How to use alexa to make house guests feel more at home

You’re probably not using Alexa to its full potential. Change that by using these voice commands.

Sarah Mitroff is a senior editor for CNET, managing our health, fitness and wellness content. She’s written for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.

With Alexa and the range of Echo devices, — including smart displays and smart speakers — Amazon has built a robust service that can deliver seemingly endless information and control your home. But, are you actually taking full advantage of all it can do?

If you haven’t yet unlocked the full potential of Alexa, the following seven voice commands will get you closer. These are the amazing things Alexa can do that you should start using now.

Read more: Amazon announced the new Echo Show 15 smart display at its September 2021 fall product launch event , along with several other new Echo and Ring products .

Welcome you home

What makes Alexa so useful is that it can plug into many other smart home devices . Connect your Philips Hue or LIFX smart light bulbs to your Echo and you can tell Alexa to turn on the lights .

Take it up a few notches and create a routine for when you arrive home so that when you say the magic words, such as “Alexa, I’m home” it can turn on your lights, play music and turn on the heat (or many other sets of actions).

Give your brain a break from remembering important info

Always forgetting your sister-in-law’s birthday or to pick up your dry cleaning? Alexa can remember for you . Just say “Alexa remember [exactly what you want to remember]” and it will take care of the rest.

Act as a host

When you have friends or relatives staying at your house, inevitably they’re going to ask what’s the WiFi password or where to find an extra set of towels. Let Alexa handle it with a custom command (called Skills) . With a Skills Blueprint, you can create a Custom Q&A for your home so that visitors can get answers without you.

Head to Amazon’s Skills Blueprint page and pick the “Houseguest” option to create a guide with FAQs your guests might have while staying with you. When they arrive, they can ask “Alexa, where is the toilet paper?” or “Alexa, how do I turn on the shower?” and it will give them the answers.

Smart plugs can make your regular “dumb” home appliances smarter. And if you want to add voice control to manage your appliances via a smart plug, they can be synced to the Amazon Echo, too. Find out how to connect your smart plug to an Alexa device with this step-by-step guide.

What is a Smart Plug?

A smart plug is a device that plugs into your wall outlet and lets you control any device you plug into it with your phone or Echo device. If you plug a lamp into a smart plug, you tell Alexa to turn it off. Or you can schedule your coffee maker to turn on before you wake up every morning.

How to use alexa to make house guests feel more at home

What Can a Smart Plug Do?

You can use a smart plug to turn an appliance on or off, even when you’re not at home. A smart plug can also reduce your electric bill if you schedule your electronic devices to turn off at set times.

How to use alexa to make house guests feel more at home

Gosund Smart Plug (Image Source: Amazon)

How to Connect a Smart Plug to your Alexa

By connecting your smart plug to the Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to control your non-smart appliances. Follow the steps below to pair a smart plug with Alexa:

Note: This guide was made for the Gosund Smart Socket. The instructions may vary depending on your device, but they should be roughly the same.

  1. Plug your smart plug into an outlet.
  2. Download the app that goes with your smart plug app. You can find the proper app on the App Store or Google Play Store by searching for the name of your smart plug device or manufacturer.

Warning: Make sure to download the correct app. Certain smart devices have apps with very different names. If you are not sure which app to download, your instructions should have information about which app to download.

This will usually involve you pushing a physical button on your smart plug until it begins flashing. Then the device can be discovered by the app during the setup process.

How to use alexa to make house guests feel more at home

After you set up your smart plug in the app, you still have to set it up with Alexa if you want to control it with voice commands or create a routine with the Alexa app.

Warning: Make sure to download the correct skill. Check to see how many downloads it has before selecting it. If there aren’t many downloads, it could be the wrong app.

In most cases, you will be asked to link the account you created in the app to the Alexa Skill (this is where that password from before comes in handy). Then you will need to let Alexa discover the device.

Once you have paired your smart plug with the Amazon Echo, going through the day and managing even “dumb” electronics would be much smoother.

Want to make sure your kids aren’t using Alexa to turn your devices on and off? Check out our previous article on how to set parental controls on Alexa.

A significant majority of Americans and Australians are intent on learning more about humanity’s impact on the environment, and what they can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle. 913 people in both countries were part of a cross-generational study led by Southern Cross University to investigate how engaged citizens in both nations were regarding the environment, and just how far they were willing to go to protect the planet.

