Tag Archives: automation

The Top 10 Safety and Security Posts of 2018—to Guide You into a Safer New Year

Another year has come and gone. And we are doing our usual looking backwards to review 2018 and decide what to bring forward into the new year…as well as what to leave behind. Which brings us to safety and security, of course!

During the past year, we served up over 50 blog posts on home security and safety topics. To wrap up 2018 with a flourish, we’ve sorted through those 50 posts to make this list of the top 10. The criteria? The topics we consider of the highest priority based on what poses the greatest risks to us, our loved ones and our homes. Without further ado, here are our top topics for the past year, those we consider still high priorities as we move into 2019:

As mentioned above, we delivered over 50 posts over the past year, covering everything from online shopping to college campus safety tips. You can find every safety and security topic at our blog, so take a look and discover all the other ways you can keep yourself, your family and your home safe and secure in 2019.

Is Your Home Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

As our phones get bigger and smarter and the technologies we use every day get more sophisticated, so too can our homes. With the Internet of Things now upon us, we’re poised to go from smart homes to smarterhomes in 2019 as home automation systems become commonplace and off-the-shelf products offer the convenience of smart home technology.

Here’s a quick look at just some of the tasks you can hand over to automation and smart home technology:

Home security: This one you’re probably already familiar with, but it gets better and better every year. Today’s home security systems offer video to let you see who’s at the front door, smart locks you can operate from anywhere, and even home automation features that let you program heating, air conditioning and lighting.

Lighting: Speaking of lighting, your home automation system can be set to turn lights on or off. You can now also buy lighting systems that let you control the brightness but also the color. You can even match the color of the light in a picture on your phone. This system can also turn lights on slowly to help you wake up in the morning.

Thermostats: Your home automation system can be used to control your thermostat or you can buy a “learning” thermostat that adapts to your lifestyle.

Household chores: Would you like to hand over some of your household chores to technology? You easily can. You’ll find devices that can handle some of the most mundane tasks for you, including window washing, vacuuming and floor mopping.

In the kitchen: We’ve heard all kinds of chatter about smart appliances already, like refrigerators that can track your groceries for you and ovens you can turn on remotely on your way home from work. But the one I’m ready for is the coffeemaker that knows when I wake up and brews my coffee just in time!

In the yard: You can lighten your load inside with smart home technology and automated devices, but you can also hand over some of the outside jobs too. Technology today offers automated lawn mowers and sprinklers, pool cleaners, and even a gutter cleaning device. (That’s the one at the top of my list! I do not like ladders!)

In the bedroom: Even your mattress can now help you sleep better, using biometric sensors and your smart phone.

And for the not yet smart? For those appliances that aren’t yet “smart,” you can get an outlet that lets you control whatever is plugged into it from your smart phone.

Experts say we are on the verge of the Internet of Things revolution, and that it will change our lives as fundamentally as the Internet did 20 years ago. As a homeowner, you won’t have to wait for the benefits of this technology, because you can easily start making your home smarter than a fifth grader with all the home security features and home devices already available to you!

What’s New in Home Security? We Look at the Latest in Locks

If your car is new enough, you probably don’t have a key to unlock the door or even to start the engine. Instead, you have a “proximity key” which means something you’re carrying will unlock your car door for you when you are close enough.

As someone who drives an older car with an old-fashioned key, I can’t quite wrap my head around that yet, but I’d better get caught up soon because door locks for houses are going high tech too!

A home security or home automation system is a smart way to protect your home, but—as we’ve said before—it’s not enough. You must take other steps too, including secure door and window locks. And those locks are getting ever more sophisticated while offering multiple advantages as high-tech locks. You can lock or unlock your door remotely using your smart phone when necessary. You can assign a temporary code to a non-family member who needs to access your house—say a neighbor who’s feeding the cat while you’re away. You can get a notification when the lock is used. And those are just a few of the new-fanged features!

