An Automated Home on a Budget

I love the idea and promise of having an automated home.  But when you start really looking into it, it’s pretty expensive and the more affordable options are hard to set up and clunky to use at best.  But there are still some easy, affordable things you can do that will make your home feel a bit more automated – and they will help you manage your home and family as well.

Outlet Timers

I set a few lights here and there on timers.  When I come home from work, I’m never walking into a dark house.  This is not only welcoming, but it’s a security feature.  Even if I’m traveling for work and my kids are with their dad, my house still appears as if I’m home.

I also set up a timer on a small light in my bedroom.  It comes on right around the time my alarm is set to go off.  I struggle to get myself up at 5:30am.  The extra light helps, even if it’s just a little.  This is also a great idea for your teenager who needs to also get up at the crack of dawn.  There are also outlets that can connect to your WiFi and be set to a schedule so you don’t need to remember to turn off the light so you can sleep in on Saturday morning.

Appliances with Timers

When my kids were really young, I would get up and get myself ready first so I had the time I needed to focus on them, get us all breakfast and get all of us out the door on time.  I’d set up my coffee maker the night before and set the timer for the time when I really needed to be ready and the kids needed to get up.  It helped keep my on schedule in the morning as the sound of the coffee grinder basically said, “wrap it up and get these kids out of bed”.  And it felt like someone made me my morning coffee since I didn’t need to do anything but pour it into the cup since I’d done all the work the night before.

If you really want to over achieve, set up your bread maker to have fresh bread ready to go right when the coffee is made!  This is especially nice on a Sunday morning when you need to get up early but have a little extra time to enjoy a more leisurely breakfast.

Crocks pots are also a life saver for a working parent.  Walking in the door to warm lights and the smell of dinner ready to go after a very long day is more than welcome.

Using the timer on your washing machine is also a great trick to keeping the laundry moving along.  I don’t know about you, but I had this terrible habit of starting laundry before leaving for work (knowing that you should never do this in the event of some water disaster) and then forgetting the wet clothes for a day or two and needing to start the process all over again.  Now, I set up the clothes in the morning and set the delay start timer so the cycle starts after my sitter is home with the kids but timed to finish a little bit after I arrive home so I hear the “ding” that tells me it’s time to move the clothes into the dryer.

Appliances with Programmable Schedules

A programmable thermostat.  This is an absolute must!  Waking up to a house that is already warmed up.  Saving on utilities while you’re at work and the kids are at school but still coming home to a warm home.  Like I said, if you do nothing else, get this set up.

Sprinkler systems.  I’ve lived in many homes that didn’t have a sprinkler system.  I bought timers that are designed to be set up with a hose.  I set up a water hose and I was set for the summer.  One less chore to remember (until the grass starts to die).  It was a little extra trouble for the front yard since I didn’t want to leave the ugly hoses and sprinklers out but for the backyard, it was a real time (and lawn) saver!

Yes, there’s still a lot of manual process here.  But setting these little systems up smooths out your day more than you’d ever realize, not to mention saves you a lot of time when you need it.  And the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning with no work involved isn’t a way to get your day started on the right foot.