Smart Speaker Connections

Q: I received a smart speaker as a gift, but I’m not familiar with the technology. How can I use it to make my home smarter, and can it help with energy savings?

A: Smart devices are becoming more common in the marketplace, promoting more convenience and personal freedom than ever before. Your smart speaker has the ability to learn your daily routine and connect with other smart appliances in your house, freeing up your time to focus on other tasks. Over time, you might find yourself asking your device by voice command to turn on the lights, rather than reaching for the switch.

Source: Carolina Country

The era of smart technology is now, and it looks like it is here to stay. As these emerging technologies continue to benefit parts of our lives, they are reshaping the way we interact with the world around us. If you’re interested in making the most of your device, it’ll be helpful to explore the key functions of smart technologies and their broader savings potential.

Alexa, let’s dig in.

Smart technology refers to devices with advanced learning skills that require minimal human involvement. The spectrum of smart devices ranges by manufacturer but is generally the next option above the basic model, like a general thermostat. These “upgrades” usually include models with remote capabilities to those with built-in learning functions. A smart thermostat might be Wi-Fi enabled, allowing the user to adjust the temperature via a smart phone wherever there is an internet connection, or it might go beyond that, where the thermostat learns your schedule over time and operates accordingly, heating or cooling your home based on your routine without the need for your input. Many household items now have smart capabilities including refrigerators, ovens, washing machines, lawnmowers, vacuums, security systems and more.

Robotic lawn mower. Source: Carolina Country

If your mind is spinning a web between each technology, you are on the right track. This concept is called the Internet of Things, and a prime example is the geolocation feature on smart phones, which when integrated with smart homes, can adjust lighting, temperature and other settings based on the user’s proximity, resulting in the potential to improve the efficiency of day-to-day activities. In your case, if you received an Amazon Echo or another smart speaker, it can be integrated with a number of appliances — lights, thermostat, security system and more  — creating an interconnected ecosystem of “things.”

The overall value of these innovations might span from increased comfort, safety and productivity to a more efficient use of time. If your goal is to enhance your home’s security, you might create a setting on your device to detect noise while you are away or integrate it with a smart plug to turn the lights on when you arrive in the driveway. Maybe you choose to purchase a robotic lawnmower and connect it to your account so that you can turn it on through a simple voice command. The possibilities are endless.

Energy savings for smart technology may vary based on individual use. In some circumstances, say if you only vacuumed once a week but now run the Roomba daily while you work, potential savings may be offset by increased usage.

When it comes down to your personal savings, the overall impact will ultimately be determined by how you incorporate the technology into your life. Whether you’re listening to music, setting a reminder or turning on the lights, you will surely be amazed by the capabilities of your smart speaker.

This article was originally published in Carolina Country magazine.