August 3, 2021

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Inspire Your Technology

How to Set Up Alexa to Turn off Your Smart Devices Automatically

Amazon’s digital assistant can now control some of your smart devices for you—without any prompting needed. But before you start dreaming about a day when Alexa will have your coffee ready for you in the morning and your car already warming up in the garage for your commute, know that her powers have been slightly curtailed in this first go-around.

To get started, set up “Hunches” in your Alexa app (iOS, Android). Pull up the app, tap on More in the lower-right corner, tap on Settings, and scroll down a bit. Tap on Hunches when you see it, which will pull up a screen that looks like this:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Tap on “Set up automatic actions,” and you’ll get a small list of potential actions Alexa can do on your behalf. I mainly have smart lights around my house, so I have a whopping two to choose from:

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Screenshot: David Murphy

When you select an action, you’ll get a little video that tells you a bit more about Alexa’s automated response. You can also tap “Learn more” to get a sense of what parameters might trigger Alexa to take her actions on your behalf. For example:

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Screenshot: David Murphy

If you’re ready to enable Alexa’s automatic hunch, tap Next. In my case, I then have to pick which lights I want Alexa to control, but that’s it. My “hunch” is then set up, and I can head back to the Hunches portion of my Alexa app to check when Alexa will trigger one.

To remove a hunch, simply click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the Hunches screen. Look for the “Automatic actions” section, tap on any smart devices that you see, and you’ll be able to enable or disable an available automatic action:

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Screenshot: David Murphy

Alexa’s automatic actions only work for a subset of smart devices right now, including lights, thermostats, doors, and switches.

Once you’re done playing with hunches for these, you should also check out Alexa’s brand-new “Energy Dashboard” feature to see how much juice your smart devices use throughout the day.

To access it, simply tap on Devices at the bottom of your app, and then tap on the Energy Dashboard box toward the top. Once you read a bit about how it works and tap Browse Devices to proceed. That’s as far as I got, though; either the feature still hasn’t been rolled out to me, or I need to adjust something with my connected lights so Alexa knows to add them to a dashboard.

Still, it’ll be a fun feature to play around with. While it won’t be as accurate as, say, the energy readings you might get from a smart switch itself, it’ll at least provide a decent way to see if your devices are using more energy than you’d like. Nobody enjoys that monthly pandemic-fueled energy bill.



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