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Alarm.com Smart Thermostat is ENERGY STAR® Certified

by Amy January 28, 2019

Staying warm during the frigid winter temperatures is a big priority for homeowners in northern U.S. regions. Alarm.com’s Smart Thermostat, provided by My Alarm Center, is now Energy Star® certified. That makes it the most energy-efficient way to manage temperatures inside your home, which means increased comfort and reduced heating costs.

It might be time to replace your old system if you don’t have an ENERGY STAR® certified thermostat on your home security plan. Modernizing your home’s thermostat will enable much greater efficiency and convenience in controlling the temperatures inside your home – and, can even cut costs!

What is  ENERGY STAR® Certification?

“ENERGY STAR® is a certification backed by the U.S. government. The symbol indicates that the products and practices bearing that label meet the standard for optimal energy efficiency. The goal of providing ENERGY STAR® labeling is to help protect the environment by reducing greenhouse emissions and other pollutants produced through inefficient energy use.

Benefits of an ENERGY STAR® Home

There are important benefits of using ENERGY STAR® kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, water heating, home heating and air conditioning units, and other residential electrical systems and devices. Here are some of the benefits you can realize by upgrading existing household energy consumers to ENERGY STAR® models:

  • Savings on Home Energy Costs — Installation of and efficient control of a HVAC system slashes home energy costs.
  • Tax Savings Homeowners receive tax credits for using energy efficient appliances, lighting, etc.
  • Improved Quality of Life — Home comfort is increased by more effective control over ambient temperatures, with the help of the Alarm.com application.
  • Helps the National Economy — Savings on energy bills contributes to cost savings, which leads to increased usable income for homeowners collectively nationwide.
  • Helps the Environment — Reducing your carbon footprint means you’re helping to slow the world’s overall consumption of fossil fuels.

Benefits of Smart Thermostats

There is an array of significant benefits from using a smart thermostat. Upgrading to a smart thermostat with up-to-date features provides you with:

  • Ideal Convenience — Adjust your home heating thermostat setting without even getting up from the couch.
  • Optimized Heating Management — Regulate the temperature in your home automatically, by setting your temperature timers.
  • Freedom from Manual Adjustments — You never have to worry about whether your home’s heating system is running or was accidentally left on during your workday or vacation.
  • Big Energy Savings — Cost savings for homeowners who can remotely control when their home heating and cooling systems, water heaters, security lighting, and other systems, turn off and on. Take savings on home energy consumption to a new level.

Ways Smart Thermostats Can Be Used

It’s a smart world, and it’s time for a smart thermostat. With today’s state-of-the-art smart thermostat models, you can use the Internet of Things (IoT) to:

  • Use your smartphone to control your thermostat while you are away from home
  • Run reports of your heating and cooling system’s energy consumption, system run times, etc.
  • Receive notifications that your HVAC system’s air filter needs replacing

My Alarm Center’s Home Automation and the Smart Thermostat

A smart home uses today’s cloud technology to connect all your devices. You can control your thermostat as well as all your other networked appliances, systems, and devices through the same mobile app. With quick and easy setup, all your home’s smart facilities can automatically respond to your needs as you go through your usual daily activities.

For More Information

My Alarm Center’s award-winning home automation services are currently used in more than 5 million U.S. homes and businesses. Our network includes over 4,000 authorized service providers. For more information about ENERGY STAR® Smart Thermostats for your home, or to find your nearest service provider, contact My Alarm Center today. Our experts are here to answer your questions anytime.

7 Security Tips to Protect Your New Stuff

by Cassie January 19, 2019

 

Security Tips

From the big-screen that Santa brought to the snazzy new phone you gifted yourself, your home is likely brimming with brand-new temptations for burglars. Here are seven tips to keep your family, your home and your new goodies protected:

1. Hide Your Priciest Loot from View

The number-one rule of thumb for not getting burgled? Don’t tempt the burglars. And that means keeping expensive deliveries out of view. Walk the perimeter of your home, and see what you can see: Can you spot the glow of your new 50″ TV from the road? Are laptops open within view of the front windows? Does your PS4 hang out near the window ledge? Slight relocation can remove them from the sight path of peeping eyes.

