Smart home technology has really taken off over the last few years. More people than ever are integrating smart home tech, from smart speakers like the Amazon Echo to smart thermostats from Nest.
We wanted to find out how smart home users are finding the experience and what kind of impact it’s had on their life.
So, we spoke to expectant parents Colette and Roisin who began using smart home tech two years ago.
Yahoo: How long have you used smart home tech?
Colette & Roisin: “We decided to start adding smart home tech to the house around two years ago. We started with the Amazon Echo to get a feel for how we’d use it and if it was as good as it seemed. Clearly, we liked it. We went on to buy the Hive thermostat a year later! We gradually built it up and the Canary security camera is a brand-new addition.”
How many smart home devices do you have?
“We have completely bought into smart home tech. We have four Amazon Echos dotted around the house. We put them in our kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. We also have two smart TVs that we added Amazon Fire Sticks to.
“We also have a Canary smart security camera and a Hive thermostat, Hive lights and Hive light bulbs and plugs. That way we can switch the lights and heating on and off via the Amazon Echo’s Alexa voice command.”
What integrates with your home itself?
“Everything really, that’s kind of the point! And they are all linked together. The Amazon Echo is probably the thing that links it all together and the Hive thermostat is so handy.
“Essentially, you have a little white box that sits next your boiler that switches it on and off. This means I can change the temperature in my house using an app on my phone or through my Echos. I can say, ‘Alexa, ask Hive to boost the heating’ and it will boost the heating without me having to do anything else.
What has it cost you?
“In total, we probably spent around £800 over the two years. It sounds like a lot, but over that timeframe it doesn’t really feel like much. Plus, we got pretty into it so it won’t cost that much for everyone!
“Also, I would honestly say it has helped us keep our bills down, so I would image that we have or will soon breakeven on it. I thought that it might actually make bills go up, but it makes sense that they’ve gone down now that we’ve used it. We’d often be out and think, ‘Oh damn, have we left the heating on?’. With the tech we have, we can simply check our phones and turn it off.
“Because you can do it wherever you are, I found that our bills came down by maybe 20 percent.”
What is a day in the life of a smart home tech user?
“The very first thing that happens is that we have our dimmable bedroom lights come on at 10 percent when our alarm goes off at 6am. Then I have them gradually brighten until 7am. We brighten them all the way up to 80 percent within that hour and that sort of helps us wake up in a nice way.
“Next, the heating is on a schedule so it comes on at about 5am and it goes off at 8am when we leave, so it’s timed to turn on when we want it and turn off when we don’t need it.
“I would say we have a daily use of our Amazon Echos for one thing or another. We ask about our commute and it will tell me when the next train is coming. We also ask what the weather is like, and when I’m lying in bed I ask ‘What time is it?’.
“Things like turning off the lights at night, rather than having to get out of bed and do it, is really nice!”
Has smart home tech made you feel safer?
“Undoubtedly. The Canary knows when we are out and it doesn’t record us when we are in the house. But, if someone comes into the house that is not us, it knows that from our phones. It will start recording when it sees them and it will send me a notification to call the police. It’s pretty cool.
“We have a friend Jane, who has a key to our house and sometimes comes over. It’s reassuring to know that the camera works as I’ve often been sent alerts and, thankfully, can see that’s it’s Jane and she’s just making a cup of tea – not a burglar stealing all our things!”
What’s your advice for anyone thinking of using smart home tech?
“I wasn’t sure if it was a gimmick or if it wasn’t at first. But when you start connecting it all together, that’s when it really starts to come to life. I would say that starting small and building up really worked for us. The more you use it then the more you can see the benefit.
“Not to contradict myself, but I would suggest having a few ideas on the what you might want to add later. As that will help you chose where to start. We went for the Amazon Echo because it had the potential to sync with loads of things and not all smart speakers are that flexible.”
What are your favourite smart devices in your home?
“Any home should get an Amazon Echo and a Hive.
“We put a Hive bulb in our nursery that can change brightness and colour which will be so helpful when the little one arrives. We’ve connected it to our Amazon Echo so that I can say, ‘Alexa change the nursery light to blue’ and it will! How amazing is that? I think when we have our baby next year it will really bring it to life because it will mean so much more.”