Most homeowners decorate their homes with a smart home for convenience and cool features, but what you may not know is that some devices come with features that can prevent problems and even potentially save lives.

Schedule automatic shutdown on smart plugs


Most of the things you probably plug into smart jacks are trivial devices like a lamp or a fan. However, if you use fan heaters with your own smart plugs, you can set a schedule so that the smart plug turns off automatically at a certain time if it is not already turned off.

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This is especially great if you forgot to turn off the heater. Not only will this save you money on your electricity bill, but it will also turn off the heater when you’re not around—it’s a smart safety game. This could potentially prevent your house from burning down, as extreme as it sounds.

Pretty much every smart plug has the ability to turn off automatically at a specific time, and you can even schedule it to turn on at a specific time. Just make sure that if you use your smart plug with a heater, you won’t leave it unattended.

Set Temperature and Humidity Alerts on Smart Thermostats

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When you’re at home, it’s pretty easy to tell if your HVAC system is working, but when you’re on vacation or away from home for an extended period of time, it’s like Schrödinger’s cat; until you get home, your heating and cooling system is on and off. That is, unless you enable temperature and humidity alerts on your smart thermostat.

Most smart thermostats have some sort of feature whereby you can be notified when the temperature and/or humidity levels in your home reach a certain value, which could indicate a heating or cooling problem. Ecobee thermostats have this type of setting built in, and the Nest thermostat allows you to do this via IFTTT.

Once you get an alert, you can contact a neighbor or friend to check it out and get ahead of the problem before you come home to a very hot or cold (or worse, damp and moldy) house.

Integration of emergency contact information

The last thing you want to do when your smart smoke detector goes off or your security system detects an intrusion is to dial the right number to call. Most of these devices allow you to integrate emergency contact information.

For example, Nest allows you to enter an emergency contact in the app, so that when the Nest Protect smoke alarm or the Nest Secure security system sends you an alert, you are one tap away from grabbing someone who can help. The same applies to the Abode security system.

RELATED: How to Add Emergency Contacts to Your Abode Home Security System

Sure, calling 911 is a good choice too, but if you’re traveling across the country, it’s best to know your local fire or police department’s ten-digit number, which you can call from anywhere.

High power detection setting on smart plugs

The automatic scheduled shutdown feature mentioned earlier is great, but in some situations you may need to enable the smart plug, especially for devices and devices that turn on and off by themselves. In this case, getting alerts when high power is detected is a good option.

For example, my heater can automatically turn on and off depending on the temperature in the room. In this case, I’d like the smart plug to be on all the time as the heater does the automation. However, if I forget to turn it off and it turns on at some point, I get a warning.

This really only applies to smart plugs with energy monitoring capabilities that can accurately determine how much power a device is drawing. With this, I can set the threshold at which the smart plug will alert any time the heater draws more than 10 watts or so.

Automatic closing schedule on smart garage door openers


We all forget to close our garage door from time to time. And, unfortunately, open garage doors are one of the most tempting targets for burglars. But if you have a smart garage door opener like the MyQ, you turn on the auto-close feature to prevent this.

RELATED: How to automatically close the garage door with MyQ

Basically, you set a time when you want your garage door to automatically close every night (or every day, or both), and if it’s still open when that time arrives, the opener closes it automatically. If the door is already closed, then it does nothing.

It’s a really simple feature, but it lets you never worry about whether you’ve left your garage door open or not, which can lead to a quick and easy grab by a thief.

Use Z-Wave water sensors to detect water leaks

More of a product than a feature, smart water sensors are arguably the most useful smarthome devices you can have in your arsenal because they can save you a lot of headaches.

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Water leaks can cause massive water damage that can easily cost you thousands of dollars, and many water leaks go unnoticed until it’s too late. However, by installing some Z-Wave water sensors throughout your home, you can be notified the moment a water leak is detected.

Of course have a lot of where you have to install water sensors, so the cost of installing these smart water sensors can be quite high, but it’s better than paying thousands of dollars to replace water damaged items.

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