Whenever you leave your home for an extended period of time, there are three elements that can cause havoc and destroy your real estate investment. There’s water, temperature, and criminals. In this article I’m going to show you how you can protect your home from all of these with just three smart home devices.
There are many reasons you may have to leave your home for a week or more. You might be planning a family vacation, or an extended business trip. Maybe you’re moving for a job and need to monitor your home from afar until you can sell it. Whatever the reason, the following gadgets will help you gain peace of mind while you’re away.
1. Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing
If there is one device that every smart home should have — even if it’s the only device that you ever buy for your home. The Nest smart thermostat (or one of its alternatives).
That’s all great, but few people realize just how invaluable this device becomes when you’re away from home for weeks at a time. Once you’ve purchased and set up one of these thermostats in your home, you have access to your own account on the Nest Home website. There you can see the current temperature of your home at a glance.
If your home is in a winter climate, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home is properly heated is immeasurable. A burst water pipe in any home can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in water damage. However, if you monitor your home’s temperature with a Nest, you can immediately resolve any temperature drops before it ever becomes an issue. This may be a matter of just calling your property management person to check on your house for you.
The cool thing about the Nest Home page is that it also tells you the temperature and weather patterns outside of your home. This helps you estimate roughly how much heating fuel your home might be using up over time.
IFTTT provides some really useful integration with your Nest thermostat, too. It lets you set up alerts if and when your home’s internal temperature drops too low.
For example, let’s say you leave your Nest thermostat set at 60F during the time you’re away. You can set up an IFTTT applet to send yourself an email and/or an SMS message the moment the temperature in your home drops below 50F.
If your empty home is in a warmer climate, you may never have to worry about this issue. But if you’re away during the cold season, this setup can save you both stress and potentially a lot of money.
2. Avert Disaster With a Water Sensor
Another problem that can happen when a home is left empty for an extended period is a water leak. By using a Nest you’ll probably avert having a burst water pipe due to frozen pipes. However, there are other areas (usually in the basement) where a water leak can occur, such as a burst house water filter, a faulty water valve, or a leaking boiler.
If you catch leaks ahead of time, you can prevent a slow leak from turning into a basement flood. If you happen to have a finished basement, the difference between these two can mean thousands of dollars in repairs. In my case, I’ve used the D-Link Wi-Fi water sensor (CA/UK).
This device comes in two units. One is the power and central controller. In a basement, this should go into a plug that is elevated somewhere above the floor.
Most basements have plugs installed halfway up the wall. The sensor itself is placed on the floor, in the area you want to monitor for water.
This should be placed under a water filter or near the base of your boiler. Place it anywhere in the basement where a leak is most likely to happen.
D-Link Sensors come with the myDlink Home app. This lets you check that the sensor is active, and all of the latest “detections” that it’s sensed.
Of course, the real convenience of having this unit is the fact that it’s integrated with your IFTTT account. There’s an applet available there that lets you trigger an email or SMS the moment your water sensor detects the presence of water.
This way, the moment a leak occurs, you can immediately call for help. Have your property manager stem the source of the leak before it floods your entire basement and ruins everything stored there.
3. Prevent Theft With Security Cameras
All of the clever smart locks and window sensors will only go so far to protect your home from thieves. While a security camera won’t let you prevent a break-in, it’ll ensure that whoever dares enter your home will receive a visit from the police.
This is because today’s smart security cameras, like the Kuna outdoor security camera, immediately records whenever it senses movement.
If you’re away from home for an extended period of time, then the idea setup would be to have security cameras set up in inconspicuous locations near each entrance, as well as inside of your home. These cameras, like the Kuna, will immediately alert you whenever anyone or anything comes near the entrance. This gives you time to connect to your home’s internal security cameras before the break-in even occurs.
Most outdoor Wi-Fi security camera manufacturers typically provide cloud storage for all of the motion video it captures. These are usually on some kind of monthly subscription plan, so make sure to do your research before you buy one of these cameras. Make sure the subscription you want is one that you can afford. If you don’t want a monthly subscription, try one of the DIY options like this Reolink 4-camera system with local recording.
The mobile app for the Kuna security camera lets you set up alert settings for whenever there is motion or sound, but nearly all outdoor security cameras on the market provide a similar feature. You could also use integrated IFTTT applets, if IFTTT supports your camera.
Whenever I receive an alert from the Kuna that someone is lurking around my house, I always immediately connect into the D-Link Wi-Fi security camera (DCS-936L) that I’ve set up inside my house.
The D-Link Wi-Fi camera is a nice unit because it provides for expansion with an SD port. It comes with both motion and sound detection capabilities, so you can set up the camera to record video the moment it sees or hears movement in your home.
Like outdoor security cameras, most indoor security cameras also provide the ability to enable alerts. So, you can receive an email the moment the camera detects motion or sound inside your home.
While this may not prevent thieves from breaking in, it will at least allow you to notify the police immediately. Even if the police can’t get there in time to catch the criminals in the act, it’ll provide the police with video evidence of the perpetrators.
Home Security Can Be Simple
With all of the devices on the market today, promising to boost your home security, it can feel very overwhelming. The reality is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money or install complex technology to have a secure home.
The most expensive device on this list is the Nest thermostat, but even that is under $250. You can buy good water sensor and security camera for under $100 each. For a very small investment you can easily protect your home whenever you can’t be at home yourself.
Have ever set up home security devices in preparation for a trip? Which gadgets did you try? Share your own experiences in the comments section below!