How-To

Turn off All the Lights in Your Home (With Just 2 Words!)

I bet you’ve experienced this at least a handful of times before – you’re in a rush to leave the house, you’re just about to walk out the door and as you start step outside you think, “Did I turn off all the lights?”. You then proceed to check, room-by-room, for that rouge light that might have been left on, because every dollar counts.

That exact scenario played out countless times in my house, until I finally decided to do something about it.

I’m here to report there’s a much better way, and it saves you money and a lot of frustration.

Turn off all the lights with smart home automation

There is really only one way to turn off all the lights in your home at once, and that’s with smart home automation. Whether you use smart light switches, smart bulbs, smart plugs, or some combination of all three, you’ll need to incorporate smart products into your home in order to turn off all the lights.

Once setup, you’ll be able to control your lights with your voice (“Alexa, Goodbye”), your phone, or a even a single physical smart switch.

How to setup this home automation

Smart light switches, bulbs, and plugs all involve a different level of effort, know-how, and cost to setup.

Below I list the different products that you can use to automate your home’s lighting in order of easiest/cheapest to most difficult/expensive.

Smart plugs

  • Effort: Minimal
  • Cost: Low ($)

If you haven’t read my article on smart plugs, I recommend you do so, but I’ll reiterate here – smart plugs are the easiest and cheapest way for you to get started with smart home tech, period.

smart plug to turn off all the lights

You can find really good ones for about 12 bucks or so and the installation effort is almost zero.

I go into more detail in my smart plugs post above but the condensed version is you’ll sync your smart plug to an app on your phone and from within the app you can control the smart plug.

Once that is setup you can plug your lamp or light fixture directly into the smart plug and voila, now you can automate your light, turn it off remotely, or even sync it with Amazon Alexa or Google Home to turn it on and off with your voice.

Smart bulbs

  • Effort: Minimal
  • Cost: Low-Medium ($$)

Smart bulbs are equally easy to set up and relatively inexpensive too. If you aren’t familiar with smart bulbs, they simply replace your existing bulb and have built in connectivity that allows you to control them from an app on your phone.

smart light bulb to turn off all the lights

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of smart bulbs because they simply won’t work if your light switch is ever turned off. Which means you need the light switch to always remain in the on position.

That can be a real pain for you and your family, and a hard thing to remember. My belief is that smart home automation should add functionality on top of what already exists today, not eliminate it.

Not being able to use light switches in your house doesn’t sound all that smart to me.

That said, there is a time and a place for smart bulbs. If you have closet lights or pantry lights that you don’t feel like buying and installing smart light switches for, smart bulbs can be a great option.

Smart light switches

  • Effort: High
  • Cost: High ($$$)

Smart light switches are the holy grail when it comes to automating lighting in your home.

smart light switch to turn off all the lights

What’s great about them is you gain complete control over a lot of light bulbs in your house for every smart switch you install AND you can still use the physical light switch as you please to control these lights. This is the main differentiator between smart bulbs and switches, and it’s a big one.

However, nothing worth having comes easy. Smart light switches will cost more than plugs and bulbs and require quite a bit more work and know-how in order to install them.

If money isn’t an issue you can always hire an electrician to do the installation for you, but otherwise prepare yourself for a bit of a time commitment.

That said, I can say from experience that I had never changed a light switch before and was able to change 6 of them for smart switches this past year without any issues. So don’t be intimidated, but definitely do your research.

Smart speakers to bring it all together

Once you have all your smart products setup, you can add them to a smart speaker so that they can all be controlled from a single app.

Two of the more popular smart speakers on the market today are Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

I personally have several Amazon Alexa devices in my home, so I’ll use Alexa for my example.

The Alexa app lets you add each smart device to it and then group those devices together as applicable.

amazon echo to turn off all the lights

So for example, downstairs I have a smart light switch that controls a bedroom, a smart light switch that controls the living room and a smart plug that controls a lamp. Within the Alexa app I’m able to group all these lights together and label them as “Downstairs”.

With the “Downstairs” group setup, I can create a routine in the Alexa app that uses this group in order to shut off all the downstairs lights at once.

turn off all the lights alexa

“Alexa, Downstairs lights off”.

As you add more and more smart products to your home, you can create a routine that includes all of them and simply call it “Alexa, Goodbye”.

With those two words you’ll be able to turn off all the lights in your house.

Don’t automate everything at once

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember, you don’t have to automate every light in your home right away.

I actually don’t recommend that you do.

Instead, start by automating just a handful of lights, and then add from there. That’s what I did and it made the process not feel like so much work.

