Tech to prep your cottage for winter visits

By Lipsett Photography Group/Shutterstock

You closed up the cottage at Thanksgiving. Now you want to squeeze in a winter visit. Easier and cheaper, thanks to tech. “New systems can get quite sophisticated,” says Sharron Lawson, the VP of sales and marketing at Alliance Security, a company that specializes in alarm and monitoring services. “You don’t pay for heat or electricity when you’re not there, but the cottage won’t be freezing and dark when you show up on Friday night.”

The key is to install smart devices. At their most basic, these systems are Wi-Fi–connected thermostats (e.g., the Nest or Geo Cosy) controlled with an app. But some systems also work as hubs, telling multiple appliances when to turn on and off. Do it manually on the app or set up pre-programmed geo-fences—start-up messages signalled by your location. Working with the app and your phone’s GPS, a geo-fence tells the thermostat to turn up the heat when you’re, say, 150 km from the cottage, so it’s warm when you arrive two hours later.

At 50 km out, it tells the hot-water tank to fire up. And then, when you turn into the driveway, the porch lights turn on. Lawson calls it “the smart home at the cottage.” And as for shovelling that snowy driveway? Sadly, there is no device for that yet.

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