Grand Junction 9 Wi-Fi Home Automation Apps That Turn Your Phone into a Remote Control for Your Home
Your home is your castle, and a castle must be protected at all times. Of course, you’re not always at home. You’ve got to go to work and you need vacations to get away from work!
So how can you keep a watchful eye over your home and make sure your precious belongings are safe when you’re away? Two words: home automation. You may have heard about the acquisition of a company called Nest for $3.2 billion by Google. Nest is a company that makes “smart” thermostats and smoke alarms, but they are just one of many companies revolutionizing the home automation industry.
Home automation has been around for a long time, but the emergence of smartphones and Wi-Fi has made the technology more convenient and affordable. It might sound like science fiction, but you can now control all of the appliances in your home right from your smartphone.
We still haven’t reached the day where the dishes do themselves, but these 9 Wi-Fi home automation apps and technologies can make your life easier.
1. Monitor your home security with a smart home app
Have you ever wished you could keep an eye on your home when you are out of town? With automated security technology such as Piper, you can now monitor your home security system 24/7 from your smartphone with a smart home security app. Piper gives you a panoramic view of your home and should notify you if any unusual motion is detected.
If your home is supposed to be empty during your family getaway, Piper should notify you with a phone call, text, or email if, for instance, a window is opened or it detects a loud noise on your property. You can even see a video of what caught its attention on your phone.
2. Answer your door from anywhere in the world
When you’re on your next tropical vacation, not everyone will know that you’re away from home. People may drop by your house and ring the doorbell expecting to see you. With Video Doorbell, you can answer your door from the palm of your hand. VideoDoorbell is a Wi-Fi enabled doorbell camera that allows you to video chat with visitors through your smartphone.
Have you ever missed an important package because you were just a few minutes late getting home? With VideoDoorbell, you can let the delivery man know that it’s safe to leave the delivery at your door.
3. Control your home electronics remotely
Let’s say you rushed to work in the morning and forgot to turn the TV off. With the Belkin WeMo Insight smart power outlet, you can use your home Wi-Fi network to turn devices on and off right from a smart home app. This home automation technology can even tell you how much power or energy you use on your electronics, giving you valuable insight into which electronics and appliances are costing you the most each month.
4. Adjust your thermostat from your phone
Forgetting to adjust the thermostat when you leave your house can be a big waste of money. Smart thermostats are making this scenario a thing of the past. With technology like Nest, convenient control of your home’s thermostat is now right at your fingertips wherever you are.
With a programmable smart thermostat you can control the settings from your Apple or Android smartphone. Best of all, its sophisticated automation technology continually learns to pre-heat/cool your home based on your habits so that you are comfortable at all times. The last thing you want after a long day at work is to come home to a freezing house. With a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat, you can take total control of your home’s temperature settings.
Your thermostat isn’t the only appliance you can control from a smart home app. Here is a list of the best smart appliances to help you continue the modernization of your home.
5. Water your plants wirelessly
One easy thing to forget when you go on vacation (besides your toothbrush) is finding someone to water your plants. Fortunately, there is even home automation technology that has your garden covered. PlantLink is a device you can place around your garden to water your plants remotely using your smartphone. The mobile app is your own mini-horticulturist, reminding you when to water the plants while analyzing your watering history.
For those of us who don’t have a green thumb, creating a watering schedule isn’t intuitive. With PlantLink, each device placed in the garden measures the moisture levels in the soil and automatically creates a watering schedule based on the soil composition, plant types, and weather patterns.
6. Get real-time updates on your smoke and carbon monoxide levels
Fire and carbon monoxide are two of the biggest safety hazards in your home so it’s comforting to have the ability to monitor them from anywhere with a smart home app. Nest also created an alarm that syncs with your smartphone to alert you if the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off. Nest Protect includes features that give you real-time updates about smoke and carbon monoxide levels. It can also notify you when the batteries are low in your alarms.
7. Feed the fish from France
Beyond your home and garden, home automation technology can even protect another precious belonging: your fish! Apex aquarium monitoring gives you complete control over your tank from your smartphone. From ozone control to automated feeding, this device eliminates the need for a Nemo-sitter on your next holiday and takes the marine biology guesswork out of your aquarium.
8. Lock your door without a key
Do you ever leave home and forget whether you locked the back door? Worrying about unlocked doors can be a source of anxiety for anyone. What if you could easily control your locks from your smartphone? You can with the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt.
The Touchscreen Deadbolt gives you a virtual spare key so you don’t need to hide anything under your doormat. With this home automation technology, you can control your locks from anywhere with your mobile device. Do you need to let your dog walker in every week while you’re at work? You can do so with the Deadbolt.
