Continuing our look at the “connected home“ let’s take a look at the idea of keeping your home ‘lived in’ while you’re travelling. This is especially handy this time of year while the weather warms up and many of us start making plans to travel and get out a lot more. Whether you’ve got a road trip or a vacation coming up, home security can be a concern while you’re away. With all the smart home technology you can employ nowadays it’s easy to give your home the appearance of remaining occupied as usual even though you’re out and about. If your home will be unoccupied for an extended period of time this can be particularly useful.
Lights on; Lights off
The easiest thing you can do is set your lights to turn off and on automatically. While light timers are nothing new, smart home tech can give you much more flexibility and have utility beyond simple toggling your light’s power state like clockwork; it can be a handy thing to be able to do year round.
There are many smart light bulb options available to you. The Belkin WeMo LED lighting set for example gives you two smart light bulbs and lets you have full control of them from your mobile device. So long as you have internet access, you can customize your lighting. You can not only toggle the on and off state, but also dim the lights, and set up a customized schedule for their automated operation. You don’t have to have them simply turn on and off at a set time every day repetitively. Instead, set each bulb up in different rooms and program them with an organic feeling schedule, like have a light in one room on for a few hours, then have it turn off and the other one turn on. In this way you can really create an illusion that someone is home controlling them as they walk from one room to another. You’ll be surprised just how easy and flexible this sort of home automation can be.
Control other devices around the home too
With Belkin you’re not limited to smart lightbulbs either. You can take it further with a home automation switch which simply plugs in to any available power outlet. You then simply plug any other device into the switch’s power outlet and you’re ready to go. The switch can be programmed similarly to the above mentioned smart lightbulbs to let you turn your devices on and off. You can have this scheduled, with amazing flexibility. You can even control them from anywhere in the world over the internet. You can use this to control your lights if you like, but I would recommend connecting it to something different like your TV for example. TVs generate a unique and telltale light pattern and of course sound too which is very effective at masking the fact that your home sits empty.
Get Smart Notifications
Of course you can do more than simply have your devices turn on and off on a schedule or on demand. With the WeMo motion sensor you can set it to detect movement from up to ten feet away and set a device to turn on or off when motion is detected. This is very easy to set up and with the modularity of the WeMo system, it’s convenient to have everything interoperable and controlled from a singular interface on your smartphone or tablet. You can, for example set the motion sensor up to turn the lights on when someone approaches your door, warding off potential intruders with the illusion of an occupant in your home. It can also send you a text or email notification that someone has triggered the motion detector. Imaging how terrified an intruder would be if upon seeing that notification you suddenly turned on the lights and the television!
Control your locks from anywhere
While you’re away you may have a neighbour come to water your plants or someone designated to check on your pets. That’s no problem either. You can control and monitor access to your home remotely too with a smart lock. Take the Weiser Kevo smart lock, for example. You can use it day-to-day just as you would any other deadbolt lock but this smart lock goes even further to unlock automatically via Bluetooth. This can be very handy, unlocking your door as you approach it when it detects your Bluetooth enabled smartphone in your pocket or purse nearby. Like any good smart home technology, it even lets you control it via an app to send, disable, and delete eKeys, view a history of your lock’s activity and more.
This means that you can give the dog-walker, or neighbour temporary access, monitor their use of that access, and revoke it at any time should you ever feel the need to. All from your smartphone while you’re away from home.
For me, that has always been a concern—I could lend a key to a friend or neighbour but you can never be sure if it is being abused, or if copies are made. With eKeys, that is no longer a problem. You retain full control of who has access and can keep tabs on how it is used, which is virtually impossible with traditional keys. Of course the smart lock can be used with physical keys too but you’ll find that you just keep those for an emergency and generally won’t find that you need them anymore most of the time.
I also love the smart locks because they’re tremendously handy on your normal days—those times you come home with lots of groceries and your hands are full, for example. You won’t have to fumble around in your pockets for your keys just to unlock your door. This sort of convenience is the sort of thing where once you have it you will find it difficult to do without ever again.
Maintain your lawn and garden too
You can even set up smart home tech to control your lawn sprinklers with Rachio’s 8-Zone smart sprinkler controller. Like the rest, this gives you control from your mobile device but goes beyond that too. It integrates a Smart Weather feature so it won’t turn the sprinklers on when it is raining outside and helps you control and monitor your water usage making you more efficient overall.
All of this smart home tech can help your home to look “lived in” while you’re away. It’s all fairly quick to set up and once you’re up and running you should see benefits year round with increased efficiency and control over various aspects of your home, so it all runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s easier than you think to control and monitor how your home is running while on the go, and give you the peace of mind that even when you’re travelling you can check in and take control of everything going on.
For more information about enhancing your home and your life with smart home technology, check out these articles:
Should you choose a networked or non-networked smarthome
August Smart Locks with Video Review
Smart home moving tips