20 Best Alexa Hacks All Homeowners Should Know

Train Amazon's Alexa to do everything from update you on your home's security system to cheer you up when you're feeling down!

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Train Alexa to Recognize Your Voice

Do you ever get frustrated that Alexa can’t figure out what you’re saying? Simply open the app on your phone, head to Menu > Settings > Your Voice. Begin the process, where you’ll need to say 25 different phrases. After you do this, when you’re roaming around your home trying to use Alexa for convenience, it actually understands the first time!

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

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Ask Alexa About the Weather

Whether you’re in the shower or in your closet, it may occur to you that you need to know what the weather is going to be like in order to dress appropriately for work. If you have your Alexa nearby, prepare to get all the answers you need! With a simple command, Alexa’s built-in weather forecast fills you in on the day ahead, rain or shine.

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Rename Your Alexa

Don’t be stifled by the name “Alexa” if it’s simply not vibing with you! Maybe it’s even your own name, and every time your significant other calls you from the kitchen for help with a recipe, the device turns on. How annoying! Go ahead and rename Alexa to Amazon, Echo or Computer by opening the app. Head to Menu > Settings. Tap on the Echo device you want to change and click on Wake Word. A drop-down menu will appear, showing the other names you can choose from. Pick one, hit save and confirm.

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Control Alexa From a Different Account

If multiple people use Alexa in the home, you might find it frustrating that when you command it to start some music for you, it’s not synched to your profile! Find out which account you’re using by simply saying “Alexa, which profile am I using?” Switch profiles by saying “Alexa, switch profile.”

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Make Alexa Repeat What It Said

Just like Alexa can’t always understand what you say, sometimes you don’t quite catch what it replied! Any time you don’t understand what Alexa said, simply say “Alexa, can you repeat that?” to hear that last response again.

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Control Your TV

If you have a FireTV or Smart TV, you can easily order the TV to be turned on or off at your leisure, which alleviates the need to find that pesky remote control! But even cooler, you can sit back and use voice command, asking Alexa to search for a certain TV show, change the channel, and control playback.

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Ask Alexa How to Spell a Word

Whether the kids are working on homework or you’re writing a note, simply ask, “Alexa, how do you spell [BLANK]?” You’ll get a response quicker than you can search online!

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Use Alexa as an Intercom

While the classic house intercom is a thing of the past, you can now use your Alexa device to make an announcement in your living room. If that room also has an Alexa device in it, you can say “Alexa, drop in on the living room.”

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Flip a Virtual Coin

Where should you order takeout from? Who’s going to take out the trash? Who will do the dishes? Let Amazon’s Alexa handle that! You can flip a virtual coin. All you have to say is “Alexa, heads or tails” and your dispute is settled!

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Have Alexa Cheer You Up

When you come home from work after a bad day, let Alexa turn your frown upside down. Alexa’s “Cheer Up!” skill involves the device providing you fun quips, inspirational quotes and honest advice.

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Tune Your Instrument

Forget that old-school tuner for your guitar (or other instrument), and use Alexa! Just say “Alexa, tune my guitar” and the smart speaker will go through six notes used for regular tuning. Customize the skill based on your instrument, as well as the key you’re playing.

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Customize Your Flash Briefing

Wake up with the news that suits you at your fingertips by customizing your flash briefing. You can do this by going to alexa.amazon.com. Open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet, then open the side menu. Select Settings > Flash Briefing. You can then enable the sources you want to hear the news from by sliding the toggles to ‘on.’ When you want to know what’s going on, go ahead and ask, “Alexa, what’s new?” and it will provide you with the top headlines based on how you customized it.

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Get Personalized Traffic Updates

Before you mess with your phone while driving, which takes your eyes off the road, you might want to ask Amazon for a traffic update before you leave the house. That way you’re well aware of what’s ahead of you, and can plan out your route accordingly. Just go to Menu > Settings >Traffic and then type in your home and work addresses. Once you do this, you can say “Alexa, how is traffic?” or “Alexa, what’s my commute?”

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Use the Kayak Skill for Planning Travel

After adding the Kayak skill, you can ask commands like “Alexa, how much will it cost to travel from Los Angeles to Denmark?” On a budget? Ask, “Alexa, where can I travel for $200?”

Photo: Courtesy of Kayak

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Change Your Default Music Service to Spotify

While Alexa devices automatically default to playing music through Amazon’s streaming service, you aren’t limited to that! If you’d prefer to listen to Spotify, go to Menu > Settings > Music & Media > Customize My Music Preferences > Choose Default Music Services > Spotify.

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Use Alexa as a Night Light

Did you know you can use Amazon’s Alexa as a night light? The light ring on the device can tell you a lot of different things about your speaker, but it can also be used as a night light through various available night light skills. For the easiest skill, open Alexa, select Skills in the left menu, search Night Light and select the option by labworks.io.

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Control Your Home’s Temperature With Nest

Have a Nest Thermostat and an Alexa device? Perfect! You can now control the temperature in your home with your voice! Once you download the skill, you’ll also be able to say, “Alexa, tell the thermostat that I’m too hot.” You can ask about the humidity as well, or even relay that you’re leaving the house to save energy.

Photo: Courtesy of Nest

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Dim Your Lights

Many light bulb manufacturers now have smart bulbs that can be turned on and off, dimmed and more via applications. Hook up the one you choose to your Alexa device for quick and easy access to your lights without having to get up off the couch.

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Order a Pizza

Craving a night in with a piping hot pizza? You don’t even have to lift a finger to order it! Simply download the Domino’s Alexa skill and prepare to be amazed. Just say “Alexa, open Domino’s” to launch the skill, and you can re-order your last pizza or choose a pre-selected Easy Order.

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

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Stay Updated on Your Home Security System

Home security systems can do much more than just alert you if there’s a break-in. For instance, if you have the Scout Security system, you can use it with Amazon Alexa to ask if the alarm is armed or about the bedroom window sensor. You can also say things like, “Alexa, open Scout and arm my security system,” or “Alexa, ask Scout if the front door is working.”¬†Install a dependable wireless DIY home security system and save hundreds. DIY home security systems’ wireless modules are easy to install.

Photo: Courtesy of Scout Security

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: livingbylex.com