When your lock’s looks count…
Your lock is a security feature, but it’s also prominent on the entry point of your home, so appearance might be of utmost importance to you. If you care about appearance and you want a lock that looks like a lock, you can find them. Some smart locks can be opened with a code on a keypad, as a keyless entry, or with a key, but they have a classy low-tech “lock look” even though they’re high tech on the inside.

When you want high-tech features with a low-tech look
Some new-fangled locks do double duty when they look like a regular deadbolt but are all high-tech. You can even find locks with a place to insert a key, but they work via a biometric scanner that’s hiding behind an innocuous looking lock. You put your finger under the scanner to gain access.

When you want your high-tech lock to have a high-tech look
Other new locks look as high tech as they perform–all sleek and streamlined, screaming they’re high tech and not pretending to be anything but!

Of course, you have other options for locking your front door that are low tech, and those options are fine too, as long as you’re using high-quality locks and the whole family is diligent about locking them. But if you want something more sophisticated, one of these high-tech options might be the best choice for you!

Tips for Getting Lit Up Before the Dark Days Arrive

October is here, Halloween is fast approaching, and daylight savings will end November 4th. Yep, it’s time to look at lighting! Use the tips below to make sure your lighting is adding to your home’s security, both inside and outside your home.

Inside your home
With a home automation system, you can put your lights on timers so they turn on when it starts to get dark, even if your house is empty. There are two safety reasons for having your lights turn on automatically.

  1. The lights turning on all of a sudden makes it look like someone’s home, to help deter burglars.
  2. When the lights are already on, you or your kids can see when first coming in the front door, reducing the risk of trips or falls in the dark.

Also take a walk around as dusk falls to evaluate your lighting needs. Are there dark corners or stairs that would be safer with better lighting? Are there nightlights for anyone who gets up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water during the night? Fix any problems spots you find, to decrease the chance of accidents.

Outside your home
Good lighting outside will also help deter burglars and reduce accidents, but it’s a little trickier because you’ll have to experience the dark spots to know where you need to make adjustments. Do your assessment when it’s dark and check for the following:

  • Are sidewalks and pathways clearly lit, for your family, but also for visitors?
  • Is the path to your shop or detached garage clearly lit?
  • Are there dark areas by doorways or windows where someone could hide while breaking in?

As you’re improving your outdoor lighting, keep in mind these three tips so your yard doesn’t end up looking like a brightly lit runway:

  1. Use motion sensors to provide light only when and where needed. Perhaps a soft light is enough most of the time, but a motion sensor can turn on a brighter light as someone approaches the house.
  2. Be wary of really bright lights that shine like a spotlight because they will also create dark shadows—and you want to avoid that.
  3. Be a good neighbor and make sure your lights are not annoying or pointing into anyone else’s yard.

And now? Now let the darkness come. You’re ready…

Is Your Brain Overloaded? Home Automation Takes on Task Saturation!

My husband recently introduced me to a new term: task saturation. Task saturation happens when your brain has so much information coming at it that it can’t absorb any more. I was complaining about being so forgetful lately and he suggested that my brain is overloaded. It sure is!

I’m not alone. Many of us suffer from task saturation because we have high-pressure jobs with looming deadlines, constant communications via email and text, financial stresses as we try to make ends meet, and more…in addition to simply raising our kids, making our meals, taking care of our homes, and getting through each day reasonably sane.

That’s where home automation can help. It can remove a few of the tasks from our lists and free up our brains to handle other information.

Free up brain space when you automate some tasks
Forget about setting the thermostat or regulating the air conditioner. Your home automation system can take care of that. In the winter, you can set it to warm up the house right before you get home but save money by keeping the house cooler during the day when it’s empty. And the opposite is true during the summer. If you have pets, your home automation system can be set to keep the temperature correct for their needs without using too much energy—and without your having to worry if the dog is okay on a really hot day.

