Top Tips To Protect Valuables From Extreme Weather Disasters

(BPT) – Natural disasters cost Americans $91 billion in damages in 2018, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

With parts of the country in the midst of peak hurricane season, and other regions of the country approaching the dangerous wildfire and flooding seasons, experts emphasize the importance of safeguarding key assets, especially those irreplaceable personal and financial documents.

“As the number of extreme storms in the U.S. continues to rise, so does the importance of protecting your assets like sentimental family photos, wills, insurance/tax documents and more,” advises Cheryl Nelson, a certified instructor at FEMA’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC). “We can’t always predict exactly when natural disasters will strike, but we can take proactive steps to safeguard the things we deem irreplaceable.”

In observance of National Preparedness Month in September, the Master Lock Company and Nelson partnered to offer insights and advice for safeguarding valuables from the unexpected.

Safeguard your irreplaceable belongings.

Whether you’re waiting out a storm or must quickly vacate your home, your most important papers, records, photos, valuables and heirlooms will be more secure when stored in a fire- and water-protected safe, such as the durable SentrySafe Combination Fire/Water Safe or portable SentrySafe Fire/Water Chest.

Maintain digital copies.

Plan ahead for contingencies by storing copies of your most essential documents safely in the cloud, as well as portable flash drives. Free apps for Android and iOS phones make it easy to scan documents for that purpose.

Consider moving expensive artwork, antiques, wine, cars and/or other possessions to a temperature-controlled, generator-protected storage facility built for that purpose.

Secure your yard and home.

Make sure your trees are properly trimmed and ensure your yard is clear of lawn furniture, landscaping equipment and other loose items. Strong winds can also open doors to storage areas and sheds if not properly locked. Consider a durable Master Lock padlock, such as the new “Now Even Stronger” Laminated Padlocks, to keep outdoor storage areas secure.

Close interior doors.

Taking that step may preserve your roof in high winds, since it compartmentalizes the pressure inside the home into smaller areas, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

Prepare for insurance claims.

Inventory and photograph your belongings as they’re purchased, attaching receipts and including appraisals when applicable.

Establish a lock box.

You never know when you could be trapped inside your home and/or need someone else to check on it during a disaster. Options like the durable Master Lock 5400D Portable Lock Box or easy-to-use Master Lock 5440D Portable Bluetooth Lock Box provide access via combination or smartphone.

A trusted name in security for nearly 100 years, The Master Lock Company offers a full suite of security solutions offering enhanced durability, reliability and security in myriad circumstances caused by natural disasters. For more information, visit www.masterlock.com.

Tips For Late Summer Gardening

(BPT) – Summer may be winding down, but a new opportunity to garden is just beginning. Plenty of vegetables and flowers can be grown successfully in late summer and into fall, so it’s a great time to refresh with plants that either thrive in slightly cooler weather or are easy to bring indoors once the temperatures start to drop.

Savor the flavors of fresh grown herbs.

With Pesto Party basil from Burpee Plants, you can have your own actual pesto party! Bring the basil indoors when there is danger of frost and keep the plant handy in a sunny spot in the kitchen so you can simply snip off leaves as you’re cooking and entertaining. Just be sure to leave some foliage on the plant so it will continue to grow. If you make a bigger batch of pesto than you can use in one recipe, freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays to pull out and cook when desired.

Enjoy seasonal, fresh from the garden vegetables.

Kale Storm from Burpee is not only tasty, but it’s lovely to look at in your garden with its purple, green and blue-tinged leaves. It can be planted either in the ground or also works well in a decorative patio or porch planter for those with limited space. Unlike some plants, colder temperatures enhance and sweeten kale’s flavor, so it can withstand a hard frost or two.

Like a bit of variety in your salad? Burpee’s Gourmet Blend offers a long harvest range, and it includes five different types of lettuces in one plant for a truly varied and delicious salad selection. A raised garden bed in a sunny location is the best spot for successfully growing these varieties of lettuce during the fall.

A stunning new Brussels sprouts called Redarling has a vivid red hue to offer even more color to your cool-season edible garden. It has a mild taste and is a rich source of vitamin C and folic acid because of its unique red color. They stand up to cool nights and frost, so they’ll be popular at the dinner table late into the season.