2. Don’t Leave the Evidence at the Curb

The second mistake of new gifts is to leave their packaging out for curbside trash pickup. That 50″ TV box at the curb – guess what it’s telling your friendly neighborhood burglar? Instead of leaving pricey packaging out for all to see, break down boxes and fold them inside out. Wrap them in bags, if the logos are still showing. And put them out the night before garbage day. Preferably when it’s already dark.

3. Sign / Sticker / Digitally Mark Your Gear

If you received new, shiny portable gear – fancy cameras, laptops, tablets, etc. – consider tagging them with identifying labels. (Tip: Don’t put your address on the labels; a phone number and email will suffice.) And if your new phone, tablet, camera or other tech gadget carries a memory card inside, add an IfLost.txt file, complete with your contact information.

4. Slash the Flash

And speaking of high-ticket portable tech, consider transporting it in a very low-ticket, uglified casing. In other words, don’t run out and buy a $250 leather laptop case or blinged-out phone cover; instead, stash your stuff in unassuming wrapping (like a laptop backpack) so it’s not an instant target.

5. Hide the Goods (But Not Everything)

Put expensive jewelry in a safe. Stash your gadgets out of view. Essentially, don’t leave thousands of dollars in gifts out in plain sight. But don’t hide everything away, either. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s a good idea to leave a bit of cash and lower-cost goodies in easy-to-find spots; that way, if a thief does find his way into your home, he’s more likely to snatch your barely-hidden goods and getaway, than to tear your home apart in search of the really good stuff.

 6. Secure Your Laptop

If you just got a new laptop, it’s time to secure it. Of course, you can physically secure it with a lock, but we’re more concerned with the information contained therein. And like home security, you’ll want to secure your computer with multiple layers of protection, like GPS tracking, and webcam mugshots, and password protections.

7. Aww, What a Cute Baby!

File this under weird but true: research has shown that your wallet is more likely to be returned if there’s a baby picture inside. Message received. Our advice: slip a baby photo into your wallet (doesn’t matter if you don’t have a baby, a neice or nephew’s photo will do!), but don’t stop there. Add a few to your camera’s memory card, stock a few on your laptop, etc. etc. Sprinkle baby pictures into all your tech, and it may just be the tipping point to getting your stuff returned someday.

Now you tell us: How are you keeping your new toys safe?

Improving Your Home Security For The New Year

by Amy January 7, 2019

Losing weight or quitting smoking typically make many New Year’s Resolution lists, but what about installing or updating your home security system? Keeping you and your family safe are definitely worth including on your list. We’ve put a few ideas together to help you do just that — a “New Year’s To-Do” list. These little things you can do can make a big difference in making your home more secure:

Don’t Leave Garage Door Openers or Keys In Your Car

Leaving these in your car makes it very easy for someone to gain access into your house without requiring a key. Make sure to stow these away in a guarded place where you can reach it, or entrust them to a close friend, neighbor, or family member. You can also take measures to your garage door by installing deadbolts and heavy-duty strike plate.

Make Your Home Look Occupied When It Is Not

This is easier than ever before with smart home devices and home automation security. You can schedule lights to be turned on and off at different times or even have a TV playing in the evening hours just like you were at home. Most home burglaries occur between 10am to 3pm, when most of us are at work, so seeing house activity during these times can detract unwanted trespassers.

Remember to Set Your Alarm System Correctly

Many people purchase an alarm from a security service but they fail to set it and use it; you’ll want an alarm system to go off when something happens. With a system from My Alarm Center you’ll also get the MyHome app which lets you set and deactivate your alarm system from your phone.

Utilize Our Video Monitoring Service

You’ll never have to open the door on a stranger again when you have video monitoring with My Alarm Center’s high-tech security cameras. You’ll be able to monitor your home right from your mobile device, even from miles away, when you’re at work or on vacation.