Your home automation system can also turn lights on and off, so you don’t have to come home to a dark house on a cold winter’s night—and if your kids get home first, they’ll appreciate the welcoming look of a warm, well-lit house.

The big benefit here is you can simply stop thinking about heating and cooling and lighting. You’re welcome, brain!

Home automation also protects your home—despite your forgetfulness
Your home automation can also free your brain from worrying about home security. You no longer have to nag the kids to remember to lock up, because you can lock and unlock doors, and even arm or disarm your security system, remotely using your phone. Or maybe you forgot to double check something because you were rushing out the door to work and your brain was full of thoughts about that big meeting later in the day. It’s okay. If you did forget, you can take care of it later from your office or while on the road.

We don’t function well when we suffer from task saturation, so we should be trying to get out of situations that cause it if we can. But at least a home automation system can offer a little bit of relief on the home front.

Are You One of the Many Going Green in 2018? Home Automation Can Help

Although Americans tend to say they are environmentally conscious more than they act like it, there is definitely a trend toward a greener America. From re-usable grocery bags to organic foods to hybrid cars, the signs that we’re sitting up and paying attention to the consequences of our actions are all around us. Even fast-food giant and mega brand McDonald’s is going green. When that happens, we know something is afoot!

If you’ve been contemplating ways to green up your life, maybe as part of your New Year’s resolutions, and you’re shopping for a new home security system, you’re about to have a win-win situation. That’s because a home automation system can help you to be more green and consume fewer resources (while reducing your utility bills, which is a nice add-on). Here’s how:

Home automation can green up your thermostat
Heating an empty home in the winter or cooling the same in the summer are both huge energy drains. But no one wants to walk into an icebox at the end of the day in January, or an oven at the end of the day in July. With a home automation system, you can have smart control over your home’s temperature, and use your energy wisely.

Your house can stay moderately warm or cool while empty, but then your furnace or AC can kick in before you get home, so you walk into a comfort zone, not a hot or cold one. If you have pets at home, or kids who get home from school before you get home from work, you can adjust the temperature accordingly—and automatically.

Home automation can cut your electric bill
Coming home to a dark house at the end of a long day can be a dreary start to the evening, and sap your energy even more than your work and commute already did. But you don’t want to leave lights on all day just so you can drive up to a cheerful sight once it’s dark out. That’s wasteful.

Enter the home automation system that lets you program your lights to turn off and on at scheduled times, so you can have the lights off while gone but come home to a cheerful, well-lit abode. And if you have kids who leave lights on when they leave, because that’s what kids do, you can turn lights off remotely.

A home automation system won’t include solar panels or wind energy or make your washing machine more energy efficient, but every little bit really does count. Imagine what a difference we could make if all 324 million Americans cut their energy usage by just a fraction: huge!

Finally, if you’re looking for other ways to be a better citizen in the year ahead, be sure to check out these 101 tips on going zero waste. Many are ridiculously easy to do. And again, every little bit counts!

Phone, Wallet, Keys… How Do You Lock Your House When You Leave?

When you leave the house, do you check to make sure any back or side doors are locked, and then lock your front door on your way out? When you’re home, do you triple check that all the doors are locked before you head to bed?

If this doesn’t sound like you, you may be part of the 7% of Americans who don’t lock their doors when they leave, or the 23% who leave their doors unlocked while they’re home. This YouGov poll found that many homes across the country are unlocked throughout the day, especially while someone is home. That means over 22 million people leave their doors unlocked when they leave the house. We find that number shocking!

For the rest of us who think about home security and therefore do lock our doors when we leave as well as when we’re home, locks are a big deal. But not every lock is created equal. Read up on types of locks and what they’re good for below…

Knob Locks
Knob locks are the kind built into the door handle. Most homes have a knob lock in addition to a deadbolt on exterior doors. These locks should never be the sole security on a door, since the lock is within the knob itself and not in the door like the deadbolt is,  making it easier for someone to break in. Instead, knob locks are better used on interior doors that don’t need as much protection, for example a bathroom door you’ll lock for privacy.

