Home Security in 2015: Here’s How New Technology Can Keep You Even Safer

Home Security in 2015: Here's How New Technology Can Keep You Even SaferSecuring your home is a top priority, and you will need to make periodic updates and upgrades to your efforts from time to time. Today’s criminals are highly intelligent, and they often use superior techniques to break into homes criminals from past years and decades did not use.

As homeowners’ efforts to secure their homes become more sophisticated, the fact is that criminals are also becoming more sophisticated. There are several new products on the market that you may consider installing and implementing in your home to improve security going forward.

Wireless Video Cameras

Many of the more advanced home security systems today have some type of video surveillance system in place. Generally, this is a closed circuit system that records activities or that is motion activated so that the area is only recorded when movement is detected.

More advanced options, however, are wireless by design, and you may be able to both listen to and watch your home from your smartphone or wireless device. Keep in mind that not all activities will take place in the small perimeter that is monitored by your camera, so the ability to listen to the home in real-time is a benefit.

Keyless Entry Locks With Alarm Sounds

Many homeowners have already invested in keyless entry locks. These are often viewed as a convenience feature for homeowners because they do not have to worry about misplacing their keys or giving a key to their maid service or others who need to enter the home. The key code can easily be changed as needed to add security to the home. However, a new spin on the keyless entry lock is an audible alarm sound. With this product, the lock will emit a loud alarm signal that can alert you and others passing nearby that someone is trying to break into your home.

Smart Door Locks

You can also choose to invest in smart door locks. These are locks that you can monitor and even control through an app on your smartphone or mobile device. You do not have to give out a code to the maid service because you can simply unlock the door for the cleaners when they arrive at your home. You may have forgotten to lock your door that morning before you left for work, and you can use the app to lock the door remotely. You can also receive a notification each time the door is opened or unlocked.

Each of these innovative features can enhance the security of your home in different ways. When you want to gain better control over your home security, you may consider investing in some of these state-of-the-art products for your home in the near future.

Moving In: Our Ultimate Guide to Unpacking Will Help You Maximize Your Space

Moving In: Our Ultimate Guide to Unpacking Will Help You Maximize Your Space Many buyers anticipate the day they drive to their new home. Then it happens: the movers pull up. It’s time to move everything in. This can be a daunting task, but following a few steps will break down the work and careful planning will maximize space in the years ahead.

Clear Your Space

Go through each room to make sure the seller removed all belongings. Contact the real estate agent if the seller did not do this. Check the condition of all surfaces to determine how much preparation may be required.

Place Boxes In Correct Rooms

Boxes should be marked by room and either carry a label detailing what’s inside or be matched to a list showing what’s inside. Put each box in the correct room.

Place Boxes In Order Of Need

In each room, place boxes that will not be immediately needed against the far wall. Place boxes needed sooner in front of or on top of those boxes.

Eliminate Excess Items

If this wasn’t done while packing, buyers should stop any unwanted belongings from being taken into the house.

Create A Strategy

Unpacking does not have to be done in one day. Create a strategy for unpacking in three steps: immediate, secondary, and long-term needs.

Immediate Unpacking

Unpack what you need in the next couple of days. This will include bedding, toiletries, basic cooking equipment, and a few changes of clothing.

Secondary Unpacking

In the first week, unpack secondary items. Each day, unpack these items for one or two rooms. In the bedroom, for example, unpack your clothing and accessories. In the kitchen, unpack the rest of what you use for everyday cooking and eating. Do the same for other rooms.

Long-term Unpacking

By the end of the first month, decide what you are going to do with items you don’t use every day. Use extra closets, cupboards, basement or storage rooms, outdoor sheds, and the like. Remember where you put things so you can find them later.

Organize as You Go

Put items away in an organized fashion. Don’t just haphazardly unpack and toss things. It’s better to unpack more slowly and take time to put things away thoughtfully.

Call your real estate agent for moving-in tips and lists to track belongings. Take your time with unpacking and you will create a home where you can find things easily, maintain livable spaces, and enjoy a spacious environment.