Add color and a festive look to your porch, patio or garden.

Available in a variety of autumnal hues, Cool Wave Pansies are a great choice to brighten your outdoor space for the season. Cool Wave’s Sunshine ‘N Wine is a vivid, bold yellow flower with decorative deep burgundy on the petals’ edges, while Raspberry Swirl sports a gorgeous raspberry-colored design. In early fall, plant your favorites in a gourd, like a large pumpkin, to add a fun, festive touch to your front steps, porch or patio. Cool Wave Pansies are easy to maintain and offer long-lasting, colorful blooms to ensure your outdoor space is looking refreshed and vibrant for the season.

To get some colorful perennials thriving in your garden, late summer is a great time to grow flowers like fragrant Lavender, frilly Dianthus or pollinator favorite Echinacea (a native coneflower). Lavender plants can be grown in the garden or large planters and withstand drought well. You can use the florets in scented DIY projects. Dianthus thrives in sunny locations and can tolerate a light frost. They make excellent cut flowers to enjoy indoors. Echinacea colors range from white and yellow to shades of orange, pink and red. All are great choices if you’re trying to attract bees, song birds and butterflies to your yard.

Don’t give up on gardening just because summer is coming to a close. There’s plenty of time left to plant and enjoy the most colorful – and delicious – season of the year. For more tips and gardening ideas, visit burpeehomegardens.com and wave-rave.com.

5 Budget-Friendly Projects That Boost Your Home’s Value

(BPT) – Whether you plan to sell your home soon or you simply want to make your property more modern and livable, there are many things you can do to increase the value of your house. The good news is you don’t need a massive budget to make a big impact. Here are five affordable things you can do to boost your home’s bottom line.

Update the entryway

Updating the entryway provides a warm welcome to guests. Clean the space of clutter and consider adding a new sturdy doormat and plant or wreath to add a splash of style. Of course, the focal point of the entryway is the front door, so if yours is looking drab, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. If it’s dented and worn, consider a replacement that doesn’t cost a ton but has great return on investment: Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value reports an average national job cost of $1,826 with a 74% ROI.

Replace appliances

A kitchen remodel certainly boosts a home’s value, but even a minor kitchen remodeling can surpass $20,000, with upscale remodels costing $100,000 or more. To get that new kitchen look and feel without the big price tag, consider putting funds toward new appliances instead. Coordinating appliances for a cohesive look enhances the aesthetic of the room. Stainless steel continues to dominate in interior design, but choose the right colors for your kitchen’s unique look and you’ll love the results.

Add a bathroom

A bathroom addition certainly boosts a home’s value, and if you are strategic about the remodel, it doesn’t have to be costly. Don’t feel limited if the space where you want to add a bathroom doesn’t have existing, below-floor drainage. With smart alternatives like Saniflo, you can add a complete bathroom virtually anywhere, thanks to above-floor plumbing technology that pumps drainage from the fixtures up to the sewer or septic-tank line. The Sanibest Pro is ideal for full baths, especially those used frequently by guests and children. Designed to handle sanitary products that normally should not be flushed down the toilet, the Sanibest Pro can also handle drainage from two other bath fixtures, such as a sink and a tub or shower. Keep in mind, a mid-range bathroom addition recoups 60% of cost, according to the 2019 Cost vs. Value report.

Swap out hardware

Sometimes it all comes down to the details to make a space more visually appealing. It’s costly to get new vanities and cabinets in bathrooms, kitchens and entertaining spaces, but you can give the space a new look by updating the hardware. Knobs, handles, hooks and more become dated and dingy over time. Head to your local home improvement store to select new hardware in a design and finish that reflects your personality and the home’s style. Satin chrome and oil-rubbed bronze are trending in 2019.

Add crown molding

If you think crown molding is reserved just for upscale homes, you’re mistaken. Crown molding is an affordable way to add a touch of luxury to any space, boosting value and enhancing the interior design. Crown molding is available in a variety of materials, including wood, plastic and foam. You can paint it to the color of your choice, although white is always a classic crown molding hue that adds a clean, eye-catching appearance. Not only does crown molding boost design, it also is a clever way to cover any gaps that can emerge over time between the walls and ceiling.

You don’t need a big budget to give your home’s value a big boost. These five projects are a great way to enhance your property today with a great return on investment tomorrow.