Remember To Monitor Other Doors

Burglars have always been creative, so don’t forget about your porch door, French doors, or even large windows. These can prove easier entryways for would-be criminals than the front door, so make sure they are properly secured. Our systems can ensure all these programs can be monitored and tracked, so you’ll know when anyone comes in at any point in your home.

If you have any questions on home security systems, don’t hesitate to reach out and have a security system installed in the Philadelphia and Seattle areas.

Fire Safety Tips For Homeowners

by Amy December 6, 2018

It is important to remember that even a small fire can spread within minutes, and it can take more time to escape your home than you think.  These tips can help you stay safe in case of a fire.

Causes Of Fires

Cooking: Ensure that the burners and stove are always turned off when you are finished cooking. Be especially careful when cooking or frying with oil and grease. Make sure that all clothing and other combustible materials stay far away from open flames. Our fire detection systems can alert you when burners are remained on.

Heating: Make sure there are at least 3 feet of clearance between space heaters and any flammable objects. Also, ensure wood burning heaters and fireplaces are properly maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.

Candles: When using candles, be smart about their placement. Never leave an open flame unattended or near children. Extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Smoking: Indoor smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths in the United States. If you must smoke inside, make sure you never smoke in bed and always fully extinguish cigarettes when finished. Keep matches and lighters away from children. Never place ashes in a trash can where they can ignite a fire; instead, wet them down and dispose of them in a metal container.

Appliances and Furniture: Furniture can catch fire very quickly. Take special care with placing furniture near heat sources. Electrical malfunctions account for about 6% of residential building fires. It is important to check electrical cords and to replace them if they are damaged.

Smoke Detectors: Ensuring that your smoke detectors are working properly is a huge part of ensuring your safety. Check that you have a smoke detector in every room in which people sleep and outside of the sleeping area. Test the detector once a month by pushing the test button until it beeps. If your smoke detector needs a new battery or is malfunctioning, take care of it as soon as possible. Smoke detectors older than 10 years need to be replaced and batteries older than six months should be changed as well. If you ever hear the fire alarm, it is important that you immediately leave your home.

Fire Extinguishers: Make sure that you purchase one. This is a necessary item to stop minor fires before they spread. Ensure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and working properly. Familiarize yourself with PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Close Doors: Avoid leaving doors propped open because closed doors can slow the spread of a fire.

Clutter: Do not leave any shared spaces cluttered. This could block your escape, especially at night or in a smoke-filled room, when it is difficult to see clearly.

Escape Plan: Creating a fire escape plan is very important and will allow you to be ready in case a fire ever does occur. Identify all possible escape routes from your home and establish a meeting place outside, a safe distance from your house, with your family. Conduct your own fire drills, both during the day and at night.

Prepare yourself and do your part to ensure that your home will never be in a dangerous fire situation. Take our fire safety quiz and know just how secure your home is.

Avoid Hackers When Holiday Shopping Online With These 10 Tips

by Amy November 13, 2018

Why deal with the hassle, stress, and dangers when shopping online? Your inbox is most likely already flooded with deals that you can’t afford to miss out on. But holiday shopping is as productive for cybercriminals as it is for online retailers. Pay attention to your online transactions and follow these tips to protect your personal information and stay safe while shopping online during the holidays.

  1. Shop From A Secure And Trusted Device
    Never shop from a tablet, phone, or computer that doesn’t have antivirus software. Not only could it be infected by malware, but any information entered into an unprotected device, including credit card numbers, are at risk of being stolen. Always use a protected device with up to date protection software.
  2. Shop Using A Secure Connection
    Your data and information can easily be stolen if a hacker controls the network you’re shopping on. It’s recommended to shop only from your own secure network instead of a public network. Also make sure any website you’re on has the HTTPS lock symbol in your URL window, instead of HTTP.