DIY Lovers: ‘Greenify’ Your Home with These Three Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Projects

DIY Lovers: 'Greenify' Your Home with These Three Eco-friendly Home Improvement ProjectsAre you a homeowner who is searching for ways to make your home a bit more eco-friendly? Equipping your home with “green” improvements can save a substantial amount of energy and money, especially over the long term.

In today’s post we’ll explore a few projects that handy do-it-yourselfers can undertake in order to make a home a bit friendlier to the local environment.

#1: Focus on the Windows

Depending upon the time of year, windows have an impact on both heating and cooling costs. In the summer, older windows can drastically heat up a home causing cooling costs to skyrocket. In the winter, older windows can leak cold air within the home and let out the heat, which causes the heating costs to rise as well.

A simple replacement of older windows can save a homeowner as much as 30 percent on annual energy costs, as newer windows are more efficient at insulating the home against the weather conditions outside.

Combining a window upgrade with other energy-related changes can lead to even greater savings. For example, consider installing a ceiling fan in rooms that are generally occupied – such as the living room or family room – as these can circulate cool and warm air and help to reduce energy use.

During the colder months, use as much solar heating as possible. Open up curtains, and trim trees to allow for natural light to enter the home. The sun heats up the home through radiant heating, which is an effective and essentially free source of energy.

#2: Improve Your Insulation

A home that is properly insulated will help to preserve its heat and cool air. Heat can leak out from the home through cracks, but it can also occur through convection heating. The air within the home will eventually cool down from a steady decline of heat when the heat is transferred outside through the walls.

Beyond hot and cool air leaking out from the home, each room within the home can indirectly influence the temperature in adjoining rooms. This is especially true for the garage and any room that shares common walls. By using insulation in the garage, the home may cool down by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

#3: Install Smart Thermostats

Some green options simply mean a change in which type of appliances are used. In terms of a thermostat, a “smart” one like the Nest Thermostat can be installed. Use of one can cut energy costs by 20 percent, at minimum, by simply adjusting to the homeowners’ schedule.

To discover the numerous benefits green home improvements offer, talk with your trusted real estate agent today.

Three Subtle Painting Tricks That Will Make Your Home Look Amazing

Three Subtle Painting Tricks That Will Make Your Home Look Amazing This Spring When it comes to painting the walls of a house, sometimes subtle is best. You want to add design, color, and texture to the walls, but you don’t want it jarring to the eyes. Here are three subtle painting techniques you can try on your home walls.

Tissue Paper Texture

One easy way to add texture to walls is to use tissue paper. You apply the tissue paper to the walls and it stays there until you want something new.

Crumple up a piece of tissue paper into a tight ball and then open it up and smooth it out. Small textured lines will appear on the paper. Those lines will remain when you use the paper on the walls.

Use the colored wall paint as glue to adhere the tissue paper to the wall. Paint an area of the wall that’s a little bit bigger than the piece of tissue paper. Press the paper to the painted area and smooth it out so all the edges stick to the wall. Paint over the tissue paper. Repeat the process until the entire wall is covered.

Sponge Color-on-Color Technique

Natural sponges create a unique look on painted walls. If you use two versions of the same color, satin and semi-gloss, then it creates a subtle look that isn’t shocking to the eyes. The color is the same but the shine is different.

Paint your wall with the satin color paint. Let it dry completely. Dip the top of the natural sponge in the semi-gloss paint. Dab the sponge to the wall over and over. It’s OK to overlap the paint in areas and you aren’t going to completely cover the wall.

Once dry, the satin paint will show from beneath the semi-gloss paint creating a neat shine effect.

Taped Stripes

You don’t want bold multi-color stripes on your wall because it will stand out too much. Subtle stripes create a beautiful effect.

Choose two colors that sit side-by-side on the color spectrum. Or, choose two similar colors from different companies. Paint companies tend to have slight differences in colors.