With Saniflo, you can add a complete bathroom where no drainage existed before thanks to above-floor plumbing features like a macerating toilet and drain pumps. The Saniaccess3 is a smart choice for full baths, and the Saniaccess2 is ideal for powder rooms.

4 Home Fix-Ups For Fall

(BPT) – With cooler days and temperate weather, fall is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects, as well as prep your home for winter.

“Cold weather can wreak havoc on your house, leaving you with a long list of repairs,” said Cathy McHugh, director, brand management at DAP. “It’s important to take preventative action now so you can enjoy the coming weather change, rather than making costly repairs later.”

Don’t know where to start? Here are the top five “must-do” repairs from the experts at DAP.

Refresh around windows and doors

Temperature fluctuations and weather extremes can cause cracks and crumbling in sealants around windows and doors. The resulting gaps allow air to creep inside, putting your energy bills on overdrive. In addition, if current sealant has any dirt build-up, the hot and humid weather of summer can foster mold and mildew. Protect your home and give your windows and doors a refresh and waterproof seal that stands up to the elements by applying a new exterior sealant like Dynaflex Ultra Advanced Exterior Sealant that will provide long-lasting all-weather, waterproof protection, resisting dirt build-up and water absorption. It also comes with a lifetime mold-, mildew- and algae-resistant guarantee. It’s easy to apply and is paint-ready in just an hour, allowing you to quickly repair problem areas.

Repair imperfections and surface damage

It’s important to take a walk around your property and inspect your home and outdoor living areas for surface damage issues caused by hail, wind and heavy rain. Common damage includes cracks in sidewalks and driveways, as well as chips in siding. Address problem areas like these with an exterior filler, which can fill in exposed, vulnerable areas and prevent further damage. To save time and money, choose a multipurpose filler designed specifically for exterior repairs like Platinum Patch Advanced Exterior Filler, formulated with innovative Weather MaxTechnology for long-lasting, all weather protection. The mold-, mildew- and algae-resistant formula creates a durable bond that prevents discoloration, as well as cracking and crumbling over time. It is sandable and paintable and offers superior adhesion to porous and non-porous building materials such as brick, concrete, metal, composite or wood decks, vinyl or fiber cement siding, PVC trim board and more.

Inspect your roof

Start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. Before hauling out the ladder, use binoculars or zoom in with a smartphone camera to spot obvious damage. If your roof has a relatively flat surface and you feel comfortable on a ladder, then go up for a closer look. Shingles that are cracked, buckled, loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. And of course, while you’re up there, be sure to clear any clogged gutters to prevent potential water damage.

Prepare your furnace for fall

Now is the time to prepare your furnace for fall. Change the filter, clean vents and remove any dirt or dust that has settled on the unit and connections. If you suspect problems, schedule a professional to check it out now – rather than wait until temperatures drop.

For more information to help tackle your to-do list, visit DAP.com.

How To Keep Your Home Cool and Improve Indoor Air Quality

(BPT) – Summer heat may be good if you’re at the beach or pool, but when you’re at home, it often means fighting scorching temperatures with costly air conditioning. Not only can this feel like an endless battle during the dog days of summer, but leaving the trapped hot air in your home can also worsen indoor air quality.

Considering people spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors, this is a big deal. Proper ventilation has many benefits, from keeping a home comfortable all summer long to improving overall home health, including removing pollutants and stale indoor air to improve air purity. What’s more, when you ventilate strategically, you can enjoy cost savings as you won’t have to use your air conditioner as frequently.

You may be able to block the sun strategically using blinds and shades while opening windows on the particularly cool evenings, but if you really want to embrace the trend of healthy home ventilation, consider systems that focus on specific parts of your home, including the attic, garage and indoor spaces.

Whole house fans

Whole House Fans don’t just recirculate air in your home like air conditioning does; they work by continuously replacing it with fresh air in your home and attic. Solatube Whole House Fans will pull the cool, fresh outside air into your living spaces through your windows. Then they push hot, stale indoor air through your attic and out the vents.

During the warmer months, using this Whole House Fan cools the air in your house as well as the structure and contents. This helps cool your home including your attic by up to 30 degrees, allowing those areas to stay much cooler the following day, which is the principle of Thermal Mass Cooling. This equates to fresher air and lower overall costs to keep your home cool when compared to air conditioning.

