Summertime Tips for Smarter Home Security

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The summer vacation is, arguably, our most enjoyable pastime. There’s nothing better than getting away from it all — as long as what you get away from is still there when you return.

The summer months routinely see a 10% increase in crime (per the FBI). The heat, out-of-school teenagers, and more empty homes all likely contribute to the predictable summer crime wave. If you’re going on vacation, you need to prepare and be on guard.

For starters, you need to be extra vigilant in the summer months to lock all doors and windows. Due to the hotter weather, we open more windows, and it’s easier to leave a door or window unlocked. We’re more active. But so are the burglars. A high percentage (roughly 40%) of break-ins are simply crimes of opportunity: A prowler sees an open door or window, and takes advantage.

However, most of the time burglars force their way into a home. In preparation, start your summer vacation security plan with these home protection measures.

Control your home with your phone
The first goal is to make it look like you are home. This is easier than ever using smarthome technologies to control not only lights, but TVs and radios — adding sound to the illusion that people are inside. Because you can control smarthome devices remotely, you can make sure the on/off times don’t become predictable, like with a standard timed light switch.

You can use your smartphone to control a variety of devices from afar. BeOn smart lights, for example, can be scheduled and controlled from your phone. But you don’t necessarily have to buy a special smarthome bulb in order to control it. For example, the WeMo switch by Belkin gives you on/off control of whatever is plugged into it — no matter where you are, you can use your phone to turn a lamp, radio or TV set on and off.

For more sophisticated smarthome security, you can install a wide variety of video cameras, sensors and alarms. You use your phone to monitor these devices, and can watch live and recorded video of your home. If you install a door sensor, you’ll receive an alert if the door is opened. If you put a Nest Cam in your house, you can be notified if it detects movement. But before a potential burglar even enters your home, you can be notified. According to 2014 data from the FBI, the front door is the most common point of entry in a burglary.

With a SkyBell HD in your doorway, you’ll know when someone rings the doorbell or triggers the motion sensor.

“Did you turn on the alarm?”
You’ll love this feature if you’ve ever headed down the highway on vacation, only to wonder whether you forgot to arm your security system. While in the mad rush to pack the car and leave for vacation, it’s easy to do. Not with a smarthome.

Full service security solutions from Alarm.com and Honeywell TotalConnect are also connected to the internet – allowing you to arm and disarm the entire system from your smartphone, as well as view all your cameras.

Using IFTTT, you can customize when and how you receive security alerts, when you record video from your security cameras, and so on. For example, you can get an email when SkyBell HD detects motion, using this IFTTT recipe.

Similar IFTTT recipes can be used to keep tabs on entry point sensors, or trigger lights if motion is detected. You can set interior lights to turn on when the SkyBell HD is pressed, or turn on a porch light when it detects motion. The possibilities and configurations for securing your home during summer vacation are limited only by your imagination. Whichever method fits your style and home, make sure potential intruders know they’re being watched.

Don’t let your summer getaway end with the summertime blues.

Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas (@apthomas) is a co-founder of SkyBell - a smart home security company that is making homes and neighborhoods safer – starting with the front door. The SkyBell Video Doorbell allows homeowners to see, hear and speak to the visitor at their door from a smartphone. Learn more: www.skybell.com

SkyBell has raised millions in funding, was named as a 2014 CES Innovations Award Nominee and is sold via Amazon, Best Buy and Home Depot. Andrew is responsible for SkyBell’s strategy, partnerships and business development – leading SkyBell’s integration plans with Honeywell, Nest, Alarm.com, Amazon Echo, Apple, Comcast and IFTTT.

Before SkyBell, Andrew directed web and mobile development projects for clients after beginning his career as a member of Google’s search engine team and later providing SEO services. A sense of adventure led him to Shanghai, China where he managed web development projects for a large Chinese video game company. Andrew graduated from USC with a BBA in Finance.

Andrew shares his experience and expertise by writing and speaking. His articles have appeared on Forbes, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com and Huffington Post – covering topics including startups, the Internet of Things, crowdfunding and personal growth. Andrew has been interviewed on national TV, print and industry podcasts. He is regarded as a top IoT expert and one of the rising stars in the smart home space.