Lever Handle Locks
Lever handle locks are easier to open than knob locks, which is useful if handicap accessibility is a concern. These locks have a large push down lever instead of the turning knob, but a similar lock style to the knob lock. As with knob locks, these are not recommended for sole security on exterior entryways, but can be helpful indoors if someone in your home has difficulty turning knobs—again, think bathroom privacy.

Deadbolts
For real home security, you need deadbolts. Deadbolts are typically installed on household exterior doors. The most common in American homes is the single cylinder deadbolt. These locks secure your home from the outside, but if someone can gain access to the inside of your home such as through an open window, the deadbolt only requires a turn of the thumbturn to open the door. That’s why you want to make sure windows are secured as well when you leave for the day.

Locks of the Future
As you might expect, technology has taken on locks too, making even keys obsolete. From keypads to Bluetooth-enabled deadbolts and even biometrics with fingerprint recognition, the locks that will soon be commonplace will powered by technology and accessed by devices such as smart phones. In addition, home security systems today will let you lock and unlock doors remotely, should you forget to lock the door on the way out or should you need to let the electrician in while you’re at work.

Whichever kind of lock you choose, check the level of security you can expect by checking the rating given by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI has three grades for door locks to help you know which will provide the most security.

Maybe you’re part of the 93% who lock their doors when they leave, the 77% who lock their doors when they stay, or even a part of the 7% who are (or should be) rethinking their home security habits. No matter which category you fit into, knowing your options on locks can help you make informed decisions on how to keep you and your home safe and secure.

Going on Vacation? 5 Ways to Make Your Empty Home Look Anything But

You’ve earned your vacation and you’re looking forward to it! But don’t get so caught up in your plans for getting away that you forget to secure your home before you go. And part of securing your home is to make it appear that you’re still there. Since installing cardboard cutouts or mannequins as silhouettes against windows is only a short-term solution—until the burglars figure out that those “people” never move—here are five other ways to make it look like you’re occupying your vacant home while you vacate your way to some rest and relaxation.

Tip 1: Get a house sitter
The absolute best way to make it look like someone is in your house is to have someone in your house. This works even better if you have a dog that would otherwise go to the kennel while you’re gone. With the house sitter occupying the house and the dog barking alarms, you now have two deterrents to burglary.

Tip 2: Leave a car in the driveway
A car in the driveway definitely gives the impression that someone is in the house. If you have an extra car that you normally park on the road or in the garage, park it in the driveway so it’s easily seen. If you only have one car, consider getting a ride to and from the airport so you can leave your car conspicuously in the driveway.

Tip 3: Hire someone to take care of your lawn and yard
This tip is a little trickier because it would be better if you hired someone well before you left, not just for the week or two that you’re gone, for two reasons. One, if someone is watching your house, they’ll know there has been a change in the routine. Two, you want to make sure this person or company is reliable before leaving your yard in their care. Now, if you can follow tip one and find a house sitter and this house sitter will keep up with the yard maintenance, you’re twice blessed!

Tip 4: Keep the electronics going
If you don’t have a house sitter, or even if you do but they are gone for work, use timers and/or your home automation system to keep lights and electronics like radios and TVs turning on and off.

Tip 5: Keep your vacation to yourself…
…at least until after you get home. As we’ve said before, broadcasting your vacation via social media is the same as telling the world your house is sitting empty. So don’t. Save your vacation pictures until you get home and then share them. That way you can make sure you’re only sharing the best of the best, besides, rather than inundating friends and family with far too many photos.

It only takes a little effort to provide a lot of protection, so put in that effort now and enjoy more peace of mind while you’re away.

4 Ways a Home Automation System Can Help You Enjoy Summer More

With summer in full swing, we were thinking about all the ways a home automation system can help to keep summer time an easy time. Here’s our list of the top four ways a home automation system can help you get the most out of your summer.

