Personalization, Reports and Alert Settings

With HouseSetter, you can control and personalize many aspects of your service. These options include the ability to rename Sherlock, determining whether you want alerts sent for temperature and/or humidity (and what high and low thresholds you want to set for those alerts), and deciding whom you want to receive your reports and alerts. The following is a brief overview of your choices in setting up the service and a few recommendations for things to consider when making those choices. One important thing to remember is that whether you choose to customize Sherlock or start out by using his factory settings, you can make changes at any time by simply logging into your personal HouseSetter Subscriber Control Panel.

1. Sherlock’s Name

2. HomeData Reports

3. HouseSetter Alerts

4. Understanding the Alert Timeline

5. Where Information is Sent

1. Sherlock’s Name

We’re partial to the name Sherlock for our device because he’s smart, inquisitive, trustworthy, faithful, and can detect small problems before they become big ones.  So Sherlock seems to fit, at least as a start. But what if your real dog’s name is Fletcher, or Sherlock reminds you of your favorite Uncle Winston, or you think “he” looks more like a “she” and should be called Lassie, then by all means re-name away! And as a practical suggestion, if you have more than one “Sherlock” on duty because you have more than one home to monitor, or if you live in a particularly large place like the White House and need one Sherlock for the East Wing and one for the West Wing, then names like Harbor Springs or Oval Office might make sense. And since every HomeData Report and Alert will include the dog’s name that sent it, it’s an easy way to help you keep track of which information is coming from which faithful companion.  

2. HomeData Reports

HomeData Reports are the basic foundation of the HouseSetter service, keeping you connected to your property even when there aren’t any problems that would otherwise cause alerts.   They include the temperature, humidity and AC power status within your home, as well as the state of charge of Sherlock’s back-up battery and an indication of his monitoring status.  HomeData Reports are delivered two ways, first through weekly reports which are automatically sent to you on a pre-set weekly schedule, and second through OnDemand Reports that give you the flexibility to check in anytime you’d like.

The HomeData Report works with your choice of service package to deliver just the right amount of information to meet your home monitoring needs.  If you’re enrolled in the Inspector Package the weekly report will also include a SherlockSnapshot picture from within your home, giving you the chance to “see” what’s going on in addition to receiving your home’s data. The Inspector Package also includes unlimited OnDemand Reports at no additional charge (the first 30 per month also will include a picture), making it extremely easy and affordable to check in at anytime. If you’re enrolled in the Elementary Package the data included in your weekly HomeData Report will be the same but without a picture. Elementary subscribers will also have the flexibility to request an OnDemand Report at any time (including a picture) for a small per use charge.

Another important feature of the Inspector Package is that in addition to the weekly data readings included in your HomeData Report it actually captures the high and low readings for both temperature and humidity every day .  This information is presented graphically in your Subscriber Control Panel, and provides a unique and powerful view into the conditions in your home while you’re away, allowing you to identify patterns that could lead to lower utility bills or spot the early stages of longer term problems.

Finally, the specific timing of your weekly HomeData report is set based upon when you initially turn Sherlock on and he confirms that he’s OnDuty. For example if that’s at noon on a Thursday then you’ll receive your ongoing weekly reports beginning the following Thursday at approximately noon and then on a regular 7 day cycle thereafter. If you’d like to change either the day of the week or time of day for the weekly reports, simply complete the following steps:

  • Choose the day and time that you’d like Sherlock to send his weekly HomeData Reports.
  • When you reach that time (for example noon on a Monday), push Sherlock’s power button and wait to hear the voice prompt that confirms that he is off duty.
  • Wait at least 15 seconds after the prompt has ended and unplug Sherlock’s power cord.
  • Wait at least 15 seconds and plug Sherlock back in and then push his power button. You should hear a voice prompt confirming that he is back on duty.

That’s all it takes, you’ve now successfully reset your HomeData Report timer and Sherlock will now begin reporting on his new weekly schedule.

