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How To Turn Your House Into A Smart Home

BY: Jeremy Stephison | Dec 11, 2018

It sounds a little like science fiction: a house that can actually learn your habits just so it can make you feel as comfortable as possible. Until a few years ago, it only existed in movies like Back To The Future II. But now, thanks to skyrocketing consumer demand and—we wanna say, science?—turning a humble 20th Century house into a bona fide smart home is easier (and more affordable) than you might think. Here's how you can turn your house into a smart home for under $500.

Phillips Hue lights

96371-1280 Price: $69.98–$203.99 Even at the entry level White Starter Kit, these little guys are insanely impressive. Set-up takes about five minutes, and after that, they'll turn on automatically when you get home, shut off when you leave, and dim or brighten with simple voice commands. Spring for the White or Color Ambiance and things start to get a lot more fun. You can sync the bulbs to movies, music, or video games to create your own light show with more than 16 million colors. You can even match the lights to a favorite painting to create a specific mood. And there are plenty of third-party apps that'll do everything from simulating the light of a roaring fire to matching the sound of a rainstorm with Hue-created "lightning."

August Smart Locks 

august_behar01 Price: $165–$230 Thanks to August Smart Locks, you never have to worry about losing your keys again. The lock fits over existing deadbolts at takes about 10 minutes to install. From there, it syncs up with smartphones to automatically unlock the door when you get home. You can also send virtual keys to housekeepers, friends, and favorite stray cats, or just buzz them in from anywhere. And did we mention it's got a video doorbell built in? That's right! Now you can live the dream of FaceTiming with complete strangers!

Nest Learning Thermostat

nest-learning-thermostat-3 Price: $248 It's hard to put your finger on why exactly, but Nest just feels friendly. Maybe it's the colorful, minimalist display that literally lights up when it sees you. Or maybe it's that it knows exactly when you'll be getting out of bed, and warms up the house to keep you from ever having to step on a cold floor. But Nest can also keep you safe from more than just chilly feet. It'll shut down your furnace if it detects a carbon monoxide leak, or turn off the fans if it smells smoke, keeping possible fires from spreading.  

Amazon Echo

echo Price: $179.99 Meet the ringleader of this brave new world. In addition to playing your favorite song, ordering pizza, and a whole bunch of other whimsically bizarre things, Echo will act as the command center for your new smart home. With simple voice commands, such as "Alexa, turn on the lights" or "Alexa, turn up the temperature," Amazon Echo will, well, turn on the lights and turn up the temperature. True, adding Alexa to the mix pushes the price of automating your house past the $500 mark. But Echo is more of a luxury, especially if you have a smartphone since any smart anything worth its salt comes with a free, gorgeous, and intuitive app that gives you full access to what it can do. So that's it! It's just that easy. What about you? Do you own any smart products that you just couldn't live without? Let us know in the comments.