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Stay cool this summer with these smart home tips and tricks

The Nest Learning Thermostat on a wall.

Warmer weather is finally arriving in most locations across the country, bringing with it pool parties, summer vacations, and plenty of outdoor fun. And if you’re looking for a way to make your life easier this summer, now’s a great time to upgrade your smart home. From adding a smart thermostat to your home to installing a smart sprinkler system, there are plenty of ways to build a smart home that’s designed to handle the summer heat.

Ready to save money on your electric and water bills? Here’s are ideas on how to upgrade your smart home this summer, as well as other tips to help around the home.

Upgrade to smart shades

Fyrtur blackout blinds in a bedroom.

With the sun beating down on your home for over a dozen hours a day, homes with lots of windows can quickly heat up. Constantly opening and closing shades is one way to help regulate the indoor temperature, but a better option is smart shades. These can be purchased as entire units that replace your existing blinds, and they’re available in a multitude of styles to blend with all home décor. A popular option is Fyrtur from Ikea, which can be purchased in a variety of sizes and can be controlled remotely, giving you a simple way to operate your shades throughout the day.

If you prefer blinds to shades, you can pick up something like the SwitchBot Blind Tilt. This unique device retrofits onto your existing blinds, giving you remote access to their positioning. Better yet, the SwitchBot Blind Tilt can automatically adjust your blinds’ positioning when light is detected, ensuring your home stays cool and you cut down on your electric bill.

Install and program a smart thermostat

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat mounted on an office wall above a desk and lamp.

One of the best ways to save money this summer is with a smart thermostat. Nearly all smart thermostats can be programmed remotely via a mobile companion app, but premium models can actually learn your temperature preferences. With this info, it will then determine the best settings for your thermostat and automatically adjust it throughout the day to save you money while still keeping you comfortable. Many can also detect whether you’re home or away and modify their settings accordingly.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the most powerful smart thermostats available, as it’s sleek, affordable, and uses an Auto-Schedule feature to learn which settings are best for your home. For more options, check out our roundup of the best smart thermostats of 2024.

Look into a smart sprinkler system

Rachio 3 sprinkler controller mounted on wall.
Rachio / Rachio

Tired of watering your yard? Looking to cut down on your water usage? Then a smart sprinkler controller needs to be on your shopping list. These gadgets automate your watering routine, taking into account things like recent rainfall, temperature, and even the slope of your yard. Look no further than the Rachio 3 for a great example of what smart sprinklers can do, as it lets you program in your own schedule but will automatically modify it if rain or other weather conditions are detected. Installation is pretty simple too, as it should be compatible with most existing setups — just remove your old controller, rewire the Rachio 3, and you’re ready to water.

For cheaper alternatives and other options, check out the best smart sprinkler controllers of 2024.

Invest in a power station

Anker SOLIX F3800 portable power station used in kitchen to power appliances.

Depending on your location, the summer months might also be wildfire months. Many energy providers are now de-energizing power lines during red flag warnings or high wind events to mitigate wildfire risk — and that means thousands of homes often go long stretches without power from the grid. In those instances, it’s crucial to have a power station on hand to power your appliances, laptops, medical equipment, and other electronics. Depending on your needs, you can snag a power bank that’s designed just for laptops and smartphones or one that’s gigantic and packs enough juice to run your entire home.

Enhance your pool security

The Pooleye alarm installed in a pool.

If you own a pool, now is a great time to think about enhancing its security. While pools are a fun way to beat the heat, they can also be dangerous to children and pets. Pool alarms can help keep families safe, as they’ll set off a loud siren when anything enters the pool. You can also consider installing a fence around the pool for added protection. Unfortunately, pool alarms typically don’t connect to the rest of your smart home (few offer Google Home or Alexa support), but they’re a nice complement to existing systems.

Get a robot lawnmower or pool cleaner

A floating Beatbot robot collects debris from the edges of a pool.
Digital Trends

Many folks enjoy cutting the lawn as a form of exercise. But for everyone else, robot lawnmowers are a lifesaver. These are essentially robot vacuums designed for grass, as they can be programmed to mow on certain days, give you a wide range of freedom to adjust their performance (such as grass height and mowing location), and can tackle areas over one acre. The Husqvarna Automower 450XH is the best option for large properties, but smaller suburban homes will probably find the Gardena Sileno City to be the better choice. For more options, check out our list of the best robot lawnmowers.

Meanwhile, pool owners can check out robot pool cleaners. These are available for both above-ground pools and in-ground pools, giving you plenty of ways to automate your pool maintenance regardless of setup. Depending on your needs, you’ll find models that can skim the surface for debris, scrub the floors and walls clean, and even dispense chemicals to help keep the water clear. Beatbot revealed a versatile robot cleaner at CES 2024 earlier this year, though its price tag puts it at the top end of the market. For something more affordable, consider the Aiper Scuba L1 Cordless, which clocks in at less than $400.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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