If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.
Tech upgrades to improve home function
(Family Features) When smart home technologies first emerged, their purpose was largely for convenience and operating the devices was often clunky. Today, smart devices seamlessly integrate into connected home systems to make living more efficient, improve home security and even offer advantages for your health.
If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.
Smart lighting is among the most prevalent of smart functions on the market, largely because of the multiple benefits it offers. It’s handy to be able to set regular lighting patterns throughout the home so you’re never left in the dark. You can also manage those lights from your smartphone, so forgetting to turn off a light is no longer an issue and you can fool would-be-thieves into thinking the house is inhabited when you’re away.
Fingertip controls offer plenty of advantages, but another consideration is energy management. Dimming features and sensors that turn lights off and on through various detection methods (such as movement or recognizing a connected Bluetooth device) help minimize wasted energy. The lights are typically constructed to use less energy, and most models last substantially longer than their traditional counterparts; some brands claim a lifespan of 20 years or more.
Smart lighting is an easy way to curb energy usage, but another consideration is climate control, which accounts for a big chunk of a typical household’s energy consumption.
The idea of programming your thermostat is nothing new, but smart thermostats take programming to a whole new level. Not only can you schedule temperature changes to coincide with your coming and going (and manage those changes with an app when you’re not even at home), today’s smart thermostats also have sensors that learn your daily habits and can adjust the climate accordingly. Comfort aside, the impact on energy usage is often substantial enough that some electric companies even offer incentives to homeowners who install the devices.
“Few are aware of the impact of indoor air on their health and wellbeing, but the air we breathe is just as important as the food we eat or the water we drink,” said Kent Holm, senior vice president of global product management with the Velux Group. “An average adult breathes in around 4,000 gallons of air every day and spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors. A healthy indoor climate goes way beyond simple convenience.”
Opening skylights in conjunction with vertical windows removes polluted air from the home and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle. An option such as Velux Active with Netatmo is the first smart skylight system that connects with Apple HomeKit, allowing homeowners to manage indoor climate control at home or remotely with the touch of a button.
In addition to manual controls, smart sensor technology monitors carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature in the home and data from local weather station forecasts to automatically open the skylights if fresh air is needed. The system can also automate skylight blinds. Learn more at whyskylights.com.
Peace of Mind
Home security takes numerous forms, from detecting threats like fire or water to physical barriers at the home’s entry points. Smart technology is transforming the way homeowners manage their home’s security and giving them added confidence that their families are safe within those walls.
Anyone who’s ever gotten five miles down the road only to question whether the garage door went down or the front door was locked can appreciate the advantages of smart technology. Smart garage door openers and door locks make it easy for you to program access to guests who may not have a key and even gain access to the house when you’ve forgotten your own key. Other smart security devices like doorbell and flood light cameras help you keep tabs on the traffic around your home.SOURCE:
As you pack your travel essentials for your summer road trip, long weekend at the beach or a lazy day at the pool, there’s one thing you might be forgetting. Wherever you go, your favorite shows and stars can come with you. Whether you’re sitting shotgun or flying at 30,000 feet, you can always access your favorite shows and movies on the go.
Download Before You Go This Summer
New and classic shows to watch on the road in July
(Family Features) As you pack your travel essentials for your summer road trip, long weekend at the beach or a lazy day at the pool, there’s one thing you might be forgetting. Wherever you go, your favorite shows and stars can come with you.
Allowing you to download shows and movies to your smartphone or tablet, an option like Netflix helps you be ready to stream anywhere, anytime, even without WiFi. With so many new titles coming this month, the time is now to take advantage of this convenient feature. Whether you’re sitting shotgun or flying at 30,000 feet, you can always access your favorite shows and movies on the go.
This month, you won’t want to miss Jerry Seinfeld in his latest talk show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Brewed Fresh for 2018, where he mixes his two loves: classic cars and comedy. Every episode, Seinfeld interviews a comedian while they drive around in a classic car and stop for a cup of coffee. Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal provides a new adventure with even more laughs. Follow Rosenthal as he travels to Copenhagen, Ireland, Capetown, Buenos Aires and beyond to find the best local restaurants in Somebody Feed Phil: The Second Course.
