the smart Nest Learning Thermostat, you can ensure you're only using the energy you need. The Nest quickly learns how warm you like your home, then ensures it’s always at the right temperature. Using a built-in motion sensor, it can detect when nobody’s home, automatically reducing the temperature and switching off the hot water to save energy. Even better, pair the thermostat with a smartphone and it can sense when you’re heading home, and crank up the heating to make sure things are cosy when you arrive.
The Nest thermostat saves energy and money, but it also makes your home more convenient. If you need to get up earlier than usual you can use the smartphone app to boost the temperature before venturing out of bed. And if you’ve got an Amazon Alexa or Google Home, you can control it with your voice!
Add a little brightness and cheer with smart lighting
In the dark winter months, lighting can make all the difference to people’s mood and energy levels. The Philips Hue range offers smart lighting alternatives so you can set the mood to match your own. Need to relax after work? With the Hue colour changing bulbs, select a warm glow to help you unwind after a long day. It's so easy! Download the Philips Hue smartphone app to change the colour of your bulbs and customise every room in your house to match your mood.
Invest in a Philips Hue starter kit and you’ll gain smart control over selected lights in your home. All from the touch of a button, you can switch lights on and off as and when you leave. You can also set your lights to cycle on and off if you're away for longer periods of time to deter uninvited guests near your home.
And if getting your phone out is too much, you can always pair your Hue lights with Amazon Alexa or Google Home for easy voice control.
Control the power with a smart switch
Familiar with the red ‘standby’ light? You might be surprised to learn that the average UK household spends around £30 per year by leaving their appliances on standby. Save your pennies and invest in a smart plug to protect your pocket.
The TP-Link HS100 Smart Plug fits between a plug socket and a standard plug, letting you control the power via a smartphone app. Next time you see that little red light on your TV, simply open the app and switch the device off by the mains. No need to scramble around with cables behind the telly!
Not all devices spring into life when you turn on the socket, and a smart switch is no use with the ones that don’t. Find the right device, though, and a smart plug can be another great way to make your home more welcoming. TP-Link’s HS110 Smart Plug even includes energy monitoring, so you can work out what you’re spending to run the connected device.
Making smart technology work together
A smart home can be a more welcoming and comfortable place, but it can also pay for itself through energy savings. Before splashing out, however, it’s worth understanding that some systems, such as Philips Hue, need a starter kit. These kits can be expensive and they aren’t interchangeable, so it pays to consider whether your chosen system does everything you want.
Some smart home technology doesn’t require a starter kit. TP-Link’s smart plugs are one example, but they miss out on some of Hue’s advanced features such as geofencing (detecting when you leave and return).
If you’re a more advanced smart tech user, you can get experimental with your smart devices using the app If That Then This (IfTTT), supported by many products including the ones mentioned above. IfTTT lets you use one smart system to trigger another, for example, using the Nest Thermostat’s movement sensor to turn a TP-Link smart plug on. Armed with some smart technology and a bit of creative thinking, there’s no limit to the ways you can save money without compromising comfort.