The newest tech gadgets can make life simpler, safer, and save you money in the long run. And the best smart home devices don’t require you to be a genius to operate them. But which are worth the investment, and which will join your breadmaker and NordicTrack in the storage closet? Here are a few to consider:
Ever get a few miles away from home and suddenly wonder if you turned the iron off? The Belkin WeMo Switch takes the worry out of leaving something on when you’re gone. Simply download the WeMo App, plug the Wi-Fi enabled switch into any outlet in your home, and plug the device you want to control into the switch. Then use your smartphone to control fans, lamps, heaters—just about anything in your home that plugs in. It’s that easy. Best of all, the device costs about $36.
The Nest Learning Thermostat has built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature in your home from your phone, tablet, or PC. At about $250, it’s not cheap, but it has the potential to cut energy costs by up to 15%. Nest learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around it—turn up the heat a few days in a row when you come home, and Nest learns you like your happy hour at 70º. Just pop off your old thermostat and install your new Nest in about half an hour. Locally, CPS Energy has partnered with Nest, and will give you up to $85 when you use the device and sign up for their Rush Hour Rewards program.
Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive home in the evening, and rather than feeling your way around the house while you find the lights, have them all turn on at the push of a button? Phillips Hue White allows you to do just that using your smartphone. Simply buy the starter kit for about $70 (additional bulbs cost about $15) at any home improvement store, then follow three easy steps. Screw the two special bulbs into your existing light fixtures, connect the included bridge to your Wi-Fi, then download the app, find your lights with it and have fun scheduling your teenager’s room lights to flip on early Saturday morning.