3. HouseSetter Alerts

Alerts are a key component of HouseSetter’s service, allowing us to immediately contact you when we detect a problem in your home. They’re emailed and texted according to the alert timeline listed below to the email addresses and mobile phone numbers you entered into your account. The following is a description of the three main functional alert categories - power outage, temperature and humidity - explaining how each is set at the factory and what options you have for personalization. And just to make sure you know what you’ve chosen, your personalized alert settings will always be displayed in your HomeData Report.

Power Outage Alerts

HouseSetter will always be programmed to let you know about power outages, as Sherlock is SET FROM THE FACTORY WITH THE ALERT PERMANENTLY ON. You can’t turn this alert off because he can’t remain on duty (beyond the limited time he can function on his back-up battery) without electrical power. The initial alert is triggered when the outlet Sherlock is plugged into has lost power and he’ll continue to report throughout the duration of the outage according to the Alert Timeline outlined below as long as his backup battery has sufficient charge. When his battery is nearly depleted he’ll notify you he’s sending his final alert and then suspend messaging. When AC power is restored he’ll wake up and automatically send you an “all-clear” message.

Temperature Alerts

One of the most common concerns when leaving a house unoccupied for any period of time is the potential malfunctioning of the furnace or air conditioning. A home that’s too cold in the winter can lead to many problems, not the least of which is frozen pipes. A home that’s too hot in the summer brings its own issues, potentially causing damage to the home and its furnishings, or depending on the circumstances, leading to the growth of harmful molds. Based on how common these concerns are, Sherlock is SET FROM THE FACTORY WITH THE TEMPERATURE ALERT ON, with his high and low temperature thresholds set at 80 F and 45 F respectively. Under general conditions, these settings are meant to be sensitive enough to provide sufficient time to react to the temperature issues, but they may not always be appropriate for your specific situation. So we’ve made this alert flexible because you’re most familiar with your home and its monitoring needs.  You may need the alert settings to be more or less sensitive to heat or cold, in which case you can easily select high and low thresholds that best match your needs. Or you may not be concerned with temperature at all (maybe you’re monitoring an un-heated garage or storage building and only want to know if there’s a power outage), in which case you can turn off the alert completely. And regardless of whether the alert is on or off, the actual temperature readings will still be displayed in your HomeData Reports (and daily history graph if enrolled in the Inspector Package).

Humidity Alerts

We’re all familiar with humidity, and typically experience it as either the “sticky” part of “hot and sticky” when we think it’s too high, or the “shock to the fingers when we touch a door knob” static electricity jolt when it gets too low. It’s commonly measured on a 0-100% scale of Relative Humidity (%RH), and outdoor humidity is generally included in weather reporting and forecasting.  But while indoor humidity is influenced by outdoor humidity, it can also vary widely from house to house depending on a number factors including but not limited to the design and construction of the home, how well it’s insulated, and the settings and performance of the furnace or air conditioner.  Indoor humidity is controlled by removing moisture from the air in the summer when we run air conditioning (or a dehumidifier) or by adding moisture to the air in the winter with a humidifier.  While some homes attempt to precisely control humidity levels, most occupied homes’ needs are typically met by keeping the temperature set in a range where the temperature and humidity combination feels “comfortable.”

But when we leave our home for a prolonged period, we usually adjust the thermostat (temperature) settings to conserve energy, changing not only the temperature but also the humidity. And since nobody’s there to “feel” its condition, over time humidity readings can vary greatly from normal levels – potentially leading to serious problems of mold growth if very high %RH readings persist over extended periods of time. While mold is certainly affected by humidity, predicting its early formation requires a much more complex analysis involving many variables including temperature, humidity, air flow, water infiltration, construction materials and time.   And even then, mold spores tend to germinate in very localized and often unpredictable areas of a home where the conditions are most favorable (like the corner of a closet, or under a leaking window sill), making precise predictions even more difficult.  Unfortunately there’s no good way to choose a specific humidity threshold setting that would work in in any general sense as a reliable substitute for a mold alert.