This year, air pollution will cause one of every eight deaths across the globe. An entire truckload . [+] of plastic enters our oceans every minute. Half of the world’s forests are completely gone.

The Survey

The data collected showed that 93% of all surveyed indicated a general concern for the environment , with plastic pollution (40.1%), biodiversity loss (39.1%), and climate change (38%) deemed the top three issues. Both the United States and Australia have been dealing with these particular problems, with climate change notably being blamed for the record-setting wildfires in California as well as the major bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. One of Australia’s endemic species, the koala, was recently declared “ functionally extinct ” and a range of species across the United States “ are quietly disappearing ”. Plastic pollution has become an ever-present issue worldwide as governments try to tackle single-use plastics and other forms of packaging – leading to a vast awareness campaign targeting consumers with the aim of educating the public as to the impacts their lifestyle choices can have.

While these were ranked as the major issues amongst respondents, they also indicated that they were ready to act on them, with 77% of individuals wanting to learn more about sustainable lifestyles. Most citizens have already taken steps to become more green – 83.4% of them recycle, 57.5% use reusable bags and 45.2% avoid single-use plastics. However, the vast majority of respondents believe it is up to governments (79%) to tackle environmental problems head-on. This is an interesting contrast to their respective nations’ own environmental policies, with both Australia and the United States deemed to be some of the largest contributors to global emissions and have shown no signs of heeding climate change warnings.

A person holding a sign depicting the motto “Save Our Planet”, in the context of environmentalist . [+] protests on Germany.

Photo by Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Under the Trump administration, the United States became the first and only country to withdraw from the Paris Agreements, while the US Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back many policies set to regulate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Australia’s government has also been at the center of many environmental debates. Canberra has repeatedly ignored warnings from international watchdogs regarding the nation’s increasing emissions and has gone as far as censoring a UN report describing how the Great Barrier Reef was being affected by climate change. Both countries have collaborated on the global stage to promote so-called “clean coal” technology and have ignored renewable energy. However, local state governments in both countries have been leading environmental efforts and going against federal policies that are putting their nations “ at-risk ”.

That being said, governments were not the only group that was expected to lead environmental actions. Major corporations were identified by almost three-quarters of respondents as responsible for reducing pollution , waste and other issues, and some major companies have already been making strides in decreasing their environmental impact. Unilever has embraced the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and has set a goal of halving emissions by 2030. The company has already reduced waste from its production chain by 97%, and source 56% of raw materials from sustainable sources. Other industry leaders include Air New Zealand who have committed to transitioning away from single-use plastics on flights – a number as high as 55 million units per year – and 4Ocean , a company that collects and recycles plastic waste from the ocean. Companies are working towards becoming more environmentally-conscious, and opportunities abound .

Gen Xers cited more concern about plastic pollution than any other generation studied: 43% said it . [+] was their top environmental concern.

Southern Cross University

Changing Perspectives

While respondents believe that governments should be leading action on climate change, they also identify the issues that prevent them from doing more in their daily lives. The higher prices of eco-friendly products (82.6%) and inconvenience (51.6%) ranked highest, with 61.6% of those surveyed thinking that living a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle was more expensive overall. 12.9% would be unwilling to spend more on a product if it was certified eco-friendly. This particular question showed the divide across generations, with millennials (89.6%) much more willing to pay above-average prices than baby boomers (79.3%). This corroborates further research that younger generations are driving consumer trends towards more environmentally-friendly products. As more information becomes available regarding the impacts of consumerism on the environment, individuals are becoming more and more likely to purchase products that are less damaging to the planet.

While opinions and preferences vary across the board regarding eco-friendly lifestyles and what green habits people were already partaking in, there was one underlying theme: hope.

87% of respondents said they made efforts to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, and that 72% were driven to leave a better planet for their children. Overall, people showed an interest in learning more about the environment, how they could live a more sustainable lifestyle, and how humanity’s actions are affecting the planet. In recent years, the environment has taken center-stage as new generations look to safeguard the future of the planet. From taking on major corporations to speaking on a global stage spurring governments into action, environmental accountability has become a part of everyday routine. Education is set to become one of the best tools to fight climate change and environmental degradation, and as this survey notes, we have an appetite for it.