The last thing you should have to worry about while travelling is whether or not things are okay at home. Luckily, you can depend on more than just your nosy neighbour in this day and age! These five smart home products will help you to keep your home safe while travelling, and they all connect easily to your smartphone via an app.
1. Set Your Smart Lights On a Schedule
The easiest way to keep your home safe while you’re away is to make it look like you’re not away at all. Ideally, it would be awesome if a hologram of yourself could come and go throughout the day and drive your car to work for you, but technology isn’t quite that far advanced yet.
(Question: if a hologram of you goes to work and gets just as much work done as you would have, should your employer be paying you or your holo-self? After all, you did do all the programming for it…)
I grew up with wall timers and table lamps that would be scheduled to turn on and off, but today’s smart home takes that one step further. The Philips Hue system has everything you’ll need to set up a smart lighting system, and it’s all controllable from your smartphone via the Philips Hue Bridge. Make sure to schedule your lights before you leave, as the bridge requires you to be using the same Wi-Fi network to connect. My partner and I use these lights on a daily wake-up timer, which is perfect for travelling. All we have to do is make sure our lamps are plugged in and turned on, and Phillips does the rest for us.
Plus, when paired with the Philips Hue Wi-Fi Motion Sensor, these lights will flick on for any motion, warding off the neighbourhood’s seedy underbelly. To make things even easier, you can get your Google Assistant to set up your smart lights for you.
2. Switch to a Smart Lock to Let the House Sitter In
I love the feeling of a key sliding into a super-smooth lock, but there’s nothing better than no key at all. A secure smart lock will give you key-free entry into your home all the time, as well as setting you up to keep your home safe during your travels.
I always recommend getting a house sitter to check up on things while travelling, especially if you’re taking off in the winter. They don’t need to come by every day, but if they can stop by a few times a week and make sure that your mail isn’t piling up and your water pipes haven’t burst, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. My neighbours across the street travel frequently and always make sure to have one of us pop in and check for basement flooding when they’re gone for more than just the weekend.
Some neighbours can get a little too Wisteria Lane with their key-copying, though, so key-free entry is a great option to have. The August Smart Lock has you covered with key-free entry synced to your smartphone and controlled entry for guests.
Controlled entry lets you add and remove users when needed and can even provide entry for specific amounts of time (an excellent option if you’ll be Airbnb’ing your home while you travel). The lock itself syncs with Apple HomeKit for the ultimate smart home experience, and it’ll track your guests’ or house sitter’s comings and goings while you’re away.
3. Get the Elements On Your Side
As a general rule of travel, I like to play it on the safe side and assume that the worst WILL happen. That means the whole nine yards: luggage getting tossed around, flights being overbooked and cancelled, and, of course, every possible elemental disaster at home taking place.
Growing up, my mom would very rarely travel without the family—but whenever she did, something disastrous would always strike. Once, it was a small kitchen fire; another time, the dishwasher sprang a leak and flooded the kitchen. Now, I know better than to assume that everything’s going to be just fine.
Nothing replaces an actual, live, house sitter to keep your home safe, so it’s still a good idea to have someone checking on your pipes and houseplants (make sure you turn off your water before you leave, if that’s an option). A smart smoke alarm system will keep an eye on things while you’re away, and in the event of an emergency, it can alert you or your house sitter so you can make sure someone goes to check on things.
The Nest Safety Checkup feature lets you test all of your devices before you leave, and the classic Nest compatibility makes for an altogether safer experience. Should something happen while you’re away, the Nest Protect will link up to your Nest Thermostat to turn off the furnace for an extra layer of protection.
4. Monitor Your Home From the Road
If you’re still worried about what’s happening at home, though, Nest offers one more helpful tool: the Nest Cam. With a 1080p camera, it can record exactly what’s going on at home when that fire alarm goes off (or at any other time).
The Nest Cam is fully weatherproof, and it comes with an optional motion detector. Push notifications of movement go straight to your phone, and night vision LED sensors keep an eye on things even after dark.
With a Nest Aware subscription, your video footage is saved to the cloud for future viewing, and you’ll get an alert whenever Nest sees a person. Sightline will let you speed through an entire day of footage in seconds, and Spaces groups your various Nest products room by room so you can view all of your footage at once. Having a visible security camera on your property works as a constant deterrent for burglars, and, should someone look suspicious, you’ll have the recording to either send to the police or text to your neighbour for a drop-in when things look safe.
5. Do Even More With a Smart Doorbell
Expecting a package while you’re away? Worry not—a smart video doorbell will let you chat with the delivery person when they drop by. With two-way communication, a great smart doorbell lets you connect to your door (even when you’re not on the same Wi-Fi system).
I always leave delivery notes with UPS and FedEx, but for Canada Post, that’s just not an option. A smart video doorbell lets you chat with the postal worker when they come, letting them drop the package in your back yard or another secure location until you arrive at home. You can even deny the package and just ask them to take it back to the post office if you’re worried about theft or weather damage.
A smart doorbell makes it sound like you’re at home, too—especially if the lights flicked on when they came up the walk.
Build your ideal smart home system at Best Buy today.