  1. Don’t Shop On Browsers
    Hackers could trick you into clicking on a false link if you’re trying to shop in a browser. It’s much safer to use trusted online retail sites or applications. If you’re going to shop on a browser, trusted experts recommend Mozilla Firefox, as it has the strongest privacy tools of all the browsers out right now.
  2. Some Deals Are Too Good To Be True
    If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cyber criminals know that people are looking for the best possible prices and will often lure unwitting victims into a trap with fake deals. Never open attachments in emails promising unbelievable deals and only use trusted vendors when placing your orders.
  3. Review Bank Statements
    Most banks and cards will refund you if your information has been stolen, so it’s important to keep an eye on your bank statements and make sure there haven’t been any mysterious purchases made. If there have been, call your bank or credit card company immediately, notify them of the purchase, and place an immediate hold on your accounts.
  4. Don’t Use Debit
    Credit card fraud can be frustrating and common, but believe it or not, credit cards tend to offer more protection from cyber criminals than debit cards do. If you can, use credit cards while doing your online shopping then immediately pay off the balance with your debit. This is much safer than using your debit card directly.

  1. Use Unique Logins
    Yes, it’s a pain remembering more than one login but if you use the same username and password for every retailer then a hacker only has to get the info for one to be able to access all the others. It’s recommended you use different login details for every retailer you shop with and keep the info in a Word file, so you don’t forget.
  2. Make Passwords Difficult
    Additionally, passwords should always be as long as possible and use a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords for each retailer, feel free to use a password manager to help.
  3. Read the Privacy Policies
    Each website has its own privacy policy. It may be tedious but it’s a good idea to read each one thoroughly. Some sites might seem okay but will sell your information to the highest bidder.
  4. Use Two-Step Verification
    It can be tedious, but two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your account by making you verify yourself even if you know the password. They might ask for an email or phone number or a special code sent via text. This type of verification could easily stop someone from making all their holiday purchases on your account.

Your security and safety are most important to us. Follow these tips to stay safe and stay shopping for the best deals during the holidays.

How To Best Protect Your Home And Car This Halloween

by Amy October 30, 2018

According to a study conducted by the Boston Globe, crime rates increase by 50% on Halloween night. If you’re out trick-or-treating with the kids, burglars could take advantage of people being away from home and the unfamiliar traffic and pedestrians typically out on Halloween. Protect your home before going trick or treating. Use these tips to stay safe and enjoy the fun sideo of this spooky evening.

General Safety Tips:

  • Choose your trick or treating venue or neighborhood wisely.
  • Take steps to protect your vehicles.
  • Provide plenty of light in walkways.
  • Make sure your trick or treaters are visible.
  • Avoid distractions while walking and driving.

Protect Your Home:

  • Provide plenty of lighting around the exterior of your home to make it easy to see people who approach your home and so visitors don’t stubmble on anything unseen.
  • Place decorations strategically so that they will not be a tripping hazard. Avoid extension cords if possible.
  • Keep all unsupervised points of entry into your home locked. It is a good idea to have your security system activated, even if you are just outside. You may not be aware of someone trying to break into your house while you’re handing out Halloween candy.
  • Leave all valuables out of sight.
  • Let your neighbors know that you do not plan to be home so that they can keep any eye out for anything suspicious.

Protect Your Vehicle:

  • Keep in mind that car theft increases as well on Halloween, so protect your vehicle. Park your car in your garage or at a well-lit area in a trusted neighborhood.
  • Remove all valuables from your car and never leave any in sight, espeically money or a purse, even for a few minutes.
  • Lock all the doors and roll up all the windows.
  • Set your alarm on your vehicle.

My Alarm Center provides security monitoring that will allow you to stay safe all year round. Plan for Halloween so that you can guarantee your home will be safe, even if you plan to celebrate somewhere else.

5 Causes Of Holiday House Fires And How To Prevent Them

by Amy October 26, 2018

The holiday season is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but, every year, hundreds become the victims of unfortunate holiday fires. Fires during the holidays account for 34% greater property loss and 70% more fatalities than average. Don’t let fire ruin your holiday and follow these tips to ensure a safe holiday season for you and your family.