9. Control your lights & blinds through one smart home app
What if you were able to control multiple devices in your home through one single app? Wink makes this possible. The Wink app maintains partnerships with more than 60 products from a variety of manufacturers – offering you convenience and simplicity when it comes to connecting to the items you rely on every day such as sprinkler systems, lights and locks like the Schlage Deadbolt mentioned above. It doesn’t stop there; the Wink HUB is a platform that enables the multi-product connectivity, allowing your smart devices to speak the same wireless language.
Smartphones are quickly becoming all-empowering devices that can turn your house into a fully-controllable smart home. These 9 groundbreaking home automation technologies can be used to protect your home directly from your smartphone. While smart home apps may help make your home more secure or efficient, they don’t protect your property or belongings if something unexpected happens. You’ll want to have quality home insurance coverage to enjoy peace of mind at all times.
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According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to approximately 5,690 fires at education buildings each year. That’s why it’s so important to stress fire safety education in our schools. Take a look at the following school safety tips, and learn how you can teach school fire safety prevention to your children or students.
School fire preparation
Nearly 40% of all school fires are started intentionally. Needless to say, implementing these security measures are vital:
Fire safety education
Educating and preparing students for a fire emergency should be a priority.
College fire safety prevention
These school safety tips focus mostly on elementary, middle and high schools. However, they can also apply to college buildings, where firefighters respond to about 3,810 fires each year – 88% of which are due to cooking mishaps. Here’s a college-level course in fire prevention:
Campus lab precautions
Whether a connoisseur of Cabernet or a supporter of Shiraz, no one wants to think about the possibility of a damaged wine collection. To help wine lovers protect one of their most delectable possessions, Nationwide Private Client, which offers custom insurance coverage for wine collections, has released its wine collection protection tips in honor of National Wine Day on May 25th. The top three ways to protect your wine collection are:
1. Document Your Investment
2. Optimal Storage
3. Insure Your Collection
Nationwide Private Client products and services are designed specifically to address the needs of the affluent market and provide superior coverage for home, auto, collections, personal excess liability, secondary residences and additional exposures. Nationwide offers the agility and responsiveness of a broad network of insurance professionals who provide concierge claims service and one-on-one support from risk solutions consultants.
When teardrop trailers first appeared in the late 1930s, they captured the fancy of a nation that was discovering paved roads, the thrill of the road trip and the joy of camping. Today, these tiny tag-alongs have made a big comeback, and there’s no indication that their popularity will fade anytime soon.
“It used to be that our biggest issue was awareness,” says Chris Baum, chief operating officer of Little Guy Teardrop Camper/Trailer in Massillon, Ohio. “But now we’ve been on shows like `The Price is Right’ and `Home Free.’ There’s a lot of interest.”
The mini-campers get their name from their distinctive sideways-teardrop shape. They’re small enough to be easily towed by a car or even a motorcycle, and light enough to move by hand.
“They’re lightweight and easy enough to move around, but they also get you off the ground so you feel safe,” Baum says.
Retro style, modern appeal
Sometime in the early 2000s, interest in the teardrop returned and today a growing number of enthusiasts are enjoying the “teardrop lifestyle.” The initial craze was born when magazines began publishing do-it-yourself plans for building the tiny trailers. Americans found them irresistible and, by the end of the 1940s, nearly three dozen U.S. manufacturers were making teardrops. The trailers could be purchased as complete, finished products or as kits; the ambitious do-it-yourselfer could even buy plans and build one from scratch.
Production of the lightweight trailers peaked in the 1950s but then, as larger trailers, campers and eventually RVs entered the market, the teardrop was all but forgotten.
Today, teardrop buyers span all age groups.
“Our demographic is all over the place,” Baum says. “We’re not relying on a certain group; our ideal client is anyone who wants to enjoy camping, doesn’t want to do the RV thing, and wants to keep their current vehicle.”
More than two dozen companies in America build custom teardrops, which allows buyers to choose the amenities and accessories that are important to them. Most teardrops are about four feet high, four feet wide and eight feet long, although some are as long as 10 feet and others may be smaller.
The rebirth of the teardrop trailer has been buoyed by a global online community, with blogs, websites and forums devoted to different aspects of the teardrop lifestyle.
There are even “gatherings” of campers who get together for weekend (or longer) events; each year, Little Guy hosts TearStock, a “rolling home tour” that brings together teardrop owners for food, music, wine tasting – and, of course, admiring each other’s trailer. Baum says this year’s gathering drew about 150 attendees.
State and regional chapters of teardrop clubs also meet on a semi-regular basis.
