Home Automation Tech: Smart Locks

Connected home technology can do a lot of things, from reminding you to feed your pets to conserving energy and saving money by monitoring your heating/cooling systems, but one of the best aspects of the home automation industry is an improved ability to keep your family and home safe. When you’re considering what smart lock to purchase, it’s important to know your options. The two main types of smart lock are either Bluetooth-only locks, or connect with your home internet connection via Wi-Fi. It’s important to note that locks with Wi-Fi do offer more functions, but are intrinsically less safe due to their constant connection to the web. Because of this, Bluetooth locks are more secure, but often offer less features than their Wi-Fi locking counterparts. With this in mind, once you start looking at smart locks, here are some of the best high-tech locks available: Bluetooth
  • August Smart Lock – CNET calls it the best smart lock available, and August offers clean looks, strong user management, and convenient automated features. It’s one of the more expensive smart locks available, but it also offers an advantage over many other devices: August works with your existing deadbolt and keyset, rather than forcing you to replace all your lock hardware. It’s also compatible with Nest.
  • Kwikset Kevo – Kwikset’s Kevo smart locks don’t look very different than your standard deadbolt—a ring of blue lights is the only substantial aesthetic difference. These smart locks work by touch, and tapping it unlocks your door as long as your smartphone or key fob is nearby. Each Kevo lock comes to you with 2 physical keys, 2 electronic, and free, unlimited 24-hr guest keys. You can also purchase extra eKeys for $1.99 within the Kevo app.
  • (Coming Soon) Lockitron Bolt – The least expensive smart lock on this list, the Lockitron Bolt replaces your existing deadbolt and uses Bluetooth technology to sense your approach and automatically unlock the door when you arrive. Because the physical lock can be matched with any key, it’s ideal for rental properties. Lockitron will also offer the Lockitron Bridge, which offers the addition of Wi-Fi functionality.
  • (Coming Soon) Goji Smart Lock – This device works via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the best of both worlds. It’s packed with features like a customizable welcome screen and remote control functionality. If you accidentally lock yourself out, Goji offers a customer service call center to handle lockout requests. With Goji, users also receive 2 physical keys and 4 electronic ones. Like Kevo, it offers the ability to send guest keys for specific dates and times, and Goji can also send real-time picture alerts of visitors to your smartphone.
  • Yale Real Living Touchscreen Z-Wave Deadbolt – One of the older smart locks on the market, Yale uses Z-Wave or Zigbee rather than a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. Not only does this smart lock offer a touch screen, but it also talks to you using three different language options. It offers a high level of convenience and works with a number of different connected home systems.
Smart locks are some of the latest technology in home automation and, using Bluetooth or WiFi, these little pieces of technology can do a lot more than just keeping your doors closed!

Flash Flood Safety Tips

Did you know that floods are the most common disaster in the US? Flash floods can form in seconds and do significant property damage within minutes. Learn how to reduce your flash flood risks and stay safe with these tips: Watch Vs. Warning A flash flood watch means flooding is possible. Prepare to move to higher ground and listen to NOAA Weather Radio, a commercial radio or television (or your Halo+!) for up-to-date information. A flash flood warning means that one is actually occurring. If this happens in your area, seek higher ground on foot—not in a vehicle, which can be swept away by a few inches of moving water—immediately. Safety Tips
  • Flash floods can occur very quickly and, as such, can be very dangerous. If there’s any change of a flash flood in your area, it’s important to move immediately to higher ground, rather than waiting for instructions to mobilize.
  • If there is a flash flood in your area, don’t walk through moving water. As little as six inches of moving water can cause a fall. If you must walk in water, walk where it’s still and use a sturdy stick to check the firmness of the ground as you go.
  • During threatening conditions, do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers, or creeks. If you arrive at a flooded road while driving, either turn around and drive the other way or get out of the car and quickly walk to higher ground.
  • Keep children out of and away from water.
  • If you have time to prepare before a flash flood occurs, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves and disconnect electrical appliances (do NOT touch electrical equipment when wet, or when standing in water). If time allows, bring in outdoor furniture and move any essential items to an upper level, if possible.
For more resources on flash flood preparedness, click the links below: On Preparing – Red Cross On Insurance - Flood Smart Before, During, and After – Ready.gov

Is Your Family Prepared for a Power Outage?

Power outages don’t often hit with incredible frequency but, when they do strike, they often make home life a bit more difficult. The inability to charge your devices or take a hot shower can be a pain, but there are some things you can do to prepare for an outage and make waiting one out a bit more bearable: Before • Stock a drawer, cabinet, or closet with supplies like flashlights, candles, user-safe lighters, and matches. (Note: due to potential fire hazards, keep candles, matches, and lighters out of reach of children.) • Include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio in your family’s emergency kit. • If you have an electric garage door, know how to open it manually. If you regularly enter your home through the garage, keep a spare key with you in case the garage door doesn’t open. • For electronic devices, storing one or several fully-charged portable chargers can help you keep your devices working longer. During • Turn off and unplug any unnecessary electronics and electric equipment, especially those that were on when the outage occurred. If devices remain on until the power returns, electrical surges or spikes could damage them. • Restrict travel, especially by car, as traffic lights can be off and contribute to road congestion and accidents. • Open fridges and freezers as little as possible to preserve food. During an outage, an unopened fridge will keep food cold for roughly four hours. A full freezer will do the same for about 48 hours! • If your power outage will continue for more than one day, use a cooler stocked with ice to further preserve items from your freezer. • Use generators safely.  If your home is equipped with a hardwired Halo, you’ll have peace-of-mind knowing that your smoke alarm works in a power outage for up to seven days and, with Halo+, you’ll also have a working weather radio to bring updates directly to your home. Our friends at the Red Cross have even more great power outage resources, so be sure to check them out!