These are just a couple of the new titles you can find on the service this July. Find more information about countless shows and movies, sign up for a one-month free trial and set up your account atNetflix.com.
TV shows and movies on Netflix This Month
As an alternative to endless summer re-runs, there is always something new to watch on-demand. Whether you’re into comedy, documentaries, drama or anything in-between, you can find those genres and more by going to Netflix.com to sign up. Here’s some old favorites as well as new content available to watch this month:
Anne with an E: Season 2
Amazing Interiors: Season 1
Last Chance U: INDY: Part 1
Home technology devices have come a long way, and many homeowners are discovering that their features aren’t just for convenience and comfort. A growing number of technology-enabled home features promote a healthier living space for you and your family. From boosting indoor air quality to cutting back on dust, dirt and germs, these ideas are the perfect way to add functional upgrades that improve your quality of life.
7 Ways to Create a High-Tech, Healthy Home
(Family Features) Home technology devices have come a long way, and many homeowners are discovering that their features aren’t just for convenience and comfort. A growing number of technology-enabled home features promote a healthier living space for you and your family.
From boosting indoor air quality to cutting back on dust, dirt and germs, these ideas are the perfect way to add functional upgrades that improve your quality of life.
1. Minimize floor debris.
2. Create climate zones.
3. Wash away germs.
4. Monitor for danger.
5. Reduce ductwork.
In fact, Mitsubishi Electric ducted air systems use less ductwork than traditional systems. Less ductwork results in less chance of air leakage, which reduces energy loss, and less contaminants building up in the ductwork. For homeowners looking to go the ductless route, the simplicity of an option like the MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette indoor unit is an aesthetically friendly solution that blends into the ceiling. This system easily slides between standard 16-inch joists.
6. Let there be light.
7. Don’t overlook the outdoors.
Explore more health-conscious solutions for your home at MitsubishiComfort.com.SOURCE:
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
There are obvious benefits to shopping online. You can skip the lines and congested parking lots all while taking your time and enjoying the comfort of shopping in your pajamas. One of the biggest draws, however, is the potential money savings. Learn how to make the most of your online shopping and nab the best digital deals with these tips.
How to Get the Best Deals Online
(Family Features) There are obvious benefits to shopping online. You can skip the lines and congested parking lots all while taking your time and enjoying the comfort of shopping in your pajamas. One of the biggest draws, however, is the potential money savings.
Learn how to make the most of your online shopping and nab the best digital deals with these tips:
Subscribe to email lists. In the past, most people avoided email lists like the plague. However, email subscribers get some of the best deals that retailers offer, so if you can tolerate a few more messages in your inbox, it’s a good way to stay in-the-know about sales and promotions.
Combine membership benefits. Many member-based programs are expanding their partnerships with other retailers to offer enhanced benefits. Keeping tabs on the latest offers can ensure you’re maximizing your membership. One example is Woot.com, which features daily deals on items ranging from top tech gadgets to kitchen gizmos to sporting goods, and now offers free shipping for Amazon Prime members. Visit woot.com/prime to learn more.
Seek out discount codes. Whether you subscribe to a site that aggregates codes, rely on a browser extension or even do a manual search, wait to confirm an order until first checking to see if there are any discount codes available. Some retailers make it easier than others by having a code tool built into their checkout screen, but even if they don’t, it can be worth the extra time to verify the current offers.
Check in on daily deals. Many online retailers specialize in daily deals and site-wide offers, which you can explore by visiting the individual sites or, in some cases, registering for notifications. Be aware that many of these deals are available for a limited time and in limited quantities, such as on Woot.com, which launches new deals every 30 minutes on select days. It’s to your advantage to understand how often your favorite sites post new deals and the flash sales they offer. Some of the best ways to stay connected are by subscribing to the site’s newsletter or following the site’s social media channels.
Use your shopping cart. Retailers have become quite sophisticated at monitoring shoppers’ habits and behaviors, and while it may feel a little invasive, it can pay off to your advantage. For example, if you place items in your shopping cart then close out of your browser, it’s possible you’ll receive an email within the next day or two with an offer to incentivize you to complete your purchase.
