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How Home Automation Helps The Environment

by Amy June 20, 2018

Our homes have become a constant consumer of energy, so it is important to try and reduce the carbon footprint of every home around the world. Home automation services do a great job of helping families minimize energy usage and preserve the environment, and also offer the ultimate in convenience. Especially during summer, with rising electricity bills, take the time to use your home automation system to run your home efficiently. It can also be a lot of fun!

  1. Monitor Energy Usage

Look at your monthly utility bills. See how much energy you’re using and what systems are costing you the most. Normally, the biggest perpetrators of energy waste are the water heater and the cooling system. You can use home automation technology to track energy usage in real time and identify all your home’s worst energy wasters.

  1. Use Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are an awesome way to control your energy usage. You can turn off the smart plug when an appliance is not in use. For example, when your TV is plugged into a regular outlet it is always using energy, even if it is not turned on. With the smart plug, energy will only be utilized when the TV is in use. When you think about all the TVs, computers, and other devices that are plugged in all the time, a lot of electricity is being wasted.

  1. Update Your Lighting

Believe it or not, even the type of lightbulb you use can help you save energy. Incandescent lightbulbs consume and waste a lot of energy, accounting for 35% of carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants. Smart bulbs will save you money and make homes more energy efficient. Just like the smart plug, you can control your smart bulb from your phone and monitor how much electricity your lights are using each month. Smart bulbs also allow you to put the lights on a schedule or simply shut them off from your smartphone, this way no lights are left on when they shouldn’t be.

  1. Control The Thermostat

Most people use default settings on the thermostat. Often, this is not the most energy efficient way to regulate the temperature in your home. Switching to a smart thermostat can save you around 10% on heating and 15% on cooling throughout the year. The smart thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature in your home by accounting for various factors like outdoor humidity and precipitation. It also changes the temperature depending on the time of day and whether or not you’re home. You can also control your thermostat from your smart phone, so you can have full control from any location.

  1. Stop Wasting Water

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. One third of that water is used to maintain lawns. Smart irrigation systems prevent the waste of water and save up to 8,800 gallons of water per year. The system uses AI technology to sync with local weather predictions and help keep your garden and yard healthy by ensuring you don’t overwater.

To reduce the overall carbon footprint on the world, each person needs to make an effort. Home automation services allow you to save energy and monitor how much you are using. Install some new home automation devices and watch how much money and energy you can save!

 

Fourth Of July Safety Tips

by Amy June 7, 2018

America’s favorite holiday is coming up quickly. Whether you’re planning a family barbecue or a road trip to the beach, My Alarm Center wants to remind you to stay safe and enjoy your holiday. Here are some tips for staying safe during the Fourth Of July this year.

  1. Fireworks Safety

Everyone loves fireworks, but it is important to maintain a safe distance to stay safe throughout the show. Do not attempt to use fireworks at your own home, rather go to a park or a public place where they will be showing fireworks. Even though it is not recommended, if you do decide to put on a firework show at your home, make sure you are very cautious. You’ll need to keep your kids far away from the fireworks and always follow the directions on the package. Keep a water supply close by in case of an accident. Whoever is lighting the fireworks should also be using eye protection for their own safety. Only light one firework at a time and do not attempt to relight it if it seems like it is a “dud”. Before the holiday, store your fireworks in a cool, dry place and keep them away from all kids and animals. Never aim fireworks toward a person, animal, vehicle, home, or any flammable materials. And if you do see someone who is unqualified playing with fireworks, leave the area immediately.

  1. Grill Safety

One of the most common summertime injuries comes from the misuse of a charcoal or gas grill. Stay safe when using a grill and know exactly how to use it properly. Someone should always be supervising the barbecue when it is in use and make sure that children and pets stay away. Do not ever attempt to grill indoors. This refers to homes, campers, tents, or any other enclosed area. The grill needs to be kept in an open area located away from your house, deck, tree branches, or anything else that could potentially catch fire. Use the proper tools when grilling. Make sure they have long handles so that you will not get burnt on the open flame. When using a charcoal grill, it is important that you do not add any more charcoal starter fluid once the coals have already been ignited.

  1. Beach Safety

The beach is the perfect place to spend your Fourth of July holiday. But it is important to keep your family safe while you are there. Be aware of potential weather conditions and check the lifeguard stand to see if there are any warning signs or flags posted. Make sure you are sober when playing in the ocean, there’s a reason alcohol isn’t allowed on the beach. Prepare your younger children with life vests as well. Use caution when walking into the open water and be aware of the aquatic life in the ocean. Avoid any sea animals or patches of plants.