  1. Cooking

The holidays are all about big meals, and the most common culprit is food left unattended during cooking. Ensure that you have a working fire extinguisher rated for all types of fires and that all the smoke detectors are working properly throughout your household. And be sure you know how to operate the fire extinguisher.

  1. Candles

Candle fires are four times more likely during the month of December. To reduce the risk of fire, maintain a foot of space between candles and anything flammable, including your Christmas tree. Set candles on a sturdy base or cover them with hurricane globes. Do not leave candles unattended, especially near children. Also, consider using flameless LED candles instead of real ones. They flicker, just like an actual candle, but there’s no risk of anything catching aflame.

  1. Decorative Lights

Do not use any decorative lights with frayed or cracked wires. Refrain from stringing any more than three strands of lights together on one outlet. Ensure lights are not placed near any heat sources or anything that could potentially overheat. When placing lights outside, avoid using nails or staples as this could damage the wiring. It is also recommended to take lights down within 90 days as they could be damaged by environmental factors.

  1. Christmas Trees

It will take less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to become engulfed in flame. To minimize the risk of a Christmas Tree catching fire, water the tree every day. If a tree is well watered, it is almost impossible to ignite. Regardless of how often you water the tree, it will begin to dry out after four weeks. When setting up the tree, even an artificial one, make sure it is far away from any heat sources, like fireplaces or radiators. Lastly, make sure the Christmas lights on the tree are always turned off when you go to sleep at night or leave your home. You smart home can automate when to turn your lights on and off.

  1. Fireplaces

Remember to have your fireplace inspected every year by a professional chimney inspector. Soot can harden and become flammable, so this inspection is indispensable. Screen in your fireplace to prevent any hot embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet.

Be cautious and careful when choosing how to decorate your home this holiday season. Make sure that anything potentially flammable is kept far away from heat sources and electronics. If your fire alarm sounds, immediately leave your home, even if you do not know the cause of the alarm.

My Alarm Center wishes you a safe holiday season with your family.

Could These Crazy Home Security Ideas Work?

by Amy October 5, 2018

Some people use more common ideas like wireless home security systems, but some others have taken it to the next level. Here are some of the craziest home security ideas.

  1. Robot Spy Dogs

Regular dogs can scare away potential robbers when you are not at home, but a robot spy dog can do even better than that! These faceless robotic creatures are built to maneuver over any terrain and are more than enough to frighten away even the most stolid of burglars. Some of them even take video and can talk!

  1. Cell Phone-Operated Locks

Once in a while, you might lock yourself out and forgot the keys in the house. With our home automation services, you can install a smart door lock, which will allow you to lock and unlock your door with the press of a button on your smartphone.

  1. Tweeting Laser Tripwire

This laser tripwire tweets every time it’s been touched. It will even take a photo of the intruder, tweet that photo, and then continue to monitor the intruder with the surveillance system. This device makes it impossible for any intruder to go unnoticed.

  1. Personal Drone

Drones are the wave of the future, and your personal drone will live in its own mini home that looks just like a mailbox. This neat gadget can launch itself into the sky, record video, and then return to you all on its own! Perfect for keeping an eye on suspicious persons that may be around your home.

If you’re not interested in some of these wilder ideas, My Alarm Center provides a home security system that allows you to protect your home and your family while also giving you the opportunity to utilize home automation and come up with some crazy home security ideas of your own.

Keep Your Dorms Safe With These Campus Security Tips

by Amy

College makes you feel safe because there are always people around, but it is important to know how look out for yourself. Everyone can help to make college campuses safer. If you are a victim of violence in any way, make sure that you contact your local campus resources or local police station for help.

Increasing On-Campus Safety:

Know Your Resources

Call 911 and know the phone number to Public Safety in case of emergency. Make sure to have access to the campus health center and the campus police station. Also keep note where emergency phones or other emergency stations are located.

