Guest Post by Victoria Schmid

As of this year, 33% of US households have a smart device, and experts predict this number will continue to grow. Consumers are seeing the benefits of smart home tech, especially when the temperatures drop. Even if you’re one of those tech-savvy people with a smart home crammed with the latest technology, you still may not be using it to its fullest potential. Smart home technology not only makes battening down the hatches and riding out winter storms safer and more convenient but also helps us lead more energy-efficient lives.

Here’s how you can take better advantage of the convenience of connected devices and still increase the energy efficiency of your smart home this winter.

1. Secure a Reliable Internet Connection

Smart homes take advantage of the power of connected devices to deliver convenience, but none of that works without access to the internet. For most smart home devices, you’ll need a reliable internet connection with at least 25 Mbps for a household of 2–4 people. If you plan to ride out the storm by bingeing the latest buzzworthy Netflix series without disrupting your other smart devices, a strong internet connection is a must.

2. Get Energy-Efficient Smart Blinds

Did you know about 30% of your home’s heating energy in winter is lost through the windows? Having energy-efficient curtains and window treatments will certainly save you money on the heating bill, but smart blinds have the advantage of adjusting to seasonal changes in sunlight and temperature. You can program some of the blinds to stay open during peak hours of daylight while others remain closed to maximize energy efficiency.

3. Install a Smart Thermostat

If you don’t have a smart thermostat yet, it’s worth investing in one this winter to help maintain your home’s temperature. These programmable devices can be used to reduce the heat when you’re away from home and then schedule a raise in temperature just before you arrive, helping lower your heating bill. They can also be used alongside smart humidifiers to provide better climate control in arid environments or smart generators to bring your home’s power back online from a distance during an outage.

Maintain Your Smart Home

4. Soften Seasonal Depression with Smart Lighting

Decreased sunlight and colder temperatures during winter months can keep folks homebound and increase the frequency and intensity of seasonal depression. Try combatting any symptoms with a programmable smart light therapy box that mimics natural sunlight. Focus on keeping therapeutic light in areas of your home where you spend the most time, like the bedroom and living areas.

5. Illuminate Sidewalks with Motion Control Devices

It’s important not just to control the lighting inside your home but also to control visibility outside where increased hours of darkness can make icy sidewalks or driveways more dangerous. Motion control lighting can be helpful both as a security measure and to keep the walkways around your home well lit and clear of obstructions.

6. Keep an Eye on the Storm with Outdoor Cameras

Being able to check outdoor security cameras or even doorbell cameras at a distance can provide a view of your driveway or street and give a little extra warning about hazardous road conditions. Being able to see the worsening storm and scuttle home before the roads become impassable is an invaluable asset in climates where winter brings heavy snowfall.

7. Set Storm Alerts and Notifications through Your Smart Hub

Speaking of storms, make sure you’ve set up notifications for winter storm warnings on your smart hub or personal assistant such as Alexa or Google Home. That way you’ll have plenty of time to prep your property, kick your feet up with a cup of hot cocoa in front of the fire, and enjoy the efficiency of your well-maintained smart home.

Author Bio: Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the “everyday” person. She is a specialist in online business marketing and consumer technology. She has a background in broadcast journalism.