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5 IFTTT recipes to keep your smart home safe while you're away

Headed away this summer? Armed with a few smart devices and clever automation recipes from IFTTT, your home can keep itself safe while you're gone.

If you haven't already heard, IFTTT is a powerful app that uses cues from your devices and apps to take action all on its own. Think of it as a master switch that flips without you having to lift a finger. When something changes -- the weather, you email inbox, your location -- you can trigger "recipes" to get other apps and devices to respond the way you want. For example, when you leave the house, the change in your phone's location can automatically trigger your smart lock to secure the door behind you. In the next few months, we'll be featuring some of the great ways IFTTT and your smart home can work together. To kick off the summer, we'll start with ways you can keep your smart home secure while you're on vacation.

Turn on the lights when you're not home

Light timers are a great way to deter potential burglars from knowing you're not home. If you've already got a smart lighting system, you don't need any new switches or wiring--a simple recipe from IFTTT can trigger your lights at a specific time each day. Choose which rooms you want to light up, and create multiple recipes to trigger the lights at different times each day, so it looks just like it would if you were home. It's a recipe clever enough to keep the craftiest of thieves from catching wind of your vacation. Use the same date and time triggers to automate your connected speakers. A house with the music blasting is sure to throw cat burglars off the scent. If you want booby traps, though, you'll have to leave one of your kids behind.

What you'll need:

Courtesy of Philips

Secure your house

One of the most powerful "ingredients" in IFTTT recipes is the ability to take action based on changes in your location. Combined with any connected alarm system or smart lock, IFTTT can automatically secure your entryways when it detects you've left the house. Do you have pet-walkers and plant-sitters drop by to take care of your home while you're away? You can give them temporary access based on their location, or use calendar events to trigger IFTTT to unlock your doors and turn on the lights when they're scheduled to come by. All you have to do is remember to add an IFTTT recipe that locks things back up, switches off the lights, and turns down the thermostat after they leave.

What you'll need:

  • Smart locks or a connected alarm system like Scout Alarm
  • Connected lighting system
  • Smart hub or smart thermostat
Courtesy of Scout Security

Start recording at the sight (or sound) of any visitors

Whether you want to keep your house-sitter honest or you don't have motion sensors and are worried about a break in, IFTTT can be your eyes and ears even while you're napping on the beach. Use Nest's "home/away" feature to detect unusual activity. If Nest (or any other connected motion detector) wakes up when no one is supposed to be home, you can have a recipe send you a text alert and trigger a security camera like Camio to start recording.

What you'll need:

  • Nest or any connected motion detector
  • Security camera (see our buying guide)
Courtesy of Nest

Feed your pets

IFTTT recipes are only as good as their ingredients, so littleBits created inventor kits to give you the flexibility to cook up anything you imagine. Buy a kit of general electronic building blocks, or opt for a pre-made kit to put together things invented by the littleBits community. One such kit is an automatic pet feeder. Assemble it yourself and then pair it with an IFTTT recipe to feed your pet while you're gone.

What you'll need:

Courtesy of littleBits

Water your plants

There's nothing like a sudden storm or heat wave to throw a wrench in your sprinkler schedule while you're gone. But connected gardening sensors like Parrot Flower Power detect moisture levels in your plants' soil and trigger recipes that get your plants the water they need. If there's been rain, IFTTT can tell your Rachio smart watering system to skip watering until moisture levels drop again. When your soil starts drying out, your sensors can hose things down. To put those twitchy greenthumbs to rest, have the smart sprinkler system send you email updates or keep a log of waterings in a Google spreadsheet. Surely, those gardening reports make for great poolside reading.

What you'll need:

Courtesy of Rachio

For more on staying smart while you're away this summer, visit