Stories & Advice for Homeowners

How Home Automation Made My Life More Comfortable

Why I always thought home automation was for the rich—and then the lazy—and what changed my mind.

I remember hearing, a long while ago, about how Bill Gates could adjust different thermostats in different rooms and have them all be different temperatures. I remember hearing how he only needed to use his voice and the thermostat would adjust or lights would come on. At that time, it was the stuff of legends. Super-rich-people-stuff that I wouldn’t ever experience.

My Former Issues With Home Automation

Fast forward a couple decades and wow, it’s all over the place. Tech really boomed. Smart phones and smart houses seem to simply be the way society is running now. And I’ve read all about how affordable it is.

But I mean, I’d already passed that check. And I didn’t really have much in the way of the smart-tech explosion and that suited me fine. (Besides a smart phone, of course. You can’t get by without one now I swear).

So then, because of whatever denial issues I have, I thought that maybe that much smart-tech was for lazy people.

I mean programmable thermostats have been around for a few decades and yet few people actually take the time to program them if they’ve had them. True, those were a bit more time-consuming than smart thermostats today, but isn’t it the same concept? Basically a waste of an investment just to “be cool.”

Yeah, getting out of bed to turn off lights is uncomfortable. But so is getting up for the bathroom in the middle of the night. Smart homes can’t help me with that.

My sister and her husband got really into it. They invested in the whole nine yards: smart lighting, energy-efficient appliances, security cameras, doorbell cameras, smart thermostats…you get the idea.

She teases me about being a tech-phobe all the time, but I simply tell her that this is the way I’ve done it, it worked for our parents, why throw money at something that’s going to be outdated in a decade?

My Reluctant Home Automation Conversion

 Fast forward a few months, and I’m house-sitting for my sister who is on vacation with her husband for the week.

She left her phone with me so that I’d have easy access to the tech.

Cool. But I wasn’t planning on using it.

She took me through how to operate the cameras, lights, media, etc., then told me to have fun and joked about making me a smart home convert.

Never. It’s a silly investment. She just laughed like she knew something I didn’t, and then left me.

Now I won’t bore you with a recounting of my days there and my gradual surprise and guilt when I realized just how freaking convenient some of this stuff was. No. Cause I think you get the drift. So I’ll just include a conversion play-by-play.

First Few Days:

  • Tried looking for a remote for a few hours without TV. Nothing. Realized that the phone was the remote and then felt resentful. Used sister’s phone, easily pulled up Netflix, cast a movie to the Chromecast they’ve got connected to their TV. Success!
  • Getting excited I explored with playing games on the phone, but projected on the TV, casting YouTube, and then even a podcast. I could literally cast most anything I could wanted while I cleaned, worked, took care of the dog, and slept.
  • Felt annoyed at how nice this was.
  • One of the nights I got too hot, but was so tired (big work day) that I was just kind of lying there suffering (you know those nights). Then I remembered my sister telling me to adjust the thermostat from the phone if I needed too. I simply turned on the phone, dialed down the temperature, and it immediately turned off. I rolled over and proceeded to fall back asleep right away. That was a blessed feeling.
  • The next morning, even though I had turned it down manually from the phone, the thermostat kicked back in so that the home was warmer when I got up. Basically this is because it’s scheduled around those times because my sister conveniently programmed it that way. So it was really nice to be able to be warm that morning even though my sister sleeps way too warmly for me. Luckily it was an easy fix.

Last Few Days

  • About mid-way through my stay, someone came to their door at 1 am. I was up late, finishing up a project for work (distracted a little by Forensic Files on Netflix). Needless to say, that put me on edge, and I immediately thought I was going to die. The phone screen lit up beside me, showing me the person at the door from the doorbell camera. It was just a young teen. A couple young teens, actually, who banged on the door and then left, probably to terrorize another house. Now…without that doorbell camera, I might have died from a heart attack. But being able to view the door without opening it gave me all the comfort of peace of mind.
  • I got to thinking that if there had been property damage that night, that footage would be able to get those kids in trouble too.
  • By the end of my stay I was feeling more confident with the home automation. It was really nice to be able to use Google Home to voice command music while I was cooking, or to set alarms, or lower the temperature if I needed.
  • I absolutely loved the lighting. I know I made fun of it earlier in my life…but wow. Being able to turn on and off any lights from my phone (or with my voice), and, more importantly, being able to change the colors of the lights. I used this function a lot.

The Best Thing Overall: I used most all the smart-tech while I was there because it was all wireless, connected to the phone, and easy to use. It wasn’t just a total waste of an investment. I think I finally understood then what my sister was saying when she said that dishwashers, TVs, and vacuums were all, at one point, considered a luxury. Yet we can’t live without them now. Home automation is the same way.

I think she’s right.

My Home Automation Beginning

If you’ve been with my story so far, thanks for listening.

I’m happy to report that I purchased a Google Home, a doorbell camera, and Chromecast within the first few weeks back in my house. I got a professional to help me install the doorbell camera, cause I’m really not good at that type of thing.

I use it every day, many times a day, and I don’t regret the small investment.

Maybe you wouldn’t start with my equipment, maybe you want to implement lighting first. Whatever you start with, I recommend beginning soon.

Honestly, it’s pretty amazing we live in this smart-home time. It’s so affordable and not a waste at all. It made my life a ton more comfortable; especially when it comes to peace of mind.

So why fight it? It’s great.

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