Home Security While Traveling: The Modern-Day “Smart” Vacation Checklist by Christy Matte
It's vacation time! We work hard to earn those special getaways, but many homeowners can't help but get a bit anxious for the home they’re leaving behind. Smart home technology enables us to control and monitor our homes from afar, but you'll want to get the planning done in advance, so everything is ready to go when you are. Having the right smart home technology in place will help you to take that amazing vacation with less stress.
Security Systems: Home security for vacant homes is certainly nothing new, but today’s systems offer more flexibility and convenient features than ever before. In addition to the most common security features like motion sensors, motion-activated lights and alarms, your smart security system may include doorbells, locks, smoke detectors and even thermostats. You can get a system installed by a local security company or even your cable company, which can help you set up a full package of security items and make sure they're all working together seamlessly. Setting your alarms should be as simple as tapping a button on your phone. You may even be able to use voice commands to enable your system.
Safety Systems: Smart safety devices such as smoke and CO2 detectors will alert you to issues, and they’re just the beginning. Other advanced devices, like moisture and humidity sensors, can warn you early of problems such as leaky or broken pipes. You can call your plumber from wherever you are in the world before the damage gets severe. If you utilize smart locks, you can even let your plumber in with a code or by unlocking the doors remotely. No need to worry about returning home to extensive damage.
Check that your safety devices are working properly before you go, and set the notifications on your phone for alerts. If you work with contractors, you could even have your text alerts go straight to them to save time resolving issues.
Lights: Smart lights, which connected to your WiFi and can be controlled via your smartphone, have a lot of benefits for families on the go:
- Avoid the worry that you left the lights on after you’ve left – or turn them off if you did.
- Set them on an away schedule to turn on/off as if you were home.
- Set them to automatically turn on in the evening, either on a daily basis or just for your vacation. No need to return to a dark home or leave the outside lights on 24/7.
Thermostats: Smart thermostats are quite popular since they potentially increase household efficiency, and many companies offer rebates and discounts for installation. Smart thermostats aren't just useful for day-to-day use, though. They make it easy to manage your home environment even if you're halfway around the world. If you currently have a smart thermostat, there's a chance that it already monitors when you're home vs. away and handles your environmental controls automatically. If not, setting up "away" temperature settings should be easy. The best part is that you can adjust the temperature shortly before you arrive home so you're not returning to a freezing or hot house.
Smart Locks: Need to let pet walkers, house cleaners or family members into your home while you’re gone? Smart locks can help. Give unique codes to people who need access to your home, and you can monitor the activity, and even change the codes, remotely.
Before You Go
The technology you need is already out there, and you may even have some of it in your home, but the next step is getting the devices to communicate to each other. If you purchase the elements separately, you may need to figure out your own ways of integrating them, so you can issue one "away" command and not have to enable each device separately. Services like IFTTT (If This Then That) can help automate your systems to save you additional time. Your local internet service provider may also be able to help you integrate the systems through a smart home hub. You'll also want to make sure everything is working as expected:
- Set up an away plan for each device. Adjust heat/AC, a lighting plan that mimics household usage and text alerts for unusual/suspicious activity.
- Ensure that each device's "away" mode has the settings you prefer.
- Check the batteries.
- Set up a local contact, if possible, to handle any issues that may arise.
- Double check that your WiFi is working properly and connected to all applicable devices.
- Set up an emergency code for door locks that you can provide to a plumber, neighbor or family member.
Your suitcases are packed, the mail service is on hold and your smart home is engaged. There’s nothing left to do but have a wonderful vacation free of worries and stress. You’ve earned it!