At Home with Lisa: Swap your old light switch for a smart switch

I read in Avista’s Energy Guide that one way to make your home a little more energy efficient is to set your lights on a timer for when you are away.

I love doing things with my phone. Ever since my first smart phone, I’ve been using it to buy coffee, as my ticket to concerts or airplanes, reading books and oh, yeah, talking on the phone. What if I could turn my lights on and off with my phone?

I searched on the internet for different kinds of smart switches. I learned to check my wires inside my old light switch before I picked out the one I needed. I turned off the electricity, unscrewed the plate and saw a white wire, a black wire and a copper one. When I got to the hardware store, I talked to the lighting specialist, and he answered all of my questions. He also pointed me in the direction of a cheap voltage tester to make sure the power was off before I started on my project.

My smart switch was a little more expensive than my usual projects—I spent about $45 on it.

I used a Philips screwdriver to undo the mechanism of the old switch. It was wrapped in electrical tape, and I removed that. The wires were connected to the mechanism with screws, which I loosened and used needle-nosed pliers to unbend the wires. With the wires free, I could connect them to the new switch.

Once I was done with that, I pushed the wires into the box, made sure the switch was turned the right way and screwed it into the wall. I turned the power back on and it lit up the correct color according to the directions.

In all, it took me about 45 minutes to install. A couple minutes more and I had the app downloaded onto my phone. I can now turn my lights on in my living room when I’m not at home. This project was fairly easy if you want to try it yourself, but safety first. I can’t stress this enough: before you do anything, make sure you turn off the power.

Lisa, an Avista customer, bought her 1910 house because she loved the old-world character, some of which doesn’t make her house very energy efficient. Lisa is sharing her experience on taking some simple do-it-yourself improvements to inspire others to do the same. You’ll find her stories right here every Tuesday morning.

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  1. At Home with Lisa
  2. Energy Saving
  3. Electric