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Alexa can estimate how much electricity smart home devices consume

A smart home is convenient, but is it energy-efficient? Alexa can now tell you. Today, Amazon rolled out a new feature called the Energy Dashboard. It shows the amount of energy consumed by Alexa-compatible smart home devices. Just open up the Alexa app to see how much energy is used by smart home devices connected to your Alexa system, including smart plugs, switches, water heaters, thermostats, and TVs.

The Energy Dashboard shows not only daily, but also weekly and monthly trends. It’s not the same as having an energy monitor installed in your home, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction to giving Alexa even more functionality than before.

In addition to the Energy Dashboard, Amazon also rolled out Guard Plus. This is a subscription service that extends the original features of Alexa Guard with a host of new features, including hands-free access to an Emergency Helpline. It also provides Smart Alerts that monitor for trouble within your home.

Here’s how it works. You ask Alexa to connect you to trained agents at the Emergency Helpline that can request the dispatch of medical, fire, or police based on the information you provide when you call. A more interesting feature is that Guard Plus can listen for specific sounds within your home — the sound of a broken window, a fire alarm, etc. It can play the sound of a siren in response or can trigger the sounds of dogs barking if outdoor motion sensors pick up activity.

U.S.-based customers can sign up for a one-month free trial of Guard Plus, after which it is $5 per month or $50 per year.

The final feature Alexa introduced is called Proactive Hunches. Do you normally lock your door at a specific time? Alexa knows — and the smart assistant can lock your door for you if you forget. If you enable the feature, Alexa will be able to act on these “hunches” without permission and perform tasks like adjusting the thermostat, the hot water heater, and more.

With the introduction of more features like this, Amazon becomes more and more useful by the day. The Proactive Hunches feature in particular takes the smart assistant one step closer toward the smart home most people dream of.

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