  1. Sun Protection

It is recommended to avoid direct sunlight between 10 AM and 4 PM. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to hydrate and drink lots of water as well. Eye protection is important when outdoors, so make sure every member of the family has a pair of sunglasses. Make sure your kids keep their shoes on as the hot pavement can burn them while glass and other sharp objects can cut them. Be aware of the signs of a heat stroke: red skin, drowsiness, a weak pulse, and shallow breathing. If you think there is a chance someone is suffering from a heat stroke, immediately call 911 and move the person to a cooler place.

Be prepared for any activity this Fourth of July and know how to keep your family safe. Be careful with fireworks and grilling and take extra precaution to keep the kids away while doing so. If you’re headed to the beach, make sure to stay hydrated, reapply suntan lotion, and don’t forget your sunglasses! Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a brilliant Fourth of July.

Home Security Tips From A Thief

by Amy May 8, 2018

There are many ways to ensure your home is safe. Why not take some advice from the people trying to break in?

  1. Lock Up

Thieves have admitted that open windows and doors are just too hard to pass up. Also remember that a locked door means nothing if a spare key is “hidden” in an obvious place by the front door. It is much better to leave a spare key with a trusted friend or neighbor so that a criminal will not have easy access.

  1. Landscape For Security

Burglars confess that while oversized hedges may provide privacy, they also make your yard one of the easiest places for a burglar to hide. Landscape your yard strategically to keep it looking pretty but not welcoming to burglars. Make sure you have a full view of your yard from your windows to keep anyone from attempting to enter your home without being seen. Be careful that you don’t have any trees that could easily be climbed to enter your home. The landscaping should also be well maintained. If you have uncut grass and overgrown hedges, your home will appear to be empty which may attract a burglar.

  1. Unique Hiding Spaces

It may seem like a great idea to hide things in your sock drawer, or an empty cereal box, or in the freezer, but professional burglars are well aware that these are used as hiding places. Even though these seem like great hiding places, burglars acknowledge they are usually one of the first areas they will look. Consider purchasing an actual safe or a safety deposit box. Knowing that your valuables are always protected under lock and key will ease your worry.

  1. Exterior Lights

Use motion detection lighting in your yard. It is difficult to enter a home unseen when floodlights turn on as soon as you step onto the property. Use gravel on your pathway or driveway so no one can avoid being heard when they get close to the house. Burglars admit this is often enough to deter them as it increases the risk of being caught.

  1. Install A Home Security Alarm

One of the best ways to deter a thief is if they see you have a home security system. This greatly increases their odds of being caught and most burglars confess they do not have the knowledge or know how to disable them. Post your home security sticker on your window and hang your home security sign in your front yard.

To protect yourself from burglars, sometimes you need to think like one. Having a home security system will make you feel safer and deter even the bravest of thieves.

The Safest Neighborhoods In Philly

by Amy May 4, 2018

If you are looking for a new home in the Philadelphia area, it is important to keep crime statistics such as violent crimes per person, property crimes per person, and total crimes per person in mind before making your purchase. There are many different neighborhoods in Philadelphia and it is imperative that you can find a place where you and your family will feel safe. My Alarm Center wants to help in this endeavor, so here are the safest neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

  1. Chestnut Hill

In Chestnut Hill, the violent crime rate is 60% lower than the Philadelphia average and the property crime rate is 59% lower than the city average. Because of this, Chestnut Hill happens to have some of the highest prices in terms of rent and real estate. It is home to Citizens Bank Park and Independence Hall, so there is always lots to do in this neighborhood.

  1. Fairmont-Spring Garden

Known to have the third fewest property crimes per person, Fairmont-Spring Garden has 60% fewer crimes than the city average. This neighborhood is the arts capital of the city. If you choose to live in Fairmont-Spring Garden, you’ll be just around the corner from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and Barnes Foundation.

  1. East Falls

This area has a very low crime rate with a 1 in 47 chance of being involved in any type of crime. It has the third fewest crimes per person in the city and the third fewest violent crimes. One of the most diverse neighborhoods, it is heralded as one of the best neighborhoods to raise a family in the Philadelphia area.

  1. Roxborough

Roxborough became a popular family neighborhood over the course of the last several years. This neighborhood is known to have approximately 5% fewer crimes than the rest of the city in every category! Roxborough is almost twice as safe as the rest of Philadelphia and offers good housing for families.

