Making my house smarter (& more accessible)

With my pain and fatigue, I’ve been trying to find ways to save a few spoons whenever possible. As someone who has been living in the Southeast U.S. for almost ten years, I’m also always trying to find ways to trim my electric bill in the summer (because air conditioning is a must…both heat and cold can exacerbate everything physical).  I’m also a bit of a control freak, so when I have brain fog (or my spouse leaves lights on) but can’t get to the lights.

I’m also a bit of a wannabe tech geek. So when I found out that I could get an Amazon Echo Dot on a payment plan, I figured I’d give it a go. I bought my Kindle Fire on a similar payment plan, so I knew that this was a legit way to be able to afford trying this out (it also helps that I’ve been doing Swagbucks to earn gift cards for non-essential items as well).

I did a little research and realized that the easiest thing to modify in my home (especially since it’s an apartment in a very old house) would be outlet adapters that I could use to control lamps, particularly in our office and bedroom. I picked up this smart plug adapter that was the cheapest with the best reviews and decided to give it a go for our home office because my husband’s lamp is tucked in a corner where I can’t reliably get to it (he sells gaming supplies and accessories through Amazon).

Once I got both the Echo Dot and the smart plug adapter hooked up to our wifi, it was amazing. You have a few options for the device’s name (so you don’t have to use Alexa if you don’t want to…we have a friend with a similar name, so we opted for Echo…the only danger there was that she sometimes responds when I’m talking about my favorite artist Echo Chernik). Not only could I voice control the light (“Echo, turn office light off”) but I could also ask for the weather, time, news updates, music, and even games. This ended up being even more amazing when I’m light sensitive because I can listen for her responses instead of trying to fumble with my phone settings to look information up. I’ve also been using Echo for grocery lists! The device syncs with the app on my phone so I’m not fumbling for paper lists and my spouse and I can both add items when we realize we need them (like in the middle of cooking, cleaning, or in too much pain to move).

This worked so well that we ended up picking a second outlet for the bedroom lamp as well. This lamp is next to my side of the bed, but now allows my husband to turn off the lamp without jostling my side of the bed (or tripping on pillows, blankets, or clay ice packs that inevitably become hazardous terrain). It’s also nice knowing that we have two lights in the place that we can turn off to save electricity while we’re gone but not worry about stumbling to light switches when we get home. It’s been one of the few times that saving money and saving spoons have happened at the same time!

We aren’t planning on getting any more smart plugs or other things in the near future, but my long term goal is to get a couple smart bulbs so I can alter the dimness/brightness or blue light visible to help deal with both light sensitivity and sleep problems. Most of these things are also controllable through an app, so it also would be useful for travel (kind of like the timers some people set on vacation).

While the Echo Dot isn’t always accurate in her understanding of various accents or voice pitches (and once she randomly started talking about a product without prompting), I’ve been really happy with this as a way to make my life a little easier with chronic illnesses & disabilities. If some of you are interested but still dubious, check out the first referral link below about certified refurbished items. Amazon’s customer service has always been fantastic for me as a customer (and pretty awesome for my spouse as a seller) and includes multiple ways to get a hold of them if something doesn’t work as advertised!

Referral links:

Shop Amazon Devices – Save on Certified Refurb  (includes Echo Dot device I mention above)

Prime Student – Earn a bounty for each 6-month trial you drive If you’re a student, you can get Amazon Prime for half off…that’s how I got started with Prime

Prime Discounted Monthly Offering I haven’t tried it, but there’s discounted Prime if you provide proof of EBT benefits. Let me know if it works.



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