Using a Smartphone to Control Your Home

Smartphones have become indispensable tools for managing everything from finances to social lives. They are electronic personal assistants, so it’s only natural that they can now be used to control homes. Sure, they can be used to schedule maintenance and find contractors, but they also have the capability to act like remote controls to various household appliances. Not sure if you turned your lights off? There’s an app for that. Forget to lock your door? Your phone has your back.

These are some of the best home automation apps out there:

  • Smart ThermostatsNest is a Wi-Fi connected thermostat designed by the creator of the iPod. It comes with an app that allows you to control the temperature of your home from anywhere. After awhile, Nest learns your schedule and adjusts the temperature in your home automatically. For a one time fee of $249, it can lower your heating/AC bills by up to 20%.
  • Smart LocksLockitron allows you to lock and unlock your home remotely. If someone needs to get in, enter their email address or phone number into the app. Lockitron will take care of the rest. There is no need to have numerous copies of your house key floating around. It’s priced at $179, and you can easily take the device with you when you move.
  • Smart LightingHue by Philips is a smart lighting system made up of special light bulbs that are interchangeable with regular light bulbs. Controlled by a Wi-Fi enabled “bridge”, these light bulbs can be switched on/off, dimmed, etc. through your phone. Furthermore, your favorite photo can become a virtual light palette. Missing that sunset you saw on your vacation? Hue will color match the photo, allowing you to relive the ambiance in your home. Plus, preprogrammed “light recipes” help you relax or concentrate. The starter set, which includes the bridge and three bulbs, runs $199.95.
  • Smart OutletsWeMo is a smart wall outlet. Anything that plugs into the WeMo outlet can be controlled through your smartphone. If there’s a device you always accidentally leave on, WeMo is your solution. The system also comes with a motion detector, which can be programmed to turn your electronics on when someone enters a room. The entire system, which includes an outlet, motion detector and phone app, costs $99.99.
  • Smart Pet FeedersPintofeed has not yet been released, but its arrival is just around the corner. This smart pet feeder allows you to remotely dispense pet food. Furthermore, through the app, you can monitor food intake compared to the national average and watch your pet eat on camera. Over time, Pintofeed will learn your pet’s feeding habits and automatically create a schedule. Now, you don’t have to panic over late nights at the office or employ your neighbor to feed your pet while you’re away for short periods of time.

If you wish to fully automate your home, SmartThings has packaged options priced at $299. Vivint also fully automates your home for $68.99 per month.

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