by AMBER MAC
Smart home technology can save you time, energy and money—plus, it’s something the entire family can enjoy together. The newest of these connected products are simple to set up and are (finally) starting to play nicely with each other. If you’re on the hunt for a smarter home, here are three things to consider to help you get started.
Check for reliable internet
If you have problems with slow Wi-Fi, things will only get worse when you add more devices to your network. To fix your internet coverage, consider putting your router in a more central area so your signal is not blocked (in other words, the basement isn’t necessarily the best place for your router, but the main floor can work great). Also, a mesh network router or Wi-Fi extender can help you get blanket coverage in your home, so that you always have internet access in those faraway corners. If you’re not getting the speeds you’re paying for, contact your internet service provider for help. To test your speeds, try an app such as Speedtest or Fast.
Go hands-free with a voice assistant
A smart speaker lets you play music by using voice commands, but that’s just the beginning. If you want to dim your connected lights, turn up the temperature on your thermostat or access your security camera—all without lifting a finger—voice is the answer. While one speaker might do, you will likely want to add to your system so you can use voice in different parts of your home. Many smart home products work seamlessly with smart speakers, but check the box to see if the item you’re choosing is compatible with the platform you’re already using (such as Google Assistant or Alexa).
Make everyday products smart
It is possible to turn your existing lights or small appliances into smart home devices, even if they didn’t start out that way. This is an ideal option if you want to automate a fan or control a coffee maker. All you need is a smart plug, which plugs into an existing socket and connects to your Wi-Fi. (You must also download an app to make this smart transition happen.) Finally, if you want to use voice, the smart plug you buy must support the voice assistant you’re already using in your home.
If DIY is not for you, Costco has a selection of installation services, including countertops, flooring, window treatments, heating and cooling, among others. Free in-home consultations are available. Go to Costco.com and enter “Installed Products & Services” in the search box. But before you do, consider these tips.
Plan early. Try to avoid peak seasons. For example, waiting until July to replace your air-conditioning unit could become a challenge. Contractors are extremely busy. Planning months ahead of time is crucial.
Design is key. What you have in mind might not be achievable. Ask the contractor to suggest the best solutions. A renovation should increase your home’s value.
Have a clear understanding of your project. Make a list of questions for the contractor. Understand what they will and won’t do. An estimated timeline for how long a project will take is based on what they know when planning. Allocating extra time for the unexpected will give you a more realistic timeline.
Your project may require a permit. Your contractor will let you know of all permitting requirements for the project. Allow extra time for the permitting process.
Find out what services are available in your area. Visit Costco.com and search for “Installed Products & Services” or look for the kiosks at your local warehouse.
Have your contact information and membership card ready. Call 1-844-765-0251. You will be assigned to an independent installer. They will contact you to schedule a consultation.
Amber Mac is an on-air technology reporter, author, speaker and co-host of the new podcast series The AI Effect. Find her on social media @AmberMac.