Living alone nowadays seems to be the norm among the younger generation and the numbers are reportedly at their highest now than any other time in history. Recent statistics show that 40 percent of all households in major cities in the US have just one occupant. In highly urbanized cities like Washington and Manhattan, a whopping 50 percent of homes are occupied by solo dwellers.
There are many advantages to living alone. Foremost is freedom. You are the master of the house so you get to decide how things go, what decorations will be used, when you need to clean, and more. Included in this list of responsibilities is personal safety and home security.
Because going solo also affords you the freedom to engage in social activities as you wish, it is highly likely that you will be out of the house more often than when you are in it. Or, if you’re a certified homebody, you likely won’t have anyone around on a daily basis to keep you company in case an emergency occurs. According to recent incident reports, a whopping 49.7 percent of house break-ins usually happen to single occupants.
Here are 7 helpful tips for a solo homeowner or renter to stay safe or keep the house protected when you’re not around.
- Know your neighbors
In the age of technology, solo dwellers usually don’t become too familiar with the people who live in the place next door. However, getting to know the people you should a building or a community with helps in ensuring a safe environment not just for you but for the rest of the area, as well.
By being familiar with the people you live with, you can instantly spot the not. That is, point out people who seem to be just lurking around and identifying vehicles that do not belong. If you’re friendlier to your neighbors, you can help each other by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in each other’s places or in common spaces. You don’t have to be besties with your neighbor if you not the type, but a simple ‘hello’ everytime you pass each other plays a huge role in keeping your little community safe.
- Get yourself a dog
Not only will a dog keep you company when you’re by your lonesome, it will also alert you to a stranger lurking in the yard. A pet will also guard your home when you’re not around, thus discouraging would-be burglars from even attempting to enter your space. In your search for man’s best friend, consider your living space and daily routine.
If you have allergies, make sure to get a dog that does not shed. Also take note of a breed’s activity level and size. A good breed to serve as guard would be boxers, great danes, or german shepherds. If these are too big for your home, especially if you’re living in an apartment, you can get the smaller breeds with big barks.
- Use smart locks
Hiding a key under the welcome mat, above the door, or the flower pot are all too common. By installing smart locks, you don’t need to worry about misplacing your house keys again. Smart locks are safer than keys because they will likely require your fingerprint or a special numerical code to open. Some other models come with remote controls that let you check if you remembered to lock the door. If you did forget to do so, you can easily tap some buttons on an app to lock it, even if you’re already at the garage or, with the fancier ones, at work.
- Install a security camera
Security cams are your second set of eyes when it comes to looking out for your home. They help you check what’s happening in your house even when you’re away. Some features even let you control the direction the camera is pointing and show you a video in real-time even from thousands of miles away. Aside from inside your home, placing a security cam at your front door also helps you see if somebody came by to call on you or if somebody had been lurking around.
- Install motion detection lights
Place the burglar under the spotlight and you’ll spook him from ever attempting anything on your home. Motion sensors offer additional safety and serve as an effective deterrent. They also shine light on any attempts to burgle your home before it even gets started. For optimal results, motion detection lights should be positioned near entryways or any space outside your home where a burglar can hide or try to break in.
- Consider getting a personal alarm
There are alarm systems and apps that offer additional security whether you’re out on a run by your lonesome or just watching TV at home. These discreet alarms fit nicely in your jewelry or clothing so you can call for help when you need it. Like the regular home alarms, personal devices set off a loud sound when activated, thus calling attention to yourself and forcing assailants to step back. This type of gadget helps ensure that you are protected wherever you go.
- Take advantage of backup
Even if you’re always home alone, it helps to keep your friends and family in the loop as to your whereabouts and activities. Keep close friends in on your regular routine and let someone else if there’s a sudden change in this schedule. Set-up regular meet-ups with friends who also live solo so that you guys notice if someone does not show up or goes MIA. If you’re having something fixed in your home and need to open it up to strangers, invite a friend to come hang out for added safety.
There are plenty of good reasons for living alone and, sometimes, it’s better that way. But when it comes to your safety and security, you simply can’t leave things to chance and luck. There are lots of resources available to help give you peace of mind.
