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Sunday, February 27 2011

Adding motion sensor lighting in and around your house provides an automated, hands-free way to turn on lights when you need them, and off when you don’t.

Motion sensor lights are eager helpers and good little guardians. They illuminate the way to your front door when you pull into your driveway, light hallways when you get up in the middle of the night, and turn on lamps when you enter a room.

They also provide safety and home security, powering up exterior floodlights should someone attempt to trespass when it’s dark outside.

In addition, they watch over your budget, dutifully turning themselves off after you’ve entered your home or left a room—saving you money on energy bills. Light-sensing diodes prevent them from switching on during daylight hours.

Plug-and-play lighting solutions

Many motion sensor lights don’t require elaborate setups or wiring; they simply plug into any wall outlet. Battery-operated types can be mounted onto your walls using adhesives, magnets, or screws.

Sylvania’s LED Motion Sensor Light runs off batteries, is easy to install in any room, and is especially handy for small spaces, such as closets. Cost: $13.

Put a sensor on anything

Have a lamp in your living room you want to turn on automatically when you walk in? The SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet Plug from Andev plugs into any standard wall outlet. In addition to lamps, you can use it with equipment that doesn’t exceed 500 watts, such as fans and radios.

The SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet Plug costs between $10 and $20.

Sun power

If your home gets ample sunlight during the day, install a solar-powered light and avoid the need to do any wiring. Designed for the outdoors, the Solar Security with Motion Detector from Concept helps you save money by not tapping into your home’s electricity.

It uses 32 long-lasting LED lamps, providing bright illumination for places like your driveway and front door. Since only sunlight is needed to recharge the battery, you can attach it anywhere on your property, such as the far end of your yard.

The Concept Solar Security with Motion Detector is available through Amazon at $49. The Solar-Powered 80 LED Security Floodlight, an even brighter light with 80 LED lamps, costs $105 from Smart Home Systems.

Overhead detection

You can easily add a motion sensor to an existing overhead light fixture by adding adaptive devices, such as the Motion Sensing Light Socket from First Alert.

Simply screw the motion-sensing light socket into an existing wall or ceiling fixture and add a 25- to 100-watt light bulb. Some motion-dection light sockets won’t support energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, but for rooms that are infrequently used, such as an unfinished basement, it’s a quick solution. The First Alert Motion Sensing Light Socket sells for $25.

Home automation sensors

Home automation systems, such as those based on X10 and Z-Wave technology, are great for controlling your thermostat and home entertainment center, but they also are useful for home security purposes. Linked to motion sensor lights, your home automation system can send a signal to have lights turned on when triggered by a timer or by your smartphone.
The HomeSeer HSM100 sensor is available for Z-Wave systems for $74, and the Eagle Eye Indoor/Outdoor Motion Sensor costs between $18 and $30.

A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.

Read more:
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 20 2010

If you are thinking of moving into a home, building one that you can retire in, or wondering how you can make your elderly parent’s home easier to live in - there are some things to look for to make living as a Senior Adult or a person with a disability easier. Here is a list of 21 proven helpful ideas and tips.

1. Rocker style light switches and lots of ways to turn lights on/off from different locations - commonly known as 2-way or 3-way. Plenty of natural lighting, overhead lights and electrical outlets. Ideally, electrical outlets should be higher off the floor than code says and many more in number, this makes placing of lights easier, cords are less likely to be in the way too. In large spaces, consider in-floor outlets which will eliminate cords and allow for furniture placement options. This also is very handy if you have a small bedroom and someone needs a hospital bed in a living or dining room area.

2. All doors - going inside/outside and doorways into rooms should be at least 36″ for wheelchair, scooter, walker, etc. use. You need to have 18″ wall space free of clutter on the latch side of the doorway (in & out of room) so if you are in a wheelchair you can get close enough to the handle to easily open/close the door. Watch out not to block the space with furniture. Look into pocket doors - you gain footage and ease.

3. Plenty of phone jacks so phones can be throughout the house, as you age, it takes longer to get to the phone. This also is safer in case of emergency situations.

4. Railings up/down stairs both sides, railings in the bathroom for balance getting up/down on the toilet and in/out of showers/tubs.

5. Think about a security system that include an emergency button that has a wrist or neck chain you can wear or put in your pocket. These are very affordable and can even be used outside within many feet of the home.

6. Hang a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling in the garage to hit your windshield at the right parking spot. Makes life easier. Make sure that if you have electric garage door openers, that if the power goes out, a “short” and not physically strong person can open the door to get the car out. Think about an on-demand generator….takes care of so many obstacles and dangers.

7. Have drawers for all of your under cabinets in the kitchen, makes finding things easy, less lifting and actually uses space more efficiently.

