How We’re Working Towards a ‘Smarter’ Tree House

tree house pitties

This post is in partnership with Streamlabs. Keep reading for a chance to win your own smart home water monitor + take 20% off a monitor through May 15th when you enter YELLOWBRICKHOME20 at checkout.

When we leave Chicago for a DIY weekend at our Tree House, we’re not only packing up our supplies for demolition and room makeovers, we’re also hauling along suitcases and baby bathtubs. Only recently did we purchase Tree-House-dedicated shampoo, soap and toothpaste, so we could ditch our travel-sized baggie of toiletries once and for all! And although we’re in the midst of some pretty hefty renovations on the little lake house, we’re still doing our absolute best to enjoy an evening – or better yet – a whole day around our adopted town of Lakeside, Michigan. We’ve even stretched our weekends into work-from-Tree-House days, which despite the bare drywall and lack of a kitchen sink, has been a welcome change of pace.

Along with our efforts of full sized bottles of shampoo, we’ve been striving towards ways to simplify our road trips from Chicago to Michigan by focusing on a smarter Tree House. You know we love a good smart home system, and so when we had the furnace installed, we opted to spring for the Nest thermostat. While we were at it, we also added the Nest Protect. And during the drive from Chicago to Michigan, we have a little routine of pulling up our Nest app and changing it from Away mode to Home mode, which not only kicks up the temperature to a toastier 70-degrees, but it also alerts our Streamlabs system that we’re on our way, too!

Wait, let’s back up.

Streamlabs is an easy to use smart home water monitor that we installed for peace of mind, and better yet, it links to our Nest app so we can activate both systems with the touch of one button. Although Tree House is only a one-and-a-half hour drive from our home in Chicago, it’s also a one-and-a-half hour drive from Chicago. Meaning, if there’s an emergency – whether that’s a burst pipe or a gas leak – we’d want to know about it as soon as possible before further damage ensues. We know that Nest will give us an alert if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected, but what does Streamlabs do? Not only will the Streamlabs water monitor quickly detect a leak and send an alert right to our phones, it also delivers water usage data in real time and continues to track that data over the course of a day, a month and even the year! Our water usage can be seen right on the Streamlabs app, giving us more control over our water habits and allowing us to conserve – and therefore save money – where we can.

In a nutshell, the system is a small monitor that hugs our water inlet pipe. There are contact pads on the backside, meaning that we don’t have to make any cuts to the water pipe itself. When I say that it can be installed in minutes, I literally mean minutes. We had our Streamlabs system up and running in less than fifteen!

First things first, we turned off our water at the main supply line. After downloading the app and creating a login, we were immediately greeted with the set-up instructions. The screen prompts were straightforward and easy to follow, and I took a few screenshots along the way, so we could share how simple it was! Hover over the photo below and click on the right arrow to go through some of the prompts we were provided with. 

There are a few requirements, such as: the system does require wi-fi, and it will need to be plugged in. Our tankless water heater was recently installed in our bath linen closet (we’ll definitely have to reconfigure the shelving system once we tackle the bathroom renovation!), giving us access to connect and power our Streamlabs monitor:

Once Streamlabs was installed, we turned our water back on, and once it was freely flowing, the app could accurately detect the flow – i.e., a running bathroom sink, a flush of the toilet and a warm shower. We have absolutely loved following our water usage, and at the end of a long day of DIY, we’ll check in with the app to see how we did. (Is that nerdy?) It’s one of the least complicated apps we own – as user friendly as it gets. Here’s what you’re seeing, below, from left to right:

  • Left: This is the main page upon opening the app. Right away, we can see how much water we’ve used during the course of the day.
  • Middle: If I click on 24 gallons used today (from the far left image), we can see our usage over the course of the day, month and year! We can also view the times of day where we use the most water, and it’s pretty cool to watch that circle at the top turn blue when water is running.
  • Right: One morning, my sister was helping us by cleaning all our paintbrushes from the weekend. She had the water at a slow run for an extended period of time, and my phone gave us the alert that there may be a leak! While we knew it was not a leak, we liked that Streamlabs was doing its job. Imagine if we received this alert while we were in Chicago? We could take action immediately!