Installing a door window sensor is one of the most basic parts of a full home security system. It’s easy to see why it’s also probably the most popular element used. To make it work, all you need is to stick its parts on a window or a door and it’s good to go. Window sensors are what home security systems should be — effective and simple.
But that’s not all a window sensor can do. While most users do place them in the traditional entryways, there are also unique ways to apply them to add security to your home. Some people had used sensors where they were not intended and the results had been pleasantly effective.
- They can serve as a backup doorbell.
Sensors, especially those that make loud noises when tagged, can serve as alerts when someone walks up to your front door. They also make a suitable alternative to that broken doorbell that you don’t have the time or budget to have fixed.
The sensor works by chiming when somebody goes through the door. There are smart sensors that can be linked to your phone via an app that also alerts you of the same. If your front door has a glass, a screen, or a similar barrier, you might want to set up the sensor here. You probably won’t hear your visitor knocking but you’ll definitely find out when it sounds off or sends a notification to your phone.
- They help keep people out.
Sensors can be helpful if you want nosy visitors and curious kids from snooping around your cabinets. Install it on the safe, the closet, the liquor cabinet, the chocolate drawer, and wherever else you don’t want other people to be checking. This way, the next time somebody attempts to open a door that’s not supposed to be touched, you’ll certainly find out immediately.
- It can still guard an open window.
Sensors don’t just work with entryways that are closed. You can let the fresh air in by opening your windows and still have peace of mind. What you can do is post a second magnet on the window sill and you can enjoy the breeze without compromising your sense of security. If somebody tries to open it further, the sensor will sound off at once and alert the household.
- It can protect those things you don’t want moved.
Are you iffy about how certain things are arranged in your home? Do you want to ensure that that box you positioned near the door will stay there until you decide to take it out? Sensors can help make this happen. Just still the parts on the items that you want to stay put. If someone tries to relocate it, the alarm will set off as a stern warning. Even if you’re not at home, if somebody tries to move your stuff, you’ll immediately know through your phone.
- It can serve as a backup guard for your outdoor shed.
Aside from placing sensors on your home’s entry points, it can also help send out an alert on any attempt to open your garage or outdoor shed. You can make this happen if your shed is within the working distance of your control panel. Sheds are often home to valuable equipment and supplies, so having a sensor installed there makes a lot of sense.
The Importance of Door and Window Sensors
Most home security systems already come with a few sets of door and window sensors, but you can always add more depending on your needs. If you are working on a limited budget, you can set up your security system with these for the meantime. Ideally, sensors are positioned on every possible point of entry in your house, so that if anything gets opened or breached, it sends a signal to the control panel and sets off an alarm.
Sensors are presented in two pieces, with one fitting onto the window or the door itself and the other to the frame. They are usually attached using an adhesive to keep them in place, while some are screwed onto the frame. The pieces are positioned next to each other so they can interact. When they are separated, the alarm goes off.
At this point it is important to note that there are different types of sensors. Some are directly connected to the rest of your network via wires while some are equipped with a battery so that they can be installed wirelessly. The latter are more popular nowadays because of the growing trend towards DIY installations. Some sensors are powered by magnets, while others rely on the connection between light beams to determine a breach.
Before installing door and window sensors for your home, find out first how many you need. Count the number of entry points, including the garage, so you are prepared with all the supplies and hardware before you start. If you miss even a single door or window in this count, you render your entire home security system useless. Remember, a burglar only needs one point of entry and exit to succeed in looting your home. Do not give outsiders the opportunity by not making sure that all bases are covered.
If you want to make doubly sure that you have everything accounted for, you can opt to hire a professional service that will not only make the installations happen but can also provide helpful guidance on other potential threats in your home. Some professional security providers also go beyond simple set ups and offer to continue monitoring your area for a pre-agreed period.
Understanding how the elements of your home security systems work helps you maximize their benefits and enables you to keep them well-maintained. This will ensure that your devices are working as they should (and more) so your risk of a break in is reduced. Home security systems come with quite a hefty cost, but you can be creative in the ways you can apply the basic parts so you and your family can have peace of mind. Your safety is priceless.
We live at a time of a rise in technology, so when it comes to setting up safety measures for your home there really is no other way but to get automated. Smart homes and modern construction techniques offer home owners a new sense of control. Even when you are out of the house, a smart home can let you know of its status and give you the ability to power things up or down from miles away.
