2019: The Year of the Space-Age Home

(BPT) – In 2019, the “space-age” home will become a reality with modern innovations that are poised to change the way we think about luxury, elegance and comfort. Incorporating advanced technology into your home is essential when elevating its overall style, design and functionality.

What better way to create a futuristic environment than by living like an astronaut in your own home. You can do exactly that with the new Flotation Tub with ZERO DIMENSION from TOTO. Made from proprietary Galaline man-made marble, the stylish tub combines a luxury spa aesthetic with space-age technology that simulates zero gravity by offering bathers a weightless experience. After more than a decade’s research, TOTO discovered that a unique posture – with the reclining body stabilized and the hips, knees and ankles flexed – reduced the joints’ mechanical energy/load to nearly zero. Astronauts sleep in this position; it enables the most relaxing rest possible. Cerebral blood flow studies show activity in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for language – is dramatically reduced, enabling a meditative state.

With the TOTO Flotation Tub as a bathroom focal point that showcases luxurious design, add sleek accessories to enhance your space, such as a smart mirror that doubles as a TV monitor. Imagine checking the weather as you put on your makeup or watching the news as you shave, creating a dual functionality and must-have futuristic design component.

Space-age aesthetic is all about blending minimalistic features with high-tech devices, allowing for a seamless transition between design and innovation. But why stop with just the bathroom? Consumers will continue to see a vast range of technological innovations throughout 2019, inspiring home transformations that are out of this world!

To reach new worlds, innovation is key, especially when it comes to energy efficiency. For state-of-the-art elements both inside and outside your home, consider installing the highly anticipated solar windows that will collect solar energy while remaining transparent. The windows utilize photovoltaic technology, similar to what’s being incorporated into solar blinds and solar roofs. These kinds of energy-conscious building materials will add a space-age look and functionality to your home, bringing you into the next century.

Make everyday life more efficient with a home automation system, a rapidly growing innovative technology that allows users to manage various household settings with one single command. Users have control of their entire house at their fingertips including their security, lighting, climate and entertainment systems, even their household appliances.

By incorporating an innovative and design-forward centerpiece like TOTO’s Flotation Tub, along with additional subtle, sleek tech accessories and gadgets into your living space, the space-age, futuristic home can become your reality.

Home Security Tips For the Holidays

(BPT) – For many, the holiday season means travel! In fact, millions of U.S. residents travel more than 50 miles away from home during the holiday season. Unfortunately, burglars are also aware of these holiday season travel statistics. While many families look forward to the holidays, it is easy to get carried away with excitement and forget to prepare your home for your time away. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a relaxing vacation to a stressful situation at home, so it is best to be prepared and protect your home before you travel.

Home security matters

It may sound simple, but it is important for people to remember to set their home security systems to the appropriate settings before leaving for travel. Investing in a high-quality, easy-to-use security system grants the ultimate peace of mind for travelers. If you forget to arm your system before you leave, don’t panic! Some home security systems let you arm, or disarm, your system by remotely accessing it via any smartphone, tablet or computer. You can also set up alerts to remind you if your system hasn’t been armed.

You could also invest in a smart doorbell that automatically sends a text or email to you each time the bell is triggered. Take a look at your security cameras to make sure everything is OK, or have a trusted neighbor stop by. Smart doorbells can also trigger entryway lighting to give the illusion that someone is home.

Remote locks are also useful if you are planning on going away for the holidays, but still need to allow certain visitors into your home while you’re gone. You’ll be able to lock and unlock your doors remotely and be alerted every time the door is unlocked. This means if you happen to forget your house keys you’ll be able to let yourself in when you return from vacation. If you’re leaving your teens or young adult children behind this holiday season, you can get alerts for when they leave or come home. You can even set up an emergency automation that unlocks your doors if a fire is detected.

If you’re still likely to worry with a home security system, smart doorbell and remote lock, then consider video surveillance. You’ll be able see live video of your home from your smartphone, tablet or computer and sync your cameras to motion detectors so you can receive video clips of movement as soon as the sensors are triggered.

Don’t let your home look abandoned

If your home looks like it has been abandoned, that is often a green light for a passing burglar.

It’s one thing to arm your home security systems before you leave, but it’s another step entirely to make sure your home looks lived in when you’re gone. However, there are a few ways you can create this illusion:

* Ask a neighbor, friend or family member to help collect mail and packages, shovel snow and move cars. Trick burglars into thinking you are there.

* Use a smart lighting system that lets you program lights to come on at specific times each day. This is an easy way to make it look like you’re home.

For more information and tips, visit: USAA.com/ADT.

5 Questions To Answer When Considering a New Deck

(BPT) – When planning a deck project, choosing the right material is key to the enjoyment and value you’ll get from your outdoor living space. Today, there are more choices in decking materials than ever before, including high-performance composites, which are increasingly replacing wood in backyards across the country.

