ecobee Citizen

How To Best Monitor Your Second Home

Bicoastal photographer, business coach, and environmental advocate Elana Jadallah shares some tips on how to regulate and monitor your second home.

by Elana Jadallah on 12/04/2020 in Home & Design

7 min read

Elana controlling the temperature using the ecobee SmartThermostat slider.

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Currently, I live between two very interesting places that are both immersed in nature – Hawai’i and Maine. They are at the two farthest corners of America (don’t worry, my partner Aaron and I offset our flights), yet both are home.

Bicoastal living is something I’ve dreamed about for years. To some, it might sound extravagant or unattainable, but it’s all about how you approach it and how you care for your home while you’re away.

We have two humble dwellings in either state and prioritize time with family, our business, and time spent out in wild spaces.

- Elana Jadallah

In college, I fell in love with a man who had roots clear across the country (Maine). Little did I know that down the line we’d also plant roots in Hawai’i. Fast forward to now – we have two humble dwellings in either state and prioritize time with family, our business, and time spent out in wild spaces.

This year we purchased a home in Maine built in the 1800s and devoted most of the year renovating and restoring it. Now that it’s time for some of the finishing touches, I found ecobee and liked how it could help monitor our home and keep it running efficiently while we’re in Hawai’i.

Here are the best ways to keep your second home safe and efficient:

Image of a ecobee SmartCamera on a countertop in-front of a basket.

1. Monitor your home from anywhere.

ecobee brings peace of mind when it comes to monitoring. They offer trustworthy, helpful tools to support our bicoastal life by keeping our home safe and efficient. Although we have our entire family close by that checks on the home frequently, it’s a relief to have all of these home monitoring features at our fingertips. It gives us an extra sense of security.

Installing cameras that send real-time video footage straight to your smartphone or tablet is a safety precaution I recommend.

- Elana Jadallah

As a homeowner, it is important to keep an eye on your property when you’re not there, so investing in a system that allows you to monitor what’s happening remotely is priceless. If an issue occurs with your heating system, remote monitoring helps minimize damage by alerting you first.

A few other things that I highly recommend are window and door sensors, high water detectors, and smart lights and locks that can be controlled remotely no matter where you are.

Installing cameras that send real-time video footage straight to your smartphone or tablet is another safety precaution I recommend. Start with one (or a few depending on the size of your home) in a strategic spot inside of your home (like ecobee’s SmartCamera) and then install a few outside of your home with motion detector lights.

2. Secure doors and windows.

Although this goes without saying, make sure all access points to your home are as secure as possible. Depending on when your second home was built, you may want to upgrade your windows, doors, and locks to more modern ones. Additionally, I recommend installing window and door sensors that are linked to your smart security system. ecobee offers a SmartSensor for doors and windows that you can install quickly and easily!

Image of a dress cabinet with ecobee SmartSensor, plants, candles, and a mug.

3. Get to know your community.

Knowing your community and the people surrounding you who live there year-round can go a long way toward keeping your home safe and secure. If you know your neighbors, they can help keep an eye on your home when you’re away and notify you if they notice any strange or suspicious activity. They can check on the property and maybe even take care of things like watering your plants or getting your paper while you’re away. For us, cultivating community is so important.

4. Insulate your home.

I learned a lot about the power of insulating your home during our home renovation. Most homes are not equipped with the proper amount of insulation, (in our case there wasn’t really any) which makes the home extremely inefficient and increases your chance of returning home to an uncomfortable, potentially damaging temperature. With the proper amount of insulation, your home will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

The best time to add insulation in your walls is when you are renovating or building, as it can be messy and costly. But one place you can bulk up your home at any time is in the attic. The majority of heat lost in a home goes right through the attic and out of the roof, so before you leave your home the next time, have someone give you a bid to add insulation up there.

Image of temperature being control through ecobee app on a phone.

5. Regulate the temperature of your home.

Energy efficiency is really important to us. After learning that heating and cooling make up 40% to 60% of home energy use, we knew this was where to start.

The first step was insulation, and the second was finding a tool that helped regulate the heating and cooling of our home even when we were away.

ecobee was founded from the need to conserve energy while away from home. When the founder, Stuart Lombard, went on vacation in 2007, he attempted to program his own thermostat and sadly returned home to a shockingly cold house. That inspired him to create an efficient solution that could conserve energy without compromising comfort.

If you have a set schedule (for example, you leave and return for work every day at a certain time) you can program your ecobee thermostat to adjust the temperature accordingly.

If you work from home and have a more sporadic schedule, not to worry. The ecobee thermostat and included sensor uses occupancy sensing to track your comings-and-goings and adjusts the temperature for energy savings accordingly.

Lastly, you can schedule your ecobee smart thermostat to lower and regulate the temperature when you’re away to keep your bills down and your home safe from extreme temperatures.

Elana moving toward smart thermostat to change temperature on device.

6. Keep up on maintenance.

Along with the access points and your insulation, you want to button up your home in every way you can think of to make it the most efficient and safe.

Consider a PO box or temporary forwarding address for your mail so that things don’t pile up, keep your yard maintained and driveway plowed, etc. Something to also consider is having automatic timers on lights so your house doesn’t sit dark every night (if you do this, make sure to use energy efficient bulbs).

ecobee SmartCamera on a countertop.

7. Make sure you have enough insurance.

As you would with any home, you want to make sure your insurance is up to date and covers everything on your property. If you plan to rent out your vacation home to others, you definitely want to meet with an insurance professional to discuss. Otherwise, verify your current policy and ensure that you’re covered if anything were to happen.

The peace of mind is priceless. We can fully immerse ourselves in the present moment and physical location we’re in.

- Elana Jadallah

When living in more than one place, it’s so important to have a whole smart home system that both keeps your footprint low and your ability to monitor high. The peace of mind is priceless so we can fully immerse ourselves in the present moment and physical location we’re in, rather than worrying about our home. Hope you found these tips helpful and can implement some of them now or down the road when you have another home.

To come along on our bicoastal journey, you can connect with me on social media or experience more of my writing and photography on my website.

About Elana


Hey, I'm Elana Jadallah! I am a photographer, blogger and educator dedicated to inspiring people in entrepreneurship, adventure and everyday life. When I'm not blogging here, I'm helping entrepreneurs and creatives represent their businesses strategically, intentionally, and authentically.

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