Get Smart: 5 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Smart Home
By Mikkie Mills
Smart homes are rapidly gaining popularity. Being able to control numerous features of your home even while you are away is not only convenient, but it can increase security. There are all kinds of ways to turn your home into a smart home. Some are a little more expensive than others. The following five home automation steps can help you get started.
1. Control your appliances from your smartphone.
You can invest in new appliances that have this feature, or you can replace electrical devices, such as sockets or plugs, with a smart version. A smart power strip is another option. It is as simple as plugging it in and connecting your devices or appliances. Each plug in the power strip works independently. Android and Apple are supported by the power strip and you can control these devices from anywhere. You can turn any appliance on or off, get notifications when a television, computer, or other device is turned on, monitor carbon monoxide levels, and more.
2. Know how to control the security system.
Although most people have security systems in place, it is very beneficial to be able to control them from anywhere. When automated access is used, you can limit access to certain areas of the home, such as your office. In addition, your phone can notify you in the event of a problem even when you are not home. Cameras can be used so that you can see every room in your home from your smartphone. Outdoor cameras will allow you to see who has been on your property when you are at work or elsewhere.
3. Save energy by adding your heating and cooling to an automation system.
If you are gone all day and want to keep heating or cooling costs down, you simply lower or raise the temperature setting. Then you can put it on a comfortable level a half hour or so before you will arrive home. This gives the home time to warm up or cool down before you get home, so you are not heating or cooling an empty house. You can also control blinds with this system, allowing sunlight in for your plants and helping to warm the home during the winter.
4. Learn how to communicate with your home.
You can control your home using technology similar to what is used when you talk to your smartphone to tell it to dial numbers or look up information. Microphones and a software program which is put on your computer is the simplest way to set up your home to respond to voice commands. The system is set up to recognize words or a phrase to perform virtually anything from turning on or dimming lights to opening drapes, turning on music, enabling or disabling alarms, and more. If you want to know what the weather is like before going out, simply ask. The systems can be set up to answer questions, as well. There are many systems to choose from and with advances in technology, they are doing more and becoming less expensive.
5. Install a home theater system.
An automated home theater system will provide you with the feel of a movie theater in your home. Movies, videos, music, and more can be streamed throughout your home and even in outdoor areas used for entertaining. An app for your smartphone is simple to use to control all of this and more. Control the lighting for optimal viewing of movies. The sound can be adjusted, providing you with surround sound that is more like what is experienced in movie theaters.
These are just a few of the ways of making your home smart. Not only does an automated system in your home provide convenience and comfort, but it will also give you peace of mind.
Dodge Winter Lawn Damage
Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.
Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.
Snow Plow Damage
Install brightly-colored boundary markers along the edges of paved areas to help protect lawn and shrubs from snow plow and snow thrower blades. Lightweight wooden stakes, at least four feet tall with bright reflective tape and brightly covered fiberglass rods, serve as good markers. Avoid heavy metal, fence posts and other large objects, as they can pose a hazard to snow plow operators.
Cold Temperature Stress
More so than any other season, trees and shrubs are vulnerable to changing weather conditions during the winter. Wide temperature fluctuation and extremely low temperatures are the biggest factors of tree stress, meaning your trees are more susceptible to things like frost cracks, sunscald and winter burn.
Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.
Proper fertilization can help keep your trees and shrubs healthy well into spring, and allow them to better tolerate winter. A service can help with tree and shrub services customized to meet your landscape’s every need, including applications to control overwintering insects, pests and mites.
Damage to plants, shrubs and trees as a result of sustained low temperatures can typically go undetected until spring or early summer, when plants fail to produce new growth. To help prevent damage, maintain a two- to three-inch layer of mulch to help protect the crown and roots from weather extremes.
During the colder months of winter, plants cannot replace moisture lost from leaves and needles. This leads to “dehydration” – technically known as desiccation. To help avoid this problem, maintain proper watering late into the fall, or water during periods of winter thaw.
Ice-melting agents, such as rock salt and products containing calcium and magnesium chloride, may accumulate in the soil and cause damage to plants. Use extreme care when applying ice-melting agents to prevent damage to your plants or concrete surfaces.
Preparing Your Home for Autumn: Maintenance Tips for the End of Summer
It’s almost time. Sigh. Summer is drawing to a close, like it or not.
Before the leaves fall and the wind turns chilly, it’s a good idea to do some seasonal maintenance on your home. Here are some things to add to your fall “honey-do” list.
Have your furnace inspected. It’s smart to have your heating system serviced before you actually need to use it. Experts say that as much as 75 percent of the calls they receive about homeowners without heat are a result of not having the furnace serviced and cleaned. It will also keep your heating costs down and help keep the air in your home healthy.
Apply a fresh coat of paint. Interior painting requires good ventilation, so the best time to tackle a paint spruce-up is the time of year when you can open up your windows.
Inspect your roof. You’ll want to check for shingles that are cracked, buckling, or missing. Check for caulking that needs to be replaced, or moss or lichen, which could indicate deterioration underneath. If you don’t trust your own assessment, work with a certified inspector.
Check for mold. The humidity of summer can cause mold to flourish. Check locations such as around leaky pipes, basements, or areas that don’t get good ventilation. You will want to remove the mold as soon as possible. It’s wise to have this done by a professional.
Replace weatherstripping on doors. There could be gaps that you can’t see and that can jack up your energy costs. It’s a simple fix that can be done with items found at your local hardware store.
Check the airflow. Focus on areas like vents, the hood over your stove, dryer vents, baseboard heaters and room fans. Not only is a buildup of dust a fire hazard, but you also want to keep the air flowing and the allergens at bay.
Get control of gutters and downspouts. Clogs in gutters and downspouts can cause the roof to leak, which can lead to a host of other problems. It’s a slippery slope from clogged gutters to water damage in your home!
Look over your siding. You’ll want to look for any areas on vinyl siding that are buckled or warped. If you have wood siding, look for curling, splitting or cracking. Should you find an issue, you’ll definitely want it taken care of before the weather gets cold!
Inspect your insulation. The most important area to check is your attic. You should have the highest concentration of insulation here. See if there are any gaps that need to be filled. You don’t need to check the insulation in your walls unless you notice heating issues.
Make sure your detectors are working. Ensure both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries. It’s smart to test them, also. Both are especially important once your furnace is in use.
Each season brings its own challenges and wear-and-tear on your home. With summer ending and autumn on the way, you can go into the new season secure that your home is in tip-top shape!