  1. Manayunk

Manayunk’s crime statistics stand around the fifth fewest crimes person in every category. 2% total crimes per person, 2% property crimes per person, and 6% violent crimes per person. It is an overall safe area that has 45% fewer crimes then the rest of the city. Manayunk is one of the best places to buy a house and one of the best neighborhoods to live in. With lots of activities to do and find along Main Street, this area has been known to attract millennials and is home to almost 10,000 young adults.

Remember to research any neighborhood you may be planning on moving into. Even if it seems nice, the crime statistics speak for themselves. Ensure your safety and your family’s safety and take the time to research your new neighborhood. And even in the safest of neighborhoods, it is recommended to install door alarms, window alarms, and a full home security system.

Home Security Checklist

by Amy April 13, 2018

Be prepared with a home security plan before disaster strikes. The more prepared you are, the better chance you have of protecting yourself and your home. Though the best type of security is a home security system, there are many different ways to reinforce the security within your home.

  1. Exterior Doors

Reinforce all exterior doors. Consider replacing plastic or aluminum doors with solid wood or a metal clad. If your door has glass inserts, make sure they are reinforced with security glazing. Security glazing is a strong and durable plastic that will keep intruders from breaking the glass to enter your home. The door hinges also need to face inside your home. This way an intruder can’t access the pins and take the entire door off the frame. Keep exterior doors closed and locked when not in use, even if you’re only leaving for a few minutes. The same rule applies to your garage door.

  1. Lighting

All driveways, pathways, and entry points must be lit. Consider installing motion detectors throughout your property that will turn on exterior lights when activated. This will help scare away any potential intruders. If you go on vacation, make sure you apply timers to your interior lights. This will make it appear as if someone is home even when they are not.

  1. Windows

Use a supplemental lock for your windows with a key operated device, sometimes known as a sash lock. This will keep the window from being forced open from the outside. You could also try out safety bars to completely ensure windows cannot be opened.

  1. Outdoor Security

Landscape with security in mind. Keep your shrubs and bushes trimmed so there is no place for any intruder to hide. Make sure there are no dark areas to hide in as well. Keep your gate latched and shed doors locked. Keep your lawn mower, lawn tools, and grill out of sight on your property. If an intruder sees expensive equipment on the outside, they know to expect expensive valuables inside.

  1. Vacation

When away for an extended period, have someone look out for your home. Make sure the lawn is maintained and bushes are trimmed. This also applies with snow, ensuring it is shoveled. Suspend newspaper deliveries and mail service while you are away as well. You do not ever want to give the appearance that your home is empty.

  1. Inventory Possessions

It is important you have an inventory of your homes valuable possessions. This should include a photograph of each item and the identification numbers inscribed by manufacturers.

Have a plan to keep your home secure. A home security system from My Alarm Center does more than just make you feel safe, it keeps your home from being an easy target. 

Cycling In Philly: Safety Tips For City Bike Riders

by Amy April 2, 2018

There are many things to keep in mind when cycling in the city. With lots of commuters, heavy city traffic, and it being necessary to ride beside larger cars and trucks, it is important to abide traffic laws and be aware of how you can stay safe while on a bicycle. Here are a few tips to stay safe while cycling in the city.

  1. Wear Proper Safety Gear

Always wear a helmet. You never know what to expect when riding through the city. A helmet can be the difference between life and death.

  1. Always Bring A Lock

If you plan on using a bike for your daily commute, you need to make sure your bike is safe, the same way you would lock your car. Purchase a good U-Lock and a good cable leash so that your bike can be locked up and stored safely while you aren’t using it.

  1. Purchase A Headlight and Rear Reflective Light

Especially if you plan on biking at night. Without these essential tools, it is difficult for cars to see you. There’s actually a law in Philadelphia which requires you to have these lights on your bicycle.

  1. Don’t Wear Headphones

It’s important to remember that bicycling with headphones is considered illegal. You will have a hard time hearing all the movement around you in order to stay aware and safe.

  1. Follow Cycling Laws

This includes the helmet and headlight rule but also traffic rules. Don’t attempt to ride down a one-way street in the wrong direction or to ride on the sidewalks. A red light is still a red light, not a stop sign, even if you are not driving a car. Failure to follow proper traffic laws is dangerous for yourself, other drivers, and pedestrians.

  1. Be A Defensive Driver

It’s important to assume other motorists and pedestrians won’t follow the rules they’re supposed to. You need to be just as cautious as if you were driving a car in the city.

