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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

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The Smartest Home Products of 2015

December 21, 2015 2:09 am

From learning thermostats to smartphone-enabled locks, the presence of connected technology in the home grew leaps and bounds in the last year—and in fact, before the year’s out, tech research giant Gartner predicts connected devices will number somewhere near three billion. Without a doubt, 2015 is the year of the smart home.

“2015 was huge because we saw products become easier to use and less expensive,” says Jason Ballard, president and co-founder of home improvement firm TreeHouse. The smartest home products of the year, according to Ballard, include:

• Air Quality Monitors – These smart devices monitor the air in your home and tell you how to make it better. The Foobot, for example, detects volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity.

• Combination Smoke Alarms – The combined smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that hit the market in 2015 have features including industrial-grade smoke sensors, self-tester functions and durability to last up to a decade. One brand in this category, Nest Protect, is the first home alarm you can hush from your phone without any extra hardware required.

• Home Security – Smart locks and video cameras are becoming easier to install, and less expensive. For about $200, you can use your phone to lock and unlock your door. Certain smart locks, such as those produced by August Lock, have the ability to create virtual keys for guests and keep track of who comes and goes. Nest Cam, a home security camera, boasts live streaming, night vision and activity alerts.

• Lighting – In the biggest lighting innovation since LED bulbs hit the market, you can now automate your lights completely to make it seem like you're home when you're not. With geo-fencing technology, your lights can welcome you home or switch off automatically when you leave your home. Most brands in this category let you change the color of lighting in your home, and some, like Philips Hue, can even keep you informed about the weather or incoming calls.

• Smart Sprinklers – Today’s smart lawn watering control systems use your laptop to schedule watering times and automatically adjust for the weather. The Rachio Intelligent Sprinkler Controller, for instance, saves 20-50 percent on water bills.

“‘Smart home’ no longer means building the Jetson’s house,” Ballard adds. “It means adding products to your home that make it safer and healthier.”

Source: TreeHouse

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Holiday Travelers: 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Trip

December 18, 2015 2:00 am

With more travelers than ever setting out on holiday excursions this year, mistakes are bound to be made. If you plan on hitting the road this season, steer clear of these five, courtesy of renowned map and atlas publisher Randy McNally:

1. Putting Safety Last (Minute)
Always put safety first. Schedule a tune-up to give the car a thorough check, and get an oil change, tire replacement or rotation if needed. Make sure the lights and windshield wiper blades are working properly, and that the spare tire, jack and jumper cables are in the trunk for emergencies. Other must-haves for the car include a first-aid kit, shovel, broom, scraper, deicer, bag of kitty litter or sand, blankets and flashlights.

2. Not Delegating
Preparing for a road trip should be a team effort. For example, one person could handle the holiday tasks, and the other could make sure the car is ready to go. Families can assign older kids and teens to wrap gifts, and help younger siblings pack and load the car.

3. Chaotic Packing
Time is so short around the holidays that it's tempting to wait until the last minute to scramble and pack your bags. Create a list of all the items you need to pack. When packing the car, take care to separate items you'll need on the road from what you'll need only after you arrive, and load the car first with the least essential items.

4. Being Worried about the Weather
Planning is all about balance. Before and during the trip, check the weather for any sign of treacherous weather. Adjust your plans as needed.

5. Making Haste
Hit the road as far ahead of the holiday and return as late after it as possible. This will not only prevent traveling in heavy traffic, but it will also allow more flexibility in case the weather turns bad.

Source: Rand McNally

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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