As the season changes and colder weather arrives, it’s time to think about getting your home ready for winter. That can mean making sure your home is energy efficient, finding gadgets that can help keep you toasty, or improving your home office tools to better manage work, school, or virtual socializing during the ongoing pandemic. Regardless of your needs, there are simple solutions to help ensure your home is prepped for the coming season.
Smart thermostat and temperature sensors
Using smart home temperature sensors throughout your home can help you to stay comfortable while saving energy. The sensors keep track of the heat throughout your house, communicating with your smart thermostat to keep things at an optimal temperature. Smart thermostats can save you energy costs by automatically adjusting when people are present or absent, preventing you from paying for heat that you’re not using, and they can be set to adjust to rooms with more or less activity. If you forget to turn the heat down when you leave the house, no worries: Smart thermostats also can be adjusted remotely via a smartphone app. Other types of smart sensors can let you know when you’ve left a door or window open, further helping you to prevent heat loss (or break-ins).
Freeze and leak detectors
Nobody wants to come home to discover a burst pipe in the dead of winter – that’s an expense and a mess that would ruin your day and your bank account. Water leak and freeze sensors can help you prevent expensive damage to pipes by detecting leaks early, helping to save you money on your water bills as well as to catch problems before they turn into major repair projects. Installing them near potential problem areas such as under sinks, near water-consuming appliances such as dishwashers, or around exposed pipes, can create peace of mind – and a notification to your phone if a problem occurs.
Want to get warm quick but don’t want to flood your home with heat? A smart space heater doesn’t take up much room and helps you stay toasty in the cool pockets of your home. The newer smart space heaters can be controlled via app or voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Some are sleek-looking wall-mounted versions, space-saving towers, or compact under-the-desk units. All types should have safety features such as overheating protection and automatic shutoff if it detects that the unit has overturned.
If you’ve ever experienced a polar vortex or live in a climate where you see record below-zero-with-wind-chill temperatures, you know that the cold can penetrate your home even when the heater’s going full blast. So when it’s time to snuggle up in bed, get ready to jump in with a smart bed heater such as the Bedjet, designed by a NASA spacesuit engineer. This gadget revs up the heat under your sheets about 30 degrees in just three minutes, with an automatic shutoff. It will also cool down your bed, or, for those couples that can’t agree, there’s a version that will do half warm and half cold.
Another option for those who want to avoid arguments over nighttime heating and cooling options: The SmartDuvet. This technology uses an insert with the duvet you already have, programmed via app to heat or cool to your individual preferences. A small floor unit keeps the temperature regulated within the duvet. A super cool additional feature: You don’t have to argue about who will make the bed in the morning; the SmartDuvet does it for you by straightening itself out.
Add some ambiance to your home while also keeping the cold at bay with an electric fireplace. Multiple kinds are on the market to fit your home and budget, including complete built-ins with a mantle, wall-mounted, free-standing, and tabletop electric fireplaces. They can be operated with or without heat as the “flames” are created by LED lighting. If you want to get fancy, you can change the flame color to fit your mood.
It’s the ultimate hand-warmer: When you’re working long hours on your desktop computer in the basement office, you can tap into the warming power of a heated mouse to keep your fingers from freezing. It’s not for highly sensitive use such as design or drafting, but if you’re working in Word or surfing the web, it’s a fine work-from-home gadget.
Lighting for your online meetups
With the pandemic still going strong in many areas, many people may still be working or attending school from home. By now, many of us have spent hours in virtual meetings or have spent time chatting with friends via video chat. We’ve squinted to make out our colleagues in silhouette, backlit by window light, or looking like they’re talking to us from a closet. But you can look good when you’re meeting online – it’s all about the lighting you use during video conferences. You can find simple solutions, including battery-powered ring lights, lights that can be used to illuminate your desk when you’re not online, or adjustable sets that can be adjusted to offer the most professional look. Smile, friends: You’re on camera.
It may be worth taking a look at your home office setup and deciding whether or not a new monitor may be better ergonomically, especially if you’re continuing to work from home this winter. Setting up a bigger screen can help you avoid “text neck” and back pain by keeping your focus at eye-level, where it should be. Desktop monitors can connect to your laptop, and some will swivel or can be lowered or raised, so you can adjust them as needed. Choose desktop monitors that fit your needs, looking at resolution or features such as speakers, and what will fit your budget.
Getting your home ready for winter doesn’t need to take much; it’s a matter of deciding what gadgets will serve the needs of you, your family, and your home in the best way.