“There are more than 50 teardrop organizations around the country,” Baum says. “There’s so much customization today that people just want to see what others are doing. And there’s the feeling of being part of something that’s so much cooler than what most people have.”
Thinking big, living small
Trailers can hold up to a king-size mattress, and Baum says people are surprised to learn how much room is inside.
The typical teardrop has just enough room for a mattress that sleeps two, and outside there’s usually a small chuck-wagon style kitchen that has a propane stove, stainless steel sink, water tank and icebox – enough to prepare meals, but don’t plan a dinner party. Do plan to park near a bathroom when you stop for the night, however, because there’s no room for such a luxury in a teardrop.
Those who want to try the teardrop lifestyle should probably rent one for a few days, and those who are ready to buy have a number of options. Forums and sites like Craigslist are a good source for used trailers, or you can buy a kit for as little as $2,500 and build it yourself. Starting prices for a new teardrop are around $5,000, although they can run more than double that for replicas of the 1940s and 1950s trailers.
“You can go online and watch videos, but the best thing to do is just to go see one for yourself,” Baum advises. “It’s important to crawl inside one if you want to understand what it’s all about.”
Life insurance might not make headlines or trend on Twitter, but it is important to talk about. Forty-three percent of Americans say they would feel a financial burden within six months if the chief wage earner in the family died. Yet, just 44% of Americans have life insurance.
To help consumers understand various policy options, here are 10 questions you should know the answer to before buying life insurance:
Question #1: How does life insurance work?
At its core, a life insurance policy provides your family with an amount of money, called a death benefit, should you as the insured die.
Question #2: My employer offers life insurance. Why should I buy an additional policy?
Your employer’s plan may be affordable and easy to enroll in, but the policy may not provide enough of a monetary benefit to your family if you die. In addition, you may not be able to continue the policy if you change jobs. That’s why it’s always recommended to have an additional life insurance policy.
Question #3: From whom should I buy life insurance?
Look for a reputable company with name recognition and a history of serving consumers.
Question #4: How much life insurance do I need?
There are two major factors to consider here: your debt, and your spouse and children’s needs.
You want enough life insurance to pay off all of your debts – such as your mortgage and car loans. In addition, you want to leave behind enough money for your family to continue their current lifestyle. An insurance agent can crunch these numbers for you.
Question #5: Do I have to get a medical exam to get a policy?
Some policies may be available without a medical exam, but those might be more expensive.
Question #6: What’s the difference between term and permanent policies?
Term life insurance provides a death benefit for a certain period of time, usually 10, 20 or 30 years, and is typically less expensive than permanent life insurance.
Permanent life insurance provides both death benefits, and sometimes may build up cash value. It’s more expensive than term insurance but never expires, provided you pay your premium.
Question #7: Why are there so many permanent life insurance options?
There are a handful of permanent life insurance options – but the most common are: Whole Life, Universal Life and Variable Life. Permanent life insurance typically requires more premium, but it is designed to last for an entire lifetime. It’s something you’ll want to discuss with your insurance agent.
Question #8: Will my premiums increase?
It’s important to know what your premiums will look like in the future. Some policies are designed to have guaranteed premiums that will never increase, and others are designed to be flexible.
Question #9: What is involved in purchasing life insurance?
Life insurance companies will want to get an understanding of the health of the individual who is applying for the insurance coverage. This underwriting process will typically involve meeting with a medical professional to gather personal information such as height, weight, blood work, and medical and personal questions.
Question #10: When is the best time to buy life insurance?
The sooner you buy life insurance, the more money you’ll save. Young, healthy policyholders get great rates, but older consumers need protection, too. Bottom line – if you don’t have life insurance, talk with an agent today.
If you still have questions about life insurance, check out these helpful resources which can help you find out more about different types of life insurance and how much insurance you’ll need.
More than half of U.S. adults bank online, according to Pew Research Center, and about a third of them bank via cell phone. Given the popularity, it’s important to ask; Is online banking safe?
Despite concerns about identity theft, online banking is as safe as any other banking transaction, says Murray W. Kenyon, senior vice president of technology risk management for BITS Financial Services Roundtable. However, when consumers conduct transactions online, they need to be conscious of their decisions because certain online behaviors can put them at risk, he adds.
Here are six online banking security tips to help keep your money and identity safe:
1.Change your password regularly
The best thing consumers can do to protect themselves is to change their passwords every 90 days, Kenyon says. Never use a word and always use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Words are too easy to guess, particularly if they’re related to your persona, such as your mother’s maiden name, the street where you live or your pet’s name.
