Healthy Home | Wellness |

Smart Devices For Health and Wellness

2 minute read

Staying healthy is something we all strive for. And making that effort easier is the goal of smart devices. These products range from fitness trackers to calorie monitors to comfort regulators. All of which make it easier for you to reach your health goals and know that you’re staying in control of your health and wellness.

Fitness Trackers

Movement is a part of health, no matter your age. While we all can’t be out scaling mountains or running marathons, it’s important to keep active on a consistent basic. One way to make sure you’re getting the activity level you need is to wear a fitness tracker. There are ones for your wrist, apps for your phone, and simple pedometers that clip onto your clothes. These devices can monitor things like steps, heart rate, sleep patterns, and even your weight by pairing with Wi-Fi scales.

Programmable Thermostats

Your home’s environment can have a major impact on the health of your entire family. Smart thermostats make it easy to get the perfect temperature and humidity level, and to schedule air cleanings if your home is equipped with an air purifier. That means your family can stay comfortable all year long, enjoying ideal temperatures for sleeping, fresh air during allergy season, and relief from extreme heat or cold outdoors. It’s all controlled from your phone or by using a smart personal assistant (like Amazon’s Alexa).

Adjustable Beds

You spend around one-third of your day in bed so it makes sense that it should be a place you feel comfortable. New technology allows you to adjust the firmness of your bed using an app. Some devices offer automatic adjustments that can change the temperature and firmness of your mattress based on the time of year, your workout schedule, and other factors you select.

Blood Pressure Monitors

It’s easier than ever to monitor our own health. Blood pressure readings went from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy, and now you can do them in the comfort of your own home. Smart blood pressure monitors track your readings over time, giving you a better idea of your overall health by showing trends and patterns. Plus, you can easily show the results to your doctor when you go into the clinic. Similar devices clip onto your finger and read things like your pulse, blood oxygen levels, and breathing rate. They send all the information to your smart phone for easy record keeping.

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Alexa Hacks for better Indoor Wellness and Efficiency

2 minute read

Alexa hacks for Aprilaire products

There are a number of Amazon Alexa skills out there that you can use to your advantage, creating a healthier, more efficient home for you and your family. Of course, none are more beneficial to Aprilaire customers than the actual Aprilaire Amazon Alexa skill. However, these Alexa hacks can create better indoor wellness and efficiency. 

Alexa Hacks

Alexa Hacks on Reminders

We live in a fast-paced world. Our reminders have reminders.Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s still possible for mental notes to fall through the cracks.

That’s what makes Alexa’s built-in reminders feature so handy. That’s said, you can use it to hack Alexa for better indoor wellness and efficiency for your home.

With Alexa, you can conversationally schedule reminders to replace your air filters or double-check indoor temperatures or humidity levels. Staying on top of these will ensure your indoor air quality is on point and your home is running efficiently.

Learn more about how to set indoor air quality reminders using Alexa’s native reminder skill.

As an added hack for iPhone users, you can use IFTTT to sync Alexa with iOS Reminders, allowing you to keep track of your reminders anytime, anywhere.

Alexa Hacks To-Do Lists

Take those reminders to a whole new level by simply including them on your Alexa to-do list.

If you want to add or remove tasks on your to-do list – winterize your A/C unit, change your filters, schedule routine maintenance, find local Aprilaire dealers to discuss new installations – just ask Alexa.

If you’d like, you could even consider using these as a sort of seasonal checklist. This is a great way to keep your home HVAC systems up-to-date, providing healthy, breathable air to you and your family year-round.

Again, to take this Alexa hack a step further, you can use IFTTT to email yourself your Alexa to-do list whenever you ask Alexa for updates. If you’re an Evernote user, you can also sync your Alexa to-do list with the productivity app, allowing you to take your to-do list wherever you go.

Alexa Hacks Weather

When it comes to indoor air quality in your home, outdoor weather unsurprisingly plays a very large role. Depending on the season, your location and your personal preferences, Alexa can help you discern whether the weather will have an effect on your day-to-day activities.

While this isn’t a “hack” per se, you can use Alexa’s built-in weather capabilities as a simple way to your home’s benefit.

Like to open your windows? Ask Alexa if it’s expected to rain or if it’s going to be too windy.

If you’d like to know about inclement weather, ask Alexa if it’s supposed to snow so you winterize your home.

Traveling? Ask Alexa for the weather forecast in your area before you leave.

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What hacks or other skills are you using to make the most of your Amazon Echo device at home?

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Want a healthier home? Just ask Alexa!

2 minute read

Alexa can do some pretty cool things – order a pizza, check airport security wait times, help you tune your guitar and even tell you what’s up on Mars. Alexa’s skill set grows daily and users are always finding exciting new products and services to work with.

Some of Alexa’s most useful features help you quickly adjust the environment of your home by dimming the lights, turning on a movie and even maximizing comfort.