Paint the walls your first color choice. Let it dry completely. Tape the walls using painters tape to make stripes. Make them horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Make them wide or thin. It’s up to you. Paint the walls again with the second color choice. Paint right over the tape. When you remove the tape, the first color will show.

These simple and subtle paint techniques will make your walls beautiful. This is especially useful if you plan to sell your home and want to increase its value. Visit a trusted real estate agent for more information on simple ways to make your home more inviting to potential buyers.

2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You Renovate

2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You RenovateRenovating your kitchen is an excellent way to improve its look, increase the value of your home and appeal to a more diverse range of home buyers if you decide to sell. However, a kitchen remodel can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000 or more, which is why you want to make choices that you can live with. Learning more about some of hottest trends for 2015 can help you decide what you want and don’t want in your kitchen.

Traditional Is Back

Trends come and go, but the classics remain constant. One of the hottest renovation trends for 2015 is a more traditional look. Homeowners today are no longer attached to trendy colors and modern designs; they want homes that have a more traditional look and will retain that traditional look for years to come.

Experts predict that 2015 will bring a return to darker wood colors for cabinets, tables, counters and even floors. There are also some reports that homeowners will use oil rubbed bronze and darker pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers as opposed to flashy and contemporary chrome accents. Other trends include rustic farmhouse tables, double porcelain sinks and natural stone counters.

Going Green

It’s hard to go anywhere today without seeing or hearing about green decorating trends, and those trends carry over into kitchens. Homeowners want products made from recycled materials and the chance to “go green” at home. Adding a recycling center is just one of the hottest trends for the kitchen.

Designers also found that homeowners want counters and floors made from recycled or sustainable materials. Bamboo is a sustainable construction material that works well in flooring applications. Homeowners can also find counters made from old tires, soda bottles and other recycled goods.

Homeowners Want More Space

Ask anyone want they need in their homes, and the odds are good that many will say they need more space. Recessed lighting is one trendy accent that adds more space and reduces the number of fixtures and cords hanging down from the ceiling. Other ways to add more space include adding an island with storage to the center of the room and cutting down on the number of cabinets lining the walls.

There are a number of trendy ways that you can renovate and change your kitchen. Going green, adding more space and bringing in traditional elements are just a few of those ways. Talk with a real estate agent about other changes you can make that will add value to your kitchen.

Tankless Water Heaters: The Pros and Cons of Going Tankless In Your Home

Tankless Water Heaters: The Pros and Cons of Going Tankless In Your HomeLarge water heaters are unsightly appliances that home-sellers would rather hide. Although it’s not always possible to banish these structures, it is possible to replace them with a version that is not as overbearing. Tankless water heaters have the potential to make one home stand out amongst the competition, but they do have some disadvantages along with the benefits.

Pro: Tankless Water Heaters Use Less Energy

Traditional water heaters continuously heat water that is just sitting in the tank, and this requires energy. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not heat the water until someone needs it. Therefore, they are more energy-efficient and cost less to operate.

Pro: Tankless Water Heaters Last Longer

Traditional water heaters will need to be replaced after about a decade, but tankless water heaters can last much longer. If someone is planning on purchasing a home with a new tankless water heater, he or she would not have to think about replacing it for about 20 years.

Pro: Tankless Water Heaters Are More Space Efficient

The typical traditional water heater is 24 inches wide and 60 inches tall. Tankless heaters save a lot of space because they are generally only 20 inches wide and 28 inches tall. They open up a lot of space, and this impresses buyers greatly.

Con: There Is Less Available Hot Water with Tankless Heaters

Although a tankless heater can provide a home with hot water only when it is needed, the amount is limited to a few gallons at a time. This will mean that more than one occupant in the home cannot take a shower at the same time. They will definitely not be able to do this while they run the dishwasher or the washing machine.

