Five Fall Fix-Ups For Your Outdoor Space

(BPT) – After a long summer relaxing on your deck or patio, autumn is a great time to renovate your outdoor space – or build one from scratch. Home improvement expert Alison Victoria, host of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab,” offers five tips for fabulous fall fix-ups.

Get decked out.

Fall is an ideal time to tackle a deck project, whether it be repairs, board replacement or a completely new build. In addition to offering more pleasant temperatures for working outside, fall and winter are typically slower times for contractors, meaning you won’t have to wait as long to get onto their schedules. Contractors may also be willing to offer off-season discounts on their services or materials, which tend to be cheaper after the spring and summer rush.

“Another big advantage of waiting until the off-season to tackle outdoor projects is contractor focus,” explains Victoria. “Rather than being one of many projects a contractor is juggling, you can be one of the few, which often translates into greater attention to quality and better customer service.”

Think high and low.

Research the best materials available for your budget and be sure to keep maintenance in mind. After all, the last thing you want is a deck that requires constant upkeep. Victoria suggests looking for materials that are both high performance and low maintenance.

“Trex decking is my go-to material for outdoor projects,” explains Victoria. “It’s a composite material that delivers the beauty of wood without the environmental impact, the labor-intensive upkeep or the natural deterioration over time. I love that it’s made from 95% recycled materials and only needs an occasional cleaning with soap and water to maintain its beautiful appearance for decades.”

Raise your railing game.

Railing is one of the most visible elements of a deck and has tremendous impact on a deck’s aesthetic and curb appeal. In recent years, the industry has seen an influx of statement-making railing styles inspired by contemporary architecture and commercial design. Give your outdoor space an instant facelift by replacing your old wood deck railing with sleek, sophisticated aluminum railing. Trex Signature Railing comes in a variety of modern designs, including rod, mesh and glass that can take any deck from drab to dramatic.

Hide and chic.

Nothing dampens the enjoyment of an elegant al fresco gathering quite like the sight of unattractive trash bins or nosy neighbors. Providing function and design, lattice is perfect for concealing storage areas or unsightly views and enhancing privacy. With styles ranging from romantic to deco, lattice panels also can be applied to structures such as arbors and trellises, or used as wainscoting or deck skirting.

Light it up.

“Lighting is a must for any outdoor space,” says Victoria. “In addition to amping up the ambiance, it enhances safety and helps to extend the time you can enjoy your outdoor space.” Outdoor lighting can easily be integrated into deck boards and stairs, as well as railing posts and caps. Trex offers DIY-friendly components that feature plug-and-play installation and energy-efficient LED bulbs that are dimmable and cool to the touch, making them safe for kids and furry friends.

3 Things That Might Go Wrong If You Don’t Winterize Your Home

(BPT) – Fall is here, which means, like it or not, cold weather is just around the corner. While most of us would prefer not to think about turning on our heat just yet, this is actually the best time to check your heating to ensure everything is operating as it should.

Neglecting to winterize your home and letting small issues pile up can have big repercussions. Ahead of the winter season, HomeServe, a leading provider of service plans, repair and installation services for the home, wants to make sure you’re aware of three major things that may go wrong if you don’t winterize your house or neglect your heating system.

Your utility bills may skyrocket.

Utility bills often jump up in the winter due to the increased hours of darkness and the cost to heat your home.

But if your heater is on the fritz or your filters are clogged, you could be in for an even bigger surprise. Dirty filters cause your furnace to work harder, which leads to inefficiency and a shortened lifespan for your heating system. Replacing filters is often an easy task for homeowners. A yearly tune-up is an inexpensive way to help prevent a costly system breakdown in the coming months. Also, keep in mind that some warranties require annual tune-ups, so don’t let your warranty go invalid by skipping this year’s tune-up.

The threat of carbon monoxide is very real.

Do you know how old your furnace is? Do you know how long it’s been since a professional checked it over? Carbon monoxide poses a health threat when the heating system flue, vent or chimney becomes blocked from debris or other material. During a heating system tune-up, a professional service technician can check to make sure all your vents are not blocked and are working properly. Drains and traps also need to be checked and combustion gases should be analyzed and compared to the specifications of your furnace or boiler to make sure everything is running safely. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is another smart way to help with early detection.

Water pipes can burst.