For every step we make towards a smarter home, we feel that much more confident leaving Tree House at the end of a long weekend. And of course, when we are carving out time in our tiny slice of Michigan – whether that’s for work or play (or, ahem, doggie naps) – we like the ease of controlling and monitoring the systems we’ve put in place right from our phones.

And because we want you to make your home smarter – while also helping you conserve water, save money and protect against an unexpected disaster – we’ve teamed up with Streamlabs to give away a smart home water monitor (a $199 value)! Here’s how:

  • Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like.
  • You must be located in the United States to be eligible.
  • This giveaway runs through Friday, April 6th until 5 pm CST, and the winner will be contacted directly.
  • And just for fun, Streamlabs wants you to take 20% off your purchase of a monitor through May 15th when you enter YELLOWBRICKHOME20 at checkout!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Danielle4.3.18 - 6:17 AM

    How funny – I am in the process of purchasing an antique house about 2hrs away from where I currently live and was talking about needing something like this just this week! Perfect timing!! I really love these tech posts – just because a house is not brand new doesn’t mean it can’t have some cutting edge technology ;) Thanks for sharingReplyCancel

  • Sam4.3.18 - 7:14 AM

    We love our Nest thermostat too!!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah4.3.18 - 7:26 AM

    We had a water leak the day we moved in to our new house. Now I’m always worried about another leak if we leave for more than a day. This would give me so much peace of mind!ReplyCancel

  • Molly4.3.18 - 7:37 AM

    This is genius! I’d never heard of something like this before, but it’s really smart- I’ll definitely be sharing this with my husband for piece of mindReplyCancel

  • Megan4.3.18 - 7:51 AM

    We recently upgraded to the Nest thermostat after over 4 years of living with the old one that I honestly didn’t even know how to use. It’s been so interesting to see our usage report every month now and see how much we’re going to save!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle4.3.18 - 7:53 AM

    As a first-time homeowner, the idea of an unknown water leak while I’m away is definitely on my list of “Things I Worry about All the Time.” I’d love to have a Streamlab to ease that worry away and make room for new ones!ReplyCancel

  • Maureen4.3.18 - 8:00 AM

    Love this idea… about to purchase an older home, so this would give us such peace of mind about the pipes!ReplyCancel

  • Heather4.3.18 - 8:17 AM

    My husband and I got a Google Home for Christmas! It’s pretty fun telling it to turn the lights / TV on and off!ReplyCancel

  • dione4.3.18 - 8:20 AM

    I’ve been wanting a water monitoring system after having two leaks last year. Thank you for sharing!!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy4.3.18 - 8:21 AM

    I need this in my life. We have a weekend home and are always concerned about leaks, etcReplyCancel

  • Katie4.3.18 - 8:29 AM

    After a burst pipe in the wall flooded our first floor while we were away, I’ve been terrified of it happening again. This would be wonderful for peace of mind!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.3.18 - 10:07 AM

      This is our fear! Streamlabs to the rescue! :)ReplyCancel

  • ross dansby4.3.18 - 8:38 AM

    Thank you for sharing your experinces with this new tech, its great to find a blog that shows off new tech in a friendly well designed space!ReplyCancel

  • Cara4.3.18 - 9:12 AM

    this is so cool!ReplyCancel

  • Tanner-Walkers4.3.18 - 9:12 AM

    we definitely need one of these!ReplyCancel

  • Michele4.3.18 - 9:14 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing! Adding to my wishlist! We have the Nest Protect & Thermostats too!ReplyCancel

  • mkcubed4.3.18 - 9:16 AM

    I’ve found that making our home “smart” is overwhelming. There are so many options, configurations, etc. that I don’t know where to start. This seems like an easy place. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.3.18 - 10:06 AM

      We agree, it can definitely feel overwhelming, and we’ve had moments of that as well! But working step by step (and not feeling the need to do it ALL AT ONCE) has been an easy transition.ReplyCancel

  • Christy Brown4.3.18 - 9:34 AM

    I’ve never heard of Streamlabs but I am very environmentally conscious so I love that it not only allows you to monitor and have peace of mind about leaks, but also allows you to make daily changes that can impact your water usage and our earth over time!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.3.18 - 10:05 AM

      We love that part about it, too!ReplyCancel

    • Rayna4.3.18 - 11:47 AM

      That was my first thought, too!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Thompson4.3.18 - 9:35 AM

