Safety

Today’s Smart Homes

Many people grew up with the idea that one day we would all be living in homes like the Jetsons’, the 1960s cartoon family living in the future, with a closet that showers and dresses you and a robot that makes your breakfast. While homes aren’t yet quite there, smart home technology has advanced leaps and bounds in recent years and has become more popular than ever.

Technology has changed the way we live in and interact with our homes. Smart homes can be programmed to react to their owner and tailored to fit with a person’s lifestyle – homeowners can even design the home to meet their specific needs.

Here are a few ways smart home technology can be utilized:

Security. New products allow homeowners to monitor their homes from a distance—even internationally. Owners can lock doors and windows from their portable computers, or access security camera recordings from a mobile device. It’s not just about keeping the property safe, it’s about keeping you and your family safe too. Fire, carbon monoxide and gas leak alarms that connect to your smartphone can give you peace of mind that everything is all right in your home even when you aren’t physically there.

Energy Savings. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to program their home’s temperature and adjust it even after they’ve left, avoiding any needless heating or cooling of an empty house. Automated lighting programs let people turn the lights on and off in their home from their smartphone or laptop from anywhere in the world. Smart green features have been in high demand for years now. These products not only help the environment but also bring your electricity and water bills down, saving you money.

Convenience. One of the main appeals of smart homes is that they can make the home owner’s life easier. A garage door opener connected to your smartphone and a sprinkler system that syncs with the weather forecast so the lawn is never watered when it’s raining are all features that simplify day-to-day life. Soon, instead of having to check the refrigerator to see if anything is running low, a homeowner will receive a text message from their smart kitchen reminding him or her to buy eggs.

Although the benefits that these technologies provide are numerous, it is important not lose sight of the risks smart homes can pose to the owner’s privacy. As smart technology becomes more established in homes, it becomes even more important that the necessary precautions are taken to protect data and privacy. That’s why the National Association of Realtors® worked with the Online Trust Alliance, a non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust, to create the Smart Home Checklist. The checklist offers guidance to home buyers and sellers about how to stay in control of the privacy and security of their smart home technology.

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Stolen Christmas: 5 Ways to Prevent Horrible Holiday Crimes at Home

With Christmas just around the corner, home owners are neck-deep in decorations and last-minute shopping, excited to soon share their holiday cheer with loved ones. But thieves and vandals also have something to look forward to in the holiday season. Cars and homes filled with easy-to-grab boxed goodies and lawns decked out with opulent embellishments make tempting targets for predators. To help you make sure the naughties don’t ruin it for the nice, here are a few tips for protecting your home.

1. Keep your “check-ins” in check.

Three months ago in Nashua, N.H., burglars targeted a home because the occupant told his Facebook “friends” he was going out of town. Announcing to your whole social network that you’re not home or that you just received an expensive present may not be a good idea. The ACLU and others have cautioned against posting information about where you are and what you do. If it falls into the wrong hands, the consequences could be dangerous.

It’s also something to think about if you’re out shopping for good deals. Through location-based applications such as Facebook Places and Foursquare, vendors are offering valuable promotions to shoppers who “check-in” at participating stores. But broadcasting this type of information could cost you more than it could save.

Protect yourself:
Never allow check-ins at your own home (you’ll be alerting potential thieves to your address).
Don’t make comments about items you’ve purchased or received as gifts.
Don’t check in online when you’re out of town.
Limit sharing information to friends and family by only accepting people you know as friends and followers.

2. Remember to lock your door.

There’s something Iraq War veteran and Rhode Island resident Christopher Adamovich, recipient of three purple hearts, will never again forget—to lock his back door. Last Christmas, the first he had planned to celebrate in his newly bought home, he was robbed. Thieves entered through the unlocked back door and made off with hundreds of dollars of presents, including a Nintendo Wii, a Sony DVD player, and assorted toys. This type of scenario isn’t uncommon. Security company ADT says 40% of all burglaries are termed as “no force entries.” That means the predators gain entry through unlocked doors and windows.

Protect yourself:
Check all doors and windows are locked and that your deadbolt (if you have one) works.