A cozy night in…

From your fingertips, to the tip of your lips: whole-home Indoor Air Quality is in your control with Aprilaire. With our Wi-Fi thermostats and Alexa you can maximize the comfort in your home by simply speaking up. Perhaps cuddling up under a blanket on the couch during movie time has made it a little warm – just say:

“Alexa decrease the Family Room temperature by 3 degrees.”

If your spouse gets chilly, she can raise it back up.

“Alexa, raise the temperature by 5 degrees.”

Unfortunately, comfort is fairly subjective so if you get an argument over the ideal temperature, Alexa can’t help. If that’s the case, maybe it would better if your next romantic night was a night out.

A care free night out…

Aprilaire Wi-Fi Thermostats also allow you to activate “Away” mode – saving money by reducing heating or cooling costs during a much needed surprise date night! It works by setting the thermostat to a preset temperature until you turn the mode off. This way, you can bypass your usual schedule with just one touch on your smart phone device. When you arrive back home from that fine French restaurant – or the new burger joint – just turn off “Away” mode and your usual schedule will resume.

If you really need to get away, “Vacation” mode allows you to place a hold until a date of your choosing. You’ll save money while you’re away – but can still come home to a cozy house!

Environment | Healthy Home |

4 Easy Strategies for Summer Energy Savings

2 minute read

Energy bills can skyrocket during the summer. The constant heat and humidity makes your cooling system run constantly, using large amounts of electricity and costing you money. These simple, no-hassle tips for energy savings can save electricity and money that you can now spend on more pool toys.

Turn Off Lights

This one seems obvious. But not only will it save electricity that would’ve been spent powering bulbs, it also eases the burden on your air conditioner. Most light bulbs give off a not-insignificant amount of heat, working in opposition to efforts to cool your home. Another option is to replace standard bulbs with LEDs. They last forever and don’t give off as much heat.

Water Heater Temperature

The default setting on most water heaters is 140°F. You likely don’t need water that’s quite that hot, so turn it down a notch to the “warm setting” of 120°F. That will save energy and prevent accidental scalding while washing your hands.

Smart Thermostat

Connected devices are built for efficiency and energy savings. A smart thermostat can make sure your cooling systems and dehumidifiers are running only when they can be most effective, and only when they’re really needed. You simply set the temperature you want and the device will find the most energy saving way to get there. Most of these products have an “Energy Saver” mode as well, so use that whenever possible. Make sure to notify the device if your house is empty while you’re away on vacation.

When it comes to setting the thermostat, choose the highest temperature that’s comfortable for you and your family. This will save power and prevent you from getting a massive temperature jolt when you go out into the summer heat. Try starting at 78°F for maximum energy savings.

Nighttime Chores

Appliances like dryers and dishwashers can give off a lot of heat, so it’s best to run them during the cooler night hours when your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard. Simply have them loaded and ready to turn on right before you head to sleep. Your oven, of course, also gives off heat during use, but we don’t expect you to move dinnertime to 11 p.m.

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Build Your Own Honeybee Habitat

3 minute read

Build Your Own Honeybee Habitat

It’s no secret the honeybee is vital to the health and wellness of food crops – but they’re also vital to pollinating many plants, including many trees.

In honor of Honeybee Awareness Day, we put together this easy DIY guide to creating your own bee habitat. Your plants and the planet will thank you!

To get started:

  1. Find or build a small to medium-sized wooden frame or box with one open side and one flat side. In this case, we used a wooden Mason jar holder with separators.
  2. Get some sheets of recycled, untreated brown paper to make the bee tubes.
  3. Wrap the paper around a pencil to create a paper tube at consistent sizes, use Scotch tape to keep the rolls together.
  4. Use the depth of the box as a guide to see how much of each roll to cut off.
  5. Using scissors cut each tube to the appropriate length for the box. Then, insert the tubes into the box high enough to fill the space completely so that they don’t fall out.
  6. Next, fill two of the sections with recycled Aprilaire Water Panels. Start by measuring the width and height of the remaining openings of the box.
  7. Use those measurements to mark out the correct sizing on thewater panel. We found it easier to go about 1/8” larger to make it a tighter fit.
  8. Use a utility knife to cut the water panel to the appropriate size, which is easier than it looks.
  9. Finally, place the cut out water panels into the box. It should be a snug fit and, if needed, you can use something flat like a ruler to press or wedge the water panel into the box.
  10. That’s all! Your Mason Bee House is ready to go. Place it somewhere in your backyard near flowers and preferably sheltered from rain.

Healthy Home |

Getting to Know Your Smart Home

2 minute read

Technology in the home has evolved rapidly in recent years, making many housekeeping tasks easier and more efficient than ever. But sometimes all the setup, troubleshooting, and maintenance of a Smart Home can seem overwhelming and unnecessary. Are these new ways of completing familiar tasks worth the hassle?