  1. Learn To Change A Flat Tire

This is always a possibility when traveling in the city. Know how to fix this problem, especially if you’re using your bike a few miles away from your home.

  1. Consider Purchasing A Medical Alert Bracelet

This device will guarantee that if your bike is involved in an accident, help will be on the way. This could potentially save your life when riding your bicycle.

Overall, it is important to remember that you are considered another driver on the road. Even with heavy traffic, remember to stay in your lane and stay visible to all the other cars. Ride defensively and safely while in the city. Make sure to always wear a helmet and remember to lock up your bike, even if you’ll only be away for a few minutes.

Change Your Clocks & Test Your Home Security System

by Amy March 6, 2018

Don’t forget to change your clocks during Daylight Savings Time this year. In fact, while you’re at it, Daylight Savings Time is a good reminder to test your home security system as well. When changing all your clocks, take the time to check if your home security system is working properly.

To Test The Signal Communication With The Monitoring Station:

  • Call your home security system supplier and ask to have your home alarm system put in “TEST” mode.
  • To avoid the deployment of emergency services, you MUST put your home alarm system in “TEST” mode.
  • Set your home alarm system as you normally would. Wait until the delay time has expired and the home alarm system is set.
  • Open a door or window that is connected to your home alarm system. Once the siren begins to ring, wait at least forty-five seconds then disarm the security system.
  • Call your home security system supplier back to confirm that the signal has been received and request that your security system be taken out of “TEST” mode.

To Test The Operation Of Door Sensors, Window Sensors, and Motion Detectors:

  • Verify that the security system is in “READY” mode and NOT ARMED. The alarm system must be disarmed to avoid accidental emergency dispatch.
  • Open each door or window with a door sensor, window sensor, or motion detector one at a time.
  • Check that the security system keypad displays the door or window you are testing is open, you may have to press the “STATUS” or “READY” button depending on your type of home security system.
  • Close the respective door or window. The security system keypad should revert to “READY” mode.
  • Repeat this procedure for each door sensor, window sensor, and motion detector in the security system.

The changing of the clocks is the perfect time to make sure everything is working correctly in your home. Continue to regularly check your home surveillance system to ensure it is working properly.

 

Tips For A Safe Valentine’s Day

by Amy February 12, 2018

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate with your significant other or even yourself. But you should make sure that your special day is a safe day as well. Many burglars are aware that people do not spend the evening at home, so make sure you’re well prepared before enjoying your romantic night out.

  1. Don’t Share Your Plans On Social Media

By announcing your romantic getaway to all of Facebook, you’ve also alerted the world that you won’t be home for a few days. Resist sharing your plans with others so that your home won’t be advertised as vacant.

  1. Lock Your Doors And Windows

Ensure that your home is always locked up tight. Don’t leave windows unlocked. This includes upstairs as well. Make sure everything is actually locked before leaving.

  1. Keep Lights On

Especially if you’re planning to be gone for several days. It makes your home appear occupied even when it’s not. If you have lights on timers, or any home automation features, make sure to take advantage of them.

  1. Keep Small Amounts Of Cash

Valentine’s Day is a crazy busy night for many people. Everyone has specific plans. Protect yourself and your wallet by keeping your valuables on your person to a minimum. If a tragedy occurs, at least it was only a small amount to lose.

  1. Be Careful At Home

If you’re not into a big night out or a weekend getaway, make sure that you’re being careful when dining in. Make sure that you shut off the oven and blow out the candles before going to bed.

  1. Walk In Populated Areas

A romantic walk is the perfect way to end the evening, but also make sure you’re staying safe. Don’t wander down dark alleys or areas that aren’t well lit. Burglars and pickpockets know this is a busy night.

  1. Install A Home Security System

If you’re worried about your home while you’re away for a long weekend, give yourself peace of mind by installing a home security system. My Alarm Center is a security system supplier that will monitor your home 24/7 and immediately notify emergency personnel as soon as they detect an intruder.

My Alarm Center wants to remind you to have a safe and special Valentine’s Day. Use these tips to make sure you and your home stays safe throughout a very exciting evening.

Protect Yourself From Bluetooth Hackers

by Amy February 8, 2018

Many people believe that being hacked is not easy and unfortunately this is not true. Many people also believe they will not be hacked because they do not have any essential information, but this is false as well. A hacker can find out more than you’d think just by hacking into your cell phone. Be cautious and protect yourself from being hacked by following these safety tips:

Protect Your Home Devices

1. Turn Off Your Wifi And Bluetooth

Hackers can see if you keep these features on your phone on at all times. The reason why this is important is because they could view what networks you have connected to before and can spoof them and trick your phone into connecting to Wifi and Bluetooth devices that hackers carry around. Once in control of your device, hackers can bombard your device with malware, steal data, or even spy on you.

