Most people are familiar with smart assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can ask Alexa to jam 90’s hip hop. You can tell Google Assistant to remind you of your dog’s birthday. You can order 10 containers of cotton candy, if that’s your thing. There’s no doubt — they help make your home smarter and more efficient. Yet, if you’ve ever found yourself barking off commands, you’re not alone.

Both Amazon and Google recognized a need for a more streamlined experience and introduced “routines” in October 2017 and March 2018, respectively. Think of routines as next-level convenience: rather than performing a single task, you can program your smart assistant to perform multiple actions with one phrase.

How do smart home routines work?

Imagine crawling out of bed and saying, “Good morning, Alexa.” Suddenly your home comes to life  — your smart thermostat turns up the heat to a comfortable setting. Your lights slowly fade up. Your favorite music starts playing in the background. And your coffee begins brewing.

To set up a smart routine, you’ll need Wi-Fi and a smart speaker. There are a variety of smart speakers available at different price points, such as the Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home. Do your research and figure out what works best for you. Next, you’ll need to sync up all your smart home gadgets (plugs, thermostat, lightbulbs, etc.). And when you’re ready, routines are programmed through a smartphone app.

How can smart home routines help you?

There are a few pros for using smart home routines. First, they could help you save on your electric bill. Take, for instance, your thermostat. Most “regular” thermostats can be programmed to turn on and off at certain times. But by setting up a routine, you could avoid the heat or AC automatically running when you’re not home, say if you work late.

Next, routines could help keep your home safe. Most of us practically fly out of our homes in the morning. And good news for the absentminded: you can program a routine that kicks in when you leave. So your smart locks will make sure all your doors are locked. Your smart security camera will keep an eye on your home. And your smart plug will turn off that hot iron. Hey, we’ve all been there.

The next big thing in home automation?

It goes without saying: your experience will greatly depend on your smart home capabilities. If you don’t already have several high-tech gadgets like smart light bulbs or an intelligent thermostat, it can be pricey to get everything up and running. But as homes continue to get smarter, more of this technology will become standard. And perhaps routines will one day become standard too.

Smart technology | Smart home