Attic fans

When the heat of summer hits, hot air needs to be vented from your attic to keep living spaces comfortable, air conditioning units from overworking, and roof structures and materials from deteriorating. With attic fans, your attic stays cool and dry while you enjoy greater comfort in your home, lower utility bills and prolonged roof life.

These solar-powered attic fans help keep spaces from reaching incredibly high temperatures when the sun beats down on the top of a home, plus you can feel good about adding to the eco-friendly features of your home. Learn more at www.solatube.com/attic-fans.

Garage fans

For many people, the garage is an extension of the home and offers a bounty of usable space. Whether it’s your place to work on your car, your fitness or a DIY project, you want to keep the heat out. Solatube offers two great solutions: powered and solar-ventilation fans to remove heat and fumes from any garage all day, so you can enjoy your garage in total comfort.

Solar-powered systems run all day without using any electricity so you keep the entire space cool with no cost to operate. You can mount different solar fans on the side of the garage or the roof depending if you have an open ceiling or a living space above the garage. For garages with attic space above them, keep both spaces cool and comfortable and your home protected from the elements with Solatube’s powered garage fan that pulls hot air out of the garage and attic while bringing cool air in from the outside.

With people spending more time indoors than ever before, it’s important to stay comfortable while also being mindful of indoor air quality. Smart ventilation systems let you have both comfort and cool during the toughest days of summer. Learn more at www.solatube.com.

3 Emerging Smart Home Trends of 2019

(BPT) – If you’re building a new home, you want it to be stylish, functional, and of course, state of the art with the latest technology advancements. Smart home features are on top of the wish list for homeowners, with 81 percent of homebuyers stating they would favor purchasing a home with smart accessories already installed, according to Digitized House. By building your own home, you get the advantage of these features being integrated seamlessly into the design.

Every year, smart home technology gets better and better, with new trends emerging that make homeowners’ lives easier and more convenient than ever before. Here are some of the top smart home trends of 2019 that you may want to integrate into your building plans:

Smart circuit breakers

For the most part, circuit breaker boxes in traditional homes have remained unchanged for decades. The mysterious gray box in your basement or garage is one that you tend to avoid, but smart design and technology is taking these load centers into the 21st century. Leviton’s new load center with optional internet connectivity sends homeowners real-time monitoring data and customizable alerts to their smart devices.

How does it work? The Leviton Load Center’s smart circuit breakers communicate with a Wi-Fi or Ethernet-enabled data hub to report real-time status. Using the My Leviton App, homeowners can conveniently monitor electrical usage per circuit branch or specific appliance, safely turning breakers off remotely if needed. Smart circuit breakers also report home energy consumption, including historical views by day, month or even year. The My Leviton App also allows users to receive alerts when a circuit breaker trips, or if a circuit is using more energy than usual. They can even set contractors as recipients of these notification and give them secure access to their app’s panel view, allowing them to troubleshoot remotely. No more wondering if the stove was left on – you’ll be able to see instantly.

More than just a simpler way to improve your home’s safety, if you’re concerned about your home’s energy output, Leviton’s smart circuit breakers provide real-time data on how each circuit is performing, as well as information on current and historical costs – so you can make smarter energy choices. Good for the environment and your utility bill. Learn more at www.leviton.com/loadcenter.

Smart comfort

You want to stay comfortable from season to season in your home, but you also want to heat and cool it efficiently. Smart temperature controls are making this easier than ever for homeowners, allowing you to put the temperature decisions virtually on auto-pilot.

Smart thermostats go beyond programmable thermostats by using technology to analyze heating and cooling usage and maximizing efficiency for when you are home versus when you are gone. Connected to an app on your phone, the technology knows through your device’s physical location if you are home or away at work. It records patterns and begins to make suggestions and adjustments based on your lifestyle. These smart temperature controls allow you to make automatic adjustments remotely if necessary, so if you’re headed home early, you can have the house to your ideal temperature by the time you arrive.

With access to historical energy use data and temperature control charts, you’ll be able to analyze your energy footprint and make informed decisions about how you want to use your home’s heating and cooling systems best for your comfort and for the environment.

