Last week, I surprised many readers when I noted why automated scenes don’t get any love in my home. And I was surprised that between comments on the blog and on social media were split fairly evenly: About half of them were in the same boat as me while the other half can’t live without their routines!
Today I’m sharing some of my favorite home automations for the latter crowd so they don’t think I’m not getting value out of my smart home. I am, just more with automations and timers than with scenes. Maybe these will give you some new automations ideas for your home as well.
Never enter a dark home late at night
Automated lighting is probably one of the most common smart home applications people use. But I keep finding specific instances to add new automations for very unique situations. For example, nearly all of our home’s lights all go out at 11 pm as we’re generally asleep by that time. When I’m out late or returning from a trip, however, I’m often walking in after 11 pm.
I could use GPS geofencing to turn on a light or two when I get back, but I’m getting away from sharing my location with apps for privacy reasons. So a simple automation routine of turning on one light when I unlock my Nest x Yale lock after 11 pm does the trick.
Now that I’m taking college courses in Computer Science, there are times when I’m still up at 11 pm to read or get through a coding assignment. I get so focused on the coursework that I can easily sit at my desk until 1 or 2 am, which isn’t ideal from a sleep perspective.
To break that focus and remind me to get some rest, I’ve automated my desk lamp to dim at 50 percent brightness when the clock strikes 12. At that point, I can decide if it’s worth getting some sleep or powering on. (I generally choose the latter.) When I get around to it, I may change this automation with a colored bulb to flash red or some other very noticeable hue.
Garage door left open
Some folks with garage door sensors and closers set up their system to automatically close the garage door if they leave it open when driving away. I prefer a notification that the door is open. This is both for safety reasons and because I sometimes work outside with the garage door open; I really don’t it want it closed at that point. So I go with a more passive route: Any time the garage door is left open for five minutes, I get a notification.
If I’m outside around the house, I take no action. But if I’m five minutes from home and heading further away, that means I left the door open by accident and I remotely close it. This is a personal preference, of course, but I like having the information handy and then making a decision on what to do, if anything, next.
Pre-heating the oven before arriving home
This is less of an automation and more of a voice command but, boy is it a time saver. Since we have a June Oven that works with Alexa voice commands via a skill, I often ask Alexa to pre-heat the oven when I’m nearly home and I know I want to immediately cook something.
Until recently, I’ve been using the Alexa app on my phone for this. However, I just got a new car and sure enough, there’s an Alexa app for it that I’ve added to the infotainment system. Now I just press the voice button on my steering wheel and ask Alexa to pre-heat the June. Note that you can take this approach with any connected appliance that works with a digital assistant; maybe you want to fluff the clothes in your connected dryer so they’re ready to fold when you arrive, for example.