Many of us were stuck at home last year, unable to do the usual rounds of Christmas visits to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. This year it looks like we’ll be able to make those trips again, but who’s going to look after the house while we’re away?
The appeal of Smart Home technology to most people is the convenience it offers to people as they potter around the house. Mundane tasks can be done by voice command or set on a schedule which can be set via an app on a phone. Thing is, those tasks can be just as easily taken care of if you’re away from home too.
The first thing people think about when leaving the house for a few days is whether they should leave the lights on or the curtains closed. Putting a table lamp on a timer isn’t fooling anyone any more! Instead you can use your home automation technology to turn lights on and off throughout the house, turn on a radio or TV and turn it off again as part of a routine that makes it look to anyone outside the house like the family are going to bed. It’s far from the perfect security solution, but if it keeps burglars guessing while you’re away for a few days, it could make a real difference.
Give The Impression Someone’s Home
Other signs of human activity which keep intruders on their toes is automated blinds and curtains. Anything that makes it look as if there is someone at home will help them move along, and curtains which are either shut all day or open all night are a sign that nobody’s home.
Installing a Smart Doorbell along with CCTV which can watch over the rest of your property means that you’ll always be able to greet people at the door, ask delivery drivers to put any packages somewhere safe, and see who else is coming into your garden in real time from your phone. Most devices work straight out of the box, but remember to give each device a new name and a hard to guess password so that nobody is able to take over their use when you go away, and when you do go away, make sure that you have recharged the batteries!
There is other maintenance you need to take care of if you’re going to be away from home for any considerable length of time, such as ensuring that cameras are clean, and not obscured by wreaths or any other decorations which might prevent them working to their optimum. (If we were writing this in spring or summer we’d mention cutting back any climbing plants or nearby shrubbery so that foliage wouldn’t have a chance to grow far enough to cause similar problems.)
If you’ve turned down the sensitivity of the motion sensors on your smart CCTV or smart doorbell, this is a good time to turn it back up and reset excluded screen zones. It’s an opportune moment, since you’re in the settings, to ensure that all the contact details for alerts are up to date. And if you’ve got a neighbour who’s staying home over the holidays, why not ask them if they’d be prepared to keep an eye on your security monitors too? You can return the favour later on and it means that there is someone nearby to tend to any issues, or receive deliveries if there’s a parcel for you which you don’t want left beside the front door until you get back.
Once the house is secure on the outside, what about the inside?
If you’re travelling in winter you could just shut the central heating down for the duration to save money. Money which you would then have to spend on repairs to the flood damage you got from burst pipes! Instead, to prevent pipes leaking and for the sake of your houseplants who probably wouldn’t appreciate freezing, use a smart thermostat to keep the house an even temperature. While a traditional thermostat controls the temperature of the entire house based on a single sensor, Smart thermostats know the temperature in each room of the house, meaning that your north facing rooms won’t have to wait until the entire house drops below a certain temperature before their radiators come on.
Smart Thermostats will detect that you’re not home anyway, and go into a ‘vacation’ setting so they don’t keep the house as warm as if you were home, but check those settings before you go away as you might think that what they deem the right temperature for an empty house is too warm, or too cool depending on things like houseplants which will dry out quickly if too warm and suffer from frost damage if too cold.
Ensure That If Anything Does Go Wrong You’re The First To Know
Because you’ve set the heating to come on just enough you probably don’t need to worry about burst pipes, but ensuring leak, carbon monoxide, fire and smoke detectors are in good shape is never a bad idea. Since they’re smart they do so much more than just sounding an ear-splitting siren, although they do that. They also send you a message to your phone or tablet to let you know there’s an emergency which needs your immediate attention. Leak detectors do this by sampling the ambient humidity and letting you know when it’s far to high while CO and smoke detectors do the same with gases. If you’re going too far away to attend to any problems personally, this is another time when you need that friendly neighbour to be in a position to attend. If you don’t have the devices set up to send alerts to monitoring services it’s vital that you have the right information in the contacts list to ensure that the right people are alerted to any emergency. Ideally you’ll have them unlock the doors and turn on all the lights so if emergency services need to attend they can get access and find their way around without smashing your front door in.
Lastly, remember to turn things off. If you’ve got a Smart vacuum cleaner it will only be wasting energy if it hoovers up while you’re away, and as it trundles around the house it will set off the motion detectors, sending you a slew of alerts you really don’t need!
Briant Communications supply and install a range of Smart Home Automation including the most trusted brand name Smart CCTV, Smart Doorbell, and Smart Alarms. Call 01273 465377 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free, no obligation quote.