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Earth Day 2014

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1151078_10151875228464074_603884285_nToday is Earth Day, and we feel it is absolutely necessary to touch on the importance of it.  We did a little digging to find out where Earth Day originated and this is what we found:

According to EarthDay.org, Earth Day was established on April 22, 1970.  Many consider Earth Day the birth of the environmental movement, and we proudly celebrate it’s birth since this was such a monumental change.  It all began coming together in 1970 when the book about environmental concerns, “Silent Spring,” was released by Rachel Carson.  After that, eyebrows began to raise and the environmental movement picked up steam.  The founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, was a Senate in Wisconsin who witnessed the massive oil spill in 1969 in California and decided something needed to be done.  He grabbed onto the momentum coming from the anti-ware movement and the new-found environmental awareness, and established what now is “Earth Day.”  Back when it was founded, millions of Americans gathered together to demonstrate healthy, sustainable environment practices.  As a result of the first ever Earth Day, the United States Environemtnal Protection Agency was formed.

How about that for some history, right?  Since we believe in doing our part to sustain the earth, we thought it would only be fitting to share some ideas of things you can do TODAY to make a difference. Pick one and make it happen! Then pick something that you will strive to do better at everyday for the rest of the year to have less. do more. and be more.

Earth Day

The Firefighter

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FIREFIGTHER

This past week, our President and executive team were at the International Security Conference West in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Upon their return, it was announced that NorthStar would now be offering the “Firefighter” by Encore Products!  We couldn’t be more excited about this because the technology is so easy to use and install, not to mention so practical and affordable.  Here’s the short version of information about the Firefighter:

  • Easiest, most cost effective way to add fire alarm monitoring to your Honeywell panel.
  • FireFighter’s unique technology monitors the existing smoke detectors within the home. This means that you don’t even need to purchase a new fire alarm! All you have to do is place the Firefighter hardware within 6″ of your existing alarm, sync to your panel, and you’re set.
  • If you have interconnected hardwired smoke detectors, only one FireFighter is needed to monitor ALL the smoke detectors within the home.(Building code for the majority of homes now days requires interconnected hardwired smoke detectors, so there is a good chance you already have this wiring.)
  • With the Firefighter and Total Connect app, you can set-up text alerts to be sent right to your phone in case of an emergency.
  • The Firefighter is 100% compatible with Honeywell systems.
  • The Firefighter is UL listed.

How convenient and easy is that?  The Firefighter is going to be a game-changer for NorthStar customers.  We really think this easy-to-use and affordable technology will make it possible for all our NorthStar customers to have monitored smoke detection services and extra peace of mind.  For more information about the Firefighter, watch this video or read our press release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Safety Apps We Love

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safety appsDo you ever come across an app and you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  We certainly do!  This past week, we have seen a couple safety apps debut on morning shows across the country that couldn’t be smarter.  We highly encourage you to download at least one of these safety apps in case you ever come across a situation you feel uneasy in.  It might not be a bad idea to also have a conversation with your family and friends about these important, practical apps.  Here’s a list of 5 safety apps we love:

SafeTrek – We attached the link to the video that aired on GMA the other day for you to watch on this one.  SafeTrek is an app designed for those walks home when you feel a little uneasy  but don’t necessarily need to call the authorities.  You push a button down until you feel safe and it will track your location.  When you feel safe, you let off the button.  It works a lot like a home security system and sends an alert to a monitoring station then the police.  Watch the video!

BSafe – BSafe is a personal safety application that turns your phone into a GPS based panic button.   You can program your phone to automatically notify your family, 911, or your friends of your exact location with the push of a button. It can also be setup to “fake call you” which could be rather handy during a bad first date or in an uncomfortable situation.  BSafe offers a free basic version of their service or you can pay $20 a year for premium service.  We love this app. Arm your teenagers or pre-teens with this app and train them on using it!

OnWatch -   OnWatch is another app that allows you to preset emergency contacts!  You can connect it to your local 911, campus security, or even a safe list of friends, and call them immediately with a one-button dial.

Life360 - This is a family locator app that connects all your family members, allowing them to communicate instantly and track the GPS location of your family.  Life360 allows you to send panic alerts via text, email and phone call if needed urgently. This is a great tool for parents to keep track children in real-time, and set-up alerts when children reach a destination, like school.

ReactMobile – This is another app similar to those listed above.  You set up a list of contacts that you want to alert when you are in a situation you are unsure of, and it contacts everyone of where you are and says that you may need help.  This app has been noted by several magazines and has some cool features.  Check out the link to read more!

