Posts Tagged ‘lighting’
The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in a home, so why not make yours really stand out? Whether you’re selling or simply want to upgrade, here are some simple tips and ideas to get you started without breaking the bank:
- Plan ahead and find patterns, colors and textures that you like from magazines, home improvement stores and the Internet.
- Set a budget! Know what upgrades will give you the most value for your money and do your best to stick with your budget.
- Make a plan and do one thing at a time, especially if you’re going to do it yourself.
So where should you start?
Repaint or stain your cabinet doors and add new hardware. This is one of the easiest and least expensive upgrades you can do that makes a big difference. If you need advice on what works best with the cabinets you have, take a door into your local home improvement store and ask for professional advice.
Kitchen Counter Tops
Counter tops can be expensive if you’re going for granite, but that’s not your only option. You can opt for concrete or granite overlay. Do your research to find what suits your budget and style best.
Your choices are endless when it comes to updating your kitchen floors. From peel-and-stick tile to laminate wood flooring and travertine, the sky is the limit— but be mindful of your budget! Bring home samples of the flooring based on your style and budget before you make a final decision. Many real estate professionals agree that a kitchen remodel splurge should be saved for the countertops and not the floors, so keep this in mind when deciding. You want to make sure you get great value from any upgrades you do.
Saving Money on Kitchen Appliances
If your appliances are in good working order and match in color and style, save your budget for more beneficial upgrades. If your appliances look really dated or don’t match the new look of your kitchen, you may want to consider finding some great scratch and dent deals.
Did you know that appliances can be painted? A professional paint job can turn your white appliances into fresh, new-looking ones. You can also buy appliance-safe paint at your home improvement store and do it yourself.
Installing modern lighting is amazingly simple if your kitchen is already wired for overhead lighting. A new chandelier can make a big difference, and you can find options for less than $150! To make an even bigger impact, be sure to install a dimmer switch. You’ll be surprised what a difference a little “mood switch” can make.
The options are endless for remodeling your kitchen on a budget. The hardest part is deciding which upgrades will make the biggest difference on the smallest budget. Just be sure to do your research and to set realistic goals. And last, but not least, enjoy the project by making it your own.
Outdoor security lighting is an important part of a complete home security plan, but many people make the wrong choice in the type of lighting they use. You might assume that bright lights that clearly illuminate your property would be a turnoff to potential burglars and thus the best choice. While lighting that illuminates driveways, paths, and porches can make homeowners and visitors (the invited kind) feel more secure, some types of outdoor security lighting can actually make it easier for burglars to ply their trade.
Bright Security Lights, Not the Best Choice
According to “A Guide to Exterior Lighting” from the spring 2004 issue of Taunton’s Decks & Outdoor Projects, “blasting the driveway or front yard with bright light can make it easier for a trespasser to hide in the shadows” (p. 37). This is because bright lights also create dark shadows in the negative space. Therefore, it is harder for the eyes to adjust and pick out potential intruders hiding in the dark spots. Essentially, bright lights destroy a person’s night vision. So, even though it may seem to make sense to use powerful lighting to illuminate the exterior of your home at night, lower light levels often make a smarter choice.
Lower wattage outdoor security lighting, such as one often sees used for landscape lighting, tends to be a better choice. This sort of lighting illuminates pathways enough for walking up to the house and opening the door without blinding the homeowner to what could be going on in other parts of the yard.
There are times when bright outdoor lighting makes sense (i.e. when checking for fallen branches during a storm or if there definitely is an intruder on your property and you want to scare him away), but rather than using it all the time (which is not smart energy-wise anyway), try having your bright lights controlled by inside switches.(c) 2004 Home Security Information
Don’t advertise to the world that you are away from home when you go on vacation.
Status Quo vs. Out of the ordinary
Thieves cruising for an easy home shopping trip look for the obvious signs that you are away from home. If you take some simple precautions, you can keep the fact that you are gone, a family secret.
Leaving the porch lights OFF!
Don’t deviate from your normal patterns. Usually when people are at home, their porch light is off and the interior lights are on. The only time your porch lights are on is when you are waiting for someone to get home.
Therefore, when people leave all the lights off inside their house, and leave only the porch light on outside their house, it is a Day-Glo bright, neon-light announcement to burglars in your neighborhood that you are away from home.
It’s true, having been in the security alarm installation business for over 10 years, we found that although thieves and burglars are lazy, (they don’t want to work for a living, they would rather steal your things than work to earn their own), they’re not stupid.
When going away, leave your porch lights off, and get a timer that you can plug into your front room lights. The timers are inexpensive and easy to use, just set the lights to turn on automatically in the evening and off at the time you usually retire. [I don't necessarily agree with this tactic. If you normally leave your porch light off, do what she suggests, but if you normally leave them on, I recommend continuing that practice. -- Inspector Mike]
This gives the appearance that you are home and watching TV, or going abut your regular schedule. This is also a nice touch, when you come home from a hard day of work, the light is on to greet you, rather than an empty dark house. There is a great deal of security in being able to walk into a well lit room.
Outside security lighting
Outside your home, post security lights (lights that have a motion detector in them), they only go on if they sense motion. This way, your yard or driveway is lit when you get home, if there are any people walking around your house you will know because the security lights will automatically go on. If you choose solar powered security lights, you don’t need to run wires to the device.
