In 2018, it seems that everything is smarter.
From smart appliances to AI-driven digital assistants to smart light bulbs: smart gadgets are helping to make our lives easier and equip us with greater productivity and efficiency.
One smart item that you may not have considered is the smart plug, which brings advanced abilities to your basic electrical outlet. As an extension of your outlet, you remotely control the smart plug via mobile app, controlling when it turns on and off and providing specific settings for its use. Through these apps, smart plugs can also be connected to other smart devices in your home. You can use tools such as Stringify or IFTTT to combine tasks with your smart gadgets, such as having your living room lamps switch on whenever the doorbell is rung.
With some clever ideas, there’s an endless number of inventive ways in which to use smart plugs. While these tiny (and usually affordable) devices are unobtrusive enough to go unnoticed, if you implement the right settings---and the best products---smart plugs can take your smart home to the next level.
More Efficient Temperature Control
One excellent use for smart plugs is in controlling your in-home temperatures. Smart plugs can help ensure your comfort level is exactly where you want it to be---when you want it. For instance, perhaps you have a small space heater in your bedroom. This is ideal for warming you up on a chilly morning. But turning on your heater means climbing out of your cozy bed---and who wants to do that? With a smart plug, you can remotely switch on your heater without stepping foot out from beneath the covers. Or you can program the outlet to switch on at a designated time (perhaps 20 minutes before you wake up) so that your heater is running steadily by the time you wake up. You could do the same with other methods of temperature and environment control such as switching fans on and off, turning on an electric blanket, or activating a humidifier. When you’ve left the house, a timer setting could ensure your smart plug switches off, preventing your heater from being inadvertently left on. This will provide peace of mind and savings on your energy costs. A smart plug would also prove much more budget-friendly than purchasing an entire smart heating system. Those with a small apartment or small area that needs temperature control may find that a smart plug is the perfect answer.
Saving You Money
Because smart plugs can be set with timers (via a managing app) you can be more efficient with any electric appliances. Instead of wasting energy by leaving an item on, the smart plug is programmed to switch off at the precise moment.
Some smart plugs can do this more intuitively, too, particularly when combined with compatible sensors. Such devices can monitor temperature or water levels, for instance, and switch outlets on or off as necessary.
Many smart plugs are capable of monitoring energy usage. This means that you can track how much energy a single appliance is using. You can then make arrangements accordingly, whether that means replacing the appliance with a new, more energy-efficient model, or programming your smart plug to switch off at a particular hour.
For you, all of this equates to reduced energy consumption and a lower monthly electric bill.
Faster Food Prep
Smart devices, especially smart plugs, are all about efficiency. Getting mundane tasks more quickly is key when it comes to streamlining your lifestyle. One area in which smart plugs can help you accomplish this is in the realm of food preparation.
With timed settings or by remotely using an app, you can arrange for your days to begin with ready-to-go coffee or even a slow cooker that you can turn on and off at the precise right times throughout the day. Cooking has never been easier. Now if only you could remotely crack your morning eggs...
One of the most distinct advantages of smart plugs is their role in home security. While you can certainly invest in total home security systems that perform similar functions, smart plugs are a far more cost-effective way of doing what you need. If you only need security in limited areas or for a small apartment, smart plugs may also be the best path to go down.
Essentially, smart plugs can increase your overall security. Using IFTTT or other compatible programs to create automated responses, you can set your various smart items to work together in your home. If, for instance, someone walks by the front of your home, you may have a light fixture which illuminates via a sensor. Whenever that light goes on, you could arrange for your smart plugs to switch on in other areas of your home such as the living room. If you’re away from home on a holiday, this setting can make it appear as though your home is currently inhabited---even while you’re miles away on holiday.
In general, setting certain appliances on a timer via smart plug could also make you feel safer when you are at home. Set your outdoor lights to come on at a given hour, making sure that your path is well-illuminated even if you arrive home after dark. Opening up your smart fridge for a midnight snack? A smart plug connected via IFTTT can turn on a small living room lamp, too, helping to prevent you from falling down in a dimly lit room.
For many people, smart plugs might not be a tool used daily, but having them hooked up and ready to go can offer incredible peace of mind for when you do need them. Few of us haven’t experienced the sudden fear that we left a hot or energy-draining appliance plugged in or even powered on. It’s a huge---but necessary---inconvenience to turn the car around and return home. Concerned that you left the curling wand on? Simply open up your app and turn off the offending outlet. Your curling wand, and anything else plugged in, will no longer have access to power. Best of all, you can do this from virtually anywhere you have Internet access.
Quicker Christmas Decorating
Every year when the Christmas holidays arrive, it can feel like there are more and more lights and decorations. While it’s fun to ‘deck the halls with boughs of holly,’ the process of switching electric-powered items on and off can quickly grow tiresome.
We’ve likely all had the experience of plugging a strand of twinkling fairy lights into a hard-to-reach outlet. When it comes time to plug them in or turn them off, we have to move heaven and earth to reach the outlet.
Enter the smart plug. Via your app controls, you can shut off the lights or other electronic decorations remotely (from wherever you may be). Set them on timers to maximise your energy efficiency and keep your tree and home illuminated only during the proper hours.Christmas definitely just got a bit merrier.
Alert You When the Washing is Done
Smart plugs not only give you the freedom to manage things remotely, they can even help you handle in-person jobs more quickly. Smart plugs can alert you when something is on or off. For example, if your washing machine and dryer are hooked up via smart plugs, when a load of washing is complete, the machine will shut off and you can have an alert sent via your smartphone. That’s your cue to go and move the load into the dryer. No more guessing when the machine’s done or trying to hear the alarm buzz from across the house. Your phone will alert you at the very moment, helping you to be more productive and efficient with your household tasks.
Help Implement Awesome Routines
Truthfully, the power of the smart plug is only limited by your imagination and your ingenuity. By combining a few smart technologies, you can make things easier for yourself in many ways.
One Redditor put together a brilliant plan for her daily crafting routine. Finding that she never allowed enough time for her glue gun to fully warm up before starting to do her crafts, she invented a solution using a smart plug, Google Home smart speaker, IFTTT, Stringify, and an app called Tasker. She writes:
“The glue gun is attached to a smart plug which is turned on by a Google Home command. IFTTT detects that the plug has been turned on and runs a Stringify flow which starts a 7 minute timer. At the end of the 7 minutes Stringify sends a notification to my phone. The notification is read and cleared by Tasker which casts a voice message to my Google Home telling me ‘Glue gun ready.”
Spend some time experimenting with a smart plug or two, and see how much time it can save you overall. What would you use a smart plug for?