Z-Wave Door Locks

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Door Locks

We don’t always do product spotlights on our blog, but sometimes we feel it is completely justified when we are loving on certain pieces of equipment!  Lately, that piece of equipment has been our Z-Wave door locks.  If you are intimidated about the word “Z-Wave,” check out our blog post yesterday so you can get comfortable with  it.  We will make you a home automation pro in no time!

Anyways, our Z-Wave door locks are the epitome of class and convenience.  We have three different classic style options (Satin Nickel, Polished Brass, and Rubbed Bronze) to choose from that really will look beautiful on any door. Right now, we are loving the Satin Nickel look that capitalizes on the silvers, greys, and light-colors trend that we are seeing in the home industry.  But aside from the classic look of these door locks, they really do add convenience to your life.

Here’s how they work:

Once your technician installs your door lock, you download the “Total Connect” app for your smart phone or web-enabled device.  After that, you follow some simple steps to configure your system and phone so they communicate with one another (the Z-Wave technology makes this possible!).  Then you are set to go. You will be able to use your phone from that point forward to see the status of your doors and lock or unlock your doors from anywhere in the world.  Yes, you heard right, anywhere in the WORLD!

Here’s some of the  situations that NorthStar employees have used their door lock for:

  • Let a family member into the house to water plants, bring the mail in, and check on things while you are out of town.
  • Let the kids into the house when they get home from school.
  • Open the door for a neighbor when they need to pick something up while you are away!
  • Lock the door when someone forgets to on their way out.
  • Lock the door once your kids get home to make sure they are safe.
  • Open the door for the cleaners!
  • Let your mother-in-law into the house when she is picking something up.

What are some situations you use your door lock for?  How often do you use your door locks?  We want to know!

Z-Wave Technology

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zwave

If you have ever heard someone talking about home automation, chances are they  mentioned the word “Z-Wave.”  We don’t know what it is about techy words like “Z-Wave” that scares most of us away, but there’s no need to fear! Here’s the short version of what Z-Wave is:

Z-Wave is  wireless communication method designed for home automation, specifically to remotely control applications. The technology uses a low-power RF radio that is embedded  into home electronics devices and systems, such as lighting, residential access control, entertainment systems and household appliances.

And that’s it! See, nothing to be scared of.  We use Z-Wave technology in our lighting modules, appliance modules, and doors, to give you remote access and control.  Z-wave makes it possible for you to control these devices from your smart phone or web-enabled device from anywhere in the world.

 

PicMonkey Collage

 

 

Lighting and Appliance Modules

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LIGHTING AND APPLIANCEM ODULES

(Pictured Chi flat iron, Hot Tool curling iron, lamps carried by various stores, Sage Barista Express coffee makers by Lakeland, front porch light found at Home Depot)

Today, we are talking about two of our very favorites smart home gadgets: lighting and appliance modules! You may have heard of them before, but you might not have known just how practical they could be in your home. To give you a better idea of what it is, here’s a little visual:  Basically, a module is a little white box that you can plug any appliance or light into.  When you do so, you can control the appliance or light right from your phone. And the module is versatile. You can switch the modules around on any piece of technology.  Here are some of our very favorite and practical lighting and appliance module uses that some of our customers have shared:

  • A living room lamp – several customers have told us that they use their module on a lamp or piece of lighting equipment in their front room, in case they are getting home late that evening or are away on vacation.  This is perfect way to make it look like you are home when you are away to discourage any burglars from even thinking to enter your home.  Talk about a second line of security, in such an easy way!  The best part about this, is that you can turn on the lamp right from your phone with a quick touch of a button, no matter where in the world you are at.
  • Coffee maker – this one is all about convenience! Running a little behind in the morning? Or just want to get your coffee ready right from bed? Easy. With your coffee maker plugged into your appliance module, you can turn it on right from your phone in bed.  This is also a major time saver (not to mention a neat way to impress your guests).
  • Curling irons and flat irons – this one is huge. All of the men out there are probably cringing at the amount of times their significant other has let one of these appliances on! Not only is it dangerous, but it also is an energy killer as well.  Avoid burnt down homes and the stress of leaving one of these appliances on with an appliance module.
  • Front porch lights – this one is another one of our favorites for the amount of practical uses.  Turn your porch light on and off from your phone when you are expecting guests, away from home and wanting extra peace of mind, or  just double-checking whether or not your little ones didn’t leave the lights on all day when they left for school or a friends.  One of our customers also mentioned that their lighting appliance has been an effective way to deal with their teenage daters.

