home security

Five Ways To Save Money At Home

Buffalo may not have been hit as hard by the economic downswing as some other cities but many of us are still lighter in the wallet than we would prefer. It seems that almost nobody has been able to entirely escape at least some of the economic sting. Besides, regardless of our current economic situation, it is unlikely that any of us like the idea of wasting money. We would never throw money away consciously but many of us don’t realize how much money we could save by being a little wiser at home. The monthly utility bill is one of the peskiest expenses but there are a number of easy things that can be done to cut that bill down and save some money. Here are three of the easiest and most effective.
1. Appliances
Most of our homes are packed full with gadgets, machines and appliances. Although most of these things are designed to simplify our lives and provide convenience, they can oftentimes do just the opposite. At the very least they can end up costing a lot of money. Being smart about the way you use your appliances can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
Big appliances such as dishwashers, dryers and washing machines have become so commonplace that we don’t even consider them luxuries anymore and as a result we don’t consider that there might be a more economical way to use them. You will find that your utility bills are significantly lower each month if you only run big appliances when you have a full load, rather than every time something needs to be washed or cleaned. You should also avoid running appliances that give off a decent amount of heat (ovens, dryers, dishwashers) during the day in the hot summer months. That excess heat will increase your home’s internal temperature and put an extra burden on your air conditioning.
2. Windows
Speaking of temperature control, doors and windows are the most crucial aspects in maintaining a desirable temperature in your home year round. We all know that winter in Buffalo can be bitter cold and we all want to keep that cold outside as much as possible. One effective way to keep winter heating bills low is to keep the curtains open on all south facing windows during daylight hours to allow UV rays to naturally warm the home. The opposite should be done in the hot summer months to keep air conditioning costs low—close all window coverings during daylight hours and particularly all those that are on east and west facing windows.
3. Lights
Another great way to save money and avoid wasting energy is through the conservative use of lights. Forming the habit of turning off lights when leaving a room seems small and inconsequential but the economical use of lighting will help your electricity bill in big ways. It is wasteful to leave lights on when you’re not using them and especially if lights are left on while you are out of the house for long periods of time, such as for vacations or business trips. Some will leave lights on when leaving the home as a security precaution but it is far more effective and far more affordable in the long run to put your lights on timers. Automatic timers do a better job of improving home security while also avoiding the consistent drain on energy that runs up electricity bills in a hurry.

David Glenn is a home improvement expert from buffalo that freelance writes for Vivint. He occasionally freelance writes about home automation and making your home more green. Check out Vivint’s home automation systems for state of the art home automation.

Inexpensive Tips For Protecting Your Home

Home securityYour home is a castle. And although you’ll probably want to think twice before digging a moat or heaving boiling oil up onto your roof, you should still do everything in your power to defend it. The sad fact is that break-ins occur all the time. In the United States a break-in occurs every 14.6 seconds. That means that if you have something worth stealing, then chances are that someone out there wants to steal it. But short of turning your home into a futuristic fortress of laser sensors and robot sentinels, how can you secure you home against unwanted visitors? Here are some simple things you can do to discourage break-ins, and about how much money each method will cost you.

1. Rig the Door

If you live in an apartment complex, then you get to enjoy the double stress of being surrounded by people you don’t trust, and not being able to do much about it. Seriously, any major security features you add to your apartment will either violate your rental agreement or—at the very least—get left behind when your lease expires. The good news is that most burglars enter directly through the front door. That means that if you can secure your main entrance, you’ll be less likely to get robbed. So beef up your door defenses. Check the door itself to make sure that the hinges are secure and lack rust. Check the door-frame for rotted wood or cracks. If you see problems here, you should be able to get your landlord to fix them for free. If not, then invest in some repairs (hinges: $15-$30, door frames and jams: $50-$100). Install and use a deadbolt (Approx. $50), and never leave a spare key outside where a criminal could find it. Small magnetic contact alarms can be purchased at most home supply stores ($5-$10). These attach to the inside of the door and the frame, and emit an ear piercing shriek when one side breaks contact from the other (such as when the door is opened). Sure, you’ll need to get really good at reaching in and disarming it whenever you come in through the front, but that shouldn’t be too difficult if you know where the alarm is. A criminal would most likely hear the shriek and run for it.

2. Make it Look Like Someone is Home

Most burglars are as disinterested in meeting you as you are in meeting them. As such, they would prefer to do their business in your home when you are not. So, do whatever you can to make it look like someone is home during the day. Consider leaving the television or radio on when you’re gone, or installing a timer (approx. $10) to turn them on and off throughout the day. Alternately, if you have a car that you’re going to be leaving at home, park it in the driveway rather than in the garage. Install motion sensor lights on your front porch ($20-$50). Ask a neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspaper if you plan on leaving home for an extended period of time. Heck, you could even get a cardboard cutout of yourself made at a local copy store (approx. $70) and place it somewhere that can be seen from outside.

3. Play to Their Fears

If you have a dog that’s going to be home during the day, don’t hide the fact. Burglars have classically avoided guard dogs, and will probably look for an easier target if they see an outside food dish ($3-$10) or a doghouse ($50-$100). If you don’t have a dog, consider placing a sign near your door that indicates otherwise (Approx. $5). You can also give the impression of electronic security without actually having any. Fake surveillance cameras ($15-$40) and digital key-pads (approx. $10) would probably be enough to scare away all but the most daring thief. Naturally, to be really safe, you should invest in an actual electronic home security system. But even if you find yourself with only a few extra dollars to put towards your castle’s defenses, you can still do a lot to discourage potential break-ins. The boiling oil, however, should probably be a last defense.

About the Author: Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer who specializes in home improvements involving home automation.  She is currently acting as a consultant to Vivint. You can follow them on Twitter here.

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