A Smart House

For the last three years we lived in a third floor, secured building and before that, a three story townhouse with adjoining homes. Our new neighborhood is a fine neighborhood don’t get me wrong, but there is something a bit unsettling about having your bedroom windows on ground level again after all that time. I suggested investing in cameras facing the front and back yard that will allow me to be alerted and see the video when someone approaches the house. It would come in handy for deliveries, when we are out of town, etc. They are pretty common place these days.

That conversation led to inviting Alexa into our house. I had some misgivings because I hate the idea of “someone” listening in at all times. It already happens with my phone and Google. Why would I want or need an Alexa device? I’m capable of turning my own lights on and off, etc. My husband loved the idea and started adding things to his Amazon cart so I shrugged and let him run with it.

We now have a smart thermostat which I have to admit, IS a cool feature. It lets us set a schedule so we aren’t heating the house as much when we aren’t there. I can use my app to turn it down during the day and then turn it back up as I leave work so that when I get home in twenty minutes it is nice and toasty. Although I have YET to actually remember to do that! Luckily it doesn’t take that long to warm up the house.

The thermostat made sense to be. Getting smart bulbs and plugs did not seem necessary. How lazy has our society become that we can’t turn on and off a lamp? Fast forward a month and I haven’t touched a lamp switch in my living room since the day we put the bulbs in! First of all, they are dimmable. How cool is THAT? The lamps themselves are just standard lamps but now they can magically be dimmed. I can say “Alexa, lights at 50%” and the room darkens for tv viewing. Need more light? “Alexa, lights at 100%” and instantly both lamps adjust. We have a lamp in the upstairs loft on the same network so I don’t have to go up and down the stairs just to avoid having it be a dark void up there. It’s also nice to use the app and have the lights on when we pull in the driveway at night. Who likes to come home to a dark house?!

She has some pretty cool features including a “guard” feature which will alert us to the sound of a smoke alarm or breaking glass, she can add items to our Amazon cart and remind us that it’s time to order a reoccurring item, and will play any genre of music upon request (something I use frequently). My favorite feature though are the routines. I can say “Alexa, goodnight” and she will turn off the lamps and lower the thermostat. My husband has his own “Good Morning” routine. He also likes to ask her about the daily forecast, top news stories, and occasionally a good “dad” joke.

I tend to say “please” and “thank you” when asking her to do things. It just feels like the right thing to do. She will usually say “you’re welcome” and has even sang it to me before. She’s told me to have a nice day or she hopes I had a good weekend. She even pronounces my name correctly. It’s like having a very polite roommate around.

I may have had my doubts in the beginning but now I can’t imagine living without her. I suspect we will be adding more smart items over time. I know there is a way to connect her to our Roku and I will probably add more lamps as well. I’m holding out hope that one day I’ll be able to have her start dinner for me!

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