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  • Writer's pictureGregan McMahon

Don't Sweat It! Smart Climate Control Can Help.

Spring has sprung and already the mercury is rising. As I type this it's 24 degrees in Brisbane and 28 degrees in Sydney! It feels like we are in for another long hot summer. For people with living with disabilities, controlling their environment can be yet another challenge. Fortunately it is one that simple smart home devices can help to overcome.

Making Aircon Smart

You may well have seen advertisements for smart air-conditioning systems - and while these are definitely worth considering if you are building a home or doing a major refit, for most of us it's simply not viable to replace existing aircon just to get the "smarts". And the good news is that you don't have to.

Virtually all aircon systems can currently be controlled using a remote control. Which works fine for lots of people, but for those with low vision, or restricted fine motor control - these remotes become difficult, or impossible to use.

You may be surprised to know that the cost for the technology to make your aircon "smart" (ie controlled with your voice or an app from anywhere with an internet connection) can be around $100. That's One Hundred Dollars - not missing any zeroes!

The solution is one of these little guys. It's a WiFi IR (meaning infra red which is the signal that remotes use to send "messages" to your aircon). once it's installed and connected to WiFi it can mimic your air conditioning's remote control. And as an added bonus if can also turn on and off your TV as well as operating ceiling fans which have a remote control as well.

Not bad for a bit of gear that you can pick up at Bunnings, JB HiFi or Kmart for under $30!

If you pair it with a Google Mini (about $80) you can voice control your aircon as well turning in on and off from anywhere. This is great for people like me who are always forgetting to turn off the aircon before we leave home. Now we can check whether it is on or off and turn it off if it's just wasting electricity in an empty house.

Another benefit? I think everyone knows the feeling of getting home on a hot summer's day and opening up a hot, stuffy house or apartment. Wouldn't it be great to be able to turn on the aircon half an hour before you arrive home? Now you can!

I'm a big fan!

Ceiling fans, pedestal and desk fans can all be made "smart" so that you can use your voice or an app to control them. This is especially helpful for people who have restricted mobility or have difficulty self-regulating their temperature.

For traditional pedestal and desk fans voice control is generally limited to on and off using a WiFi enabled smart plug. This is a bit like a double adapter that site between the appliance and the standard wall socket.

It uses an app (or voice control to turn on or off anything that is plugged into that socket. Again, these are inexpensive, costing around $30-$40.

They don't just work with fans, but with anything that is plugged into a regular powerpoint - the are especially useful for things like bedside lamps and heaters

Hit The Ceiling

We talked earlier about using an IR Controller to control fans with remote controls. But lots of fans - especially in older homes may have been installed before remote technology was common. Never fear. There are two options here.

  1. Install a WiFi fan controller in the existing fan. These are around $100 for the controller, plus a couple of hundred for an electrician to install (depending obviously on how many you need!).

  2. If your existing fans are getting close to then end of their useful lives and you want to replace them, you can get brand new WiFi enabled fans. I've seen them in Bunnings for around $200 each. Again you'll need a licensed electrician to instal!

Stay frosty, and thanks for listening!


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