Just about everyone has had that moment of panic when they’ve left the house and realized they’ve left their curling iron plugged in or their thermostat cranked on high on a frosty winter morning. Not only are these potentially dangerous situations, they can also be quite costly.
The good news is, these days more and more products actually allow you to control them remotely - whether you’re vacationing in Antigua or commuting home from work. We’ve picked 5 of the best ways to give you peace of mind and more control over your household appliances.
Nest Thermostat - Nest has earned itself quite a bit of buzz over the last few months, in part because Google recently acquired it. However, the Nest Thermostat has long been lauded by energy conservationists and glossy-tech lovers as a smarter, more aesthetically pleasing way to manage your home’s temperature.
The Nest Thermostat follows your household patterns in terms of being turned up and down, and automatically creates a schedule. If it detects no one is home, it will automatically adjust to a lower, more efficient temperature. However, if you want more control because say, you’ll be coming home early or just haven’t found your home warm enough at night, you can manually adjust the temperature using your smartphone, tablet or computer, as well as track your home’s energy performance.
Your Smoke Detector
Nest Protect - Although Nest originally made waves for their groundbreaking thermostat, their latest offering - Nest Protect - has reinvented the concept of a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Rather than immediately blaring out an ear-piercing alarm, Nest Protect will start by announcing rising smoke or carbon monoxide levels, and their location. If it’s a false alarm, you can simply wave your hand at the device to halt any further action.
Nest Protect can’t specifically be ‘controlled’ by your smartphone as chances are, you’ll always want it to be running. It does however, sync with your smartphone or tablet to provide alerts on when your device is running low on battery power, heads up warnings on increasing smoke or carbon monoxide levels, and emergency alarms so you can take action, even if you aren’t home. If you have a Nest Thermostat, it will also sync with that device if necessary - for example, if a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, your gas furnace can be shut down as a possible source of a leak.
Your Security System
iSmartAlarm - If your home security is a concern, iSmartAlarm is an integrated, affordable system that allows you to customize your security setup and control it remotely. A combination of motion and contact sensors coupled with cameras and motion tags give you the ability to put ‘eyes’ on your home where and when you need it.
When you’re out and about, you can use your smartphone to check out your camera views, arm or disarm the alarm (no more fiddling with your system at the door), or even to set off the alarm if there’s an emergency. The remote tags are a particularly handy feature that allow you to see who has used their tag to enter or leave the home - useful if you’ve got children or pets you’d like to keep tabs on.
Your Hot Tub
Bullfrog Spas - If you’re the lucky owner of a Bullfrog Spa, you now have the ability to control your hot tub from afar. If you’re rushing around grabbing food for a party or if you’re thinking a dip in the tub might be a nice way to unwind after a long day at work, simply log onto the brand’s Cloud Control app and get the spa ready for your arrival.
The app allows you to start the spa, turn on the lights, adjust the temperature, and adjust your pump or filtration settings. Not only can the tub be turned on, you can also turn it off - so if you’re already tucked into bed, at the office, or on vacation, there’s no need to worry about accidentally leaving the tub on.
Available at: Bullfrog Spas dealers throughout North America
Your Entertainment System
L5 Remote - The idea of a universal remote isn’t new - but the idea of a universal remote that also happens to be your phone certainly is. The L5 Remote is an actual device (not an app) that plugs into your smartphone and gives it infrared power. After ‘learning’ each of your devices, your phone will be able to completely operate your television, Blu-Ray player and other electronics.
Apart from doing away with coffee table clutter, the L5 Remote also offers tons of customization options. Given that you likely only use a few buttons on your actual remotes, you can create your own visual remote that puts the most important buttons front and center, in a way that makes sense to you and looks appealing. You can even create different ‘remotes’ for each room of your house or for different users. Your remote will also keep tabs on your favorite channels, allowing you to simply touch a button and skip right to your must-have programming, instead of having to browse overwhelming menus or remember channel numbers.
Chances are you don’t have most of the items on this list in your home already. Before you go buying everything in sight to turn your house into a ‘smart’ one, take a deep breath and think about what you really need right now.
If you’re in the market for a new security system or hot tub, then take that opportunity to see what tech advantages the company offers. Ultimately, you should think of these apps are bonuses, not reasons to swap out your existing gear.