I’ve never been one for technology. Yes, I’ve got an old computer and laptop that are ready to conk out on me any day and I am constantly being teased about the size of my phone (it may be small, but at least it’s not a flip phone).

Recently, I’ve been considering installing a new front door lock and discovered that smart home technology has increased my options. One of my hip neighbours has a thumbprint detection door lock; another friend has a door lock that doubles as a front-door camera. I’m not sure that I need either of these options, but it’s clear I need to get smart and update my home’s security with technology. From security at the front door to a few other areas inside and out, I’ve looked into some of the basic smart options to bring peace of mind home.

Smart Lock: Imagine your front door automatically unlocking when you approach it (no fussing for keys or pushing buttons). That’s just one of the many convenient options you can choose when installing a smart lock on your exterior door. You can also assign pass codes for unlocking the door while you’re not home — a convenient way to let in contractors, dog walkers or others who need to enter your home when you’re not there. When they no longer need access, just change the code. Plus, you can monitor who comes and goes from your phone.

Smart Cameras: Having a camera installed at entry points to your home allows you to see who is approaching your house whether you are at home or away, all from your smartphone or computer. A few options I like are nighttime vision (using infrared light to illuminate objects in the dark), video for clearer vision, and audio so you can hear conversations happening near your door, and a motion detector that alerts you when movement is within range of the camera’s view.

Smart Lights: Control the lighting inside and outside your home with smart lights that link to an app on your phone. When away, you can schedule lights to turn on and off to make it look like someone is home, or use it to illuminate your property before arriving home. Most of the lighting systems link to a smart home platform (such as Alexa or Siri) that lets you control all the lighting options available, including various colour options (cool to warm lighting, and colours like purple, green or red) and the ability to dim or brighten lighting to set different moods around the house.

Smart Blinds: Do you like waking up to the natural sunlight? Want to lower your shades at night for privacy (or security) if you are not at home? Smart home technology lets you control, time and set your shades to raise, lower or tilt automatically by voice commands (if you’re at home) or through your smartphone. I know I’d use this feature to have all my west-facing shades closed all day during the summer months to keep the sun’s heat out, and vice versa in the winter to warm the house.

Smart Sensors: Protect your home from water leaks and burst pipes with an app installed by a plumber on the main water supply to your home. The technology remotely monitors water flow, pressure and temperature at home, alerting you to potential abnormalities. It’s all connected to your smartphone and the app will even shut your main water valve off if it detects a catastrophe – kind of smart for me, whose main water pipe freezes at least once a year in extreme cold weather.

Monitor water usage and be alerted to leaks and burst pipes from a mobile app that also lets you shut the water off remotely. Moen.ca
Monitor water usage and be alerted to leaks and burst pipes from a mobile app that also lets you shut the water off remotely. Moen.ca


Low-tech tips

Technology is great, but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few tried and true home safety tips that are low-tech but still smart.

Light timers: For $10 you can schedule a lamp to shut on and off, creating the illusion that someone is active in your house.

Lockboxes: Attached to an outdoor fence or railing, a good ole coded lockbox keeps a spare key safe — perfect for visitors who need to come and go when you’re not at home and for family members that might lose their key.

Adding a “beware of dog” sign or the branded insignia of security companies may also deter ne’er-do-wells from approaching the house.

Karl Lohnes has worked as a home decor expert and product designer for 25 years.

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