Apps for the Home 

I'm sure you've heard of home automation. You can control almost the entirety of your home from your smartphone. Forgot to lock a door? Lock them remotely from your phone. Didn't arm your security system? Do it from your phone. You can even receive notifications if a door is opened, you forgot to close a door, or someone's knocking at your door. Perhaps you like the idea of being able to remotely control your thermostat, lights, or television with just your smartphone, from anywhere you are.

You don't have to buy a whole home automation system. Instead, you can check out the following apps and systems that are targeted around single aspects of your home, so you can pick and choose what you'd like to automate or control remotely.

So Much More than Remote Lights

Hue, by Philips, is a very simple lighting system that lets you control the lights in your home with your smartphone. But what hue accomplishes isn't so simple. Sure, you can control your lights with your smartphone, and turn them off or on for different rooms and the like, but hue is about so much more than just turning lights on. Each hue light bulb contains the full spectrum of white light. You can change the brightness and intensity of the white with the tap of a finger. But there's more than that.

You can even change the color of the lights. Do you want a nice, private sunset? Drag an image of a sunset into the hue app on your phone, and the lights in your room will change to match the colors. Instant sunset, right in your own home. From the perfect ambiance to the perfect party, hue can cover it all. And there are a variety of different bulbs and lamps, so you can create the lighting that is perfect for you.

Voice Control and Your TV

While this app does require you to have DirecTV, it lets you do some pretty amazing stuff with your smartphone. Maybe you're out and about, and you forgot about a show you really wanted to watch. Pull out your phone, open the app, and you can program your DVR to record the show for you. Or, you can watch the show on your phone.

While those features work from anywhere, the voice control portion of this app does require you to be at home with your TV, though it's a pretty neat feature. Next time, don't reach for the remote and search endlessly through channels and movies. Grab your phone, and use your voice to find exactly what you're looking for. It comes in handy, because let's be honest, we all lose the remote sometimes, but we almost never lose our phones.

The Smart Thermostat

When you go to bed, the temperature seemed perfect. Now, you're tossing and turning because your house is just too hot. You don't have to get out of bed to the fix the problem anymore, though. Honeywell has smart thermostats that connect to your Wi-Fi, so you can use an app on your phone to adjust, and program your thermostat. No more uncomfortable nights, or coming home to a freezing house. It also learns your habits, so it can automatically adjust the temperature of your home, keeping it perfect.

As an added bonus, some of Honeywell's thermostats also let you change the color and lighting, allowing you adjust to match the color of the wall or the decor. After all, if you're going to automate the thermostat, you might as well do it with style.

A Simpler Smart Home

You don't have to break the bank to start automating your home. Especially if you don't need everything that some home automation systems provide. But, there are plenty of options, and incredibly feature rich apps that can make certain aspects of your home smarter. From lighting to TV and to heating, you have plenty of choices when it comes to making your home just a little smarter. Sometimes, all it takes is downloading an app to take advantage of features you didn't know you had. One thing's for sure, though. In Idaho, it might be a good idea to have a smart thermostat.