AD | Disclaimer – This post about creating a smart home is in conjunction with Hive, but all thoughts are my own
I’m not sure people have ever spent so much time at home as they have this year. And one thing I’ve not thought about is how much constantly being in our house is actually costing us, and that it’s time to start thinking about making it a ‘smart home’.
Like a lot of people my husband is now working full time from home, I work three days from here. And the rest of the time my three year old twins and five year old are racing round the place switching everything on and off, running from room to room, leaving lights, iPads and goodness knows what else on.
Our heating is now on A LOT (shhh, don’t tell the boss), and seeing as it’s now getting dark by 4.30pm, the lights in pretty much the whole house are on. My five year old isn’t too keen on the dark (thanks lockdown for making him a nervous wreck!) so if he goes upstairs to play, you can pretty much guarantee all the lights in every room are on.
Because we are home, we’re not only using lights and heating, we’re using more electricity while cooking, my husband uses four screens at a time to work (seriously!) and I don’t even want to think about how many times a week my washing machine is on. Three boys produce SO MUCH laundry!
So gas and electricity bills are bound to be higher. New research carried out by British Gas shows how there’s a 38% increase in energy usage around lunchtime. And you can totally see why. Normally most of us wouldn’t even be home at 1pm!
Uswitch predicts that households where people are working from home use 25% more electricity and 17% more gas per day. And that’s likely to go up further when the colder weather hits.
So what can we do about it? We can get SMART!
We’ve all seen the adverts showing these fancy products you can operate from your phone, and it’s not until now that I’ve realised how useful they can actually be!
Hive is one of the nation’s favourite connected home providers, servicing 1.9 million homes across the country. Its smart products include the award-winning Hive Active Heating and a range of plugs, sensors, light bulbs, indoor and outdoor cameras, and thermostatic radiator valves.
Hive smart home devices mean you can control your home from anywhere using your phone; and with your voice as Hive is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Home Kit – how cool is that?
Then using the Hive app you can connect all the Hive devices and get them to talk to each other. It’s like something out of a James Bond movie!
But where do you even start with switching to a smart home?
TIPS ON HOW TO CREATE A SMART HOME FROM SCRATCH
You don’t need to do everything at once, but three things you’ll need to start with to create a smart home are:
- A strong Wi-Fi connection
- A smart home app on your phone, tablet, or Apple watch.
- In Hive’s case, a hub that allows you to connect all your smart devices together
One of the easiest first steps to creating a smart home is by starting with the lights. It’s so simple to replace your existing bulbs with smart lights and pair them with your smart home hub. You can then get all techy and wow the kids by controlling your lights straight from your phone.
You can turn your lights on and off individually or as a group, set daily schedules and adjust the levels from wherever you are. And one thing I’m going to find really useful is that, when you’re away, you can programme them to come on in a random pattern each evening to make it look like someone’s home.
Another good investment would be to install a smart thermostat which would work with your existing heating system. It can then be controlled from your smartphone, tablet or even your voice.
You can then control heat in different parts of your home, turn the heating on when you’re out ready to walk into a nice warm house, or even receive reminders if you’ve left it on. I think I definitely need that bit. It also means you could save up to £120 a year by never having to heat an empty home.
Fancy turning on your kettle or coffee machine downstairs, whilst you’re still upstairs in your nice warm bed? Then you need a smart plug. Change to smart plugs to control appliances or lamps from your phone and set schedules so things turn on automatically. Or in my case turn things OFF that the twins have left on!
Smart motion sensors
If you fancy going the whole nine yards on the techy front, then you could install smart motion sensors. They’re the same as sensors in a burglar alarm but can trigger actions in your other smart devices around your home. For example a motion sensor by the front door could link to the lights and turn them on as you walk in. Pretty handy when you’re laden down with a car seat, buggy, kids, keys and bags and you’re struggling to flip the light switch.
Or if you don’t want a motion sensor, just link your smart products up to your smart speaker and control them with your voice. Ask Alexa to turn on the lights as you walk into a room or whack up the heating when you can’t tear yourself away from the TV. Just maybe don’t teach the kids how to do it…
HOW A SMART HOME CAN HELP US PARENTS
If you have babies or young children there are so many ways in which having a smart home can help. Wouldn’t it be lovely when you’re trapped on the sofa under a sleeping baby to be able to switch a lamp on, or turn up the heating through the smart devices? You could even add nappies to your shopping list! Or you need a dimmed light in the middle of the night for a feed.
I’ve been trying out a few of the Hive products and can already see how they’d be useful with the kids.
Trying out smart home products
Hive dimmable lightbulbs
First up I’ve tried the Hive dimmable lightbulbs which are great. Not only do they dim to various levels for bedtime, they make a great nightlight. Which is perfect for my twins’ bedroom which is pitch black with two blackout blinds on the windows. It’s actually too dark and when they wake in the night it’s impossible to even find your way to their beds. So a nightlight on the dimmable bulb is so useful.
They’ve also been handy for my five year old who insists on having the landing light on. He can now have his light dimmed right down, and I can turn it off later.
The dimmable lights have also made a massive difference in my lounge. It’s my one room I really TRY to keep child-free (unsuccessfully). Now in the evenings I can make it a really warm and cosy atmosphere for us.
Hive colour changing lightbulbs
But I have to say the other products I tried have been the biggest hit. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you COLOUR CHANGING LIGHTBULBS!
These are quite frankly awesome, and my boys LOVE them. I got them purely for a bit of fun, and fun is what they’ve provided. They’re in my twins’ bedroom in an inherited lampshade that could be mistaken for Big Bird. But it’s actually proved perfect for the different colours.
With a spectrum of 16 colours to choose from you can match the lighting to your mood (or theirs) by changing it on your phone. It’s great fun and can be really educational for the little ones as well. Plus, there are loads of sensory play possibilities. And even without all that, it’s just so flipping COOL . Imagine having a blue room one minute, then red or purple the next.
A Hive smart home is a smart investment
As well as being a brilliant product, smart lights are also a great investment. Hive lights are 80% more energy efficient than traditional bulbs making them cheaper to run and saving us money. And I don’t have to forget about switching the lights or heating off when I go out because I can do it on my phone.
You might think it’s all a bit too techy to bother with, but once it’s all set up it’s so handy. And if it saves money it’s got to be a good thing!
Hive is offering 30% off its best selling products during the Black Friday promotion from November 16-30, so hurry up!
For further information on Hive and it’s range of products visit https://www.hivehome.com
Did you enjoy this post? If so, why not hang around and read a few more. Head to my Mum Life section for my usual parenting rants, or to the Travel Section for some UK family holiday and days out inspiration.
If you like a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. Feel free to join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group too, where everyone shares their hilarious stories.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.