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While you’re away from home, these gadgets are keeping an eye on your property and making sure things run smoothly.
If you’d like to give someone your house keys (but not permanently).
Smart lock, $250, august.com.
Forget slipping the key under the doormat. With this battery-operated lock system, an app on your smartphone replaces a key, allowing you to lock and unlock doors remotely. Even better, it can grant a houseguest, contractor, dog walker, or other visitor temporary access—whether it’s unlimited for a week or restricted to a weekly two-hour window.
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If you want it to look like someone is home.
Link bulbs, from $15 each, homedepot.com.
Connected lightbulbs are among the easiest-to-use smart home gadgets. Linked to a Wink hub, this one can be programmed to dim at bedtime and synced with a smart lock so it turns on when you come home. And because you can control the lights from anywhere, you can also use them as a security measure when you’re away.
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If you’re looking to save on your home energy bill.
iComfortS30 thermostat, $550, lennox.com.
A programmable thermostat can control the climate in your home based on your preferences and daily routines, saving you money in the process. This smart one has two added features: a screensaver that can be customized to display whatever image you upload, and the ability to monitor air quality in the immediate area (on high-pollen days, it will trigger the air-filtration fan to run more frequently).
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If you’re curious about what your dog does all day.
Dropcam Pro, by Nest, $199, homedepot.com.
An Internet-enabled home-security camera can help you keep an eye on your home, kids, or pets from your smartphone or computer. You can watch the footage as a live stream, set the camera for custom alerts (like a warning text every time there’s movement near the cookie jar), and, for an extra fee, store video in the cloud so you can review the footage later.
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If you can never remember whether or not you closed the garage door.
Chamberlain MyQ Garage, $130, homedepot.com.
The problem: You’re miles from home when you suddenly realize that you forgot to close the garage door. With a smartphone-enabled controller, you can open and close the door from anywhere. It can also send you text alerts when, say, the door’s been open longer than 45 minutes. (The controller is compatible with most garage-door openers made after 1993.)
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If you like automated sprinklers but want to save water.
Rachio Iro, from $249, rach.io.
Most sprinkler systems will water your lawn according to the schedule you set—even during a rainstorm. The new generation of connected watering systems pulls in local weather data, skipping sessions if it has recently rained or if rain is in the forecast, and also taking the season into account.
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If you’re worried about basement flooding.
Overflow, $40, quirky.com.
When a rainstorm or burst pipe triggers a flood, it can lead to ruined carpeting, corroded drywall, dangerous mold—all adding up to thousands of dollars in damage. A smart water sensor can alert your mobile device the moment it detects standing water (the sensor is placed near the floor)—ideal for basements and laundry areas, and especially handy in vacation homes.
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If you want to connect all your smart home apps.
Relay, $300, wink.com.
The Wink Relay is a touchscreen hub that gets mounted on your wall. The idea is that it’s the command center of your connected home, giving you access to all your smart products from one interface. You can use your smartphone to control your various gadgets as well, but the Relay—unlike your phone— can’t be misplaced. (The Wink hub [$50] connects smart products as well, but without the Relay’s bells and whistles.)