3. Don’t give vandals a chance to act.

In 2009, a North Carolina family decided to turn their front yard into a winter wonderland, complete with inflatable Winnie the Pooh and Grinch figures, to celebrate their little boy’s second birthday. It was a momentous occasion—their little one suffered from a rare bone disease and wasn’t expected to live long. Sadly, he has since passed away. During the display’s first night out, before they could show it off to little Ethan in the morning, vandals slashed the larger-than-life characters. Some acts of vandalism are premeditated and some are spur of the moment, but both leave you with expensive property damage and a ruined holiday.

Protect yourself:
Install motion detector lights on all sides of your house, and if possible make sure they’re visible from the road.

4. Deny easy access to the garage.

In November, a Corpus Christi, Texas, family left their garage door opener in their truck overnight. To their dismay, they woke up to discover thieves had used it to gain access to their garage. All the tools, a lawn mower, and other equipment were stolen—along with all of the Christmas presents the family had stored in the garage for their daughter. It’s convenient to keep the garage door opener in the car for easy access. It’s also just the kind of thing observant criminals are on the lookout for.

Protect yourself:
Never leave your garage door opener in your car.
Always make sure your garage door is closed and locked, with the inside door secure.
Don’t tempt fate—try not to use the garage as a hiding place for gifts.

5. Display the tree, not the gifts.

For many families, a perfectly picturesque holiday includes the Christmas tree, all done up with lights, ornaments, and beautifully wrapped gifts, displayed in front of the living room window. Trouble is, it’s a scene crooks also like to see.

Protect yourself:
Don’t put out your gifts until Christmas Eve.
Dispose of product boxes at a recycling center, not your garbage cans.

All it takes is one thief’s determination to potentially ruin your holiday. Remain vigilant this Christmas!

Source: NAR’s Houselogic.com.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-security/stolen-christmas-5-ways-prevent-horrible-holiday-crimes-home/#ixzz1gQo9rFc9

Outfitting your home with the security it deserves

Security systems, much like other technologies today, have become highly sophisticated recently. Security systems now provide a variety of benefits to the owner, including peace of mind and absolute control. They’re now offered as wireless systems and home control devices. Other features that come with select security systems include controls for watering schedules, lighting and even the thermostat of your home. 

While security systems may seem expensive, few people can put a price on their loved ones’ safety. Expenses include setup and installation and a monitoring or monthly fee. The monthly rate ensures that you are covered 24/7. Over time, security systems pay for themselves with money saved from discounts offered by insurance companies and prevented losses. They are also relatively easy to install, not taking much more than a few hours for an existing house and even less time for a new house being built. 

Without an operator – you – a security system leaves much to be desired. Take some time to learn and understand each of the benefits that your system provides and teach your family or loved ones how to use the system to their advantage.

Security systems, much like other technologies today, have become highly sophisticated recently. Security systems now provide a variety of benefits to the owner, including peace of mind and absolute control. They’re now offered as wireless systems and home control devices. Other features that come with select security systems include controls for watering schedules, lighting and even the thermostat of your home.  

While security systems may seem expensive, few people can put a price on their loved ones’ safety. Expenses include setup and installation and a monitoring or monthly fee. The monthly rate ensures that you are covered 24/7. Over time, security systems pay for themselves with money saved from discounts offered by insurance companies and prevented losses. They are also relatively easy to install, not taking much more than a few hours for an existing house and even less time for a new house being built.

Without an operator – you – a security system leaves much to be desired. Take some time to learn and understand each of the benefits that your system provides and teach your family or loved ones how to use the system to their advantage.

The bells and whistles of a home security system

A home security system provides many benefits to the homeowner, even beyond peace of mind. Purchasing a full-service home security system provides an increase in the value of your home, a deterrent for perpetrators and invaluable help in the event of an emergency.

While it may seem like a steep investment at first, a home security system can pay for itself in only a few years. An average security system costs anywhere from $200-$700 for basic products and technology and then another monthly fee for monitoring and upkeep. The monthly fee pays for the 24/7 monitoring that keeps you and your loved ones safe throughout the home.

 Home security systems can also save you money on insurance costs. Some insurance companies offer substantial discounts based on the presence of a home security system, even up to 20%.

While it is certainly easier to install a security system in a new home that is being built, any home can be equipped with a system with relative ease. The installation involves running wires, installing control devices and other small construction projects.