A smart home can be built from ground zero with technology as a key design element or incorporate into an existing structure through renovation. Either way, transforming your living space into one that does things for you and anticipates your moves comes with several advantages.
What Does Having A ‘Smart’ Home Mean?
Home automation generally means using a range of technology that are interconnected by one network that can be controlled remotely. When your appliances, devices, and systems operate under just one umbrella system, you have what is called a “connected home.” For instance, you can adjust your home’s temperature, turn your appliances on and off, lock and open doors, and adjust security settings from the comfort of your smart phone or mobile device — even when you’re not physically in it.
A smart home gives you a higher luxury that seemed unheard of in the past. As the technology continues to develop, so do the possibilities of having a home life that is easier and, arguably, more enjoyable.
Here are 6 reasons why your house should adopt or switch to smart technology.
- It is convenient.
Smart homes help make our lives easier. Being able to control every connected device in your home through just one system is a huge step forward in terms of household management. All you need to do is learn to use the related app on your mobile device and you can adjust the wide range of functions in every room of your home.
In addition to cutting the learning curve to just the app, especially for those who are not too tech-inclined, smart settings help make things happen exactly the way you want them to. For example, you can instruct the system to set your room temperature at an exact number or turn your coffee maker on at the exact time so you always wake up to a freshly made cup. In short, all those common household tasks that took up time and effort are now considered done (and done well) with just a tap on the app.
- It maximizes security.
There are plenty of choices for integrated safety features to your smart home network. You can connect surveillance cameras, motion detectors, automatic locks, and other security devices and activate/deactivate them from your phone. You can also set the system to send you notifications and frequent updates on your home’s status or to alert you when there’s been a breach. Others also offer links to your local police station or emergency services that you can tap instantly to send responders to your location. Some smart security systems also give you real-time access and a view of your house even when you’re halfway around the world.
- It makes parts of your home easier to access.
If you have differently-abled or elderly people in your home, a smart system can help make things easily available to them. This way, they don’t have to depend so much on other people and can still function properly when they’re alone. These features include voice commands for locking the house, operating a phone, setting up the computer, and more. You can also program your smart home to mow the lawn at a pre-set time, as well as perform other previously laborious household chores regularly.
- It helps boost energy efficiency.
A smart home can help make your house more energy-efficient. For example, you can set your home’s temperature settings according to your schedule so it doesn’t need to eat up energy when you’re not around. You can also have it automatically switch from a indoor lights to natural lighting during the day. Lights in the room can also be set to turn on when somebody goes in and off when you leave. Combined with energy-efficient appliances, a smart home can contribute greatly in the conservation of natural resources.
- It helps maximize your appliances’ functionality.
A smart home can help you operate your devices according to how you want things done. For instance, your smart TV can predict the types of shows that you want to watch according to your pre-set terms or viewing habits. That way, you don’t need to waste time channel surfing. A smart oven can cook your meats according to your exact preference so you don’t have to worry about an undercooked or overcooked steak. You can also pre-program your audio system to play certain types of music for particular times of the day.
A smart home also gives you insight on how you and family lives. For example, it can tell you how much time you spend watching TV, what kinds of food you cook often, what appliances you use all time, and more. These provide information on your and your household’s lifestyle habits so you can also make adjustments on the way you live.
- It helps boost your home’s resale value.
When the time comes when you want to sell your home, it will be much easier to do so and you will likely get a better price for it. This is because your house will have a long list of selling points that will help boost its value. Houses that are pre-fitted with a smart system fetch a higher price compared to a home with conventional tech. Thus, while automating your home now may be pricey, it is a good enough investment to ensure that you attract better buyers in the future.
In addition to all these advantages, the greater “pro” of setting up a smart home now is that it is continuously developing technology. With so many companies now scrambling to invent new ways to make living much easier and more convenient, it is the end consumer that scores the biggest win.
This is the day and age of the smart home. What once was thought of to be just a fad is now a standard in every US household, where each home owns at least one smart device. In fact, according to Parks Associates, a market research firm that specializes in emerging consumer tech products and services, broadband adoption reached 84 percent of American homes in 2016 and, by 2020, 50 percent of households in North America will already be classified as smart homes.
