At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: Nest Thermostat

Seven Ways to Find More Time

If you think your tech wastes more time than it’s worth, you’re not alone. But if you look around, you can find suggestions on how your tech can actually improve your day. I’ve gathered seven tips to share…

If you think your tech wastes more time than it’s worth, you’re not alone. But if you look around, you can find suggestions on how your tech can actually improve your day. I’ve gathered seven tips to share…

The irony is all of your home tech is supposed to save you time and ‘enhance’ your life. But technology also can be a huge time suck.

A piece of advice…
Don’t get distracted (too much) by the many lures of your tech.
Keep it working for you!

Here are seven ways I use my own tech to help squeeze a little more time out of my week…

1. Always Know the Time as You Sleep
You wake up in the dead of night and wonder what time it is. If you’re like me, you’ve long retired your clock radio. Now, only your smartphone hangs out on your bedside table. But you’ve got to reach over and activate it if you want to see what time it is. How annoying is that? Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly just peer up at the ceiling to see what time it is?

Well you can… with a projection alarm clock!
I’ve got one made by Electrohome.

2. More Impulse Buying on Amazon
Do you keep forgetting to get maple syrup at the supermarket for Sunday pancakes? Just putting it on a list for the next time you hit Stew Leonards will delay you until you actually make that trip.

I say order the replacement item on Amazon Prime as soon as you run out.
With ‘Prime,’ you don’t waste money on extra shipping charges with this one-off scattered shopping approach.
(Organic Maple Syrup. Click.)

So yes, this falls under the category of impulse buying…but only for your kitchen staples.

3. Keep your Home Cozy from Anywhere
Did you forget to turn down the heat before you left the house this morning?
No worries. You don’t have to turn around to check.

If you have a smart thermostat like a Nest, you can adjust the temperature from an app on your iPhone from anywhere in the world.

4. Catch the Train with Your Smartphone
Running late to your Metro North train at Grand Central Terminal for your evening commute out of New York City? And a few saved seconds can make the difference whether you make your train or not?
(Yes, that’s how I roll.)
No problem!

Your TrainTime app on your smartphone will quickly inform you which gate your train is leaving from.

And you can quickly buy a digital train ticket using the MTA eTix app, instead of waiting on line at a ticket kiosk to purchase a physical one.
(And that app is going to be especially handy in the dead of winter when you encounter an exposed and frozen ticket kiosk that’s malfunctioning.)

5. Stop Going to the Post Office
Why would you ever choose to waste even a fraction of your existence at the post office buying stamps? The lines are endless. It’s like Purgatory in there.
Even the stamp-dispensing square autobot will drain your life force.
Why not simply purchase your stamps from the convenience of your home computer?

It’s wicked quick at…
(Sure, you pay a $1.25 shipping charge for a roll of 100 Forever stamps. But I say that’s more than worth it for the convenience.)

6. Avoid Greeting Card Aisles
Do you still feel like you have to troll for greeting cards at the local CVS or Walgreens to get the ‘perfect card?’
Well, STOP IT!

You know what I mean… searching up and down that forest of disorganized generic thoughts. Finding that perfect card, only to realize there’s no matching envelope, and having to start all over again.

It’s no longer a badge of honor to say to your loved one… “I spent an hour looking for the perfect card!”
(My mom used to always to say that to me.)

There’s got to be a better way!
Well, of course there is…

Here are three online destinations you can visit-

These websites contain virtually all the greeting cards you could ever want.
Plus they’ll mail them for you!

Whoah…. Now that’s really a paradigm shift.

7. Get E-ZPass or Bust
All right, who here doesn’t have E-ZPass yet?
What? You’re still waiting on long lines in your car at tollbooths?
Please stand up and walk upstairs.
Now go to bed…. There’s no dinner for you.
(And here’s something to ponder as you drift off…
Technology is quickly killing off the tollbooth.)

The rest of you can sleep soundly knowing your E-ZPass is working hard to save you time. But before you start your snooze, you might want to check in on your E-ZPass account just to make sure it’s current.
You don’t want E-ZPass to list the car you owned a decade ago.

Enough said.

How Did It Get So Late So Soon?
Look, I’m not saying you should stop wasting your precious time checking Facebook twenty times or spending hours on a Sunday night combing through your weekend family photos using Lightroom.

I get it.
Believe me…


I’m just pointing out how you should also be very deliberate to find ways to use your tech to save you time.

And maybe… just maybe… at the end…

You’ll break even.