As you weigh your options, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about composite decking:

What are the key benefits of composite decking?

Unlike wood, high-performance composite decking resists fading, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. Wood decking does not age gracefully, even with regular maintenance – including washing, staining and sealing that can take several days and a considerable number of materials and tools. Composites require minimal upkeep. You never need to worry about painful splinters or the laborious sanding, staining or painting – just an occasional soap-and-water cleaning will do the trick.

Does composite decking look natural?

The aesthetics of composite decking have evolved considerably over the years. Today’s offerings feature high-definition wood-grain patterns that are nearly indistinguishable from real wood textures. Additionally, composite decking comes in a wider variety of color options to complement the exterior of any home. Ranging from rich browns and warm umbers to spicy reds and pristine grays, composites are more natural than ever before and boast a vibrancy that remains unchanged without having to stain and re-stain year after year.

How do composite costs compare with wood?

Initially, composite decking costs more, board for board, than pressure-treated lumber. But rather than deteriorating over time, composite decking delivers more long-term value due to its minimal maintenance requirements. When you consider the cumulative costs of power washing, sanding, staining and painting a wood deck every season, composite decking proves a much better value over time. According to HomeAdvisor.com, maintenance for a wood deck costs an average of $540 to $1,050 per year compared with just $15 to $20 for a composite deck.

“Today’s homeowners want to spend their time enjoying their outdoor living spaces – rather than maintaining them,” says Leslie Adkins, vice president of marketing for residential products at Trex Company, manufacturer of composite decking. “High-performance composite decking stands up to decades of weather and day-to-day usage without the burdensome sanding and staining required to maintain wood decks.”

Are composite materials environmentally friendly?

Wood might be a natural material, but the chemical coatings used to protect the wood from rot and mold are not. Composite decking, on the other hand, uses few chemicals in its manufacturing and the upkeep is simple – just soap and water. Additionally, Trex decking is made from 95 percent recycled materials, including plastic film recycled from a variety of items, such as grocery bags and newspaper sleeves. The company repurposes more than 400 million pounds of plastic and wood particles annually that would otherwise end up in landfills.

What’s the difference between “capped” and “uncapped” composites?

Early generations of composite decking were “uncapped,” leaving them vulnerable to staining, fading, mold and mildew. The leading composite products available today are “capped” with a protective outer layer that is bonded to the core during the manufacturing process. This “shell” contains UV inhibitors and other ingredients to ensure the deck boards retain their aesthetics and durability. In addition to resisting fading, staining and mold, they won’t rot crack or splinter like wood and require minimal maintenance.

Steps For Homeowners Dealing With Ice or Snowstorms

(BPT) – Are you ready if a blizzard hit tomorrow? While smaller snowstorms certainly create a level of frustration for homeowners, large storms require preparation to stay safe and comfortable. Families don’t want to be caught off guard in the event of a large snowstorm. Finding yourself unprepared and without power can be a dangerous predicament.

A loss of power can reduce your access to water, food and light. Follow the tips below and you’ll be ready to weather any snow event!

* Have at least three days’ worth of water.

* Have a supply of flashlights and batteries on hand.

* Have a portable grill or camping stove at the ready to prepare food.

* Purchase nonperishable food.

* Move perishable items into a cooler that can be packed with snow to keep them fresh.

* Pretreat areas outside your home with a bag of ice salt before the storm hits.

Winterizing your home is another step you can take to prepare for winter storms. Checking that your house is ready to withstand a winter storm is crucial. Review the checklist below to ensure that you stay warm and dry.

* Make sure to clean out your gutters and patch any holes in your roof.

* Check for cracks around your door! Use silicone caulk to fill in any gaps larger than a credit card.

* Clean out your chimney and secure a pile of firewood.

Beyond securing the necessities and winterizing your home, there are a number of tools that work even when your power doesn’t! Below are the tools that can make dealing with a large accumulation of snowfall much more pleasant.

* A battery-powered snow thrower to clean off the driveway. Greenworks Tools 60V 20″ Snow Thrower will get the job done and eliminate the noise and hassles of dealing with fossil-fuel options.

* A generator that provides portable power can also be of great use in charging cell phones or other essential electronics.

* A cordless, battery-powered snow shovel to remove snow on porches or sidewalks helps clear a path without the back-breaking work. The Greenworks Cordless 12″ Snow Shovel is a valuable addition to any winter tool collection as it effortlessly clears a foot of snow on a single pass.

* A cordless, portable heater to help prevent frostbite in the absence of electricity or a fireplace.

If you follow these important steps, you will be prepared for anything Jack Frost throws at you this winter.