If you have a house sitter, leave instructions on plant care and watering, but don’t forget to have them bring in the mail, and newspapers from the yard.
Nothing says “We’re Gone” like newspapers piling up that are usually taken in on a daily basis. Same thing with mail overflowing out of the mailbox, and this can also lead to mail theft, so make sure someone is bringing it in every day or so. If you want to stop mail service for vacations, the post office usually needs a week or two notice, so plan ahead if you wish to temporarily stop mail service at your house while away.
Don’t forget to have the house sitter take out your trash cans on the appropriate day, and especially to retrieve them from the curb. The presence of trash cans on the curb after pick up day is also a clear notice that you aren’t at home.
If you do not have someone to house sit, put your sprinklers on automatic timing so your yard doesn’t dry up. When otherwise well tended yards begin to turn brown, even to the casual observer, it is obvious that you are not at home.
Tricks of the Trade
There’s a code among thieves, but it certainly IS NOT one of honor. The code insures that while they are incarcerated, they pass along the tricks on how to get past a security alarm system and other home security devices. So, to level the playing field, let me teach you some tricks of their trade.
First of all, don’t give them easy access.
Most residential burglaries are not break-ins at all, but rather, instances when the residents left a door or window unlocked. Believe it or not, if you will keep the main entry doors, both front and back, locked and the windows that are accessible from the ground floor, locked, you’ll be assured that most of the burglars will pass by your house.
As I said they’re lazy, they’re not stupid. If you leave a ladder leaning up against your house, it is a clear invitation to burglars to access the second story window, so remember to put away ladders, scaffolding and other building components that may be used to climb into the second-floor windows.
Burglar alarm systems
The Local Alarm: noisy and ineffective
There are two types of burglar alarm systems. One is called a local alarm system and it does not ring through to a central station monitoring company, who will then call the police if a dispatch is necessary. It merely makes a lot of noise. This type of alarm system is supposed to scare the burglar off without costing you money to pay to monitor the system. The problem is, the burglars know this. How? Because the central station monitoring company must first call the customer, to make sure the alarm is not a false alarm. (False alarms are the one big problem the security industry faces.)
When a burglar hears the alarm siren, if the phone does not ring (the Central Station calling the resident), they know it’s a local alarm, and that the police aren’t coming. [I also don't necessarily agree with this, especially in these days of everyone having mobile phones instead of a home phone. -- Inspector Mike]
They take their time, make a sandwich, maybe grab a shower, then haul off all your stuff.
The Monitored Security System: What it does and does not do for you
These systems are connected via phone line, to the central station (CS) whose computer’s are being watched or “monitored” by people round-the-clock. The job of the CS operator, in the event that the system is indicating an unauthorized break in, is to contact the residents first, then a list of responsible parties. Responsible parties are people who have the keys and the entry code to the system, so they can go disarm it and reset the alarm, if the break in should be real.
If the CS operator doesn’t get an answer at the residence or RP list, they dispatch the police, who then go to your house. The burglar knows that if the alarm siren sounds, then the phone rings within the next two minutes, they know the police are on the way.
A smart thief will also know the approximate “response time” of the police in your city. It can take from 15 minutes to four hours to never, depending on how busy the police are at the time of the call. The thief may still have time to get the easy to hawk items, like TV’s, VCRs, leather coats, jewelry and watches.
The best of all possible worlds, especially with the high incidence of false alarm problems the police have with residential burglaries, is to have a monitored system with a company that offers patrol service with their monitoring package. The patrol system offers unarmed security response teams who can verify a real break-in and then call the police, so there are no false alarm charges brought against the home owner.
Home Grown Security-Tips for Do-it-Yourself-ers
Securing your windows
You can buy screw down security window locks at home-improvement stores like Home Depot, if you have aluminum or metal frame windows. These are easy to install, relatively inexpensive and keep the window from being opened beyond a certain point.
Barring that solution, you can cut dowel rods to the length that you want to leave your window open or vented. Leave the dowel in the window frame track, this will allow your windows to be open for air, without allowing
them to be open far enough to climb through.
Foliage to protect your home
Rose bushes or cactus, flowering bougainvillea or other flowering foliage with stickers can be grown near ground floor, easily-accessible windows. This makes it highly unappealing for a burglar to use that entry point,. They don’t want to injure themselves while they are helping themselves to your TV and VCR.
Make friends with your nosy neighbors!
If you have neighbors who are retired, and love to watch the goings on in the neighborhood, you may have a built-in security guard. Give them your cell phone number, and ask them to call you if they hear or see suspicious activity around your house while you are gone.
Or you can start a neighborhood watch group in your neighborhood. The added presence of the police cruisers, and more awareness on the part of your neighbors, creates a more secure environment.
If you build a six foot fence around the perimeter of your house, it will deter many burglars from entering the property. I guarantee you, most burglars will not carry their loot over a six foot fence.
Post a “Beware of Dog” sign, even if you don’t own a dog. You’d be surprised how many thieves are afraid of guard dogs.
Effective security takes time, but it’s worth the effort.
-Contributed by Diane Tegarden