It’s not just your heating system that needs to be winterized. All too often it happens – we wake up to realize our pipes are frozen, or even worse, leaking. Before the cold sets in, make sure outside hoses are put away and water is turned off. Evaluate which pipes are at the greatest risk for freezing during cold weather. For example, if your water pipes come up from an un-insulated crawl space, or if they are in or close to an uninsulated outside wall or vent, they are more likely to freeze and burst in low temperatures. Inside pipes should be covered in insulation to keep pipes warmer longer. Pipe insulation is easy to apply and available at most hardware stores and home centers.

By having an annual tune-up in the fall, you can catch small issues now, instead of experiencing bigger problems in the dead of winter. A tune-up can also save energy, reduce heating costs and prevent a system breakdown in the coming months.

For more information on National Tune-Up Day, including a heating system check-list, visit nationaltuneupday.com.

Simple Steps To Keep Your Second Home Safe From Costly Repairs

(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. You spend time at these vacation properties during some seasons, but for 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 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 be 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 and 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.

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 can 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.

3 Stylish Ways to Personalize Your Kitchen

(BPT) – From cooking to conversing to entertaining, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s also a space that homeowners often dream of renovating. A growing trend in kitchen design is personalization, where thoughtful updates go beyond stainless-steel appliances and standard cabinetry to incorporate a host of interesting design elements.

By adding splashes of personality to your kitchen, you make the space one of a kind, and you’ll enjoy it more because it reflects your preferences and style. Consider these key ways to breathe new life into any kitchen.

1) Switch up your cabinets

Want to give your cabinets a fresh look and add pizzazz without refacing or installing new ones? Try replacing existing hardware. Just as jewelry completes an outfit, hardware adds a finished look to cabinets. The variety of styles and materials for drawer and cabinet pulls – metals, ceramics, crystal, glass, stone – makes it easy to update your cabinets with little cost and effort. Don’t be afraid to mix and match hardware styles or experiment with shapes to add character.

Another idea is to update a few key cabinets. For instance, you can paint the cabinets above or directly beside the stove in black chalk paint, allowing you to add fun words and phrases – or even a favorite recipe – with chalk markers. You could also remove the face of several cabinets from the frame and add a clear or opaque glass insert for added visual interest and an unexpected touch of beauty.

Don’t forget about the often-overlooked toe-kick space – the recessed area just below the cabinets – which can be enhanced with subtle styling. Consider painting this area a statement color or adding tiles for a clever update you won’t see elsewhere.

2) Add vintage-style appliances

While stainless-steel appliances are popular in modern kitchens, distinctive appliances are a great way to add personality. Elmira Stove Works offers several vintage-inspired appliance lines in a variety of designs and colors. Whether you opt to update all your appliances or choose a single statement piece, your kitchen will feel inspired.

For those who lean toward a retro or midcentury modern look, the Northstar line delivers conversation-worthy style to any kitchen. Add a fun pop of color with classic hues like tropical blue, mint green and candy red, or choose from a broad selection of custom colors. Learn more at www.elmirastoveworks.com.

The Antique line features intricately detailed appliances with historic styling. These appliances are available in a range of traditional and custom colors, and can complement any vintage home design, including a rustic cabin, country cottage or lake house. For a turn-of-the-century feel, the Fireview stove has a visible wood-burning component that can also be used to heat rooms.

3) Light up the room

Proper lighting is essential for performing kitchen tasks, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Lighting provides an opportunity to get creative and bring touches of personality to the kitchen. By blending practical task lighting with decorative ambient lighting, you can inject the right balance of function and fashion.

Overhead and under-cabinet lighting make it easy to chop, cut, cook and more. Add a bit of flair with a layered approach – for example, strategically mix pendant and wall lights with recessed lighting. The globes that surround light fixtures are another great place to sprinkle in some character. From glass designs in vivid hues to textured metal looks, these surrounds come in myriad shapes and sizes.

You can find your favorite kitchen lighting options at local home improvement stores or boutique lighting shops. For something truly one of a kind, visit antique shops, flea markets and home decor reclamation stores. Whether an amazing art deco chandelier or an adorable Victorian decorative table lamp, you’ll discover unexpected gems for your kitchen.

When you add personal touches, you’ll enjoy an updated, customized space that will have you cooking and entertaining in style.

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.