Today, security systems are even available as wireless systems. However, it should be pointed out that these could be more vulnerable to attacks than a wired system. Security systems can also offer complete control for the home environment. Their functionality includes lighting controls, garage door opener, and even some landscaping tasks. These complete systems can run several thousand dollars, but may be worth it to have control of your home located in one place.

The key to any security system, however, lies in one place – with you. No mater how great the system and its abilities may be, it needs someone to operate it. When installing a system, be sure to plan for some training time for you and your loved ones to understand and learn how to operate the system.

Get the Know-How in Keeping Your Home Protected

Being a homeowner brings about many concerns, such as insurance, finances, and maintenance, not the least of which should be home security. That doesn’t mean you need to hop on the phone and call a professional; these do-it-yourself tricks will help you safeguard your home in hardly any time at all.

While many people are afraid to admit that their home is vulnerable or unsafe, it is important to understand how to keep your home from becoming an easy target. Burglars and thieves are intimidated easily, so make your home a daunting presence.

 A house that looks neglected or unkempt catches burglars’ eyes immediately. This signals that burglars can attack with some sort of cover. Don’t let your home be one of these! Take care of the exterior of your home by keeping up with landscaping, sweeping the sidewalks and/or driveway, raking leaves, and shoveling snow. While these are simple seasonal tasks they demonstrate to a burglar that you are home often and maintain order.

 As we all know, thieves strike in the night, and especially target dark homes. Again, don’t provide the criminal with any unnecessary cover. Installing outdoor lighting such as motion sensor lights and pathway lamps will alert the neighborhood thief of heightened security at your home. Motion sensor lights are easy to find and install, and pathway lights are even available as solar powered units.

 Know what a thief is targeting. They are not attacking your home for cheap, everyday items. Thieves are looking for TVs, jewelry, electronics, and even personal information. Lock up your valuables with an in-home safe or safe deposit box. Important personal documents such as birth certificates, passwords, and bank information should all be locked up. For those expensive items that are used rarely, invest in a safe deposit box.

 Securing your home doesn’t stop with just physical items. Identity theft has become an increasing problem, so don’t fall victim to these strikes. Protect your home computer by setting up passwords and establishing a secure network. Even a simple action such as turning off your computer can eliminate threats to your personal safety. 

 Keeping your home safe is a 24/7 365-days-a-year job, but your peace of mind is well worth the effort!  Do-it-yourself activities can be a family event too. Have your spouse, partner, children, or roommate help with these everyday tasks to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way. Click here  for more.

Staying Safe: Tips to Keep Your Home Secure

Keeping your home secure starts with you. Many are quick to call a professional for their home security needs; however, there are many do-it-yourself security tactics for your protection.  

For starters, make your house appear as a home. Keep your landscaping trimmed and neat, especially around windows and doors. Don’t give burglars and thieves an easy cover. Keeping your home looking fresh and maintained discourages criminals from attempting a crime on your property.  

Keeping your property well lit can help too. This doesn’t mean leaving lights on all day and night—simply install motion sensor lights. Not only does this keep your home safe, but it also provides a convenience for you, the homeowner. Most motion sensor lights are relatively cheap, available, and easy to install.  

Consider an in-home safe or safe deposit box. Many people are not as careful as they should be with their valuables; just think of what you have lying around in your master bedroom. For these valuable items that are not of everyday use, purchase a safe for your home or, if necessary, place valuables in a safe deposit box to keep them from being stolen or broken. While it is nearly impossible to lock down everything valuable, such as your TVs and other electronics, the less available for theft, the less vulnerable you are. 

Home security is about more than locking up and storing physical valuables. Think about your personal information, especially that on your computer. Make sure you are protected electronically, via passwords, virus protection, and more. 

Know what to do in the worst-case scenario. While you have some time, take an inventory of valuable items you have in your home, such as computers, jewelry, and other such valuables. Keep a list and, if possible, photo documentation of these items. Also, double-check your insurance policy to make sure you are covered in the event of theft or burglary. 

Don’t feel threatened in your home; stay on top of home security. Putting these simple ideas to work increases home security and provides for a safe, friendly, convenient home.  Click here  for more.