Tips for Saving Money and Energy While on Vacation

Did you know that you can save both energy and money while you are away on vacation? Just follow these home energy efficiency tips:

  • Turn the air conditioning down – For every degree a thermostat is raised during the summer, a homeowner can save 2-3 percent on his or her electricity bill.
  • Unplug your small kitchen appliances and tech gear. These household items are called “energy vampires” because they still draw current even when not in use. So before the family leaves, someone should walk around the house and unplug every unnecessary appliance and electronic device. Start with the television, computer, and entertainment center, but don’t forget small items like coffee pots, digital clocks, and cell phone chargers – they all drain energy when plugged in.
  • To avoid unexpected water loss and damage, turn off your main water shutoff valve.
  • Set your water heater to low or vacation mode if it has one. If you will be gone for quite awhile, shut off your water heater at the fuse box. When arriving back home, remember to turn the main shutoff valve back on and run some water in the sink to ensure your tank is full before turning it back on.
  • If you have an automated irrigation system, check to see if the rain sensor is set to ¼ inch.
  • Lower the blinds and close the curtains when leaving for vacation. This simple act will keep heat from coming in during the summer or going out during the winter.
  • Double check to ensure your smoke detectors and home security alarm systems are operating in an optimal fashion.

For tips on protecting your home and property while away, review our Leaving On Vacation Home Security Checklist at:

https://www.secur-tek.com/leaving-on-vacation-heres-your-handy-home-security-checklist/

Following both the Energy Saving and Vacation Home Security Checklists will help give you and your family peace of mind while away on vacation. So enjoy your vacation, and come back refreshed and ready to go!!

 

Can Your Devices Spy on You? Tips for Stronger Security and Privacy

Smartphones, apps, and devices such as Amazon’s Alexa/Echo and Google’s Home are all making our lives easier (or at least more fun). After all, you can play games, check the weather, see what your friends are up to, and go shopping, track packages, and set reminders — all with the click of a button or a voice command.

But the more devices we allow into our lives, the more we increase our security risk. Many of our home security customers are asking about security and privacy. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

Smartphones
Some people don’t mind digital eavesdropping. Others would prefer Facebook not to listen in all the time, which it does. If this bothers you, the best thing to do is uninstall the app completely. However, you can also disable any app’s use of your microphone using the following steps:

iPhones/Apple:
● Go to “settings”
● Choose the app you want to change
● Turn off the microphone

Android
● Go to “settings” and select “personal”
● Choose “privacy”
● Then choose “permissions”
● Finally, choose “microphone” and turn it off

Home Devices
Home devices such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa/Echo record conversations after you activate them with the code words, “Ok Google” or “Hey Alexa.” They listen for your voice query, then upload it to servers, where it is analyzed so the appropriate response can be delivered. While the data passed between the device and the servers is encrypted, there are some other security concerns, including:

● The microphones are always listening unless you mute them.
● The devices don’t differentiate between people, meaning someone else can use your voice device to make changes to your security system if you have that set up.
● The recorded voice queries are stored on cloud servers. That data is used to create more targeted advertising.
● Your device’s location is shared.
● Data may be shared with third parties.

Using these devices means sharing your information. But you can make some small adjustments to make them slightly more private:

● Mute them when not in use. On the Echo, a physical mute button is located at the top of the device. On Google Home, use the touch panel on top to mute.
● Delete old recordings. For Echo, you do this through your Amazon account. Click “Manage my device” to delete your history. Note: Amazon warns this will result in a lower-quality experience. For Google, go to the My Activity dashboard to manage everything.
● Don’t connect sensitive accounts to home devices.

Home security questions? Contact us to learn how we can make your home more secure.