Smart Home

10 ways Alexa can help you make the most of your smart home

There's not much she can't do.

10 Amazon Alexa skills to help you control your smart home Credit: Amazon

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Since Amazon launched Alexa in 2014, she’s become one of the most popular smart assistants available, amassing over 100,000 skills and working with a variety of smart home products.

But, with that many skills, how can you find the best ones to make your day-to-day life easier? We’ve rounded up 10 extremely useful Alexa skills for your smart home. Before you can begin using the skills below, you must enable them using the Amazon Alexa app or Amazon Alexa Skills website in order to take advantage of all of the awesome things Alexa can do for you.

1. Control your home’s thermostat

Emerson Sensi WiFi Thermostat
Credit: Sensi

Alexa can turn your AC system on and off, as well as adjust the temperature of your thermostat.

Yes, Alexa can control the temperature inside of your home—and she’s compatible with our favorite smart thermostat, the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat. With the Sensi skill, Alexa can adjust the temperature inside of your home when you say, "Alexa, set my thermostat to 72 degrees," or, "Alexa, increase thermostat by 2 degrees." You can also find out the current temperature indoors by asking, "Alexa, what is the thermostat temperature?"

Get the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat on Amazon for $124.31

2. Turn the lights on (and off)

Leivton Decora Smart Switch
Credit: Reviewed.com / Daniel Wroclawski

There are so many smart switches that work with Alexa, so you can turn the lights on and off using your voice.

You can control the lights in your house without ever leaving your couch—just ask Alexa to take care of the task for you after enabling the My Leviton skill on Amazon. With the best smart switch, the Leviton Decora WiFi Smart Switch, Alexa can do things like turn on the lights in a certain room when you say, "Alexa, turn on [name of room].” It’s a much easier way of controlling the lights in your home, rather than having to get up and do it yourself.

Get the Leviton Decora WiFi Smart Switch on Amazon for $44.99

3. Find the best deals

Amazon Echo (third generation) shopping
Credit: Amazon

Shopping is a cinch when you use your Amazon Echo to place an order.

Whether you need to re-up your supply of paper towels or you just want to browse deals, Alexa can act as your own personal shopping buddy. Alexa voice shopping is a useful service from Amazon that lets you find and buy products on the online retailer's website without doing any real work.

If you know exactly what you're looking for, you can go ahead and order it straight from your Echo speaker by saying, "Alexa, order [item]." She will search through your Amazon order history to find the right product and add it to your cart.

Learn more about Alexa Voice Shopping on Amazon

4. Cook dinner

Instant Pot WiFi
Credit: Instant Pot

Thought pressure cookers couldn't get any easier? Now you can control your Instant Pot with your voice using Alexa for an even smoother kitchen experience.

Cooking can be a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be with Alexa’s help. If you have the WiFi-enabled Instant Pot, Alexa can handle the cooking for you when you enable the Instant Cook skill. Acting like your personal sous chef, you can ask Alexa to "cook meat for 30 minutes on high," or, "cook soup in my Instant Pot." It may not seem practical at first, but this Alexa skill is intended to be used in conjunction with a routine. So, you might create an Alexa routine to begin pressure cooking the oatmeal you put in your Instant Pot the night before, turn the lights on, and start your coffee maker.

Get the Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker on Amazon for $139.99

5. Call your friends and family

Amazon Echo (third generation) phone
Credit: Amazon

Need to make a hands-free call? Alexa can help with that, too.

With an Amazon Echo speaker, you can make calls to your contacts using Alexa. For example, you can say things like, "Hey Alexa, call [name's] phone," or, "Alexa, call [name's] office." Alexa uses your phone number to call your contact’s landline or cell phone number.

Additionally, you can use Alexa-to-Alexa calling to ring a friend’s Echo speaker when you say, "Alexa, call [name's] Echo." If you have a video display like the Echo Show or the Echo Show 5, you can make video calls using Alexa or Skype.

However, Alexa Calling can't dial 911, three-digit numbers (such as 211), premium rate or toll numbers, or dial-by-letter numbers. Alexa Calling also does not support international numbers outside of the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico.

But, if you have an Echo Connect, you can sync your landline with an Alexa-enabled device to place and accept calls from all international, premium rate, and emergency numbers.

Learn more about Alexa Calling

6. Clean your home

iRobot Roomba i7+
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Alexa can start (and stop) the iRobot Roomba i7+ to help you clean your floors.

Robot vacuums are becoming increasingly popular and many of them are compatible with Alexa, like our favorite robot vacuum, the iRobot Roomba i7+. Instead of manually starting your iRobot vacuum or using the app, you can ask Alexa to start cleaning your floors by saying, “Alexa, ask Roomba to start vacuuming.” When the cleaning is complete say, “Alexa, tell Roomba to go home.” However, before you can control your Roomba with Alexa, you must enable the iRobot skill on Amazon.

Get the iRobot Roomba i7+ on Amazon for $999

7. Find your lost phone

Echo Dot (third-generation)
Credit: Amazon

Losing your phone inside your house can be a frustrating feeling, but thanks to Alexa you don't have to spend hours trying to find it.

A smartphone is a crucial part of controlling your smart home and it can be frustrating to lose it inside of your abode (hey, it happens). That’s OK, because with the Find My Phone skill, Alexa can help you locate your missing phone. To find your phone say, "Alexa, find my phone." You must sync your phone with the Find My Phone skill before you can use it.

Get the Find My Phone skill on Amazon

8. Control your smart plugs

Currant smart plug
Credit: Currant

There's no need to spend a fortune making your home smart when you can easily do it on the cheap with an Alexa-compatible smart plug.

The great thing about smart plugs is they can make just about any appliance or electrical device smart. With the best smart plug, the Currant WiFi Smart Outlet, you can say things like "Alexa, turn on the TV" or "Alexa, turn off the living room lamp." Just make sure to enable the Currant skill on Amazon first.

Get the Currant WiFi Smart Outlet on Amazon for $49.99

9. Put a movie on

Roku Ultra
Credit: Roku

When paired with Roku, Alexa can launch services like Hulu.

We’ve tested the Roku Ultra, and not only is the best media streaming device, but it works with Alexa, too. Not sure what to watch? When you enable the Roku skill on Amazon you can say, “Alexa, show me comedies on Roku.” She can also do things like pause and stop shows.

Get the Roku Ultra on Amazon for $82.88

10. View your security cameras

Arlo pro
Credit: Reviewed.com / Ben Keough

For a view of what's happening outside, ask Alexa to view your outdoor smart security cameras.

With a smart video display like the Echo Show or the Echo Show 5, you can ask Alexa to show you the camera’s live feed when using the best outdoor smart security camera for the money, the Netgear Arlo Pro. To view the live feed after enabling the Arlo skill on Amazon say, “Alexa, show the backyard.” This skill is helpful if you want to check in on the kids (or pets) playing in the backyard.

Get the Arlo Pro on Amazon for $139.99

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