2. Use Two-Step Authentication

Many major internet websites will provide a login option for two-step authentication. Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a few of these companies that will ask you for a secret code that is sent through text message to your cell phone, to log into your account. This is a great form of protection because even if someone manages to guess your password, it would be impossible to login without having full access to your phone.

3. Create A Smart Password

Consider using various characters and numbers sporadically throughout your password. Make sure this is something you will be able to remember. The more unique your password is, the less likely someone will be able to guess it.

4. Guard Your Home Wifi

Setting up your home wifi system is an important way to stay protected. First, change the password to the wifi network. Do not continue to use the random password that is written on the side of your router. When asked what type of security encryption standard you’d like to have for your network, choose WPA-2.

5. Don’t Hide Your Wifi Signal

If your home router asks to “Hide The SSID”, click no. This means that all your devices will always be looking for a new network to join. It could also mean that you are joining networks that are not safe.

Protect Your Bluetooth Devices

Scammers gain access to cell phone users by hacking into your cell phone using Bluetooth. To protect yourself consider these tips:

1. Create A Good Password

To prevent your Bluetooth from being hacked, always use a minimum of eight characters in your pin.

2. Use “Not Discoverable” Setting

Switch Bluetooth into “not discoverable” when you are not using it.

3. Be Cautious Of Other Devices

Do not accept any pairing requests from any unknown devices. This is very important because this is how a hacker gains full access to your cell phone including calls, texts, pictures, credit card information, and any other important information your phone contains.

4. Be Cautious Of Ways To Get Hacked

  • Bluejacking: This is one of the most common ways that people are being hacked. This is when a hacker searches for discoverable devices around them and sends spam in the form a text. This method is usually harmless but is more annoying than a significant security issue. This method is specifically used for different types of spam messaging and does not give hackers access to your phone or its contents. The best way to handle this mode is to ignore messages if you receive them. If you keep your Bluetooth setting on “non-discoverable” then you should not have many problems with this form of hacking.
  • Bluesnarfing: This type of hacking can lead to a hacker gaining access to your private information on your smartphone. A hacker could potentially purchase software that allows them to request information from your device. It is possible for this to happen when you are set to “invisible” or “non-discoverable”, but it is much less frequent due to the time, effort, and money needed to complete this type of hack.
  • Bluebugging: If a hacker uses bluebugging, then they have received full access to your cell phone. They can see all your photos, apps, contacts, texts, and phone calls. This type of hacking is only feasible with older phones with outdated firmware. Newer smartphones are less likely to have this happen because of constant security updates.

While your wireless security system protects your home and those within it, it doesn’t necessarily protect the software within your home. Be smart when using your Bluetooth devices so that they are not vulnerable to a hacker waiting to prey on your network. Take the time to avoid being an easy target for a hacker.

How To Place Security Cameras

by Amy January 30, 2018

The placement of home security cameras is just as important as having them. My Alarm Center is strategic when deciding the location of your surveillance system.

Security cameras are installed at the front door, back door, and near first floor windows.

These locations are the most common entry points for intruders, according to statistics from the Bureau of Justice. Cameras are placed above doors and windows, outside your home, and facing downward. This way the camera can view a few feet in front of the opening. Exterior cameras have night vision and are waterproof. Some can be placed in the interior of the home, looking out, so that there is a view of the windows and yard outside.

Cameras have full view and are in focus.

The range of the camera determines the interior placement of cameras. Anything with a range of around 45 to 75 degrees should be aimed to specific areas like a doorway or garage entry door. Cameras with a full wide view of 75 to 180 degrees allow you to see a full room with just one camera.

Cameras watch over any valuables.

If you have a safe within your home, the camera is angled so that it can be seen. Any important hiding places are guarded with a camera as well. If there is a break in, this will help determine what was taken.

Cameras are kept out of reach.

It’s important cameras are kept in an area where they can’t be easily tampered with. If an intruder can break the camera or cover it, it will not be beneficial. Cameras are placed in areas that aren’t obvious but will maximize the view.

Cameras are connected to your home security system.

Security cameras can work strategically with your home security system and home monitoring to protect your home. They’re also great for home automation, allowing you to check home security feeds any time you wish.