Stay Alert

When moving around campus, always be aware of your surroundings. Especially when walking home from class at night. Consider inviting a friend to join you when walking around. If you are alone, only use headphones in one ear so you can still be aware of your surroundings.

Location

Many social media sights allow you to share your location with many different people on your friends list. Consider disabling your location functions so that you can ensure that no one can follow you or track you.

Trust

A college environment can form a false sense of security. Make sure that you are careful with your valuables and don’t rely on people you don’t know.

Be Secure

Even though college may not seem like a dangerous place, lock your doors and windows at night. Keep your door locked during the day as well, especially if you’re not there and even if you’re only using the bathroom. Never leave your belongings in a public area.

Increasing Safety Outside Campus:

Plan Ahead
If you’re going to a party, make sure to plan ahead. Leave and return with people that you trust. Agree to watch out for each other and keep in touch if you get separated. Don’t leave anyone alone or behind.

Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended
Don’t take a drink from anyone you didn’t watch make it. If you go to the bathroom or walk outside, take it with you. It is important to remember that if someone tampered with your drink, you probably wouldn’t know it as most substances have no color, taste, or odor.

Know Your Limits

Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had and be aware of your friends’ behavior as well. Know your limits and know when you’ve had enough. If someone is ever drinking too much, make sure you contact help immediately.

Trust Your Instincts And Be A Good Friend

If you see a friend in a situation that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Look out for your friends and they will certainly return the favor.

Know When To Say ‘No’

If you’re ever in a situation that you don’t feel comfortable in, it’s okay to leave. You aren’t obligated to stay in a place where you feel unsafe. If you feel the need to lie to protect yourself, some good excuses to leave are to help another friend or family member, an urgent phone call, not feeling well, or having to be somewhere else by a certain time.

My Alarm Center can provide extra security with home security system installation for off campus housing.

Do You Need A Safe?

by Amy September 7, 2018

There are many different types of safes, so it’s important to know what kind of safes there are before you can decide what type of safe you will need.

Types Of Safes:

  1. Home Safe: Your basic safe. Built to withstand burglary and fires. Usually opened with a combination lock.
  2. Gun Safe: Gun safes are the most common safes bought by homeowners. They are the most popular and biggest of all noncommercial safes. Some can hold up to forty-five rifles while most are only big enough to hold one handgun.
  3. Biometric Safes: These are safes that only open with a fingerprint scan.
  4. Wall Safes: This type of safe is built into the wall so that a painting or other wall covering will conceal it. It is usually about the size of [FILL IN HERE] and contains two or three shelves.
  5. Digital Electronic Safe: These operate by using a digital keypad to open the door.

Safe Specifications:

  1. Burglar Resistant: Most safes are designed to be burglar resistant, but some can withstand more than others. Descriptions include an estimate of how long it might take a burglar to get inside a safe and what type of tools could be used to open it—like power saws, cutting wheels, and torches. The most sophisticated and burglar-resistant safes can even withstand explosives, such as nitroglycerin!
  2. Fire Resistant: Not every safe is designed to remain intact during a fire. Those that are make the perfect repository for important documents. Fire-resistant safes include insulated drawers and lids that can withstand 450 degree heat for up to four hours.
  3. Water Resistant: These are designed to keep out any moisture or dust and are usually used for sensitive collectables.

Lock Types:

  1. Combination: The most commonly used form of lock. Can only be opened if the correct numbers are input in the correct order.
  2. Key: These safes can only be opened by a specific key. This adds an extra layer of security as the key to the safe can be hidden far from it.
  3. Electronic: These safes either come with a keypad for digitally entering the combo or a biometric scanner. These are harder to crack than the mechanical lock.
  4. Time Locks: These locks can be programmed to only open at a certain time.

With more than 2,000,000 homes being burgled every year, it’s easy to understand why so many rely on a safe to protect their jewelry, cash, and personal documents. Always protect your valuables and considering getting a safe to do so.