Con: Tankless Water Heaters Are Typically More Expensive

Tankless water heaters cost around $1,000 while the traditional version only has a price tag equal to $300 or $400. While this higher up-front purchase cost is a con, if you consider that a tankless water heater should last longer than a traditional heater you may end up saving a bit over time.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home or are selling the one you currently own, contact your local real estate agent for more information. While they might not be the best source of information about water heaters, these professionals are the best way to ensure you get a great deal on a home.

Prevent Icy Drafts with Our Easy Three-Step Guide to Weatherizing Your Windows

Prevent Icy Drafts with Our Easy Three-step Guide to Weatherizing Your WindowsIn the cold winter months, you’ll probably want to be outside enjoying the snow when you get a chance – perhaps building a snowman or having a snowball fight with the kids. However, you’ll get cold, and you’ll want to come inside to your well-heated home.

While you may have dealt with insulating your attic, walls and other areas of your home, if you’ve neglected your windows you may find that they become a source of very cold drafts.

In today’s blog post we’ll share a quick three-step guide to weatherizing your windows which will keep you warmer and help to prevent wasted energy and high heating bills.

Between Window Frames and Walls

The first step to weatherizing your windows is to check for spaces in between the window frames and the windows. You can often see any gaps clearly as they will allow you to see straight outside. If you’re dealing with small gaps you can use caulking as a temporary solution.

If you’re dealing with larger gaps, you’ll want to have professionals come in to repair or rebuild the wall.

Between Window Frames and Windows

If you have windows that can be open and closed, you’re going to need to check these to ensure they seal tightly and that the weather-stripping hasn’t worn away. Weather-stripping is typically sold in rolls, and most types have at least one adhesive side so that you can quickly apply it to your windows and frames. Note that there are different types of weather-stripping on the market, so be sure to purchase a type that will work with your windows.

The Window Panes

The window panes themselves can be used to your advantage. On sunny winter days, you can open the windows and let the sunshine in to warm up your home. At night, close the curtains or blinds to help make a sort of insulation to keep out the cold. The thicker the curtains or drapes are, the more they will help insulate your home and prevent heat loss through your windows.

The benefits of weatherizing your windows will serve you well past this winter if done right. Don’t forget that doing the opposite with curtains or blinds in the summer will help keep your home cool, and the value of a house goes up when these kinds of details are covered. When you’re ready to sell your home, be sure to contact your local real estate agent and they’ll be happy to assist.

Homeowner’s Insurance: What’s Covered, What Isn’t and Why You Might Need It

Homeowner's Insurance: What's Covered, What Isn't and Why You Might Need It Homeowner’s insurance is an incredibly valuable and beneficial policy for homeowners to have, but it is necessary to understand what traditional policies do and do not cover. Once you familiarize yourself with the intricacies of various plans you will be better educated to make the proper decision when selecting your desired level of coverage.

What’s Covered In Homeowner’s Insurance?

The majority of homeowner’s insurance plans will cover dwelling and other structure protection, personal property protection, natural disaster protection, and bodily injury liability protection. Dwelling and other structure protection plans cover damage to your home and other structures that are directly connected to the home, such as the garage. Personal property protection covers damage or loss of personal property within the dwelling. Natural disaster protection covers your home should a natural disaster cause damage, but note that natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes typically are not covered. Finally, bodily injury liability protection typically covers injuries to individuals while on your property.

What Is Not Included In Homeowner’s Insurance?

As mentioned above, two of the major natural disasters that are not covered by homeowner’s insurance are flooding and earthquakes. There are specific insurance plans that cover flood damage and earthquake damage, but you’ll find that the vast majority of common homeowner’s insurance plans do not cover these types of disasters.

Homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover home business equipment either. If you are running a business from within your home, small business insurance is required to mitigate your risk.

Personal property over a certain value is also not typically covered unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Items such as expensive musical instruments, artwork, jewelry, and silverware should have their own insurance policy which is dedicated to valuable personal property.