The Summertime Secret to a Happy Home

Are summer humidity levels getting you down and creating less than ideal sleeping conditions for your family? Knowing when to crank up the air conditioning at night can make all the difference, and a good indoor/outdoor home weather station can really help…

Are summer humidity levels getting you down and creating less than ideal sleeping conditions for your family? Knowing when to crank up the air conditioning at night can make all the difference, and a good indoor/outdoor home weather station can really help…

How hard is it to know the temperature in your immediate vicinity? Arguably, not that difficult… Thermometers haven’t been cutting edge for four hundred years; and even today, smartphone weather apps are a dime a dozen.
(And when was the last time you checked with your local TV weatherperson?)

At home, your HVAC thermostat handles the job perfectly fine, whether you’ve got an old school version from the ‘50’s or a slick new Nest thermostat.

I Hate Humidity
But during the summertime, temperature is only half of the story. Humidity completes the equation, and I’ve got to tell you that humidity has always been my personal kryptonite.

I can usually handle the heat, but humidity levels during the dog days of summer make my life utterly miserable.

So while at home, I always want it to be less humid inside than on the other side of my open windows. Of course, that’s going to be practically impossible if my windows are open. So at some point, you’ve got to close them and turn on the air conditioning.

Yes, this is all about when to turn on the air conditioning….

Air Conditioning Roulette
This may not seem like a problem to some… But for my family, there’s a fine line between letting in the cool summer breezes at night, which will often chill down your bedrooms to create a comfy sleeping zone, and spreading about a more humid cocktail of outdoor air, which will envelop everyone to ensure a restless night.

And if you err on the side of caution and always run the AC, you’re going to likely create a cranky family that shivers through the wee hours of some summer nights.

In Search of Four Numbers
To figure out my summer-long challenge of whether or not to invite in the outside weather…
I need to know four numbers:

  • Indoor temperature and humidity
  • Outdoor temperature and humidity

That’s it.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a little tech on your side to generate the necessary data. But I’m not talking about the kind of expensive gear that weather enthusiasts use to predict and measure the weather.
($100-$300 and up)

I just want to keep it simple.
Just the four numbers, please…

Goodbye Brookstone
I successfully used a Brookstone indoor/outdoor digital thermometer over the past seven years or so. It had an outside weather sensor tethered to the main unit, which lived on the outside of one my windows. Unfortunately, the unit finally froze up on me last week and wouldn’t reboot when I changed the batteries…

Goodbye Old Brookstone Thermometer









So it was time to search for a new Lester Weather Station!

Time to Shop
As I did my online research, I paid special attention to stay away from options that didn’t include both indoor and outdoor humidity levels. Some devices skimped and only evaluated one location.

To get all four numbers, you’ve got to spend somewhere close to the $50 zone…

Too Cool for Me

I eventually focused on Oregon Scientific, which offers a wide selection of digital thermometers.

Oregon Scientific’s newest line is the Weather@Home series, which has a built-in Bluetooth transmitter. That allows you to create a connection to your smartphone for monitoring your personal weather conditions from your mobile screen.

I think this would be a fine choice, but unfortunately, I would never use the Bluetooth functionality.
(Shocking as it may seem, I don’t need my iPhone to tell me the temperature and humidity levels in my home office, when I’m there… sitting right next to the thermometer display.)

My Runner-Up Choice

I then took a detour and looked at the competition from La Crosse Technology:

This one employs a nifty color LCD display, which really makes the unit pop.
(It could easily be at home on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.)

As cool as it looks, it’s also kind of obtrusive. I don’t want it dominating my entire home office with its bright glow. I just want to know how humid it is…

Plus, all of that ‘display bling’ requires you to plug it in, which can be inconvenient. A battery-driven unit gives you more flexibility as to where to place it…

And the Winner Is…

So I returned my focus back to Oregon Scientific and finally found exactly what I was looking for:

Oregon Scientific Weather Station 500









At Oregon Scientific’s website, this ‘Weather 500’ is listed under its ‘Classic Weather Station’ category. So that probably makes it something of an ‘Oldie, but Goodie.’
And that’s just fine by me…

Remember, I just want the four numbers. It doesn’t need to communicate with the International Space Station!

That said, you also get 75% accurate weather forecast (they say), moon phase, ice alert and atomic clock displays.

The main unit is powered by three AA batteries and its companion sensor requires two AAA batteries.  You can also purchase two additional sensors, if you’re interested in conditions elsewhere around your home.


Stability Regained
Mankind can’t control the weather yet, but here At Home With Tech, I’m happy to report, I have once again regained control of the temperature and humidity levels in my little kingdom.

Psst… It’s my secret to maintaining a happy home during summertime stickiness.
Pay it forward…

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