Thursday, November 15, 2012

Make your home smarter and more efficient this winter

Make your home smarter and more efficient this winter

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012 4:26 AM CST
(BPT) - The coldest time of the year can also be the busiest. With holiday entertaining, overnight guests and winter getaways, it can be hard to ensure your home heating and other systems are performing for optimal comfort and efficiency. In addition, the Department of Energy reports that no matter what energy source you use, heating this winter will cost more, an important consideration since heating and cooling typically makes up about 54 percent of your utility bill.

Now, thanks to new home automation technologies, you can run your home in a smarter and more cost-effective manner than ever before - from wherever life takes you - even from a smartphone, tablet or Web connection.

For example, the Nexia(TM) Home Intelligence system from Trane(R) and Schlage(R) allows you to remotely manage multiple systems throughout your home, including heating and cooling, door locks, video surveillance, lights, shades and energy usage via any Web-enabled computer and most smartphones. Designed for today’s mobile lifestyles, it helps you make everything in your home speak one simple language. Visit for more information.

Such technologies are growing rapidly in popularity as they become more affordable and easier to use. According to ABI Research, the number of home automation systems sold in North America is expected to grow to about 6 million by 2016, a six-fold increase since 2011.

Smart temperature control for better comfort    

Comfort and efficiency starts with smart temperature control for many homeowners. Picking up relatives at the airport? Kick on the heat in the guest bedroom from your smartphone while waiting at the baggage claim. Does one of your guests have allergies? Activate your system’s allergy clean cycle to temporarily boost air filtration and clean air output. Need to adjust home temperatures from your office if a sudden cold snap is predicted? It's all possible with an automated system.

For example, the Trane ComfortLink II Control works as an up-to-the-minute weather station inside your home. It can provide you with access to weather information, temperature control and air quality from afar via your smartphone, computer or tablet. In addition, you can create automated heating and cooling schedules to save energy while no one is home, an added advantage if you’re trying to better control winter utility costs. Visit for more information.

Smart security for peace of mind

With all of the family’s comings and goings this winter, home automation can help keep your property secure while you’re away. Planning a weekend at your second home during the holidays? Technology can help you monitor and manage security at your primary home while you’re gone. Need to let a pet sitter inside while you’re on vacation, or open a locked door for a family member who lost a key? Now you can.

Schlage, for instance, offers indoor and outdoor cameras that let you view activity around the home or yard. It also offers keypad deadbolts and levers that let you grant access to your home via scheduled codes when you’re not there. You can even receive a text or email alert when there is activity around the home, for greater peace of mind.

Smart connectivity to fit your lifestyle

When it comes to home automation systems, you can often pick and choose which devices you wish to control, for smart and efficient use of your budget, too. For example Nexia users pay a monthly subscription fee and then select from up to 200 different devices that can be purchased separately or bundled together, making it easy to expand the level of control as lifestyle needs change.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Home safety is more than locked doors and alarms

Home safety is more than locked doors and alarms
When it comes to home security, most homeowners think about door locks
and alarms. These are, of course, very important. However, there is also a
lot you can do around your property to prevent the possibility of a break-in.
One important part of home security is outdoor lighting. Your home doesn't
need to be lit up like a baseball diamond at night, but your exterior lighting
should illuminate your yard enough to be a deterrent to burglars.
Some burglars hide around the property and wait for someone to arrive and
open the door so they can use that opportunity to force their way into your
Security experts suggest that you walk around your property and look for
areas where someone could hide, such as behind tall shrubbery like a cedar
hedge or behind a tool shed. Make sure these areas are well lit.
Pay particular attention to lighting around exterior doors, especially the back
Home security experts also recommend that exterior lighting be installed
with a timed dimmer. The lights can then be set to cast a bright light in the
early evening, and then a dimmer light throughout the rest of the night.
Lights installed with motion detectors can also be effective in certain areas.
The sensors will cause the light to turn on or brighten when someone comes
onto that part of your property. Generally, thieves will flee as soon as they
see a light turn on.
Do you hide a spare key under the front door mat or in a flower pot? No
matter how clever you think you are, experienced thieves know all the
common hiding places. So, if you need to have a spare key available, put it
in a small combination lock box and hide the box. That way, if a burglar
finds the box, he still won't be able to open it and access the key.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rates are steady and strong right now. Check out my blog weekly for any changes to the rates, I also have the rate ticker on the front page of my website at .

Do You Know the Basics of Home Security?

Do You Know the Basics of Home Security?

Most people feel confident about the basics of home security. For example:
Keep all doors locked. Have a light on in the house while away. Never hide
a key outside in an obvious place, like under the mat.

Yet, almost a million and a half properties get burglarized in
North America each year. So how can you prevent that from
happening to your home? Here are a few less known home
security basics:

• Actually, never hide a key outside. Thieves know all the hiding
places. Instead, make sure all family members have a key.

• Two-thirds of home burglaries occur during the day. So be
extra vigilant about making sure doors and windows are
locked while you're away during the day.

• Surprisingly, most thieves are not daring. They are 2.7 times
more likely to target a home without an alarm system.

• Thieves will attempt to force entry through sliding-style doors
and windows first. So make sure these have a locking bar or
extra bolt lock.

• Surprising, 40% of household burglaries do not involve forced
entry. The thief is able to slip in through an unlocked window
or door.

• Don't show off possessions! An imported racing bike parked
next to the garage, or expensive audio equipment clearly seen
through a window, is an invitation to burglars.

• Take a look at the lighting and landscaping around your
property. Are there spots where a thief could easily hide? If so,
make some changes.

• When planning a trip, have a trusted neighbor pick up
newspapers, flyers and anything else that may accumulate at
your door.

Your local police department may have more tips and special programs for
keeping your home secure. Give them a call.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How to decide if you should replace your windows

How to decide if you should replace your windows

One of the most prominent features of any home is the windows. When they are well maintained they have a positive impact on the impression people (such as potential buyers) will have of your property. The opposite occurs, of course, when your windows look old and worn. So does that mean you should replace your windows? That depends on a number of factors. Window replacement can be an expensive renovation. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.

 • Do your windows get frost or condensation build-up on the interior side? This could be a sign that the windows are not keeping out the cold as well as they should.

 • Do you see water infiltration or mildew on the interior sides of any of the window sills? This means that moisture is creeping in from the outside, and you need to get those windows repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

• If your windows are double-paned – (two panes of glass) – check for any signs of moisture in between the glass panes. Moisture indicates that the thermal seal is broken and at a minimum, the glass will need to be replaced.

 • Take a look at your windows from the outside. Is the trim rotted or cracked anywhere? Are there dark spots or any signs of rotting on the wood frames? Repairs or replacement may be required.

 • Check the operation of your windows. Do they open and close easily? This is important because some windows, such as those in bedrooms, are often designed to be big enough to use as an exit in case of a fire. 

• Finally, are you happy with how your windows look? Do you feel that your property will look significantly better with new windows? Although they are expensive, replacing windows has a lot of advantages. Depending on the efficiency of your current windows, replacing them could cut your energy costs by 10-20%. In addition, new windows block out more exterior noise, making your home quieter.

Want more tips on increasing the value, and enjoyment, of your property? Call today.