    My husband and I bought our first home in September and installed Nest Protects and the Nest Thermostat as soon as we moved in. It’s so nice to have that peace of mind while we’re away, especially when we leave the dogs at home!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer4.3.18 - 9:39 AM

    My in-laws just had a water leak in their beach condo that ended up ruining all their kitchen cabinets. They didn’t know about it until their next door neighbors had water coming through into their condo! Although I’m not sure they would be willing to put in WiFi…ReplyCancel

  • AnnaJ4.3.18 - 10:04 AM

    Keep the smart home updates coming! I love learning about ways to make a smart home. So informative. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Emily Wenzel4.3.18 - 10:13 AM

    We haven’t done much to make our house smart. Our new furnace was installed right before Nest got big. We’ve been talking about doing some smart changes to our home so that we can more easily monitor it when we travel. I always worry about water leaks too. Ours comes into our cellar/basement, which has an external entrance. When we’ve got tons of snow, it can be nearly impossible to get in that door.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Richards4.3.18 - 10:17 AM

    We just installed a Nest in January (our natural gas provider doubled their rebate so the newest model cost less than the older ones!) and are loving the temperature controlsReplyCancel

  • Paige Flamm4.3.18 - 10:18 AM

    This is so cool! We’re in the process of building our first house and I definitely want to integrate technology when possible!


  • Katie4.3.18 - 10:35 AM

    Wow! Our home is outfitted with a lot of “smart” tech already (Nest thermostat, smoke alarms, camera + Hue bulbs) but the ability to monitor our water via an app is news to me. Now I’m furiously googling whether this’d work on our current system. So neat!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.3.18 - 10:39 AM

      Yup, if you have wi-fi and an outlet near your water inlet pipe, this will work!ReplyCancel

  • Alex4.3.18 - 10:44 AM

    A Nest is on our list, and now it looks like we “need” a Streamlab too!!!ReplyCancel

  • Nathan4.3.18 - 10:46 AM

    I have become obsessed with making our home smart. We have lights, garage door, water softener and more. This would help me feel better about not having a leak in our house when we travel often. Thanks for sharing this!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah4.3.18 - 11:15 AM

    What a great idea! The last thing I want to deal with is water damage.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy4.3.18 - 11:40 AM

    I actually did come home one day to a burst pipe that, thankfully, was only leaking into my yard – even then it cost hundreds to pay the water bill and fix the pipe! I had no idea this type of monitor was a thing but it would make me feel SO much better about being away from home.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy4.3.18 - 11:49 AM

    We are also making our home as smart as possible. It’s so fun! I’m sure my equally nerdy fiancé would love this! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda4.3.18 - 12:03 PM

    We just purchased a new to us 1960’s home that appears to have some quirky water things going on. We’ve already got a Nest installed, this would be a great addition!ReplyCancel

  • Emily4.3.18 - 12:25 PM

    This is really interesting! Last year my basement flooded from the sump pump failing, and after that I got cheap water sensors and put one each next to the sump tank and my ancient water heater. They just squeal if water is sensed. I also have a system called LEEO that listens for alarms – water, CO, smoke – and texts or calls me if they go off. Streamlabs is a really neat option too!ReplyCancel

  • Bridget P.4.3.18 - 12:56 PM

    Alexa enabled devices are awesome! And we added a smart door lockReplyCancel

  • Patty4.3.18 - 1:58 PM

    Our home isn’t very smart yet, but would love to win the water monitor. My husband is convinced we will have a water leak without us knowing!ReplyCancel

  • eb4.3.18 - 3:22 PM

    Had no idea about the water monitor. Thank you for sharing and for the opportunity to win!ReplyCancel

  • Audra Hartges4.3.18 - 3:27 PM

    I haven’t heard of this type of water monitor — what a great way to give you peace of mind and also help be mindful resource use!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn H4.3.18 - 4:29 PM

    We’ve installed 4 ecobee thermostats in our zoned house that make it super easy to control the temperatures in various areas of the house which is super helpful. We’d love to start automating other areas!ReplyCancel

  • JennG4.3.18 - 4:55 PM

    We’d love this for the times that we can’t be at our Three Oaks house!ReplyCancel

  • Mary4.3.18 - 6:03 PM

    We have Alexa and are considering adding a Nest thermostat and electronic key lock for our door.