Based on all of that, Sherlock is SET FROM THE FACTORY WITH THE HUMIDITY ALERT OFF. But you do have the option to turn the humidity alert on, and we would encourage you to do that if it would support your specific monitoring needs and you’re comfortable choosing the required alert thresholds.  Some houses, particularly in humid, southern climates, are equipped with humidistats that independently cycle their air conditioning systems to prevent humidity from rising above a preset level. In those cases you could use Sherlock’s humidity alert feature to help you monitor the performance of that system. And even if you’re not attempting to precisely control humidity, you may be able to use the information included in the daily humidity history graph (available with the Inspector Package) to identify the “normal” humidity patterns in your home over time and use that to set thresholds.  And just as with temperature, whether the humidity alert is turned on or off the humidity readings will still be captured by Sherlock and included in your HomeData Reports, and will be displayed in the daily history graphs that will available in your Subscriber Control Panel if you’re enrolled in the Inspector Package.

4. Understanding the Alert Timeline

HouseSetter’s alert system has three main objectives:

  1. To notify you as soon as possible when Sherlock senses an alert condition
  2. To keep you informed of your home’s status on a regular basis while the alert remains active
  3. To send you an all clear message when each active alert is resolved

Based upon those objectives, our alert platform is set to deliver messages according to the following schedule:

Alert Phase Timing & Cadence Number of Alerts
Initial Alert Immediately upon detection 1
Early Updates Hourly updates for the next six hours 6
Intermediate Updates Every 6 hours for the next 42 hours * 7
Ongoing Alert Included in weekly HomeData Report TBD

If at any point in the alert timeline the problem is resolved an “all-clear” message will be sent and the remainder of the alert schedule will be cancelled. Also, if at any time additional alerts become active (i.e. - an initial power outage in the summer that later causes a temperature alert because of the loss of air conditioning) then the alerts will be combined and run on the alert schedule of the newest alert. In the case of a multiple alert, an all-clear message will be sent as each problem is resolved but alerts will continue according to the schedule above until all active alerts are resolved. 

*- subject to Sherlock’s back-up battery having sufficient charge

Other Alerts

Beyond the main functional alert categories of power outages, temperature and humidity, you may also receive other operating alerts under the following circumstances:

  1. OnDuty/OffDuty Alerts – These alerts will happen when you turn Sherlock on or off using the power button located on the rear of his base. This will confirm that you’ve either temporarily  taken Sherlock Off Duty when you turn his power off, or placed him back On Duty when you’ve turned his power back on.
  2. Battery Depleted Alert – This alert will happen when Sherlock senses that his back-up battery is almost out of power. At that point he’ll send the alert notifying you that updates will be suspended until AC power is restored and he sends an all clear message. Up until this alert Sherlock will continue to respond to any requests for OnDemandReports.

5. Where Information is Sent

One of the more important decisions to make is who you’d like to receive your HomeData Reports and Alerts.  Maybe they just need to come to you, maybe you have someone that helps you take care of your seasonal property, or perhaps there’s a family member or friend that you’d also like to notify if there’s a problem. To help you customize the service to best meet your specific needs it’s been designed to provide significant flexibility both in terms of who will receive the information and which information they’ll receive. You have the option of attaching up to four email addresses and four mobile phone numbers to each unique Sherlock which will be used send the following information:

Email Recipients Mobile Phone Text Recipients
Weekly HomeData Reports X
Any OnDemand HomeData Reports X
Any Alerts and All Clear Notifications X X

When adding individuals to your distribution lists, it’s important to remember that the information sent to each type of recipient (email or text) will be identical, including any pictures that may be included in your HomeData Reports.  You do, however, retain complete control over your HouseSetter account, which requires a password protected login to your Subscriber Control Panel to perform the following tasks:

Make any changes to your subscription or billing information

Edit your Alert Settings

Add or delete email addresses or mobile phone numbers

Order OnDemand Reports

View daily temperature and humidity history graphs (Inspector Package Only)