The Top 10 Easiest (and cheapest) Ways to Make your Apartment “Smart”
Posted on December 7, 2018

Who remembers Smart House!? Anyone? Well, for those of you who haven’t seen the Disney Channel Original Movie from 1999; The film follows a family who wins a brand new house that is outfitted with crazy technology that improves their life. It is incredible until the house personifies itself in the form of actor Katey Sagal and begins to be a bit overbearing. However, most millennials forget about all of the consequences that come from the over automation and simply remember all of the cool stuff this house could do. The good news is a lot of this is possible in 2018 without much cost and without Katey Sagal, though I’m sure she’s a lovely person. Below are the top 10 things you can implement, download, or purchase to make your NYC apartment SUPER SMART!

Echo

1. Amazon Echo or Google Home -
This one is probably a no-brainer for most people at this point. Amazon changed the smart home game in 2015 when it released the “Amazon Echo” a smart speaker that is able to complete various tasks through voice automation. Voice automation wasn’t crazy new to the world after Siri was announced by Apple a few years before and people were excited to have a living assistant a simple “Alexa” away. Since then, quite a few smart speakers have been released including the Google Home which does much of the same but instead of speaking to Amazon you are speaking to “Hey Google.” I will say I personally have 3 Echos in my apartment.

Bedroom: to wake me up and read me the news in the morning, provide white noise or thunderstorm sounds at night, and control the lighting (more on that later).

Kitchen: Smart speakers are able to provide measurement conversions on the fly, provide quick recipes, add items to a shopping list the second you see you are running low, and even order you new items directly from Amazon to be delivered within 2 days (this is what I use mine for the most! It’s SCARY easy).

Bathroom: Say what!? The bathroom!!!!? Yes. This is my newest addition. I love having an echo in the bathroom. I made sure it knew what toothpaste, mouthwash, face wash, shampoo etc that I use; and, when I’m running low, guess what! “Alexa, order me more shampoo” Also who doesn’t love a shower radio that can change the overplayed song you’ve grown tired of with just your voice? Also, for all you singers or public speakers out there! She has a skill for warming up the voice in the morning! Shower time just got mad productive!

Hue Lights

2. Hue Lights -
Hue lights or any smart lights are a super simple way to completely change the vibe of your apartment without having to do much. How many tenants does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Probably just one…you can program these to be a relaxed warm light at night to help you fall asleep, a bright blue light in the morning to mimic sunlight if you got stuck with the room that faces the brick wall (we’ve all been there!), and even multi-colored that syncs with music for that crazy party that you “forgot” to invite your neighbors to.

3. Amazon Prime -
Amazon Prime was a no-brainer for me. Amazon is so much more than a bookstore now. It’s a small yearly fee that provides limitless possibilities for everyday items. You can order garbage bags, toilet paper, soap, and so much more and it will arrive at your door in 2 days, no bodega cat needed. And, with the Echo, you can order it with your voice the second you see yourself running low. Amazon has also just acquired Whole Foods so you can also get discounts on groceries that make Whole Foods doable for your wallet.

4. Nest Products -
Nest is a line of smart home products that we are seeing coming to a lot of our new development properties for sale. But, you don’t have to spend $3 Million in order to have them. If you live in an apartment where you control the heat or air, you can install a Nest thermostat to control the temperature when you’re away or set it on a schedule so it gets warmer or cooler for sleeping. You can also control it, you guessed it, with a smart speaker like Echo or Google Home. They also have a live cam doorbell since you opted for the bigger apartment in a no doorman building. You receive a live feed to your smartphone when someone rings your bell so you can let your dog walker, roommate, UPS, or real estate agent ;) in even if you’re not home.

Smart Plug

5. WeMo Smart Plugs -
Smart plugs are GENIUS if you use them the right way. Don’t want to invest in Hue lights but like the idea of turning lights off and on with your voice? Plug the lights into a smart plug and control them from your phone or smart speaker. My favorite function is to plug my coffee maker into it and have it turn on with my alarm. You can do this by setting up a routine for your smart speaker. Alarm goes off, lights come on, news and weather is read, coffee is brewing. I haven’t even opened my eyes yet. Just be sure to load the coffee maker with fresh grounds the night before or you’ll just have hot water.

6. Fire Stick, Roku Stick, Chromecast -
-Have you heard cable is over? Well, it is. Cut the cord by investing in an inexpensive Smart TV stick or box. These start as low as $35 and all you have to do is plug it in and connect it to services. If you have subscribed to Amazon Prime, you have an included streaming service. These also hook up to YouTube, Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and so much more. And, you’ll never guess! Most of them have voice capabilities as well. $35 dollars is a small investment for endless entertainment. Plus who is ACTUALLY paying for their own Netflix? We all have some random friend’s third cousin’s password, right?

7. Amazon Dash Buttons -
Ok, I’m starting to feel like this is just an advertisement for Amazon, but they have the smart home thing on lock. This is one not a lot of people know about. We all have those one or two things that we feel like we are ALWAYS running out of. Toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent right? Dash buttons are little buttons you can put on your wall or in cabinets. They connect to your wifi, you click them and it automatically orders more of that item. They even have a little picture on them of what you’re ordering. And THEY’RE FREE! They cost $4.99 to get delivered and then you get $4.99 off your first order.

Roomba

8. iRobot Roomba -
Vacuuming. Everyone’s favorite chore. This one kind of goes against the “cheap” aspect of this blog post. However, this is an investment that can save you so much time. This little friend will run around your apartment and clean up all of the hair your pet shed, the outside New York grime, and the Cheez-it crumbs from that night when you had a bit too much to drink. Use the app to schedule cleanings and you can even buy fun stickers to make it seem like a pet if your landlord doesn’t allow them.

9. IFTTT -
So, this one is a little more advanced. But you’ve read all of this so I think you’re ready. “IFTTT” Stands for “If this, then that.” This is a ridiculously useful app that you can use to automate so many facets of your life. Say your roommate uses all of the eggs but she is kind enough to put them on the digital shopping list through your Echo. You can set up an IFTTT “Recipe” that forwards that immediately to your phone so you can be sure to pick some up on the way home. Obsessed with photos of yourself? Have it run a “recipe” that downloads any photos you’re tagged in on Facebook or Instagram and puts them in your camera roll. This app is also perfect to automate cross-platforming. It works with iOS, Windows, and Android so you can have it sync calendars, emails, to-dos and more across multiple platforms. So, if your office runs on Windows and you have an iPhone. The Microsoft calendar events can be pushed through to your iPhone calendar using the “Outlook to iCal recipe.”

10. SplitWise -
This one is SUPER simple. This free app is perfect for simplifying splitting the bill on ANYTHING. When you rented your apartment through Bohemia and said you would take the room facing the brick wall you were totally fine with it AS LONG AS you paid slightly less in rent right? This app allows for that to be super easy to figure out every month. You went to Harlem Tavern and had an amazing time but had 2 too many beers to do the math. SplitWise makes it easy to plug in how much the tax is and then how much each item was. You were gone for 3 weeks for vacation and don’t want to pay for utilities for that time? First of all, good for you and invite me next time. Second, you can communicate this with your roommates and show them how much of the prorated rate you should pay. Just be kind! It also can link directly through Venmo.

Making your home as smart as the “Smart House” doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and it can help automate parts of your life to make waking up, going to bed, and just living in NYC a little easier so you can focus on slaying every day! Cheers all and happy automating!

~Cody Hernandez is a rental and sales agent at Bohemia Realty Group.