6 ways to increase your home’s efficiency & comfort this winter


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Just as the smart home can be used to keep you cool in the summer, it can also be relied upon to keep you warm through the cold winter months.

From smart thermostats and motorized window blinds to the simplicity of fitting a heater to a smart plug, the following six gadgets run the gambit of smart home expertise.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

1. Smart thermostat

The most obvious way to keep your home warm this winter is to install a smart thermostat. Devices from companies like Nest, Honeywell, Ecobee and Hive all work in a similar way, keeping you warm and saving you money.

Thermostats from Nest learn your habits over the first few days after being installed. They then start adjusting the heating to save you money whenever possible, all while still keeping you warm. You can also fit a sensor to your most-used room to ensure the thermostat prioritizes that space over other areas.

Smart thermostats shut down the heat when you leave the home, then power it back up again when you are nearby. That way, the house is nice and warm when you get in without heating itself needlessly during the workday. Many smart thermostats also feature Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

Image Credit: Nest.

2. Smart plugs & IFTTT

Cheap, simple and highly customized, a smart plug is arguably the most useful device any smart home can have.

During the winter months, you can plug a heater into one of these devices and program it to switch on and off at certain times of day, or with some help from the free IFTTT (If This Then That) automation platform.

As well as heaters and fans, you can connect a smart plug to an air humidifier, which helps the air in your home feel warmer.

Smart plugs can be operated remotely or with a timer. Either way, you can switch a heater on or off manually from anywhere in the world.

Image Credit: Amazon.

3. Awair air quality monitor

You can use an air quality monitor to automate the heaters and humidifiers attached to your smart plugs. For example, monitors like the Awair and Foobot can be configured to issue a power-on command to a smart plug connected to a heater when temperatures hit a given threshold.

You can also use IFTTT to make a smart plug fire up a humidifier when an air quality monitor sees humidity drop too low.

Image Credit: Awair.

4. Motorized smart window blinds

Admittedly an expensive option, smart motorized window blinds can be opened and closed to let the most sunlight into your home each day.

If you have the budget, Serena smart blinds by Lutron are a good option. They have support for Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Nest, SmartThings, Wink and IFTTT.

Other options include blinds from Somfy Systems and Pella Insynctive, while motors designed to operate your existing blinds are offered by Soma and Axis Gear. Ikea is reportedly entering the smart blind market soon and will no doubt undercut most, if not all, of its rivals.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

5. Aquanta water heater controller

This retrofittable water heater controller promises to lower your energy bills and lets you control the temperature of your water from a smartphone app. You can set the water to only heat up when you need it.

The app shows how much hot water is available so that you don’t fire up the boiler for no reason. There’s also an automatic shut-off utility to prevent overheating. Although there’s no assistant or IFTTT support, the Aquanta is compatible with the Works With Nest platform.

Image Credit: Aquanta.

6. Smartduvet

Finally, this dual-zone duvet can heat and cool either side of your bed separately to help you and your partner get a good night’s sleep.

The duvet is controlled via a smartphone app and is powered by an energy unit that silently adjusts temperatures on its own.

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker, to see other products that are compatible with Google Home and Home Mini, as well as Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: Smartduvet.