Back in September, my wife and I spent a few weeks traveling around Scotland and London. It was an amazing time and I highly recommend both places. Since our house had been empty for a long time, except for family visits to check on the house (I'm always paranoid about accidental leaks, etc.), there was no one in the house. Using HomeKit, I was able to create automations that mimic the look of our home with lights, curtains, and more.
HomeKit Weekly is a series dedicated to smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything related to the Apple smart home system.
First things first: when you travel, you 100% need a HomeKit-enabled leak detector. Water leaks, especially on hardwood floors, can cause thousands of dollars in damage. I would suggest putting one of these under each sink and maybe in front of the refrigerator when traveling. HomeKit sends emergency alerts when a sensor detects a leak, and you can ask a friend or family member to quickly take action to prevent further damage.
One of the things I really appreciate about a smart home is the ability to let people into my home when I'm not home and keep an eye on what's going on at the same time. I use Level Lock+ for its Home Key feature, but Apple doesn't currently provide an option to share it outside of the home. In this situation, NFC-enabled Level cards are the ideal solution for guest access. Before we left, I gave one to a family member so he could open our door. I also set a code for them on our alarm system. I don't often use the keypad to arm and disarm my system since I have a residential app installed, but it is an ideal solution when someone outside the home needs to disarm it. It's easy to add and delete codes without even being at home. With Level Lock+ and Home, I can easily allow family members to enter and exit our home on their own, but I could also unlock/disarm everything remotely.
Lights and shades
When you're traveling, you don't want the lights in your home to be off all the time because that signals to a potential thief that you've left. I also don't want to leave the lights on 24/7 as it wastes energy but also signals that we are away. If the house is dark at some times and lit at other times, it feels like we are there. We already have several HomeKit-enabled light bulbs, socket adapters, and HomeKit shades, so this process is handled nicely by a HomeKit scene that I can run at different times. In the Home app, tap the + button in the top right corner. Click Add Scene. You will create your own scene. (You can call it “travelling.”) You'll need to add some light around your home and any other devices you have (including HomePods). Once you've created a scene, you can easily turn multiple devices on and off at the same time with a single button. If you're going to be away from cell coverage for an extended period of time, you might want to use this scene with automation so it runs at a certain period to turn on devices, lower curtains, etc. You can then reverse the scene at that time when you usually go to bed. Again, the whole idea here is to create the illusion of being at home.
The shadow aspect of this automation was really great while we were away. We often reduce them to 50% at sunset and then to 100% when we go to bed. I could easily set up these automations in HomeKit to automatically downgrade and promote them at certain times.
For me it's was an easy way to check our house. I could make sure the doors were closed and locked, the alarm was on, there were no water leaks, and also simulate the appearance of our presence. Another hack we use when we travel is to put the heat and air on ECO mode to save energy, but when we land in Atlanta and get home, we use the app to turn it back on so our home is in tip-top shape condition. temperature when we arrive.
To remotely control HomeKit devices while you're away from home, you'll need a HomePod, HomePod Mini, or Apple TV. Any of these devices will give you remote access to all the features of the Home app.