While that sounds like a realistic prediction, consumers at present are still apprehensive and bit confused with the technology. Because home automation is just starting to enter the mainstream, most people view it as an unnecessary luxury and something that is difficult to master. In fact, many households still do not understand what a smart home is and how things work.
So, let’s make things easy and the information digestible. Technology is all around us and, whether we like or not, it is something that we should adapt to or else we get left behind. Smart devices, after all, promise to help make our daily living easier — and that’s not something we can easily turn our backs on. Truth be told, transforming into a smart home is really easy.
Smart Home Defined
There is no one definition to encompass “smart technology” as a whole. Generally speaking, a smart home is one that is equipped with automated devices and technology that is able to control regular household systems, such as lighting, security cameras, temperature, cooking and more.
There are plenty of benefits to having a smart home. In addition to convenience, it can help you save on energy expenses and boost your sense of security. Smart devices can also be operated remotely using apps on your mobile device or laptop. Some even speak like humans and respond to voice commands, like Alexa and Siri. Other fancier tech can have smart home devices communicate with each other via a pre-set network, such as the one set up with ZigBee and Wave.
Getting Started On Automating Your Home
Let’s embrace home automation and appreciate it for all the convenience and security it offers us. However, the search for the right one for beginner users can be quite a challenging task. If you’re not tech-savvy, it’s best to start with the basic devices that are relatively user-friendly and highly intuitive, so you won’t need to keep adjusting and monitoring them. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the simple gadgets, you can then advanced to more technical ones.
We’ve come up with a five-step process to getting familiar with smart home devices and finding which ones best fit your household.
- Are you tech savvy?
Some smart home gadgets are more technically advanced than others. If you’re just getting familiar with the tech and are not really into tinkering with gadgets, stick to the beginner-level models.
- What’s your budget?
The price range for smart home devices go from affordable at less than $100 to very expensive. Before going on a device hunt, decide how much you want to spend.
- What are your needs?
Every household’s needs is unique, so that gadget that your aunt tells you is a dream might not work well for you. When choosing a gadget, take note of your lifestyle. For example, if you’re at home most of the time, you might benefit from having a smart doorbell that will allow you to see who’s at the door without having to open it. If you’re always out, a good security system that lets you view your house in real time through your smart phone will give you peace of mind.
One nifty device we’ve seen is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which sets your home temperature based on your preferred settings for a set period. When there’s nobody home, this gadget detects the empty space and turns itself down automatically, thus helping you save on electricity expenses. It also works with Google Home and Alexa.
- Do your research.
Don’t just buy because you saw on TV that’s it’s the “best” or your next door neighbor swears by it. Conduct your own research on the product thoroughly and be sure you understand how it works. A device won’t do you any good if you don’t fully comprehend its benefits.
The Internet is a gold mine for information on so many of these devices. You can check our manufacturers’ websites, product reviews from forums and reputable review sites, and ask not just one but at least three people you know who have tried it. Feedback is important for somebody who’s just starting to appreciate the benefits of a smart home.
- Maximize your device.
By fully understanding how your smart home device works, you get to maximize all the conveniences that it can offer; thus, getting value for your investment and more.
For example, you have a smart lock that allows you to lock and unlock your door from afar using just your phone; but did you know that it could also send e-keys to selected guests and see who accessed your door recently? You might also have a smart plug that turns your appliances into smart devices by timing their operation, like when lights are turned off and when your morning coffee starts brewing; but did you know that it can also make your home look like somebody’s inside even when you’re away?
There are so many kinds of smart home products in the market, so it’s easy to be overwhelmed and get carried away with buying so many things. Each one of them is so impressive that you’ll be tempted to get them all. If you’re a beginner to the concept of having a smart home, we recommend starting with the basics and starting slow. Begin with one or two gadgets that you can easily operate and then slowly move up as you and the family get comfortable having these things around. Before you know it, you’re living in the 2020 prediction of having a smart home at just 2018.
The relentless strides in technology particularly after the 21st century have literally transformed the world. Just a century ago, no one could have imagined communicating face-to-face with a person located thousands of miles away, watching movies on a tablet-likescreen, or commuting on drone taxis.
