In September my wife and I traveled through Scotland and London for a few weeks. It was a great time and I highly recommend both places. Since our house was vacant for a long time, other than visiting family to check on the house (I'm always paranoid about a random leak, etc.), there was no one in the house. With HomeKit, I was able to create automations to give the impression that we were home through lighting, blinds, and more.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything related to Apple's smart home framework. First of all, if you are traveling, you 100% need a leak detector with HomeKit. Water leaks, especially on hardwood floors, can cause thousands of dollars in damage. I would recommend placing one of these under each sink and possibly in front of your refrigerator while you are traveling. HomeKit provides emergency alerts when a sensor detects a leak, and you can have a friend or family member take quick action to prevent more damage. Easy Access One of the things I really appreciate about a smart home is the ability to let people into my home when I'm away, while also keeping an eye on things. I use the Level Lock+ for its Home Key functionality, but Apple has not currently provided a way to share it outside the home. In this situation, Level's NFC cards are the perfect solution for guest access. I gave one to a family member before we left so they had access to unlock our door.
I also set a code on our home alarm system. I don't often use the keypad to arm and disarm my system because I have the whereabouts app installed, but it's the perfect solution if someone outside the home needs to disarm it. You can easily add and remove codes without having to be at home. With Level Lock+ and whereabouts I can easily let family in and out of our house independently, but I could also have unlocked/disarmed everything remotely. Lights and Shades When you're traveling, you don't want all the lights in your house to be off all the time, as that signals to a potential thief that you're gone. I also don't want the lights to be on 24/7 because that wastes energy, but still signals that we are away.
If the house is dark at certain times, but illuminated at other times, it gives the impression that we are there. We already have a number of HomeKit-compatible lights, outlet adapters, and HomeKit sunshades, so this process is handled perfectly by a HomeKit scene that I can play at different times. In the Home app, tap the + button at the top right. Click Add Scene. You create a custom scene. (You can call it "traveling.") You'll want to add some lighting to your home and whatever other devices you have (including HomePods). Once the scene is created, you can easily turn multiple devices on and off at once with a single button. If you're out of cell service for an extended period of time, you might also want to use this scene with automation so that it runs at a specific time to turn on devices, lower the shades, and so on. You can then reverse the scene at the time you normally go to bed. Again, the whole idea here is to give the illusion that you are home.
The shadow aspect of this automation was really great to use while we were away. We often reduce them to 50% at sunset and then to 100% when we go to bed. I could easily set up those automations within HomeKit to automatically lower and raise them at certain times. Wrapping up For me it was an easy way to check into our home. I could make sure the doors were closed and locked, that the alarm was on, that no water was leaking, but also simulate the appearance that we were there. Another life hack we use when we travel is to put our heating and air on eco mode so we save energy.
But when we land in Atlanta and get home, we use the app to turn it back on so our house is in ideal temperature before our arrival. To remotely control your HomeKit devices when you're away from home, you'll need a HomePod, HomePod Mini, or an Apple TV. Each of these devices allows you to remotely access your entire Home app experience. FTC: We use monetized auto-affiliate links. More.
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