I had a bit of a bitter sweet, family-in-law related home automation win this evening that I had to share!
I have a brother and sister in law that roll their eyes at the home automation in our house. But today, their best friends had the furnace breaker trip in a home they had purchased but not moved into yet. It's currently -22F where they live and plumbing pipes froze and burst.
They asked me if any of my home automation stuff would have helped in that situation. I thought about it for a second and then said that our thermostat would tell us that the temperature in the house had dropped below a certain temperature by sending a notification to our phones anywhere in the world; which would raise concern that the furnace wasn't working properly and one of my many leak sensors would have triggered with the broken pipe and turned off the main water supply valve.
It was really hard not to rub it in but I took the high road.
This makes me think that it might be beneficial to have an automation that if the temperature in the house reaches a very low level, like 32F, turn the main water supply valve off.
Probably before that even. If the thermostat, which is often on an inside wall is 32 degrees, the plumbing under the sink and often run in cold places like a basement or crawl space is likely even colder. And you still have to get someone out to fix the heat which could take hours. I would say you are pushing it at 40 degrees in some colder climates, and at -22 degrees like the example above you probably better start worrying at 45-50 degrees. Your house at -22 will cool VERY fast.
The thermostat is a good proxy for the health of the heating/cooling system. That probably would have been enough for the folks to deduce that they will have a bigger problem. In my experience, pipes behind a finished wall in a basement would require a more localized sensor in such nasty weather.
Yes a good smart thermostat would have warned that calling for heat over time without no temperature change would produce an alert. I had this happen at my mom's house after the repair guy left and didn't put the screws in for the igniter. After about 15 minutes of calling for heat my phone was alerted.
Gimme their number...I'll be happy to rub it in for you.