Smart home devices are not only useful while you are at home or outside – they can also help you when you are away on holiday, whether you are keeping an eye on your property or stopping your plumbing from freezing.

But you don’t have to leave your smart home devices configured in the normal way if you’re going to be away for a long time. There are special options and modes available specifically for those moments when you take a trip.

Intelligent heating

Part of the appeal of installing a smart thermostat or heating system is that you can control it from anywhere. This allows you to turn off the heating when no one is home and warm your house when you travel back.

You do not want to waste energy and money on heating an empty building while you are on vacation, and your intelligent heating system will meet the challenge. In fact, it’s just a matter of knowing what options you have.

The Nest Learning thermostat and other similar home heating systems have a special “out” mode for holidays. In the Nest app, tap Thermostat icon, then tap Off before he left. Make sure you go on too Settings and then Safe temperatureso your Nest will restart if it detects that your home is at risk of freezing or overheating.

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In the meantime, if you have an Ecobee thermostat, you can tap from the app Menu, vacationafter that Plus button to set the dates on which you will be absent. Your usual heating schedule will not apply during this time, but the app will ask you to set a minimum and maximum temperature threshold, which will tell Ecobee to activate if frozen pipes or extreme heat damage can be a problem.

We cannot give you detailed instructions for each smart thermostat, but yours should have similar options. You should at least be able to customize your heating schedule manually to reduce energy consumption, so if you forget to do it before you go, you can use your mobile app and do it while you’re traveling.

Intelligent lights

Using smart lights while away from home can give the impression that someone is in your house, deterring potential thieves from rummaging through your property.

No matter what brand of smart bulbs you use, you need to find some options to set them to work on an automated schedule. For example, in the Philips Hue app, tap routine, Other routine proceduresand Create a routine to make your lights turn on and off automatically while you’re gone. Keep in mind that you can use Random times switch to bring some unpredictability to the schedule.

If Lifx is your brand of smart light, you can open the mobile app and tap Plus button, then New schedule to work on your holiday routines. The application allows you to set start and stop times, as well as specific days for triggering routine actions.

You can also control your smart lights while you are away, which is one of the advantages of installing smart lights in the first place. In this case, you will have to remember to turn the lights on and off while lying on the beach or enjoying an evening cocktail, which may not be the most fun way to spend your free time.

You can use smart plugs in the same way if they are connected to lamps around your home. The apps that come with them will allow you to turn the power on and off at certain times for certain contacts, so you can create the illusion that someone is home.

Smart speakers

Smart speakers, one of the most popular types of smart home devices, can listen to intruders and play music or even call sounds to make it look like your house or apartment is still busy.

If you have Amazon Echo, it comes with a feature called Guard that you can activate via security option in Settings from the Alexa app. The tool listens for sounds in your home, including smoke alarms and broken glass, and alerts you if it detects anything suspicious. If you have installed smart lights and security systems, Guard can works with these too.

Alexa’s various third-party skills can also protect your home while you’re away. For example, Away mode will trigger random calls from your speaker to give the impression that your home is still busy while Guard Dog works in a similar way, but uses the sound of a barking dog rather than human chatter.

You don’t get the same options with Google Nest’s smart speakers and displays, although you can set up automated audio playback procedures at specific hours while you’re away, or control other smart home devices you’ve installed. From the Google Home app on your phone, tap routine to set up an automated schedule.

Amazon Echo speakers can also perform routine actions – from the Alexa app, select routine from the menu, then tap Plus button. For example, you can set up TuneIn to play for an hour every morning while you’re away (just make sure it doesn’t startle your neighbors who think you’re gone).

Other smart devices

If you have smart locks controlling one or more of your doors, set them to allow access to guests or neighbors before you leave. If you have a smart lock for August, for example, just tap Guest icon on the home screen of the application to give someone else permission to enter your home, say, check the plants or feed your cat.

Smart sensors are a great option to provide extra peace of mind while on vacation, but you won’t need to configure them differently than usual. Leak or window sensors work the same whether you’re in the office or on the other side of the world.

[Related: How to configure your smart thermostat to save the most money]

Similarly, security cameras do not need a special resting configuration. All you really need to do is make sure they’re working properly before you leave, so double-check the emissions and motion detection settings for each camera before you travel.

The video doorbell is another smart device that you can continue to use as usual, as you will still receive alerts when someone is at your front door. When communicating with visitors, keep in mind that it is a good idea not to mention that you are on vacation. Just tell them you can’t come to the door and leave packages with a neighbor, for example.

You can safely turn off all other smart home devices that you will definitely not use while away from you to save energy – such as smart displays or baby monitors. When you return, turn them on again and they should return to work as usual.

Let your smart home take care of itself while you’re on vacation

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