The longer the password, the better, Kenyon adds. Many government agencies require passwords to be at least 14 characters. Kenyon offers this tip for creating a long password that is easy to remember: Pick a well-known verse and add numbers and letters to it that will be easy to remember. Make your password even harder to crack by replacing letters with special characters.
2. Refrain from using public computers or Wi-Fi when banking online
Anytime you are using public Wi-Fi, you have to assume that someone can access your browser history and your password. So if you are doing anything that requires you to log in, such as banking or reading email, you are putting yourself at risk, Kenyon says. This applies even if you have your email or other password-protected sites set up to automatically insert your password for you and log in.
3. Check your bank statement regularly
Check your bank statement each month, Kenyon suggests. Even though banks are highly skilled at recognizing fraud, particularly with credit cards, they might not always be able to catch every questionable transaction among every customer, so you should be sure to review your statement monthly.
4. Use licensed anti-virus software
Even Mac users need to invest in good anti-virus software, Kenyon says. Be sure to check for updates frequently. Either set your computer to check for updates automatically and alert you or plan to check yourself every Saturday or Sunday morning. But, Kenyon warns, don’t set your computer to download the update automatically. Downloading manually provides the best protection from malware and viruses.
5. Disconnect your Internet when not using it
Computers that are always connected to the Internet are vulnerable. Most consumers get their internet through their cable company and the Wi-Fi is always on. Be sure your Wi-Fi is password-protected, Kenyon states, and if you can, it’s a good idea to disconnect your computer from the Wi-Fi when you’re not using it.
6. Type your bank URL every time instead of using email links
Never click on a URL in an email, even if it looks like it’s from a trusted source, Kenyon says. “The email and link might look very legitimate but it could take you somewhere you don’t want to go,” he says. Always retype the URL into your computer before using it or bookmark your bank’s actual authenticated site, especially if you are using it for an online transaction or to provide sensitive information.
For more online banking security tips on protecting your accounts, as well as a cyber-security quiz to test your digital habits, visit Nationwide’s cyber security resource center. Nationwide Financial is a member of the Financial Services Roundtable.
Planning on doing some long distance driving? These long road trips tips can help you get there safely and comfortably.
If you’re taking a long road trip, you need to plan in advance. And we’re not just talking about packing. “Highway hypnosis” is quite common when travelers haven’t prepared for the endurance demands of an extended haul. In fact, more than 60 percent of drivers say they’ve gotten behind the wheel while drowsy, according to a survey by mattress retailer Sleepy’s.
With that statistic in mind, you should take steps to prepare for long drives before you get behind the wheel—and to stay alert and energized throughout your trip. These tips for long drives will help you down the road.
1. Stock your sleep time
Think about exhaustion before you begin your journey, not after. Get at least seven hours of sleep for two consecutive nights before the road trip to build up your energy reserves. “Also, try to avoid driving between 1 and 3 p.m., when the body’s temperature is lower and people are naturally drowsy,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a.k.a. “The Sleep Doctor.”
2. Fuel up
This time, we mean fuel for you, not your car. Carrying along a variety of vitamin-packed, healthy foods will allow you to get by on smaller snacks throughout the long drive, while skipping the fast-food stops. “To stay alert, carrots and almonds are my favorite,” says blogger and travel expert Gretchen Breuner from TheRoadScholarz.com.
3. Stay hydrated
Keep the water supply well-stocked for maximum energy. “A possible downside of this, of course, is that you’ll need to make more bathroom stops,” says Breuner, who traveled to 19 states with her family in an RV in three months. To learn more about items to stock your car with, check out this list of 5 must-have emergency items.
4. Plan your stops
One of the most crucial tips for long road trips is to get out of your car and stretch your legs every two hours or so, our experts suggest. Plan these stops into your long distance drive, whether they fall at mealtimes or can be timed to let you view interesting places.
5. Chew gum
The repetitive process increases circulation and alertness. “You don’t need the sugary kind to get the desired effect,” says Breus, who is a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.
6. Use good scents
During long distance driving, Breus also recommends keeping a source of peppermint scent nearby. When you feel you need a boost, take a sniff. “It’s a pleasant, all-natural pick-me-up that has been shown to reduce fatigue and increase alertness,” he says.
7. Sit up straight
Make sure your seat is adjusted properly for your body, tilted for maximum blood flow. If you feel a driving “trance” coming on, sit up. “Take a deep breath and scan your body for tension,” says yoga teacher and wellness specialist Elaine Masters, of DrivetimeYoga.com. “If your right hip is feeling sore, for example, lean to the other side.”
