What in the world is home automation?  Almost everyone knows what a timer on an outside lamp post is for, you can program your outside lights to turn on when the sun goes down and back off in the morning.  There are lots of ways to setup lighting to prevent waste and still maximize the benefit.  So what if you whole house could be managed and from one place or even when you aren’t at home?  The kids left some lights on when they left for school, and you can turn them off from your phone, with some systems.

A product known as X10 has been around for quite some time now, now there are other options.  Home depot has their own products and even Google is making contributions these days.  The whole idea is convince, for example there are products that work with the X10 system that allow you to change the lighting in your home from an iPhone or Android device, you can use this from anywhere you phone works.

Setting up a system like this can start to prove costly.  The more devices you want to control, the more expensive the project ends up, naturally.  You should also be aware some products require a moderate level of know-how in the electrical sense.  One of the most useful products is a replacement switch; changing one should always be done with care and proper precautions of course.

Spend some time and figure out what your goals are with your project, it can be as simple as putting a few outdoor lights on timers to being able to control and monitor everything in your house no matter where you are.  It’s a fun idea at the very least.

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When buying a home and shopping for a mortgage there are lots of new and unknown terms and one of those is often PMI. What is PMI? PMI stands for private mortgage insurance and chances are if you are first-time buyer you will have to pay it.

First things first, PMI is for the lender, not for you. Typically, homebuyers who put down less than 20 percent on their homes are required to pay private mortgage insurance. PMI protects the lender in the event that you default on the loan.

Mortgage insurance requirements vary by loan type and are not inevitable. Different loan types will have different mortgage insurance requirements. You will want to shop around because some loans have no PMI requirements at all. If your loan has PMI some lenders may offer something called “lender paid mortgage insurance” in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate.

Here are some typical loans and the PMI requirements:

FHA loans: Require mortgage insurance to be paid up front and monthly if equity in the home is less than 20 percent.

VA loans: Do not require mortgage insurance.

USDA loans: Do not require mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans: Require mortgage insurance if equity is less than 20 percent.

If you have to pay mortgage insurance you are not stuck with it forever. Once you reach an equity position of 20 percent or more you will be able to stop making mortgage insurance payments.  When you reach this position notify your lender, who will send you information on what is required for your specific loan program to get rid of mortgage insurance payments.

Closet space is one thing that you never seem to have enough of. Especially is you live in a smaller or older home.

If your belongings are spilling out everywhere, then you most likely need a closet makeover. Some planning and a few changes will net you some prime storage real estate and help you finally get organized.

Think vertically

Stand in your closet and look up. If you see empty space, you have an opportunity to take advantage of it with hanging racks, pegs or hooks.

Use adjustable shelving

Why use a tall shelf when a shorter one will do just fine? When you have shelves that you can customize, you might be able to salvage enough wall space for a whole new shelf.

Separate the seasons

If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, you may be able to split your wardrobe and store items in another location when you’re not using them.

Declutter and purge

If you don’t have enough room, something may have to go. Just think of it this way, if you haven’t used that bowling ball, pair of mittens or electric blanket in a while, it may be time to share the bounty by donating to Goodwill or your local shelter. Someone will benefit from your generosity, and you can console yourself with the tax write-off.

Go with baskets

Wicker baskets are an inspired storage solution that will corral your small items and organize your larger ones. They’ll streamline your shelves and liberate your floor space, too. If you don’t remember the color of the carpet in your closet and your shelves are prone to occasional accessory avalanches, baskets will save the day.

Organize

You knew this part was inevitable: having to pull everything out, sort it into piles and put stuff into some logical order. Organization will help you maximize a small closet by encouraging you to keep like items together.

Shoe Storage

Over the door, on the floor, on hangers or under the bed, shoe racks can be lifesavers. Properly stored shoes will look better longer and you won’t be wasting time with one shoe in your hand and the other, well, who knows where.

Specialized hangers

When you use creative hanger solutions, like tiered hangers that let you stack clothes conveniently, you can sometimes double or even triple your useful space.

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Is your medicine cabinet up to snuff? Every medicine cabinet should be stocked with a few essentials. You will want to have the right items at the ready in case of an emergency.

Here is a checklist to make sure your family has a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

In case of pain, headaches, and fevers:

Aspirin

Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)

Ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin)

Thermometer

For congestion, coughs and colds:

Cough medicine

Decongestant (such as Sudafed or Dristan)

Throat lozenges

Dosage spoon or cup, for measuring medication

To treat allergies and itching:

Antihistamine (such as Benadryl)

Hydrocortisone cream (for persistent itching)

Calamine lotion

Eye drops

For Digestive Issues:

Antacids (in tablet or liquid form)

Anti-diarrhea treatment

Laxatives

 

To treat cuts, burns and other minor injuries requiring first aid:

Gauze and bandages

Medical tape

Cotton balls and swabs

Antibacterial ointment

Antiseptic for wound cleaning (such as hydrogen peroxide)

Aloe Vera gel

Remember to place all medicines out of the reach of children, and always check with your pediatrician before administering medication.

 

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