If you have lamps or any kind of lighting that plugs into an outlet, start by buying several smart plugs to automate those. Lamps are low hanging fruit.

Once you have this lighting automated, move on to automating lighting in your home that smart bulbs make sense for, like closets & pantries.

With all the lighting automated that smart plugs and smart bulbs can handle, move on to smart light switches. These require the largest investment of both time and money.

By starting with the easiest smart products and automations first, you’ll get excited about the possibilities. This will provide the motivation you’ll need to really bring it all home with smart light switches.

Benefits to turning off all the lights in your home

Now that we’ve covered some of the ways you can turn off all the lights in your home with home automation, let’s talk about why you might want to do this in the first place.

Convenience

I can’t overstate this one. No longer having to run downstairs before you leave the house to check your second bedroom, bathroom, etc. for a light that was left on, is a game changer.

Besides the turning off of all lights automation, you’ll also be able to control specific rooms. I use this all the time when I come home (“Alexa, I’m home”) to turn on the upstairs lights or when I’m getting water from the fridge late at night (“Alexa, kitchen lights on”).

You no longer have to fumble for the light switch in the dark, which is nice.

Environmental impact

The reality is, automating your home’s lighting is going to have little to no measurable impact on the overall health of our environment. But, if every house in this country had lighting automation setup, how much energy could we save every year? What about every decade?

Like most change, it starts with the individual, and it’s the sum of the parts that make the actual difference.

Cost

Spoiler alert, you’re not going to be saving a ton of money by automating your home’s lighting. That said, it is worth exploring the potential cost benefits long term.

As you can imagine, calculating exact cost for the smart home products someone ends up buying is extremely variable. Each house is different and the number of lights you automate will depend largely on the size of your home.

Personally, my house is only 1200 sq ft and I only needed to install 6 smart light switches and 2 smart plugs, which came to a total cost of about $162 (I already had an Amazon Echo).

Lighting alone accounts for approximately 20% of any given household’s yearly electrical bill, or roughly $200.

That means if I can use automation to save 10% a year on my electric bill by turning off all the lights more often, it will take me about 8 years to break even on my original “investment” ($20 saved on my electric bill each year x 8 years = $160).

Considering I plan on having my home for at least the next 15 years, I’d say that’s more than worth it.

It’s fun

Convenience, environment and cost aside, I just get a lot of joy out of tinkering with home automations and watching them actually work.

If you like technology at all, and have a little bit of patience, I think you’ll have a lot of fun with the process too.

Something as simple as watching my wife use all the automations I’ve set up, and the kick she gets out of them, is enough to keep me going with it.

How often you’ll use this home automation

We discussed this a little bit already, but it’s easy to lose track of how often you’re turning individual lights off, day-in and day-out, let alone how often you’re needing to turn them all off.

That’s why I think it’s helpful to cover the various scenarios in which you’ll be able to use this automation.

When you’re leaving the house

This is the most obvious use case. Every-time you leave the home you’ll be able to call upon this automation.

For me that’s three to four times a day. If you have a family it could easily be double that.

Think of all the minutes you’d save and the frustration you’d avoid by being able to turn off all the lights at once.

When you’re going to bed

When the day is over and you and the wife are crawling into the bed, the last thing you want to think about is that light you might have left on downstairs in the cold, damp basement.

With this home automation setup you’ll be able to make sure each and every light is off, from the comfort of your bed.

My wife and I even take this a step further and have a “movie night” automation that when it runs, turns off all the lights, locks our front door and turns on the TV in our bedroom. Some of these automations are just fun. And although they sound difficult to setup, they really aren’t.

Throughout the day

Depending on how you decide to set this up, you’ll start using this automation to turn on and off lights, all day long.

For example, my wife and I have set this up so that each room in our home can also be turned on and off, individually.

That means if I’m upstairs, about to head downstairs, and my hands are full, I can simply say “Alexa, Downstairs lights on”, or “OK Google, Downstairs lights on”.

My downstairs lights are on before I get there.

You can do this with your bedroom, your living room, your kitchen and so on. We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of it that we rarely ever use the physical light switches any more.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for how to turn off all the lights in your home, smart home automation is the answer.

By using smart plugs, smart bulbs, smart light switches, or some combination of all three, you’ll be able to control your lights with your voice, your phone, or a even a single physical smart switch.

I recommend you don’t try to automate every light in your home all at once. Start with a few lights here and there, and build on that.

You’ll find that automating your lights is not only convenient but it’s environmentally friendly, saves you money in the long run, and is just plain fun.

What’s stopping you from getting started?!