8. Keep passengers entertained
Long drives—especially with kids—can often lead to bickering. That kind of aggravation leads to driver fatigue. So make sure children are entertained with books, puzzles and other time-killing diversions. On the flip side, games such as “find the license plate” are great for keeping everyone engaged with one another.
9. Treat yourself to some sounds
Books on tape help keep the brain active, without creating a dangerous distraction. Breus recommends listening to humorous books or even comedy CDs. “Laughing,” he says, “will keep you awake.”
These tips for long drives can help keep you and your car protected on the road. For more defensive driving tips, check out these 9 safe driving habits you should know.
In addition to safe driving habits, your insurance policy is key to protecting you while driving. Learn more about Sterling Peaks Insurance’s auto insurance coverage, including our 24/7 Roadside Assistance option.
For some people, cars aren’t just for driving; they become part of a collection. Whether it’s a particular marque or vehicles from a certain era, collectors have different reasons for wanting to add more cars to their fleet – and oftentimes, it has little to do with driving them.
“I collect for a car’s ability to appreciate in value, but it always has to be something that I want to enjoy owning,” says Ron Sturgeon, a car collector based in Fort Worth, Texas. Sturgeon has been collecting high-end cars for more than 30 years, and over the years he has bought and sold everything from concept cars to Bentleys to vintage BMW Isettas.
Car collecting has become increasingly popular in recent years; according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, which tracks the performance of a number of different collectible categories, collectible cars have increased in value more than 450% from 2004 to 2014. (By comparison, collectible art increased 200%)
In 2015, the KFLII reported, classic cars were the world’s top-performing luxury asset, growing 17% in the last year compared to wine, which was up 9%, and rare coins, which increased 6%.
But of course, there’s an art – and a science – to creating a valuable collection of cars. Here is some insight on how to buy a classic car that, over time, will increase in value.
Look at the market value of a classic car
Sturgeon says an easy way to break down the profitability of a collectible car is to look at which ones already turn heads and turn a profit.
“Yesterday’s collectibles, in most cases, will also be tomorrow’s collectibles,” he says. “Low production runs and beauty are also important. Most ugly cars that are rare or have low production runs will still struggle to be highly collectible.”
When buying a classic car, doing your research is important because you can find out which cars are faring well as investments and which ones are clunkers. Through such publications as the Hagerty Price Guide, car enthusiasts can keep tabs on the performance of such cars and learn more about what they can expect to pay if they’re considering starting a collection.
Buying a classic car with consistent value
Buying a classic car that is a consistent top seller will put you in a better position when it comes to increasing value. Historically, Ferrari has led the pack in getting top dollar as a collectible, and Mercedes-Benz isn’t far behind. Following the market can keep you on top of trends; at the moment, other Italian cars such as Lamborghini and Maserati are gaining more traction, too.
However, it doesn’t always have to be a sleek sports car; cars with a certain heritage can also gain a following, which contributes to a higher price tag. Muscle cars, VW camper vans and classics such as a vintage Ford Thunderbird all have a place in the collector market. They hold the advantage of being more affordable than some of the sports car models
Get involved in the classic car community
Joining a is another way to learn more about what’s going on in the market; it can also provide more insight into the cars, introduce you to other collectors and help you better decide on what direction you want to go. Studying which cars are undervalued but are gaining in popularity can help you develop a strategy.
“You should read the price guides and car magazines to learn all you can, and spend some time at auctions,” Sturgeon advises.
There’s no sure thing when buying classic cars
Of course, as with any other market, there’s no guarantee that your collectible car will increase in value. Buying a classic car that needs a lot of restoration work could actually turn into a money pit instead of a cash cow, and Sturgeon says it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open.
Buying a car you have coveted since your youth, or a new one that you haven’t been able to get out of your mind since you first saw it, means that even if you don’t make a mint, you have invested in something you enjoy.
Once you pick out the perfect car to buy, you want to protect your investment. Classic car insurance offers specialized coverage that meets the needs of car collectors. Find out more about Classic Car Insurance from Sterling Peaks Insurance.
If you own a business, you’ve probably invested a lot of time, effort and maybe even money. Protecting your company with the right BOP policy can help you in the event of property damage, general liability issues and even business income issues. Get the full details on what a business insurance policy covers with this video.
Learn more about Sterling Peaks Insurance’s BOP coverage options and how it can help you protect your company in the event of the unknown.
Since the post-World War II years – dating back at least to the 1950s – Americans have been in love with the automobile. Coming of driving age and earning that all-important driver’s license became a rite of passage that has been the focal point of many a teenager’s existence. But today, that love affair with the automobile is slipping away. As a growing number of consumers look for transportation solutions versus driving experiences, some experts say the entire model of how we approach car ownership is changing.
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