Temperature control
During the cold winter months, a home automation system can keep the heat turned down while you’re away at work but then turn it up before you get home, so your house is toasty warm when you get there—but you don’t waste energy (or money) heating an empty house while you’re gone.

During the summer months, your home automation system can regulate your air conditioning in the same way, saving you money on your energy bills and making you a greener homeowner.

Knowing when doors or windows are open
The kids are out of school! That means doors and windows will be left open as they’re running in and out or opening the window to yell outside for something. Your home automation system can let you know when doors or windows are left open so you can make sure they’re closed when they need to be—like when the air conditioning is on and you don’t want that nice cool air heading outside to be wasted, or when you’re leaving for the evening and you want to make sure the house is secure.

Speaking of secure…
Many people spend more time away from home during the summer, either traveling for vacation or taking day trips to the beach or pool. With a home automation system, your time away doesn’t have to put your property at risk. Even if everyone ran out the door in a hurry to catch the train, you can use your smart phone to make sure everything is locked up and alarm-ready from afar. You can also check on your home using video cameras from clear across the world (as long as you have an Internet connection).

And then there’s the lighting
Summer is kind of funny when it comes to daylight. We have our longest day of the year at the very start of summer, then days get shorter as summer goes along. That makes keeping up with lighting tricky! At our house, we spend a lot of time outside trying to take advantage of every bit of the evening light, and we can easily forget that the house is dark until it’s time to go in and we’re fumbling around for a light switch. This is admittedly a bit jarring because we’ve just gone from a lovely soft evening light into a dark home that’s suddenly brightly lit. A home automation system ensures your lights come on when you want them too, both inside and out, easing the transition for you.

Automated lighting can be a bonus outside too. We don’t have anything fancy like a pool or fancy deck…yet. But in the future when we do, I can foresee wanting the outdoor lights to come on automatically without my having to stop what I’m doing to turn them on once it’s dark enough.

A home automation system offers countless benefits year-round, and it’s easy to see that it earns its keep during the long, warm days of summer just as much as it does during the short, dark days of winter!

Even Easier Home Automation? Introducing Alexa Integration With ADT

With home automation and security systems like that offered by ADT, homeowners can already remotely manage features such as setting alarms and locking doors, as well as automate household functions such as temperature and lighting. But now you can do even more, because ADT and Amazon’s Alexa can work together, giving you voice control over your home automation and security system.

The convenience of voice control
ADT Pulse already offers voice-activated functionality but you have to be near your smart phone. For even greater convenience for you, Alexa can now perform ADT Pulse functions for you based on your voice commands. For example, you can tell Alexa to lock the front door, disarm the alarm, turn on a lamp, or give you a status update on a security feature such as the back door lock. These are all functions of your home automation system, but you can control them by using Alexa’s voice-activated technology.

If you’re like me, and you think to do something but then get distracted by something else right away, such as a toy on the floor or dirty dishes on the counter or that phone call you were supposed to make an hour ago, being able to say what you want done rather than do it can be a huge help.

For example, let’s say you forgot to make sure the back door was locked and you want to grab your phone so you can see the status, but just then one of the kids yells out that the other has smacked his head on the coffee table…oh, you’re going to forget about that back door, I think! But with Alexa standing by, you can verbally get the job done as you dash down the hall to the scene of possible mayhem.

Voice control you control
This voice control does not mean that just anyone can tell Alexa to mess with your home security, however. It’s PIN activated, so as long as the PIN is known only by you and anyone else in the household who needs it, your security shouldn’t be compromised by using Alexa to control it.

Integrating Alexa and ADT means even easier and more efficient home automation and security. And it’s easy to set up: To enable the two systems work together, you only need to add the ADT Pulse app to your Alexa app.

Read more about the integration of ADT Pulse and Alexa.

View all of our security plans and features!

Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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