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Serving South Florida

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For over 35 years

smart home

Summer Home Safety Tips

home safety

Have big plans for this summer? Many families across Florida and the nation will spend time away from home during the summer months.

To fully enjoy those activities and other summertime pursuits spent away from home, homeowners should take precautions to protect their residences when they’re not around. Crime rates across the country often start to peak as temperatures rise during the warm weather months – the same time that many families leave their homes unoccupied and unprotected.

Homeowners can take these simple precautions to make their homes less of a target for criminals:

No “Home Alone”: Before leaving your home during the day, make it look as if someone is still at home by using timers on lights in various rooms. Even though daylight hours are longer during the summer, it may still get dark faster than you expect or you may return home later than anticipated, and taking this step ensures that your home appears occupied at all times.

No Sharing on Social Media: Sharing your vacation plans on social media sites isn’t wise. That’s the same as announcing to the world you’ll be gone and the house will be empty – a perfect target for burglars or vandals. The same goes for phone messages.

No Open-Door Policy: Ensure that all doors leading to the home and garage are locked, even when leaving for short periods of time. The typical burglary takes less than five minutes and unlocked doors, combined with an empty home, put out the “welcome mat” for crime. Make sure windows are locked, too.

Someone to Watch Over Me: Be landscape smart. Shrubbery and other plants can grow very rapidly during the warm, wet summer months. Keep them trimmed so neighbors can easily see your home. Also, a burglar could see an unkempt yard as a sign of an empty home.

A Key Reminder: When leaving home, take your house keys along or leave a spare set with a trusted neighbor. Never leave a key under a welcome mat, in a mailbox or other hiding spots – most burglars know where to look.

Crime Doesn’t Take a Vacation: If you’re planning to be away from home for more than a day or two, ask a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers – or arrange to cancel the paper and hold the mail. Disable your garage door opener and manually lock it from the inside, and don’t forget to check that the door leading from the garage to the home is locked, too.

Benefits of Energy Efficient Homes

A recent survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that energy-efficient features are among the most sought-after “must-haves” among homebuyers. Among those surveyed, 83% desired Energy Star-rated windows, 81% wanted Energy Star-rated appliances and 80% preferred energy-efficient lighting.

Though eco-conscious sensibilities compel millions of homeowners to make their homes more energy-efficient, that’s not the only reason to upgrade your home. The following are a handful of the many benefits of energy-efficient homes.

Save money: The U.S. Department of Energy indicates upgrading to energy efficient appliances products can help homeowners reduce their energy costs by as much as 30%. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates you can save 11% on average on your total energy costs by air sealing your home and adding insulation in the attic and crawl spaces.

Improve resale value: Being able to market your home as energy-efficient when it comes time to sell it may help your resale value, especially as energy-efficient homes become better-known and more in-demand.

According to several studies, energy-efficient homes and apartments garner anywhere from 2% to 8% more in sales prices than their traditional counterparts. Research from the mortgage lender Freddie Mac found that homes with energy-efficient ratings sold for nearly 3% more on average than homes without such ratings.

Live healthier: The benefits of energy-efficient homes aren’t just economic, though health-related benefits certainly produce an economic incentive as well.

Energy-efficient homes boost your comfort level by also enhancing the indoor air quality by reducing pollen, dust, insects, and humidity, which leads to better quality of life.

Energy-efficient appliances are typically quieter than traditional models, as well, making their operation less intrusive to your daily life.

To learn more and find out how to perform some of these improvements yourself, visit DOE’s Energy Saver website.

Tools and Calculators for Homes:

Information, tools, and resource to help consumers seal and insulate their homes, including a DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR.

Information, tools, and resources to help consumers assess their home’s energy use, including the ENERGY STAR Home Advisor and the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick.

List of building energy software packages, some of which are available for free or a small fee.

A tool that allows a consumer to determine energy savings and costs associated with replacing non-ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerators.

Information, tools, and resources to help consumers increase the efficiency of their home’s heating and cooling system.

A tool developed as an industry-consensus roof savings calculator for residential and commercial buildings using whole-building energy simulations.

Benefits of Home Automation

Home automation is increasingly popular as technology improves and devices become more affordable. Smart home automation works by connecting various devices in your home to a central hub or directly to a network. These devices can then be controlled remotely through a smartphone app, voice assistant or web interface.
Smart home components like security or climate control can be integrated with other smart devices, like your home entertainment system. This allows you to create a comprehensive and integrated smart home system that can automate many different tasks.
There are tons of reasons you may want to invest in home automation, but they generally fall into four categories.
  • Convenience. This is one of the primary reasons people start down the smart-home path. It just makes life a little easier when your home automates all the mundane tasks you used to have to do on a day-to-day basis.
  • Safety. A lot of smart-home technology is centered around your home’s security system, and there’s a good reason for that. No one piece of security equipment will protect your home comprehensively, but a network of pieces of equipment all working and thinking together can.
  • Sustainability. A lot of energy is wasted when you leave the lights on or keep your AC running when you’re gone for the weekend. A truly smart home will adjust itself to your habits and make sure your environmental impact is a little lighter.
  • Savings. You waste a lot of money when you leave things running unnecessarily. Your smart home will improve your economic efficiency by helping you remember to turn things off or down when they’re not needed
Here’s some of what the marketplace currently has to offer:
  • Detectors – Smart detectors provide peace of mind, so you aren’t left worrying that you forgot something. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are vital additions to any home. Gas and water leak detectors are good additions as well.
  • Heating and Cooling – With the initial success of 2011’s Nest Learning Thermostat, this product category is most associated with home automation.
  • Lighting – With the ability to control lights through your tablet or phone, intelligent lighting has become the initial step many take in setting up smart home technology.
  • Security Systems – This area has taken home automation to the next level. A lot of the newer, more advanced smart home tech is in this category, with keyless entry, camera equipment, and more. D
  • Hubs – Hubs, for the most part, are what tie your systems together. .
  • Appliances – Get a text message from your washer when a load finishes. Have your fridge create your grocery list for you. Shut the coffee pot off from work. Smoke a brisket for a few hours while remotely controlling its temperature. All possibilities with smart appliances.
  • Energy Management – Track your energy use and make changes in real time, from any location.
  • Lawn and Landscape Care – Control your pool cleaner, mow your lawn or set the irrigation system, all via smartphone app.
  • Window Coverings – Automatic shades and blinds timed to open or close with your bedtime or wake up call.
Technology experts say that tomorrow’s smart homes will have more seamless smart home device integration, more intelligent home appliances and gadgets, movement into the virtual world, and increased customization, efficiency, and control.