    We’d love to have the Streamlabs monitor—-we have an aging infrastructure and early warning of water leaks would be beneficial to ensure our home stays safe. As homes become more monitored, it might also help with lowering home insurance.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany4.3.18 - 6:48 PM

    We are currently working on making our bedside lamps voice activated and converting them to be a sunrise alarm clock.ReplyCancel

  • Amy F.4.3.18 - 10:52 PM

    After coming home, a few years ago, from a 5 day trip to find a water leak had destroyed a portion of my hardwood flooring, something like this from Streamlabs seems ingenious.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy t4.4.18 - 7:45 AM

    We are just beginning to switch over to a smarter house – this would be great!ReplyCancel

  • April4.4.18 - 8:13 AM

    Our house is on well and septic, so this is a great way of monitoring our usage. Appreciate the thoughtful review! Also, the doggies all curled on their pillows is lethal-level cuteness ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda H.4.4.18 - 8:45 AM

    My in-laws had a hose burst on their washer when they were at work and flooded their whole basement. I always think of that and would love some sort of piece of mind that I would know what was happening at my home.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Umbach4.4.18 - 8:53 AM

    We recently had our water heater (in the basement) burst, and didn’t know that had happened until we went down to start laundry. We ended up with almost a food of water in our finished basement, and issues with our furnace because of it. This would have been a lifesaver!ReplyCancel

  • Niki4.4.18 - 9:12 AM

    I’ve been wanting to update our home to be a little “smarter” and I think the first place I’d like to start is with Nest, but learning about this, I’d say it’s a good second step.ReplyCancel

  • xin4.4.18 - 10:39 AM

    This is exactly the type of nerdy gadget I love!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel4.4.18 - 10:47 AM

    I’d never heard of streamlabs, but it sounds awesome! I would love to know how much water we’re using, especially in this drought-prone region of the country (SW).ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Litt4.4.18 - 10:47 AM

    Have you found a way to turn the water off remotely in the case of a leak?ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.4.18 - 11:12 AM

      Our water is turned off by a lever, so we wouldn’t be able to do that. However, this would alert us to any leak so that we can work towards a remedy immediately, rather than finding out in a week or two when we go back to Tree House!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Nelson4.4.18 - 12:32 PM

    I love that this is a smart home device that is easy and functional even in an apartment or other rental where you want to avoid complicated installations or have less say over the systems you use!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy4.4.18 - 12:32 PM

    I had no idea something like this existed, but now I want it!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica E4.4.18 - 12:55 PM

    I had no idea this product existed but now I want one! When we first moved to our house, we discovered we had a leaky toilet after getting a majorly inflated water bill. I’d love to avoid that in the future!ReplyCancel

  • Aminah Abdullah4.4.18 - 1:39 PM

    This would be so amazing for my ever worrying husband for when we are out of town. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren4.4.18 - 5:54 PM

    We have the Nest system and absolutely love it! I love new smart features that can integrate, I’ll have to check it out!ReplyCancel

  • MelissaB4.5.18 - 12:52 AM

    Working on changing our current home therm to a nest, used to have one and loved it! I never knew this existed, this is so cool – I’ll have to look into it!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel4.5.18 - 11:49 AM

    Love this. We switched to a tank-less water heater recently!ReplyCancel

  • Tyler Murphy4.6.18 - 7:54 AM

    Very useful item, place is shaping up great!ReplyCancel

  • Laura4.6.18 - 10:50 AM

    This is so cool! We love our Navien tankless water heater…so glad to see that’s what you went with too! We have smart door locks and outdoor lighting. As we renovate our home, room by room, I hope to keep things as efficient as possible and some of these smart home gadgets will certainly help keep us on track.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Young4.6.18 - 4:32 PM

    Always looking for new ways to upgrade and improve our forever home! This looks awesome!!ReplyCancel

  • Steph12.7.19 - 9:40 PM

    I love the idea of using the app to try and conserve more water and reduce our bill. Is there any ongoing subscription fee required?ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.19 - 9:47 PM

      There’s a free option that can allow you to see quite a bit of stats!ReplyCancel


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