Take advantage of free shipping. If your purchase isn’t time-sensitive or you have some flexibility, take advantage of free shipping offers. Look for sites that provide free shipping for shoppers, or those that don’t offer free shipping every day but regularly run free shipping promotions. Check shipping thresholds to see when free shipping becomes available (often based on the price of the order) and consider combining purchases to take advantage of free shipping offers.
Once you have a few tricks in place, scoring savings online can be more lucrative and easier than old-school coupon clipping. Combine that with the convenience of shopping from home and you’ve got one smart deal.
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Whether you’re playing jazz classics to give your dinner party a sophisticated ambience or blasting the latest dance-pop tracks for motivation on the treadmill, music is able to provide the soundtrack to different aspects of peoples’ lives. Playlists are one of the most convenient ways to organize music, and there’s no limit to the number of playlists you can create. These tips can help you make the perfect playlist to match your music needs.
How to Build the Perfect Playlist
(Family Features) Music can set the mood, no matter the occasion. Whether you’re playing jazz classics to give your dinner party a sophisticated ambience or blasting the latest dance-pop tracks for motivation on the treadmill, music is able to provide the soundtrack to different aspects of peoples’ lives.
These days, playlists are one of the most convenient ways to organize music, and there’s no limit to the number of playlists you can create. It can also be surprisingly simple to make the perfect playlist to match your music needs. These tips can help you on your way:
Tailor the Playlist to Your Audience
Make It Personal
When taking advantage of those custom features, be sure to clearly identify your lists with ultra-personal names. For example, instead of naming a list “Summer 2018,” go for something like “Favorite Poolside Beats 2018.” If you need help, the service can also help populate the playlist to at least 15 songs by suggesting tracks based on your playlist title and music tastes. Create your own personalized playlist and find more information atSpotify.com.
Mix It Up
Collaborate with Others
Music is both universal and personal, so let your playlists tell a story about you. If you’ll use the list for entertaining, sprinkle in some extra flavor with tracks that appeal to the broader group or specific guests, and just like that, you have a winning playlist for your next party.
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When everyone is gathered together, it seems at some point the conversation always turns to who’s watching what when it comes to TV shows and movies. If you’re looking to discover something new or different from what you find on regular TV, here are five reasons to give streaming a try.
5 Reasons to Get Streaming this Spring
The next wave of movies and shows to watch now
(Family Features) Whether it’s the kids or grandkids wrapping up the school year, spending a little extra time with mom or traveling with loved ones for a long weekend, the potential increase in quality family time is something many look forward to in May. When everyone is gathered together, it seems at some point the conversation always turns to who’s watching what when it comes to TV shows and movies.
Watching TV or going to the movies together can be a great way to bond, but people are discovering exciting series and films outside of cable channels and movie theaters. Even with busy schedules and differing tastes, streaming services like Netflix are always adding new shows and movies, so there’s sure to be something everyone can enjoy together (no matter how picky some family members may be). If you’re looking to discover something new or different from what you find on regular TV, here are five reasons to give an option like Netflix a try:
1. No More Fighting Over the Remote. Whether you’re sitting down to watch as a family or getting cozy on the couch for a date night in, there’s no need to commandeer the remote to ensure you have control of the entertainment choices. With a large selection of shows and movies, streaming services make it easy to find something you’ll love to watch together.
2. Like a Guide Channel That’s Customized for You. If you’re a fan of Blue Bloods, you can either catch up on old episodes, or give an option like MINDHUNTER a try. Or if you’re looking for laughs and love Friends, check out Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.. It’s like a guide channel, but because it knows your tastes, Netflix will only display show and film recommendations based on what you have watched in the past.
3. Rediscover Shows and Movies You Love. Experience some of ABBA’s greatest hits with Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth in the musical romantic comedy Mamma Mia!, or get your action fix with Matt Damon in The Bourne Ultimatum. If you’re feeling nostalgic but are looking for something outside of reruns, consider a trip down memory lane with a reboot of classic series like Lost in Space orGilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
4. Take Your Shows On-the-Go. If you’re doing any travel this spring, discover a new way to stay entertained while you’re on the go. Whether you’re on the road for work or leisure, Netflix lets you watch your favorite shows wherever you are. Just use your phone, laptop or tablet to access the service and pick up right where you left off.
