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Tech Challenged? The Easiest, Most Effective Ways to Wire Your World

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News about the “smart home” can make the less tech-savvy among us uneasy. The connected home movement is revolutionizing everyday appliances, and some of us only just figured out how to digitally record ”Game of Thrones.” But while an automated home can sound daunting, there are many ways to effectively implement home automation without being a techie. Here are some of the most effective upgrades to consider in making your home just smart enough:​

  • Smart lock: Smart locks mean that your family will no longer have to worry about carrying, lending, or losing the house keys. Forgot that you asked your neighbor to water your plants? Your smartphone lets you remotely unlock and relock your front door for them. Or if a service person needs to come by, a smart lock lets you customize a one-use access code for a specified period of time or for one specified person, so you know who’s coming and going. Apps allow you to reset the codes remotely. And having to MacGyver your way into your own house because you left your keys at work might soon become a thing of the past — one click of an app, and you’re good to go.
  • Smart thermostat: We used to fawn over programmable thermostats. They made the house toasty when you woke up or arrived home, and let you turn it down a notch when you were away. That is, if you knew how to program the thermostat properly. Today’s thermostat is designed knowing that might be asking too much of us — and that our tastes have changed. Smart thermostats can be changed remotely if you decide you’re coming home early. Some models also let you adjust the thermostat settings by voice.
  • Smart security system: Wondering who’s in your house? Or what your cat is doing? Try a cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring service that will give you activity alerts on your smartphone or computer. Some of them allow you to zoom in if you want to, say, check what your teen’s doing on the computer. The setup is a snap: Connect to your Wi-Fi via your computer or iOS mobile setup, name your camera, and you’re ready to go.
  • Smart garage-door opener: Did I close the garage door? Whether you’re a block away, half a country away, or just watching Jimmy Fallon upstairs, this question will haunt you until you double check. Install this easy add-on device, and check the app without traipsing down the stairs or making a detour. (Because it probably is closed, but you knew that and had to check anyway.)
  • Smart smoke alarm: The unthinkable happens when you’re away from home: There’s a fire in your house, and your smoke alarm is chirping away — to no one. Smoke alarms are only effective if someone heeds the alarm and calls the fire department. But fires can happen whether you’re home or not. Enter the smart fire alarm, which will alert your smartphone to a potential threat. Hook it up and forget it. Hopefully forever.

Smart homes for dummies are readily attainable these days, since you can add just the level of home automation that suits your lifestyle. Even if the extent of your expertise is just to ask Siri where the nearest coffee shop is.

Article written by: Cathie Ericson