No more chilly Christmas mornings, waiting for coffee to brew and peeking through the wreath to see who’s ringing the doorbell.
Imagine Christmas morning. Visions of sugarplums have given way to the reality of a cold morning and a list of gotta dos before the big family feast. But by just reaching for your smart phone you can get the house warmed up, and coffee brewing, before you slide one big toe out from under the covers. And when the doorbell rings you won’t need to have a spy system, or even a spy hole, to see if it’s your beloved parents or the dreaded Grinch. You won’t have to drop the turkey to run to answer the door either, you can do that right from your smart phone too.
That could be your Christmas morning if you’ve done your holiday shopping for yourself anyway. Just by grabbing three of the gadgets I highlighted in DIY: Are You Smarter Than Your Smartphone. Oh, and installing them. It won’t help if they’re still wrapped and under the tree.
Start with a remote thermostat like Nest. It’s easy to install and, rather than using the old programmable thermostat that assumes you get up at the same time on holidays as you do any other day of the week (or the manual version of getting out of bed to turn up the heat so that the house is warm enough to get out of bed) you can change the settings on your thermostat from your smart phone. Reviews say it’s well worth the investment, and the company claims that if you use it right you can lower your heating bills by up to 20 percent. The gift that keeps giving back!
Even less expensive and easier to install are “smart outlets.” These wi-fi gadgets let you control pretty much any devise that plugs in. Like coffee pots.
Of course, you can probably think of lots of other things in your home you would like to be able to control from your phone, but for the smart outlet to work it has to be something that plugs into an outlet. Kids, the last time I checked, don’t qualify.
Finally, you can take the mystery out of answering the door. Video doorbells, like the ones from Skybell and Doorbot, let you see who is at the door, and even communicate with them, from anywhere. Even when you’re at work.
While it would be fun to answer the door from your phone on Christmas morning, this gadget might actually be more meaningful if you’re traveling for Christmas, or expecting packages when you aren’t at home. Because it lets you see when the delivery comes, or when someone’s at the door with less than honorable intentions. Doorbot’s site says it already includes motion detection even when your visitor doesn’t press the doorbell, and Skybell’s site says that feature is coming soon.
Of course, if your Christmas morning includes an “over the river and through the woods” experience, and you aren’t traveling in a horse-drawn sleigh, you may want to take a look at remote car starters.
Perhaps the best news is that if you are weary of the crowds and the blasting Christmas music at the mall, you can pick up all of these gadgets right from your computer. Or your smart phone.
What do you want to know about DIY?
Do you have specific projects you would like to tackle? Not sure how to get started? Convinced that you won’t be able to get answers to your questions at the hardware store? Great! Tom wants to know.
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Title Photo: Flickr/Morgan
Additional Photo: Flickr/Bill Bradford