5. Sign-Up is Simple. All you have to do is go online to Netflix.com, choose a plan and provide payment information and your zip code. You may also be eligible for a subscription as part of some existing cable packages, and if that is the case, you may not need any additional equipment to access it.
Find more information about countless shows and movies, sign up for a one-month free trial and set up your account at Netflix.com.
TV shows and movies on Netflix in May
Netflix is adding new shows and movies to the service every day. Whether you’re into comedy, suspense, drama or anything in-between, you can find those genres and more on Netflix.com. Here’s some old favorites as well as new content available to watch this month:
A Little Help with Carol Burnett: Season 1
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist: Season 1
Explained: Season 1
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life
In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices. These tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
5 Ways to Boost Home Wi-Fi
(Family Features) In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, thermostats, security cameras and even refrigerators.
However, with the growing number of devices requiring access to your network, and in some cases even the quality of the connection itself, there can be limitations to your Wi-Fi network’s performance. The problem can be compounded by the reality that increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks isn’t just in your own home or office, it’s around the globe.
Some groups, such as WifiForward, are advocating for increased connectivity across America, including greater access to unlicensed spectrum, which are radio frequencies that consumers can use for a wide range of purposes, including Wi-Fi. Ultimately, greater access to unlicensed spectrum can result in benefits like more reliable connections and super-fast “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” as well as cost-effective wireless broadband for unconnected urban and rural areas.
In the meantime, these tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
Use up-to-date Wi-Fi technologies. It won’t matter what other steps you take to improve your network performance if you’re using old technology. Be sure your devices and router are all compatible with the latest network capabilities. Equipment that runs the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is ideal if you’re using multiple devices.
Improve network security. Be sure to regularly update your password and enable WPA2 encryption, which offers greater security.
Know that location matters. Placing your router in an open, centralized area is likely to create a better access point throughout the house. Be wary of walls and other obstructions than can hinder a clear signal transmission throughout the house. An ethernet cable and cable clips are all you need to move your router from its connecting point to a more signal-friendly location.
Reboot your router regularly. Like many devices, an occasional reboot can help improve function. A router that is continually running is processing a great deal of data and even in normal operation some data can become corrupt. A reboot can dump those errors and allow you to resume operations with a clean slate, so to speak.
Update your connected devices. Each device that is actively connected to your network depletes available bandwidth. When a device’s operating system is out-of-date, it can become a data hog, impacting the performance of the other devices you have connected in your home. Check regularly for software and connectivity updates to improve speeds and maximize your experience.
Learn more about constraints of the nation’s current Wi-Fi airwaves and possible solutions at WifiForward.org.
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Often, aging can be accompanied by a change in your ability to manage and move around in your home. That’s where assistive technology – better known as AT – comes in. No matter your age or what type of disability you may have, chances are there is an AT device out there that can help you with everyday tasks. In fact, most people have probably used an assistive device without realizing it. Smartphones, voice command technology and certain types of software all fall under the AT umbrella. AT also includes plenty of low-tech devices, like adapted pencil grips for students with disabilities.
Tools to improve the everyday
(Family Features) Most Americans want to stay in their homes as they age. Not a bad plan, but what if your home doesn’t fit you as well as it once did?
Often, aging can be accompanied by a change in your ability to manage and move around in your home. That’s where assistive technology – better known as AT – comes in. No matter your age or what type of disability you may have, chances are there is an AT device out there that can help you with everyday tasks.
AT isn’t a new concept. In fact, most people have probably used an assistive device without realizing it. Smartphones, voice command technology and certain types of software all fall under the AT umbrella. AT also includes plenty of low-tech devices, like adapted pencil grips for students with disabilities.
There’s an ever-growing variety of AT tools available to help with household chores, work functions, getting around, seeing, hearing, learning and living independently in general. These devices and technologies are designed to help older adults and people with disabilities, but you may find that these tools can make life easier for anyone.
Examples of AT devices and tools include:
The right AT for you
These programs offer:
You can find the AT Act Program in your state or territory at acl.gov/AT. You’ll also find additional information on state AT programs, data about the network of state AT programs and additional resources to help you find and obtain AT that fits your needs.
With more research and awareness around the importance of AT, the future possibilities for living independently in the place of your choosing are almost limitless.
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