Home automation is one such tech trend that has affected the lives of the average individual in the US. Also known as the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, big companies that are in the thick of home automation or smart homes innovation include GE, Huawei, Hitachi Data Systems, Bosch, GE, Google, Apple, and many others.
At one time, it was thought to be a passing trend. However, today, nearly 30 percent of the US house owners have at least one of the smart home devices, according to a report by Parker Associates. By 2020, nearly 50 percent of Americans will own such devices.
If you want to avoid being left out of the smart home revolution, you should read this article on how to get started on home automation.
Home Automation: What Is It?
Home automation refers to the use of smart electronic devices in homes. The smart internet-connected devices are used to control different systems including lighting, thermostats, security cameras, refrigerator, and more.
But, what’s the benefit of using the smart devices?
Apart from the convenience, smart home devices result in increased energy savings. For instance, you can use your smartphone to turn off a house appliance or equipment when outside the house. This will result in great savings in energy bills.
You can communicate to the smart home devices through your voice. The devices can be managed by digital assistants such as Alexa or Siri. These devices are controlled through ZigBee or Z-Wave.
Smart home devices can be managed remotely through an app on your smartphone or computer, with many also responding to voice commands using digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. Smart devices often communicate with one another through protocols like Z-Wave and ZigBee to create a home automation network. Take our interactive smart home tour to see what automated homes of today look like.
How Do I Get Started with Home Automation?
Many people want to enjoy the benefits of smart home automation, but they’re not sure which products to buy. That’s understandable considering the dizzying number of smart devices on the market, and each one claims to be the best. Here are the steps that are required to adopt smart home automation that fits your needs.
1. Research the Devices
Find out about the different smart home devices. Become familiar with the features and benefits. You should initially focus on the devices that are easy to use. Understand how the device will provide more cost efficiency and convenience.
2. Establish a Budget
After you have pinpointed potentially useful devices, you should next determine how much you can afford to spend on the smart devices. The price of the smart devices ranges from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Decide how much you can allocate your income to pay for the device.
When deciding how much to spend on a particular smart device, you should keep the lifespan in mind. Spending thousands of dollars on a quality feature-packed device that will last for decades is a smart move. However, if the device has a shorter lifespan, of say four or five years, you should limit your spending to a couple of hundred dollars. In short, you should allocate the cost of the device over its useful life to determine whether it’s worth it.
3. Compare Prices and Features
Before selecting any smart appliance, you should compare the prices and features. Don’t make the decision based on the price alone. Your purchase decision should be based on both price and features. The more the features, the more valuable is the product. However, make sure that the features actually meet your needs otherwise you will be needlessly overspending on the project.
What Smart Devices Should You Buy?
The process of home automation doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. You can buy user-friendly, feature-rich smart devices for under $100. Here are some of the smart devices that you should consider buying to embrace the new lifestyle or the new ‘American Dream’.
- Smart Doorbells — With smart door balls, you can see who is outside the door. The smart device not only provides convenience but also ensures the safety of the household. These smart doorbells come with features such as motion sensing, two-way audio, night vision, and app connectivity.
- Smart Thermostat — A lot of people have already bought a smart thermostat that helps in increased energy savings. The smart device can connect to the Wi-Fi thereby allowing you to control the device through the smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Most smart thermostats work with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers. The best feature of the smart devices is that they can learn your preferred settings providing great convenience.
- Smart Lighting — Smart lighting is yet another cheap home automation device. The device allows you to control the lighting of the home using voice command or gestures. Also, you can use your mobile device to control the lighting. You can turn the light on or off, or dim the lightings with nothing but your gesture or voice command.
- Smart Locks — These smart devices can be a great investment that can help increase the safety and security of the family. The smart locks can be locked and unlocked using the mobile devices. You can also connect the locks to a home security system for added protection.
- Smart Outlets — The smart outlets can turn just about any electronic item into a smart device. The outlets are devices that plug into an electrical outlet and allow you to control the plugged home appliance via an application.
The above are just some of the ways you can embrace home automation or IoT revolution. The technologies allow you to reduce energy usage and gain greater control over the home appliance. Just make sure that you don’t get carried away with the home automation and overspend on the home devices. Before purchasing any smart device, think twice about how it will affect your life.