How to Create a Smart Home On a Budget

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been coming up with ALL KINDS of home improvement ideas after being stuck inside the past few weeks. And as much as I would like to purchase a new garage door, build an outdoor kitchen and gut my daughter’s 1980’s bathroom, those big ticket items are probably on hold until Boca is open for business again.

Luckily, one of the things that I can do on my own (…or maybe with a little assistance from my handyman husband) is make our home a little smarter. I’ve discovered that with some help from my friend Amazon, plus the 4 tips below, you too can create a smart home inexpensively while stuck indoors!

***MBMom Disclaimer: We use the Amazon Alexa as our smart home control center. I’m sure a lot of the below advice and product recommendations will work with Google Home, but I’m not as familiar with that or other platforms. These links are also affiliate links. If you decide to purchase something through them, Modern Boca Mom will receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this blog!

How to Create a Smart Home Inexpensively While Stuck in Your House

Tip 1: Focus on (and prioritize) key areas of your house

My smart home journey actually started somewhat prior to “sheltering in place.” I recently bought my first new (used) car in years and it came with a key fob that I hardly ever need to take out of my purse. It’s FABULOUS! I then decided that keys (in general) were cumbersome and inconvenient, so my first smart home project priority was our front entrance.

create a smart home inexpensively

FRONT DOOR: To eliminate house keys, I purchased an $84 keypad deadbolt lock for our front door. It has not only been great for us, but for houseguests as well who never need to borrow a key now when they visit! For this product, there’s no app needed- FYI.

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Another lock option is from Yale | LiftMaster Smart Locks. LiftMaster has joined forces with Yale to expand its Smart Access Ecosystem with Smart Locks for your home. Now you can monitor and control all of your home’s main entry points through the myQ® App, anytime, from anywhere.

I also highly recommend installing a video doorbell. We have the $100 Ring Doorbell which, via an app, allows us to check when packages arrive or chat with anyone at our front door even if we’re not at home. We also connected it to a $30 internal Ring Doorbell chime, so the whole house can hear when someone is at the door. That way, we don’t have to have our phones on us at all times.

GARAGE DOOR: If you want or need to replace your garage door opener down the road, be sure to buy one with built-in Wi-Fi. We personally love the Chamberlain brand and its MyQ App. We can get real-time alerts, open, close, and know the status of our garage door from anywhere. It also comes with a digital keypad you can mount outside.

We also recently installed (gifted to us by the Chamberlain Group) a LiftMaster Smart Garage Camera MYQ-SGC1WLM

  • This garage-optimized camera enables you to see what is happening through a live feed or recorded event.
  •  The video camera begins recording when motion is detected.
  • Its built-in Wi-Fi allows for smartphone control with the myQ App.
  • It has garage climate performance of -4 to 122⁰F for extreme climate range.
  • The camera is also easy to setup with Bluetooth and its magnetic mounting base.
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And the best part…my garage door opener enables secure in-garage delivery for Amazon Prime packages! This camera adds video streaming to my myQ App, so I can see all deliveries happening in real time. Having just installed a newer, more secure garage door, I’m really excited for this extra level of safety.

create a smart home inexpensively

Tip 2: Automate living area lighting

Are there certain areas of your house that you wish were automated? For me, it was the lighting in our living and family rooms. Luckily, these are easy to customize in a budding smart home, especially if you already have an Alexa device(s). 

create a smart home inexpensively

  • For light fixtures, I can’t recommend these $20 smart switches enough. We use them to control our stairway lights, pool light and front door lights. Just like the smart plugs above, you can set up a schedule, timer or voice control via the Alexa app OR turn them on/off via the switch itself.

And if you need someone to install these switches, I have the perfect social distancing Boca Raton handyman recommendation for you! 🙂

create a smart home inexpensively

Tip 3: Create routines, so your smart devices work together

My favorite thing to do now before I go to bed is say to my $50 Alexa device: Alexa, goodnight! Because you want to know what happens?

create a smart home inexpensively

My smart home bedtime routine kicks off!

It’s great! And, it was so easy to create a routine in the Alexa app. Now I can control all of my smart devices without having to get out of bed, which I love! I also added sleep sounds to the very end of the routine to send me off to dreamland…

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Tip 4: Don’t forget about your thermostat

If you own an Alexa device, I definitely recommend enabling the free Florida Power & Light skill from the Alexa skill store. Once you do that, you can request tips to help your family save energy and some money. For example, say, “Alexa, open FPL” and then try out voice commands such as:

  • How can I lower my energy bill?
  • What’s your energy-saving tip of the day?

Neat, right? But, my top recommendation as you create a smart home inexpensively is to invest in a smart thermostat. This $183 ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with Built-In Alexa is a great choice and under $200!

It’s easily controlled by an app and can be put on the same settings as your smart plugs and switches. A custom thermostat temperature can even be added to your bedtime routine!

We may be stuck at home for the foreseeable future, but I’m excited to make the house I’m living in just a little bit smarter.

Here’s Modern Boca Mom’s smart home product recommendations + pricing:

Whether you go for all of it or simply kick off your smart home project with a few items, this is a great list to get you started! Good luck!

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