8. Washer/Dryer on floor near bedroom as this is where most laundry is generated.

9. Make sure house is one floor, or if two-story, has a staircase extra wide so a stair-chair climber can be installed. They now have home elevators at affordable prices that work like a bank air tube and thus they even work when there is no power coming downstairs.

10. Windows should be able to be cleaned from inside the house, both sides.

11. Really spend time looking at the bathroom and how you can make it usable if you broke your leg, if you had severe arthritis or if you were weak. Tub/shower/faucets/sprayers/slipping/room for equipment and mobility equipment.

12. Door knobs and faucet knobs should be lever type.

13. Maintenance free as much as you can, inside and outside of the home.

14. Is the home located near important resources such as grocery store, doctor/medical, pharmacy, friends, and church/clubs/activities? Consider this in case you can’t drive at night or very far or if you couldn’t drive at all. How far to fire/rescue/police services too.

15. Open space vs. a house with many tiny rooms is best for flexibility as you age. Consider how far you have to walk in the home just to do daily living activities.

16. Think about a doggie or cat door, if appropriate and the animal will be safe. It could go into a fenced in area, they can be closed off at night and they make living much easier.

17. Re-think flooring. Does it have to be washed often, is it slippery, can a wheelchair go on it easily, and is it easy to care for and maintenance.

18. Stairs whether they are inside or outside the house can quickly become large obstacles, consider placement, width & rise, how often need to use, number, etc. for your future being to access areas of your home, getting in/out of your home and being safe.

19. Higher toilets are available and they make it easier to get up/down. There are now combo shower/tubs you walk into and they keep coming down in price too.

20. Having paved driveways and walkways is very helpful for safety, use of devices if necessary and in a snow climate, melt faster. Consider fire escape plans too, we just don’t move as quickly or as easily as we age or when you have limitations.

21. If you can just look at a home through aging eyes or have someone with a disability or who is a Senior Adult look at things for you, you can have a much happier, safer and easier life in your home.
Vocational Rehabilitation, which is in every state and usually located in the Department of Labor or Human Services, has at least one person fully trained in accessibility. (They are responsible for the Americans with Disabilities Act) and would be able to answer questions about your home in the sense of what can be done to make things easier.

Some disability organizations may have a trained person in accommodations/adaptations too, or contact The Practical Expert for Tonia who is well trained in this area and who also lives it.

If you belong to a club, think about having it reviewed for suggestions of making it easier to access. This helps Senior Adults, people with disabilities and even people with a temporary injury (such as a person with a broken leg) to attend things like school graduations, belonging to civic organizations, for volunteering at places and going to many types of activities. Many accommodations/adaptations have no cost or little cost that can make a huge impact in people utilizing the place. Example, # of handicap spots at a school and how far to walk to the gym, etc.

Keeping your eye on how life can be more accessible and safer for senior adults, elderly parents and people with injuries or disabilities, means it is easier and safer for everyone, not just for today but for the future too.

Tonia Boterf - The Practical Expert(TM) is there to lend you a hand with some of life’s tougher challenges. Through coaching, articles, books, and other resources, we provide you with the information and the tools you need to help you live your life fully. Try a free trial coaching session today!

Distributed by Content Crooner

Brought to you by one of our Real Estate Authors from, a multi-authored blog about real estate.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 18 2010


The middle of the winter is prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your appliances and heating system are operating safely.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. When incomplete combustion occurs, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can potentially lead to carbon-monoxide poisoning to a family.

The early stages of carbon-monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.

According to the Southern California Gas Co., these signs may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide:

  • A yellow, large, and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
  • An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
  • Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.

What to do if someone suspects carbon monoxide is present in their home:

  • If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
  • Evacuate the premises and call 911.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon-monoxide poisoning symptoms.
  • Contact The Gas Company or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
  • Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by The Gas Company or a licensed, qualified professional.

How to maintain and use gas appliances safely and efficiently:

  • Clean inside the burner compartment of built-in, vented wall furnaces once a month during the heating season to prevent lint build-up.
  • Inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
  • When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front panel door properly in place.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Assure that appliance venting is intact and unblocked.
  • In higher-altitude areas, where snow can accumulate on rooftops, ensure that gas appliance intake and exhaust vents are clear of obstructions.
  • Never use gas ovens, ranges or outside barbeques for space heating.

Carbon-monoxide alarms may provide an extra measure of safety, but they also require routine maintenance such as battery replacement and the unit itself must be replaced periodically per manufacturer’s instructions. Even with alarms in place, regular gas appliance maintenance still is required.

Inspection and routine maintenance are still the best defense against accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances.

Source: Southern California Gas Co.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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