Lighting

The right lighting can really transform different rooms in your home. The ability to dim lights or add lighting to previously dark areas will give you more control over the appearance and atmosphere of your home. This can be accomplished using smart bulbs, smart switches, or smart outlets. We recommend starting with smart bulbs to get a feel for what this technology can do. Using your phone or voice commands with a smart personal assistant device, you can turn on, off, and dim smart bulbs from anywhere. And perhaps best of all, it won’t be a constant battle to remind your kids to turn the lights off. They’ll just have their personal assistant do it.

Locks

Smart home locks make it easier to enter and exit your home, and harder for unwanted people to enter. Smart locks can sense you and your family’s presence by pairing with your phones. They unlock automatically without having to fumble for keys. Many of them offer temporary keys that allow one-time access for service providers, pet sitters, and others who may need to get in. You can manage it all on an easy-to-use app that gives you full control over your home’s accessibility and security.

Thermostat

It’s nice when your home feels effortlessly comfortable—that’s where smart thermostats can help. They feature easy scheduling so you can automatically drop the temperature at night for comfortable rest or turn off the system while you’re away on vacation to help conserve electricity. Some even integrate with your whole-home humidifier, air purifier, and entire HVAC system to control all aspects of the air and the temperature in your home. Now that’s cool. (But if it’s too cool, just grab your phone and turn down the air!)

Landscaping

Using sprinklers to keep your lawn greener than the neighbor’s? You’re already one step above manual watering! “Smart Sprinklers” are the next logical move. They go beyond a regular watering schedule to monitor different zones of your lawn that may require more water because they see lots of sunlight. They even use weather data to turn off sprinklers if a rainstorm is on the way. This all happens automatically, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Security

It’s important to feel safe in your smart home, and having a video monitoring system is an easy way to accomplish that. They’re most often motion-activated, which helps save electricity and makes it easier to distinguish when there might actually be a problem or intruder. Whether you’re at home or away, most systems let you watch live footage on your cell phone and save clips to share with family or law enforcement. After installing the cameras, all setup and control happens right on your phone. So if you’re comfortable with that, managing your security system won’t be an issue.

Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

4 Alexa Skills You Can Use to Increase Indoor Wellness

2 minute read

Maximizing Indoor Air Quality and energy savings is easy with Alexa-enabled Aprilaire thermostats. Especially if you’ve already enabled the Aprilaire Alexa skill. (And if you haven’t, what are you really waiting for?We want to help all of our customers feel their best and save money. So, we came across a few other Alexa skills to help you out.

My Allergy Assistant

“Alexa, ask My Allergy Assistant what the pollen levels are.”

My Allergy Assistant is a handy Amazon Alexa skill that can help you identify and report current pollen levels in your area. Pollen and other allergens have a direct impact on Indoor Air Quality. They can be detrimental to the overall quality of life for those of us with environmental allergies. Nobody loves itchy eyes, runny noses or sneezing every thirty seconds. That’s where My Allergy Assistant comes in. While this skill may not prevent you from feeling the effects of your allergies, My Allergy Assistant can indirectly recommend what days you’ll likely need to prepare for them, meaning when to turn up that air purifier!

Gyant

“Alexa, ask Gyant to check my symptoms.”

While My Allergy Assistant is great to try and prevent potential allergy symptoms from flaring up, the Gyant Amazon Alexa skill can help you discern what the underlying cause of any symptoms you may already have. If you’re feeling under the weather or have any allergy symptoms you want to look into, Gyant can help you figure out the best next steps toward feeling better. Using Gyant in conjunction with My Allergy Assistant can go a long way toward recognizing symptoms and taking the necessary steps to feel better. That said, Gyant is a robot, not a doctor. If you believe you may be having a medical emergency, dial 911 or consult your physician as soon as possible. 

iRobot Home (Roomba)

“Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning.”

One of the best ways to reduce allergy symptoms and increase Indoor Air Quality at home is to make sure your home is clean in the first place. What better way to accomplish a cleaner, allergen-free home than to delegate that task to a bot whose only job in this world is literally to clean, like a Roomba? If you have a Wi-Fi-connected Roomba® at home, you can use the iRobot Home Amazon Alexa skill to reduce the number of allergens in your home without lifting a finger. The iRobot Home skill allows you to tell Roomba when to start or stop cleaning; when to go “home” to its docking station; or ask where it is in your home.

Aprilaire

“Alexa, what is the temperature in the bedroom?”

Temperature settings can have a drastic effect on indoor health and wellness as well as energy savings. For temperature, you certainly want to maintain a temperature that the whole family can enjoy. Temperatures too cool or too hot can lead to the chills or possibly even dehydration, respectively. As far as energy is concerned, programmable thermostats can help you save up to 30% on heating and cooling costs. Alexa-enabled Aprilaire Wi-Fi thermostats paired with the Alexa skill allow you to command control of every zone in your home with ease.