5 High-Tech House Sitters for Worry-Free Travel

HighTech-HouseMeeting planners never really leave home, do they? Some part of your brain is always flipping through that mental list of home settings you overlooked in your haste to pack everything you need for a business trip and catch your train, boat, or plane without the Olympic sprint at the end.

Fortunately, thanks to the “Internet of things,” today’s interconnected home technologies can make departing for conferences, events or some well-earned vacay as easy as texting your refrigerator. (Personally, I don’t do that because he’s sooo needy!)

The advantage to letting computers attend to your home’s settings while you’re away is, they’re affordable, dependable (meaning nothing “comes up at the last minute” to interfere with their performance) and scalable – you can remotely control a few functions, such as lights and door locks, or automate your entire bear cave.

If you choose to go all in, there are a dozen or so home automation systems that use the ISY (Intelligent System) controller, an ingenious device that handles controllable outlets, light switches, multi-button keypad switches, motion detectors, ceiling fans, door contacts and practically any other home modality you’d like it to control.

The genius of ISY is, it doesn’t just turn things on and off. Instead, it uses if-then statement software to control your devices the way you would if you were home. For example, if it’s raining, then do not turn on the sprinklers. Or if it’s Monday, then open the garage door for the gardener.

You control the whole works by logging onto the ISY website and creating the programs to turn things on, off, up, down, bright, dim and open or close at certain days, times or if-then situations.

(Sorry to pause: my washing machine just posted my clean laundry to Pinterest.)

Want to dial it back a notch and delay the robot apocalypse? Here are 5 cool digital tools that enable you to remain master of your domain while you’re away:

Apple HomeKit: If you fancy the idea of seriously putting Siri to work, you’ll love HomeKit. It enables you to control lighting in specific rooms, lock and unlock your doors, set your thermostat, draw your electric shades and even start the electric kettle for your return, simply by whispering the preprogrammed request to Siri. The HomeKit app is free, but you’ll need to purchase HomeKit-enabled switches, locks and sensors to seize remote control of your manse.

Ring Video Doorbell: Your entryway now travels with you via this 180-degree, wide-angle front door camera and motion detector that connects to your phone and Wi-Fi network. Simply select a range of motion and your phone will both alert you but bring you face-to-face with whoever’s at your door. $199

Schlage Connect: Not sure if you threw that dead bolt before bolting out the door? With Schlage Connect, you can double-check and lock or unlock the automated deadbolt from your phone. $175

Nest Learning Thermostat: Control costly home heating and cooling effortlessly from your phone and let the Nest thermostat learn your habits and adjust accordingly. It even turns itself down when nobody’s home. $249

Tile: Nothing slows your departure like a lost car key or wallet. But slip a white, GPS-embedded Tile square onto your key ring or into your wallet or other essentials and you can track them down in seconds on your phone, or search by item and listen for it to beep. $25

Images: iStock

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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