Homeowners who love or need to travel often know that leaving your home empty for long periods of time can be both costly and potentially dangerous. Fortunately, recent developments in home technology have the ability to make unattended homes safer and more energy efficient than ever. Smart technology is quickly becoming an essential part of residential living and that a few simple upgrades can transform your daily life at home. Here are some of our favorite current and tech-friendly hacks to keep your home safe and efficient while traveling.
If you often leave home for long periods of time, there are several factors that can let potential intruders know that your house is empty. A dark home is a telltale sign that you are away, so it’s important to find a way to make it look lived-in. Invest in lighting systems with automated timers, dimmer switches, and smart technology—these will allow you to track and adjust settings from an app on your smartphone or tablet to keep a regular schedule as if you were at home. If you’re concerned about electricity bills while you’re away, switch to energy-efficient LED bulbs that consume less energy and are better for the environment.
Anytime you leave your house for more than a day or two, it’s good practice to check and test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms before you go. While a working alarm with new batteries will work just fine while at home, an upgrade to smart technology could further ease your mind while traveling. Smart alarms, when linked to an app on your smartphone or tablet, will alert you to low batteries and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and smoke in the air, and they can even be linked to other alarms throughout the home.
Smart thermostats/HVAC systems
One of the mistakes that homeowners most commonly make when traveling is that they fail to regulate their heating and cooling systems. In addition to posing a safety or fire risk, HVAC units left running continuously can increase energy bills. But smart thermostats and HVAC systems can learn your preferences and be monitored and adjusted remotely, set to an eco-friendly away mode, and they can even switch on or off when your home’s temperature becomes too high or low.
Even if you’ve taken all the necessary safety precautions before leaving home, it can be stressful to worry about the state of your house when you’re away. Invest in smart technology gadgets such as cameras, motion sensors, and locks that alert you if and when there is a problem. This will help to ease your mind and allow you react quickly if something should compromise your home’s security. Many of the latest smart security systems are linkable to other home automation products in your home (including Amazon Echo and Google Home), so investing in a product like this will help you stay safe both during and after your travels.
Low-tech tips and tricks
While smart technology will give your home a safety and efficiency boost while traveling, there are some other low-tech tips you should always follow when you’re preparing to leave home.
- Switch off all non-essential appliances to reduce fire risks, decrease your energy use, and keep your bills as low as possible.
- Hide and secure valuable possessions—this is a must if you don’t want your home to become a target for thieves. We recommend investing in a safe for jewelry and small electronics and keeping other valuable items away from visible windows and doors.
- While you’re traveling, it’s also a good idea to refrain from posting location-specific social media updates. If you are confident that your security settings are high enough that your travel posts won’t reach the wrong hands, then go ahead and post a few beach shots. But remember that nothing is completely secure anymore–especially when it comes to the internet.
If you are at all worried about your home after following these tips, consider asking a trusted friend or family member to periodically check on your home or even house sit while you are away.