Smart security systems

It’s amazing what modern home security can do when paired with smart home technology. Not only will your home be safer, but it will be more accessible, too.

For example, pair cameras with intelligent locks to let you know who is at your door even when you’re away. If it’s your child coming home from school, they can be safely let into the house. If it’s a package delivery, you will know right away. If it’s a package thief, you can be alerted and take action through two-way audio before the police arrive. Smart cameras can detect people, animals and things, making your spaces incredibly secure.

Smart sensors are also a big part of the smart home security trend, bringing peace of mind to homeowners. These sensors monitor environmental changes in the home, so you’re alerted to air quality changes and other concerns such as temperature fluctuations or smoke. For example, you’ll know right away if high levels of carbon monoxide are detected, whether you’re at home or away.

Another way to keep your home safe is by making it look like you are home when you are away. Smart lighting options such as the Leviton Decora Smart with Wi-Fi Technology enables you to schedule lights to turn on and off throughout the day from any location all through the convenience of the My Leviton App.

When building a home, it’s important to make it a smart home. These three emerging areas are bringing the home fully into the future with more innovations still to come.

3 Smart Steps To Protect Your Vacation Home When You’re Away

(BPT) – Whether it’s a cabin up north, a villa down south or a quaint cottage near family, many people in the United States own second homes. There are seasons you may spend more time at these vacation properties, but for many people, much of the year they remain empty. That’s why it’s important to take precautions to ensure your property and belongings stay safe even when you’re not there.

Not only are vacation homes a target for thieves, but empty homes are often vulnerable to the elements and the unexpected. For example, can you imagine the damage that a water leak would cause a home if it remained undiscovered for weeks … or months? With a proactive approach you can keep your investment safe and give yourself important peace of mind.

To keep your second home secure, consider these smart steps:

1) Create the appearance of a lived-in home

It doesn’t matter if your home is in a well-traveled section of the city or a remote part of the forest, you want it to stay secure from criminals. Vandals and robbers scout for empty homes, so one of the best ways to deter them is to make your property appear to be lived in. If they think someone is home, they’re more likely to stay away.

To create the appearance of a lived-in house, stop mail and newspaper deliveries immediately. Nothing screams “empty house” like a few weeks’ worth of papers at the front door. Next, keep the lawn mowed and trim the landscape, so the home is well maintained plus doesn’t have overgrown shrubs where criminals can hide. Finally, alert a trusted neighbor that you’ll be gone, so they can keep an eye on things. Don’t know anyone nearby? Or is the property isolated? Consider hiring a property manager to check on the house periodically.

2) Consistently monitor water use

Even small water leaks can cause big damage, and if you’re not living in a home, that damage can multiply quickly. From leaks that cause terrible mold growth to burst pipes that flood entire floors, it’s easy to see why water is a top concern for owners of second homes while away. One simple solution is the Phyn Plus: Smart water assistant + shutoff. This intelligent device is installed on the main water line after the meter by an authorized Uponor Pro Squad team plumbing expert. Once installed, it uses programmed data and learns the home’s water-use habits, so it can proactively detect leaks and water problems in real time.

Phyn Plus has no moving parts that are susceptible to breakage or blocked by particles in the water, so it consistently monitors the home’s water use 240 times per second to detect tiny changes in water pressure. If a change is detected, you are alerted through a smart app on your phone, so you can take appropriate next steps. Phyn Plus will even shut off the water when an emergency is detected. You then have the ability to monitor or turn the water back on from any remote location. Learn more at www.phyn.com/installation.

3) Implement multiple security measures

Of course, you want to ensure you secure all doors, windows and other points of entry. But to really keep tabs on your second home, consider investing in a security system with an app or program for easy remote monitoring. With a live-monitor feature, you can check your home at any time. Additionally, programmable lights that turn on at set times inside give the illusion of people being home, and motion lights outdoors eliminate dark corners.

Finally, you might consider registering your home as vacant with the local police. Some cities offer a free service where an officer will come periodically to check your home while you’re away. Keep in mind this might not be available in your area and there may be a time limit for how long you can request these checks, but it’s worthwhile to call your local law enforcement and ask.

Put worries aside and keep your second home safe and secure by following these simple steps. That way you can feel confident that every time you visit your vacation property, you can enjoy it to the fullest.

