5 ways you can use Alexa to control your home

Amazon’s voice-driven virtual assistant, Alexa, is pretty smart right out of the box. She can make Amazon orders for you, read you today’s news, and find out whether a certain restaurant is still open, among other things.

If you’ve purchased an Amazon Echo device, you’re probably loving all the things Alexa can do. But what if I told you this internet-savvy AI can do so much more? Here are just a handful of the different ways you can connect your smart home devices to Alexa to make your home smarter and safer.

Alexa, who’s at the door?

Amazon Echo integrates seamlessly with a wide variety of smart home security devices to help keep your home secure. Alexa Voice Services (AVS), run by Amazon, does this by digitally recording your voice, sending the recording through an internet connection to Amazon, and interpreting your commands as instructions that your Echo-enabled devices can understand.

Alexa can activate or deactivate your home security system, for example. She can alert you if your alarm system is tripped, even if you’re away. If you have smart locks on your doors, you can ask Alexa to lock them behind you or unlock them for guests without having to go to the door yourself.

And it doesn’t stop there. If you have an Echo Show and a compatible front door camera, Alexa can show you who’s on your doorstep in real time on the 7-inch screen or on your mobile device. If you have a little one still in a crib, you can ask Alexa to show you the baby’s room, too.

These are just a few examples, but you get the idea.

Alexa, set the temperature to 75

With a smart thermostat and Alexa, you can set, reset, or turn off your home’s heating or cooling for maximum comfort using just your voice. Some devices even allow you to set a timer on your thermostat for those times when you’re out of the house for extended periods — say, on vacation.

And in case your house has some pesky hotter or colder rooms, some Alexa-compatible thermostats can even link with multiple room sensors to help keep the temperature more consistent throughout your home, helping to reduce your utility bills and keep your home comfortable.

Alexa, play Breaking Bad season 3

Just this summer, Amazon fully integrated Echo and Alexa with Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. What does this mean? No more fishing through the couch cushions when you lose the remote, for one thing. Instead, you can control your TV using nothing more than your voice.

Alexa Voice Service has access to all the same streaming video content that you can find on Amazon Prime Video. In addition, AVS allows you to open any of the streaming apps on your Fire TV device. You can even watch live video from any of the Alexa-connectable video cameras in or around your home on your TV.

Have a smart camera in the kids’ room, for instance? Alexa gives you the ability to check on them without having to get up off the couch — a dream come true if you’re both a parent and a couch potato.

Alexa, shut off the sprinkler

Who’d have thought Alexa could help you develop your green thumb? You can use your Amazon Echo and a smart sprinkler controller to set up your lawn or garden’s watering schedule.

Some Alexa-enabled sprinkler controllers even let you set up individual watering zones based on plant or soil type or amount of exposure to the sun. You can make adjustments for rainy days, automatically skipping your scheduled watering time and letting Mother Nature do the work for you instead.

Alexa, dim the lights please

Going on a trip? Forgot to turn the lights off when you left the house? Perhaps you want your holiday decorations to light up on a set schedule to make it look like you’re home, even when you’re not. Alexa offers a wide array of functionality with smart lighting devices.

Use Alexa and your smart lights to do the following:

  • Turn on your ceiling fan.
  • Discourage would-be criminals.
  • Adjust the brightness of your dimmable lights.
  • Turn your house lights on or off at a specific time of day (say, sunup or sundown).
  • Light up specific rooms in your house.

With Amazon Echo and Alexa getting smarter, the future is exciting, to say the least. Digital assistants are already pretty amazing, but their seamless integration with home automation technologies takes their convenience offering to a whole new level.

Scott Bay is a digital journalist who specializes in security, travel, and finance.