It’s that time of the year when many families are away from home, visiting family and friends or escaping the cold in favor of a warm, sunny destination and thieves know that this time is a prime time for houses to be vacant. Today’s guest post is from Angelo DiGangi, a sales associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs. He’s also a frequent contributor of tips for homeowners, including home automation products at Home Depot and today he’s sharing tips on ways to use your smartphone to control your home.
By Angelo DiGangi
You are half way to work, thinking about all the things you have to do that day when you suddenly wonder if you locked your front door.
“I must have,” you say to yourself, knowing that you would certainly be late to work if you turned around now and checked. But the thought keeps gnawing at you, and now you’re anxious and distracted all morning until you can break away during lunch and check.
This has happened to everyone at least once in their life, except perhaps the homeless and the absurdly rich. For the majority of people in between those extremes, these concerns are an annoyance. But the days of wondering if you locked the door, turned the stove off, changed the thermostat, or activated the home security system are coming to an end. With a few taps on your smartphone, you can put your mind at ease and focus on the things that really matter: you know, how to get your kids out of bed and ready for school in a timely manner and if the neighbor will ever return that leaf blower.
Here are six ways to take advantage of new apps on your smartphone to control your home.
1. Home Security Systems
A home security system is by far the best way to protect your home from burglary, but it only works if the system is turned on. Now you can control your home security system on your phone from just about anywhere.
Most security system providers (ADT, FrontPoint, Vivint, etc.) have apps that allow you to control your home security system via your smartphone. If you are shopping for home security systems, be sure to ask your security provider about those options.
2. Automated Smart Locks
Traditional metal keys are becoming a thing of the past. One company, Lockitron, is leading the way in that department. The Lockitron system not only allows users to lock or unlock their doors through their mobile app on their smartphone, but it gives the user the ability to grant access to family and friends. Even if the person you’re granting access to doesn’t have a smartphone (we all have that family member or friend that still lives in the Dark Ages), he or she can open your door through text message.
Why would you want to have to actually get up and turn on or off a light in another room when you don’t have to? That’s for crazy people! Now you can even control your lights through your smartphone. Belkin’s WeMo system is a great example of the home automation systems that are starting to take hold. The WeMo system allows you to control your lights and virtually all your electronics through your smartphone. You no longer have to get out of bed to make sure that your porch light is on.
4. Feed the beast that lurks in your home…with your smartphone
Automated pet feeders aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, but one company, Pintofeed, is allowing you to feed your pet remotely using your smartphone. You can control when your pet gets fed and how much. For those of you with multiple pets, you can control more than one feeding station and you can also share access with friends and family and get notifications on when your pet has been fed. You can set up an automated feeding time, or manually control when your pet is fed.
Pintofeed is the leader in this new industry right now, but based on its popularity (it raised over $50,000 on Indiegogo to get started) more companies are sure to follow.
5. Surveillance Cameras
Like the home security systems mentioned above, surveillance cameras are a great way to protect your home (or business) and they now can be monitored remotely from your smartphone. Remote access to your cameras gives you flexibility and peace of mind, so when you’re sitting on that beautiful beach sipping a fruity drink, you can see that those kids you left behind are home from school.
There a lot of options to choose from so you can control what exactly what you want and what is in your budget. Many home security systems offer this as an addition too.
6. Be a thermostat dictator
Gone are the days when you get home from work and find that your darling children have been fooling with the thermostat and your house is an icebox. With products like the Nest Thermostat you can control the temperature of your house with your smartphone and revel in the reduction in your utilities bill.
What are some other ways to use your smartphone when it comes to controlling devices in your home? What other products are out there to take advantage of new technology?
Angelo DiGangi is a sales associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs whose other interests in the electrical department range from home security systems to led lighting.