Last winter, my husband, Stanley, and I packed up and headed south for a six weeks. We were tired of dealing with the cold weather and snow. We live along the northern border of the country, and our winters tend to be long and miserable. The outside temperature frequently drops and remains well below zero, and the snow piles up in huge drifts. We are trapped in the house, forced to run the furnace non stop, and spend far too much time shoveling snow and scraping ice. Heading south for six weeks was the perfect escape, but we were worried about the integrity of the house while we were away. With such brutal weather, we couldn’t simply lock the doors and hope for the best. While we didn’t want to leave the furnace blasting at max capacity and spend a fortune to heat an empty house, we couldn’t shut the heating system down. When the temperature drops to twenty below zero, there is a very real danger of pipes freezing. However, with the furnace running, there is always the possibility of a dangerous malfunction. The furnace could overheat, leak carbon monoxide into the house, or suddenly quit entirely. I spoke with a local HVAC contractor about my concerns, and he suggested that Stanley and I invest in a smart thermostat with wifi connectivity. The thermostat is linked to an app on our smartphones allowing us to monitor and regulate the operation of HVAC and air quality components. While lying on a beach under a palm tree, I can access the controls of the furnace at home. I can increase or decrease thermostat settings, make sure everything is running properly, and get alerts for any maintenance requirements or issues. The thermostat will even notify my HVAC contractor directly if there is a problem.