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Home Safe Home: Tools that Keep Watch While You’re Away

High-tech gadgets to monitor your abode when you are travelling

Simple illustration of blue home with red car in garage, wifi symbol, electrical outlet and lightbulb indicating smart home gadgets

We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we’ve left home for a trip: did we lock the door and set the alarm? Did I turn off the toaster oven? What if that cracked window in the basement lets water in? Thanks to smartphones, apps and gadgets that turn your regular home into a “smart” one, most of these classic concerns are a thing of the past.

Here’s a look at some of the products offering vacationing homeowners additional peace of mind.

Seeing Is Believing

Nest Cam ($250.79; bestbuy.ca) is a smart video surveillance camera that lets you keep an eye on your home via a free app on your smartphone or tablet. Schedule recording times and receive notifications when it detects movement by text, email or app alert.

Power Play

The Belkin WeMo Switch ($49.99; bestbuy.ca) lets you turn your consumer electronics on or off at the touch of a (Wi-Fi-enabled) button. Simply plug it in and join it to your wireless network, then plug in any product you want to access remotely (lamp, television or other) and use the free Belkin app to schedule the timer or take control from anywhere.

Wet Woes

The D-Link mydlink Wi-Fi Water Sensor ($89.99; bestbuy.ca) plugs into an open power outlet to warn you when a leak is detected. Place it in the basement, near the washing machine or near the water heater and it will notify you if there’s a problem via an alert on the free mydlink Home smartphone app.

Smart Garage

The Wi-Fi-enabled MyQ Garage door controller from Chamberlain ($149.95; chapters.indigo.ca) shows you if your garage has been left open, and lets you close or open it from anywhere in the world via the free app. You can also set it so you receive alerts when it opens, closes or when the garage has been open for a specific period of time.

Lighten Up

Remotely access your home’s lights when you connect the Philips HUE smart lighting system hub to your modem or router. Set up timers to schedule on/off times (to make it look like you’re home when you’re not) or do the job yourself using the app. ($199.97 for the Starter Kit, which includes the hub and three bulbs; bestbuy.ca.)

Despite all the monitoring technology that’s out there, you still need homeowner’s insurance to protect the structure of your property and your belongings. Have extra peace of mind with CAA Home Insurance.