5 Smart Home Upgrades That Will Pay Off Later

(BPT) – Whether you want to make the most of your home now, or you’re thinking of selling soon, smart upgrades can boost your enjoyment of your home and increase its resale value. Some upgrades improve the aesthetics of your house, while others help save on energy costs or improve the functionality of the home. Still others can add a touch of luxury.

Why not consider smart upgrades for right now, instead of waiting until you’re ready to sell? You can certainly appreciate the upgrades now, while confident that they will pay off later. Here are some ideas:

Timeless hardwood floors

Designers and real estate agents agree that installing or refinishing a hardwood floor can boost not only the look of a room, but will make the room easier to design around – and to sell. Most homebuyers look at replacing aging carpeting in a new home, to refresh and put their own stamp on rooms. Hardwood floors have long been coveted by real estate agents and luxury homeowners alike, as they provide a blank canvas to work with, allowing new homebuyers to choose area rugs and accents to create their own design aesthetic.

Energy-efficient windows

This is one of the smartest upgrades you can make, as it improves the aesthetic from the outside (that all-important “curb appeal”), enhances your enjoyment of rooms from the inside and reduces energy costs. Advances in technology behind high-performance window glass have made a huge difference in terms of the amount of insulation and energy-efficiency they provide. Low-emissivity coatings on glass help control heat transfer through windows that have insulated glazing. In addition, the latest window frames – from metal or fiberglass to vinyl – offer superior insulation and long-lasting performance over standard wooden frames. Installing the best new windows for any room, or the entire house, offers an outstanding return on investment.

New doors

Like windows, doors also present a face to potential buyers from the curb, and can help decrease energy costs. The front door is an obvious place to start. You’ll want to consider your local climate and its needs, such as good weather-stripping to keep out the cold or sturdy screen doors to keep out bugs. Garage doors are also a great choice for updating, especially if they are large and highly visible. An upscale garage door is built from highly durable materials and looks as good as it functions. For any door facing the curb, including the garage door, choose a color and style that matches the overall look of your home, and that will last many years, through a variety of weather conditions.

Cleansing seats

Haven’t you always wanted a toilet with a heated seat, plus warm-water cleansing and warm-air drying, operated by remote control? How about an automatic LED light to help you see in the dark? You can elevate your daily routine with a Kohler Cleansing Seat, designed to fit most toilets. The seats are ergonomically designed, and will complement a range of decors. The Cleansing Seat also offers carbon filters to help keep the space fresh, and the wand that sprays water is self-cleaning. The flush and lid are both motion-activated. This toilet upgrade with customizable amenities will make you feel like you’re at a spa or luxury hotel. Then you may wonder how you ever lived without it.

Beautiful outdoor living space

Everyone today is looking for ways to spend time outdoors comfortably – whether this means a deck, patio or gazebo. If you have a functional area outdoors, consider improvements – is the space big enough? Could you add privacy fencing or shade? Do you want a better cooking area or fire pit for entertaining? If you don’t currently have a usable outdoor space, look at your property as a whole and consider what makes sense for the space and your lifestyle. You could consult a professional to help you design a more beautiful and comfortable outdoor space.

Making smart choices about home upgrades means planning for the long-term life of the house, and improving the enjoyment and functionality of your home right now. With so many possibilities, consider what upgrades would add the most benefit for your everyday routine.

3 Things To Know About Saving Money On Your New Roof

(BPT) – Replacing an aging or damaged roof is an important step to protect your home from the damage the elements can dish out – heat, wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail. But homeowners may not realize that the type of shingle they choose can make a big difference, not only in the protection it offers to the home, but also in the cost of their homeowners’ insurance.

Here are a few things homeowners should keep in mind when looking to save money with a new roof:

1) Roof replacement can save money

Even though it’s initially costly, homeowners in large parts of the country can actually save money by installing a new roof.

For years, insurance carriers have been incentivizing homeowners to install shingles that are rated for impact resistance in an effort to reduce the number of roof claims. As a result, using qualifying impact-resistant roofing products may qualify for significant premium discounts on homeowners’ insurance in some states.

