Fall is officially here, and that means it’s time to make some adjustments to your smart home! Home automation works best if you update a few settings in key devices for the changing seasons. We’re going over the most important changes to make to your smart devices so that they’re prepared for fall and winter — and ready to help you save money or time.
Smart thermostats are, well, smart — and if you have had yours for some time, it’s probably adapted to your schedule pretty well. But if your climate gets significantly colder during the fall, then there are a few additional changes you should make to settings.
First, set your upper limit (when the thermostat starts cooling) to the mid-70s or higher if it’s not already there. Homes can heat up quickly due to fireplaces and heaters in colder months, and you don’t want your AC accidentally triggering.
Second, set your lower heating temperature to around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your personal preferences. The lower you set it, the more energy you will save: We’ve had great results setting a Nest smart thermostat at 65 degrees without giving up much in the way of comfort.
Finally, set your schedule so your lower limit is much lower when no one is home or when everyone is in bed for the night. Setting it to 55 or 60 degrees is often a sweet spot, but you’ll want to leave it a little higher in the day if you have pets at home.
If you are planning on a fall or winter vacation, check out the option to set your smart thermostat to a vacation mode. Smart lights also have vacation modes of their own that make it seem like people are still home, and both modes are worth using.
As the fall season continues, days grow shorter and there’s less light to work with. Some smart devices have sunrise/sunset settings so they will automatically adjust based on current daylight hours, but many do not. Smart lights and smart blinds in particular can benefit from making some fall changes.
Start by heading to the handy Sunrise and Sunset Calculator at timeanddate.com. Input your location and get information on what to expect for daylight hours. Then you can program your lights and blinds accordingly (for a quick snapshot, just googling “daylight hours” usually provides some quick data, too).
If you are programming smart blinds, it’s a good idea to leave the blinds open as much as possible in fall and winter. Sunlight can heat the air inside your home over time and help you save money on heating bills. It’s also an excellent time to check your weatherstripping to see if any of it needs to be replaced around windows or doors.
If you have a whole-house HVAC filter, now is the time to replace it with a new version. If you’ve never done this before, check your filter’s dimension (they will be clearly printed on the filter and your HVAC unit), then buy a replacement model the same size. Filters have arrows on them that are meant to face the way air is flowing through your unit.
It’s important to do this swap now, because as homes close up for the winter, the amount of dust and other allergens (as well as infectious particles) inside increase and are harder to get rid of. If allergies are a concern, it may be time to pick out a smart air purifier that can help keep the air clean.
Smart or not, make sure all your ceiling fans are set to spin clockwise. This adjustment is important in the winter months because it helps cycle the warm air (which naturally rises) back down to the bottom of a room. You can switch it back in summer when the days get warmer.
Have you noticed that the air in your home seems a bit dryer during fall and winter? That’s partly because of the heating process, partly because of the outdoor weather, and rarely fun for anyone. Sinus irritation, bloody noses, and stuffed nostrils can all become more common ailments in these seasons.
An effective way to combat this dry-out is with a smart humidifier. You can set these devices to add moisture to the air and even monitor air quality conditions inside your home.
October is also an excellent time to plan some smart home Halloween plans. For example, if you have an Alexa device you can set up smart routines for motion sensors and enacting lighting changes for a spooky effect whenever trick-or-treaters visit.
That’s just the start of what your smart home can do for Halloween: You can check out our full guide for more ideas.
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