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Your Connected Home: A simple guide to smart devices

A growing number of consumers own devices they regulate with mobile apps. These gadgets serve a wide range of purposes, offering security, entertainment, control over energy consumption, and peace of mind. 

With so many programs and devices available, where do you start? “Start small,” advises Justin Jahnz, Manager, Energy Services and Strategic Projects. “You don’t need to do everything at once.”

To help you sort through your options and start your own connected home journey, we offer a few suggestions from our Information Technology department.  

Illuminate it. Never come home to a dark house again. Use your voice to turn your lights on and off. Smart bulbs also install just like a regular bulb. Out of town for the week? Set a timer via your phone to keep burglars at bay. 

Safety always. Consider a smoke detector that senses fire, smoke, or the buildup of carbon monoxide. You will receive an alert on your mobile device in case of emergency. 

Ding-dong! Install a video doorbell and easily communicate with visitors. Receive alerts when packages arrive or unusual activity occurs. Many models produce crisp, clear images and offer two-way communication. Pair with a smart door lock to lock/unlock your door with your phone. 

Cool tool. Control your home’s temperature from a remote location (or the couch) using your mobile device. You’ll save energy and money by using a timer. Wi-Fi thermostats can be tricky to choose and install, so do your research before heading to the store. Don’t forget, we have a $25 rebate available for Wi-Fi thermostats.

Also, says Jahnz, “Choose your brand wisely. Something to keep in mind is that devices made by different manufacturers often have no way to communicate with each other.” 

Most importantly, be sure to configure your home network properly, use strong passwords when setting up these devices, and understand what types of data these devices are collecting and sharing with the vendor and/or others. Always do your research and only implement apps you feel are safe for your situation.  

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