Making Your Home Smarter

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Video Transcript

Bethany: Tips to help keep you wise.

Courtney: I just wanna say that we can get along even though you’re an iPhone user, I’m an Android friend.

Ryan: Yeah, yeah.

Courtney: They can sit next to each other…

Ryan: They can sit next to each other but really, the iPhone is superior.

Bethany: Oh no.

Courtney: See see? Do you see?

Ryan: I mean, we’re not even getting started.

Bethany: Isn’t that tough?

Courtney: Okay. I’m gonna sit here. I’m gonna set my phone on top of your phone. Okay, go ahead.

Ryan: Oh, wait. Hold on. Let me fix that. So let’s talk about smartphones or smart homes, right? So we all want our homes to be smarter, we’re gonna fight on the whole segment on that. So here’s the thing about smart homes, right? They’re relatively complicated but I’ve got a way to make them simple. So first thing you wanna do if you’re gonna set up a smart home is choose a boss. Who’s gonna be in charge?

Courtney: Who’s the boss?

Ryan: I like Alexa, she’s amazing. You could also get something like Google Home but Alexa’s awesome because you can program her with all kinds of little neat tricks. So you could play Jeopardy with her, she’ll tell you jokes.

Courtney: What kind of questions can you ask her?

Ryan: Well, Alexa, good morning.

Alexa: Good morning and happy Thursday. The day named after Thor, the Norse God of thunder. If the God of thunder ever lost a foot race, would he be thoroughly upset?

Courtney: Aha, I see what you did there, Alexa.

Ryan: But one of the great things about Alexa is you can connect her to all kinds of other smart devices and control it in your home. So you can say, for example, if you’ve got a nest. This is about…

Courtney: These are cool.

Ryan: …yeah. This is about $249, you can get it at Amazon. And this is great because the nest will recognize whether anybody’s home. If you come home it’ll go, “Oh, the boss is here,” and it’ll turn the temperature up to 72, something nice and warm and cozy. But if the real boss comes home, like my wife comes home, it’ll change the temperature to whatever she likes. So kinda knows what everybody is and if nobody’s home it just turns everything off so we’re not wasting electricity. You could also expand it with a Wemo. This is made by Belkin. This is the starter kit. This is I think 50 bucks. I wanna be absolutely sure before I tell.

Courtney: Oh, that’s not too bad.

Ryan: Yeah, 50 bucks for this. It comes with two light bulbs. Now, the light bulbs are kinda cool because they last for 23 years.

Courtney: What? Wow!

Ryan: And what you can do is you can connect it to Alexa with this little gadget right here. You could say, “Hey, Alexa turn on the living room lights,” and it’ll turn on the lights. Or you could say, “Alexa, I’m going to bed,” it’ll change your temperature and it’ll also turn off your lights. You can set up up to 50 of these and you can group them together. So you could say living room, kitchen, bedroom, wherever. Or you can have them all individually active.

Courtney: And pray that they don’t fight against you. Okay?

Ryan: Also on the Wemo, this is 35 bucks. This is a little…you can plug something into it. So if you’ve got like your stereo or you’ve got another lamp or something, you can plug something like that in and control it that way.

Courtney: Schedule it?

Ryan: That’s only 35 bucks.

Courtney: That’s cool.

Ryan: And if you really want to get crazy…

Courtney: Yeah, what’s that?

Ryan: …this is called the Harmony Elite. This’ll also work with Alexa and what it does is you can say, “Hey Harmony, turn on my television to Good Day,” and it’ll turn on your television, turn on your stereo systems so you get that surround sound. And you can see me and Court in stereo on your television. Is that cool?

Courtney: You know what, just because you have such great information, I am going to go ahead and put my phone side by side.

Ryan: Look how big my phone is compared to yours, though.

Courtney: Size does not matter, have you not learned this?


Ryan: …I’ve been saying for years but I disagree. Look at that thing.

Courtney: Have you not learned this? Unbelievable. You are awesome with all of your knowledge. Ryan, thank you so much for coming in. We’re gonna link our website, in the show information and today’s date. More deets on Nerds On Call. [inaudible 00:03:12].

Bethany: All right. Wow.

Are you ready to make your home smarter? We have some tips for getting started with smart home gadgets. Let’s break it down into three main areas of interest in the world of smart homes.

Decide on your personal assistant platform

Your choice? – Google Home or Amazon Echo

We like the Amazon Echo and its voice assistant Alexa. It should be said, Google home is great too but this is why we prefer the Echo:

• Google Home isn’t yet compatible with as many devices
• The Echo dot is a great beginner device for $50
• Skills are customizable – developers are continuously adding new functionality too

Amazon Echo Dot is available for $49.99. It can do so much more than Google home, it already supports 1,000s of “skills”

• Compatible with tons of Smart devices like Nest, WeMo, Phillips Hue, Honeywell, Echobee
• Customize with IFTTT (If This Than That) commands
• It lets you order a pizza, flowers or an Uber
• Get news briefings, check bank balances, sports scores, random facts from the internet and much more.

Take Control of Your Climate and Lighting

Look for products that give you easy functionality with minimal installation, things can get complicated if you opt for more budget products. Think of things you’d like to control hands free or when you’re away from home. We recommend starting with thermostat & lights/switches.

Nest Smart Thermostat has an MSRP of $249.00. It learns from how you change the temp over time & programs itself. Sensors detect when no one’s home: so it turns itself down when you’re away. It pays for itself in energy savings in 2 years. You can control it from anywhere with your phone and it’s super easy to install.

If you took our advice and bought an Echo or Dot, you can use Alexa to control via voice. For example you can say: “Alexa, lower the Nest temperature by 4 degrees” and you can enable additional skills for more intuitive commands like: “Alexa, tell the thermostat that I’m too hot”

For the lights and switches in your home we recommend the WeMo range of products. These devices can be controlled remotely with your phone using WeMo app or yet again with voice using Alexa or Google Home!

The WeMo LED Starter Kit for $49.99 is the place to start. They have easy installation, just screw a bulb in, plug in link and access your bulb on the WeMo app. The bulb is engineered to work for up to 23 years! The WeMo Link lets you connect up to 50 WeMo smart bulbs and control individually or as a group. You can set to “Away” for simulated occupancy when you’re away from home, it will turn on lights and WeMo switches at various times to make it seem like you’re home.

For other electrical items, we recommend the WeMo Mini Smart Plug for $34.99. This expands remote control to anything that plugs in. Think fan, lamps, space heaters, coffee maker, anything you can plug into the outlet. You can schedule or control remotely via app or voice.

Expand your capabilities with programmed “activities”

Once you’ve got a few smart devices, you can set up automated activities. If you have some experience with this you can learn IFTTT (If This Than That) to set up string commands.

If you are new to this world, the Logitech Harmony Home Companion for $149 is your way in. Harmony has been the master of one touch automated activities for years. The “Watch TV” function turns on all necessary components AND puts them on the right inputs.

Now Harmony Home Companion integrates with your smart devices you can customize activities like: “Go to Bed” – have your home theater turn off, your lights turn off & your door lock; “Movie Night” – turn on all components and dim your lights. Again this device is compatible with Alexa, so you can do it all with voice command: “Alexa, tell Harmony its Movie night”

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