Why You Might Need Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is intended to help protect you against the unexpected. You never know when a natural disaster such as a tornado or a lightning strike which causes a fire within your home might occur. Accidents do happen, and a visiting friend or relative can be injured on your property. Homeowner’s insurance is a great protection plan to have to make sure that both you and your property are covered should disaster strike.

When you’re ready to buy your next home, be sure to contact your local real estate agent to leverage their advice and expertise. Your agent will also be able to refer you to the best place to get homeowner’s insurance for your new home.

Three Hot Renovations That Will Boost Your Home’s Value Without Breaking the Bank

Three Hot Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value Without Breaking the BankAre you feeling the “renovation itch” or perhaps looking for a fun project that you can take on which will provide you with a return on your investment? There are numerous home upgrades and renovations that can add value to a home without costing a large sum of money to complete.

Let’s take a look at three popular home renovations that can increase your home equity without draining your bank account.

Paint Your Home Inside and out

Painting the interior or exterior of your home costs very little when compared to how much it can freshen up your home’s appearance and increase its value. Painting is also an excellent time to get rid of any old wallpaper or other decor touches that are a little dated. Spend some time browsing through Pinterest or through home improvement websites in order to choose a color palette that is warm and inviting without being too bold. Remember, if the goal is to increase your home’s value you’ll need to paint using colors that buyers will find attractive.

Upgrading Your Windows

If your local environment is cold or wet during parts of the year you may find that upgrading your windows improves your home’s appearance and provides you with some additional savings in the form of reduced energy costs. Look for windows that are energy-efficient and that are guaranteed to eliminate drafts. Depending on the area of the country that you reside in, you may find that windows that are insulated with vinyl or aluminum are your best bet.

Finishing Your Basement into a Suite

If you have an unfinished basement which has a lot of space and running water you may want to consider finishing it in to a full basement suite. Some buyers will be enticed by the additional rental income that can come from a suite, while others will be excited at the opportunity to provide an older child or family member with their own suite inside of the same home.

You’ll find that investing a little time and money in your home now can pay huge dividends later when it’s time to sell and move on. If you’d like to learn more about the value of your home and what you could receive for it if you sold, contact your local real estate professional today.

Let There Be Light! 3 Easy Ways to Make over a Room by Adding New Light Fixtures

Let There Be Light! 3 Easy Ways to Make over a Room by Adding New Light Fixtures Light is an important design element that can be used to influence your interior decor in a number of ways. In fact, you can experience a major transformative change on the overall style and ambiance of a room by making a few simple lighting changes. Consider how these ideas can help you to improve the look of your space with great results, and think about ways that you can improve your space by making a few changes.

The Addition of Spotlights

If you have fine pieces of artwork, decorative display areas or other features that you want to illustrate with beautiful clarity, the addition of spotlights is a great idea. You can shine light on these special features in your home by installing a single, bright fixture with a focused beam overhead, or you can use track lighting to highlight larger features. In some cases, the design or layout of your room may be sufficient to allow lighting to be placed at eye-level or even below the fixture to shine upward at it.

Background Illumination

While spotlights can shine a focused beam of light on fixtures, you can also use background lighting for ambiance. Consider how you can incorporate background lighting with under-cabinet kitchen lighting, dimmer recessed lighting placed behind a sofa or other features. Generally, these are lights that do not provide direct lighting, and the light may not be the main source of light in the room. It may even have a hint of color to it for a dramatic flair that further establishes ambiance.

Beautiful Lamps

Another idea is to use beautiful or decorative lamps in your room. These may be smaller desk lamps, towering floor lamps or table top lamps. There are lamps available in a wide range of colors, sizes and styles. The lighting from the lamps may influence ambiance and provide functional lighting, but the decorative nature of the lamps themselves can enhance the décor even when the lights are not turned on.

There are many different types of lighting that can influence your home’s décor, and in many cases, it makes sense to incorporate each of these styles of lighting in a single room to enjoy different benefits. You can study your rooms’ layouts and designs today to learn more about how the existing light fixtures influence decor, and you can make a few appropriate changes to enjoy better overall results for your space.