Smart speakers offer smart ways to save money

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Smart speakers are once again a hot item for the holiday season, and if you’re thinking about giving or getting one, there’s a way to get some bang for your buck!

WREG found three ways your smart speaker can save you money.

Alexa can wake you up, help start your day and even lend a hand with dinner at the end of it.

Having a smart speaker is sort of like having your own personal assistant, and Darrell Byrd says it’s made a big difference with organization for his busy family.

Byrd leaned toward the Echo Show on the kitchen counter and showed us how it works.

“So here`s the weather for the next couple of days, if you want it to play music, you can tell it to play music.”

Byrd says the first thing the kids hear in the morning is the sound of upbeat music, playing through an Echo in their room.  He says it’s their version of an alarm, and it let’s the girls know mom and day are up and it’s time to go!

In addition he said, “We use it for our calendar, we use it for communication with the kids upstairs, we use it as a reminder, we have alarm clocks on there.”

Research shows nearly a third of U.S. households with high speed internet, now have at least one smart speaker.

However, if you’re only using your smart speaker for basic tasks, you’re not getting your money’s worth!

Turns out, you can actually use your smart speaker to help save you money.

Savings Tip #1–Save on Your Daily Commute/Gas.

We talked to Kyle James of Rather Be Shopping about how it works.

“You do that by saying, ‘Alexa, how`s my commute?’ And the first time you ask it that question, it`ll ask you to set up where you work, so you just do it once, and after that, every morning when you say that, she`s gonna pull back, any traffic or accidents that might be on your route, and she`ll direct you a different way.”

Savings Tip #2–Save on Travel

“You can actually say, ‘Alexa, where can I go for $500 or, Alexa, where can I go for $300, and Amazon has partnered with the popular travel website Kayak, and it`s gonna pull back any deals that might be in your area,” said James.

We decided to have Byrd test this one out.

He said, “Alexa, where can I go for under $500?”

Alexa responded, “Kayak can help you with that, do you want to enable Kayak?”

“Yes, enable Kayak.”

Users can also tell Alexa to just open Kayak, or if you use Google Assistant, ask it to “talk to Expedia”.

Your smart speaker can’t actually book the trip, but you can find options for flights, hotels and airlines after entering your home airport and explaining more about where you want to go.

Savings Tip #3–Save on Electricity

James explained, “The obvious one is these smart plugs, you can be sitting on your couch and you can say, ‘Alexa, turn off the living room lights, or Alexa, turn off the coffee pot’ .”

Some smart plugs even show just how much power the connected device is using, and you control everything with your smart phone.

“You can set up zones in your house, and you can set it all up so that you only heat or cool certain parts of your house and certain times of the day. And it really helps you utilize technology to save on those heating and cooling costs. People that have the nest absolutely love it and they`ve noticed a 15, 20-percent change in their heating and cooling bills,” said James.

The Byrd family is hoping to add some of those plugs, a thermostat, maybe even a smart fridge in the future.

For now though, Byrd said, “It`s not a dollar savings, but it`s a time savings and it makes our home work more efficiently.”

And for any busy family, that time is priceless!

More Savings Tips

Music–If you’re using your smart speaker to listen to music, be sure you’re getting it for free! Prime Music offers a large collection for Prime members at no cost.

Car Repairs-The Automatic Pro is a device that plugs directly into vehicles and syncs with Alexa to provide notifications about diagnostic issues.

Find a Plumber– Use your Google speaker or Alexa to say “find me a plumber.” Suggestions come via yelp.

James offers additional suggestions for saving on water and setting up a smart home.

Read more from Consumer Reports on smart speaker superpowers.  Concerned about privacy? Learn how to set up your speaker with certain privacy settings.

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