Leaving the house any time soon?
It’s always a good idea to lock your house up tight to not only protect against burglars but also discourage any would-be thief. Here are a few good ideas to keep in mind when preparing to go out of town for an extended period of time.
By visiting or calling your local post office, you can arrange to have them hold your mail for up to 30 days at no cost. This will prevent any packages or valuables traveling by mail from simply being left on the porch and picked up by some curious pedestrian. We also recommend you put a stop on your newspaper delivery as to prevent any build up on your door step advertising your absence.
The best thing you can do is make it look like no one is gone at all.
Turn lights on and off throughout the night. Take out the trash. Let the dog out. There are several cost-effective ways to accomplish this. You could hire a dog sitter. Someone to take care of your dog in-home. They pretty much do what a house sitter does only, you don’t have to pay for the utilities and food they consume while staying there. Also, hiring a trustworthy sitter takes time so if you choose this route, plan in advance. We’ve included some helpful suggestions in hiring a trustworthy sitter towards the end of this article.
Also, in this day and age everyone uses social media, including crooks. Don’t advertise your vacations on social media before leaving town. You’re essentially advertising a vulnerable home. Additionally, we recommend against hiding a key outside your home but if you necessarily must, we recommend reading our blog devoted to all the best places to do just that.
There are also several advanced home monitoring and security systems that allow you to watch your house from your smart phone and detect what is happening in your residence 24/7. The Blink Home Monitoring System ($79-$289) uses motion detection to alert your phone when something is moving in your home. Might want to consider something else if you have pets. The Samsung Smart Things Home Monitoring Kit ($249) has a pet immune motion sensor, meaning its motion sensors aren’t activated by your furry four-legged family members. Furthermore, the Smart Things hub can connect with sensors, locks, lights, cameras, etc. It works by installing sensors in your garage, windows, and cabinets that alert you when they are opened. It also comes equipped with an outlet to control lights and small electrical appliances.
If you want any even more advanced option, Front Point probably offers your most cost-effective service but is sold in yearly contracts, usually around $35 for your first year. It provides 24 hour Interactive Monitoring, a 2-way intercom, and full home automation. Utilizing door and window sensors, motion sensors, personal security devices that alert you when one of your family members comes homes, garage door sensors, security cameras, sirens, and panic buttons the system monitors for natural gas leaks, power failures, flooding, any temperature changes, personal safety (the system will automatically alert for help in medical emergencies), carbon monoxide, and yes, fire and smoke as well as intrusion. They also offer relocation options so you can continue your service if you move.
If you’re in the market for something a little less sophisticated you might try the Withing Home Surveillance Camera ($199). It’s cute – not discreet – and monitors air quality in addition to letting you view real-time footage of your home but does not have a recording option……The Canary All-In-One Home Security Device ($175-$199) which provides video monitoring to your smart phone, monitors air quality and changes in temperature and humidity as well. If you wish to monitor the exterior of your home but aren’t fond of the ‘security camera’ look, we would suggest the Kuna Security Light ($199) which is a camera that’s disguised as a functioning porch light. It is also quite stylish so it may add some feng shui to your home. The porch light has a recording option…..
Home Automation systems
Home Automation systems are perfect for making your home seem lived in when you are out of town. These days everything can connect wirelessly to your smart phone giving you almost unlimited capability in retrofitting your last-century house into your modern smart home. Here are some of the systems on the market that will allow you to keep your home safe and will more than likely save you some extra money on your next energy bill.
The Nubryte Console ($149) replaces your light switch with a touch-screen panel. The system recognizes when you have left or entered a room and will adjust the lighting accordingly. You can also access the camera built into the touch-screen panel through your smart phone. You can also send notes to specific screens.
The Ecobee3 ($243) is a smart thermostat. You can control the temperature in any room of the house from your smart phone. You don’t even have to be in the same state. When no one is home there is no need for AC or heating. You can pinch a few pennies by regulating the temperature of your home while you’re away.
If you haven’t already bought into one the of aforementioned home monitoring systems and want instead to opt for a more conventional yet updated product, we recommend you try the Roost Smart Battery ($34.99) which alerts your phone when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. Wally-home offers a water monitor ($299) that sends updates about your home’s water output straight to your smart phone. You can track your family’s water usage but also receive alerts when someone in your home is using water when you’re away.
MyQGarage ($30-$130) lets you remotely monitor your garage door from your smart phone. Asante ($195-$250) allows you to monitor your garage and additionally offers infrared, allowing you to check in even at night. Quirky Ascend ($90) and Garageio ($199-$219) give you the ability to give access to your garage to other people that you allow. Imagine you need a friend or neighbor to stop by your house to grab something you forgot: just open the app, add the friend and they now have access to your home. Any of these programs will alert you if your garage door is opened.
And even after all the gadgets and apps that are on the marketplace, you decide the best option is simply to hire a house sitter, we would like to suggest some helpful tips that will aid you in hiring the most trustworthy individual you can. Remember, finding a suitable sitter takes time and attention to detail so plan in advance with enough time to thoroughly vet a potential candidate. You’ll want to interview candidates and check references. Leave time for background checks if necessary. Also, make sure someone has availability the week(s) you’ll be gone.
Make sure the sitter has a way of contacting you in emergency situations. You may also want to consider putting anything of value out of sight or secured in a locked box or safe, especially weapons as they are the number one most stolen item from homes. Keep the ammo in another location. No one under any circumstance but the gun owner should have access to your firearms.
We recommend explaining to your house sitter what you are comfortable with and lay down some restrictions. You may feel comfortable allowing your sitter to have friends over or not. You could ask a neighbor to watch out for how many people are coming to your home, invited or otherwise. Let your sitter know if you do not want them in specific areas of the home or of items in the house that aren’t to be used. Inform them on your pet’s feeding schedule. If this is a new hire, it may be helpful to print these guidelines out. Asking friends and family members for referrals is also a good way of hiring people with a reliable work history and some familiarity with you and your family. If you have any pets you will want to see how they react with the potential house sitter.
We hope that whenever you decide to take that much needed vacation that you take into consideration some of the suggestions we make. We hope that you never experience a burglary but are confident that if your home is put to the test, that it will pass the challenge.