“Insurance companies are spending so much each year replacing roofs that we’ve started to see some companies change their straight deductible to a percentage of the home’s total value,” said Curt Boyd, owner of Academy Roofing in Aurora, Colorado. “Homeowners see a $4,000 deductible and they don’t want to spend that to replace their roof every two years. They start looking for ways to buy value.”

The nudge toward impact-rated shingles (sometimes called “IR” shingles) is increasing. Recently, some municipalities in Colorado went as far as mandating UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classification for all new roofs, a trend that’s anticipated to continue in other severe weather-prone areas.

2) The type of shingles you use matters

Most major shingle brands now have a UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classified shingle available, but the way the shingles are reinforced differs widely. The newest IR asphalt shingle on the market, the Heritage IR shingle from TAMKO Building Products, Inc. reinforces the entire back of the shingle with a strong polyester fabric. Other methods used to reinforce IR shingles include using fabric over portions of the shingle or coating the shingle with another substance.

While they are distinctly different than traditional shingles because of their reinforcement, these UL 2218 classified options still offer the pleasing aesthetics homeowners have come to expect from modern asphalt shingles.

3) Check with your insurance carrier

Many major insurance providers offer premium discounts for UL 2218 Class 4 classified shingles, but the percentage of savings and the areas of the country where the discount applies vary by carrier. Homeowners should check with their insurance carrier online to see a list of pre-approved shingles and regions, and get a quote from their local agent. Boyd said that he’s seen premium discounts close to 30 percent in Colorado for Class 4-rated products.

Learning about the newest and most effective shingles on the market can help save money and worry, by protecting the home from the top down and potentially reducing insurance costs. Homeowners contacting their insurance carrier and getting educated about roofing options can make a smart choice for their homes and their wallets.

5 Tips To Prepare Your Home For the Summer Travel Season

(BPT) – According to AAA Travel, nearly 100 million Americans – four in 10 U.S. adults – are planning to take a family vacation in 2019, with two-thirds of all families embarking on a summer getaway. As families across the country take time off to travel and spend quality time together, the last thing they want to worry about is if their homes and belongings will be the victim of theft or break-ins. Luckily, there are several ways that can help summer travelers keep their homes safe – even from miles away.

From alternative delivery options to light timers, here are five tips that will keep you stress-free and your home safe during upcoming summer vacations:

Never wonder if the garage door is open.

It’s not uncommon for people to drive away wondering if they remembered to close the garage door when they are in a rush to begin their vacation. Installing a Chamberlain or LiftMaster myQ-connected Smart Garage Door Opener allows travelers with a smartphone and the myQ app to check the status of their garage door and open or close it from anywhere.

Take advantage of Key by Amazon in-garage delivery service.

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your online shopping habit has to be! With Chamberlain Group (CGI) and Amazon’s recently-announced in-garage delivery service, Prime members in 50 cities and surrounding areas now have the option to choose in-garage delivery when shopping. CGI’s myQ technology – which is included in all newer Chamberlain and LiftMaster garage door openers or can be added to most garage door openers in minutes via a smart garage hub – plus Key by Amazon ensure homeowners never have to worry about their packages going missing or damaged by bad weather. In-garage delivery gives travelers peace of mind their packages are safe and secure in the garage until they return.

Make it look like you’re still at home.

Schedule lights to turn on and off while away to give the appearance someone is home even if you are dining out alfresco hundreds of miles away. Also, a classic tell that you’re out of town is an overcrowded mailbox. When leaving on vacation, don’t forget to stop your mail, newspapers and other subscriptions.

Install your own security camera to deter theft.

Home security devices, such as surveillance cameras strategically placed to be seen – but out of reach of would-be thieves – can go a long way in deterring package theft. There are many smart options available today, including Tend, Ring and more.

Make sure your neighbors know you’ll be away.

Most neighbors are naturally nosy – take advantage of that and let them know ahead of time that you’ll be going out of town. From watering plants to letting out the dogs, a trusted neighbor can keep tabs on your home while you’re away, so you can enjoy a sunset walk on the beach without worrying about what’s happening back home.

Traveling should never be stressful, and having the right tactics in place to ensure your home is secure has sizable benefits for safety, convenience and accessibility. Follow these tips, and you’ll have peace of mind that your home will remain safe and secure no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Prime members in 50 cities and surrounding areas now have the option to choose in-garage delivery when shopping: www.amazon.com/checkmygarage.