We want to know, what are some of the practical uses you get out of your lighting and appliance modules?

Side funny, we saw this meme floating around and thought we might share! Turns out, you aren’t alone in leaving your hair appliances on…

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What’s a Programmable Thermostat?

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thermostat2

When you take a look at the products that your NorthStar sales rep shows you, you might not even take a look at the thermostat because you already have one. Right?  We have all been there.  But hear us out:

It’s like going shopping for a better toothpaste.  When you are out perusing the tooth paste aisle, you might reach for the same ol’ generic brand that you’ve always bought, until you find out about a toothpaste with fluoride. After using your fluoride toothpaste for a year, you visit your dentist for your routine check-up and find out you FINALLY have NO cavities.  NO cavities means you save money, time, and your dental health is thanks you.  When you turn 70, your fluoride toothpaste might have even saved you from getting dentures.  SCORE. You won’t ever go back to a non-fluoride toothpaste because your fluoride toothpaste has dramatically affected your life.

The same is the case for programmable thermostats! There IS indeed a big difference in a regular ol’ thermostat, and a programmable thermostat.  The difference between the two may even save you time, hundreds of dollars EVERY year, as well as save the environment. We mean that seriously – no exaggeration there.  It will depend on where you live to determine your savings, but you will definitely be saving money. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between programmable and non-programmable thermostats:

 

What is the difference between a programmable and non-programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat automatically sets back the temperature in your home based upon a predetermined schedule, while a non-programmable thermostat will stay at the same temperature 24 hours a day. The main advantage of a programmable thermostat is that you no longer need to adjust the setting before leaving the house or before bedtime. You can set up a predetermined schedule and the thermostat will automatically adjust as you would like it to.  With the Total app available at NorthStar, you can even program and adjust your thermostat schedule right from your phone or web-enabled device.

Give me the long version.  What does a programmable thermostat do that a non-programmable thermostat does?

A non-programmable thermostat has the ability to regulate room temperature to one desired setpoint. The setting on the thermostat must be manually changed if a new temperature setpoint is desired. Programmable thermostats allow flexibility to homeowners because they can be programmed to match their lifestyle. A programmable thermostat will keep you and your home comfortable while you are there to enjoy it, and will change the setpoint at programmed times to an energy savings level when you are not home. By simply planning your schedule, you can enjoy the benefits of personalized comfort and enhanced energy savings.

Why is a programmable thermostat more efficient?

Programmable thermostats contribute to overall system performance, maximizing energy savings while providing complete comfort control. The precise temperature control of a programmable, energy-saving thermostat saves wear and tear on high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment by properly cycling the equipment. Offering set-it-and-forget-it programming, programmable thermostats make energy savings automatic. Precise control delivers the comfortable temperature you want while using the energy most efficient. You really don’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning if you would like your home to be warmer at 6 a.m. now – thanks to programmable thermostats.

Why else should I get a programmable thermostat?

Installing a programmable thermostat can save you up to 33% on heating and cooling costs. The thermostat will pay for itself, usually in the first season of use, and will continue to save you money year after year. Programmable thermostats are also good for the environment since they help save energy. Honeywell thermostats even come preprogrammed with standard settings that can be easily modified.

Why should I purchase a Honeywell thermostat from NorthStar? 

There are definitely a variety of programmable thermostats available on the market, but we believe Honeywell’s equipment is the very best.  Honeywell products are built to last. An example of the dedication to quality is the precious metal contacts our thermostats use. Other thermostat manufacturers may use lower quality contacts which can mean a shorter product life. Honeywell and NorthStar also provide protection against static electricity and power surge. Most of the competition has minimal, if any, electrical protection.

 

Hopefully this post helps you understand the difference between a programmable thermostat and a non-programmable one! If you have any particular questions, even about installation process, etc., leave a comment below and I will get right back to you.  We want you to do what’s best for your home, and we will help answer any questions to help you know if a programmable thermostat will make a difference for you.

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video cameras

So, you’re now setup with NorthStar’s Total Connect Video System.  You have one or more cameras that you’ve checked on your phone to look at your house a couple times, and it’s pretty cool to show your friends.  Is that it, though?

It’s time to start getting the most out of your camera.  Here are FIVE WAYS you can start more effectively utilizing your camera in your home now:

1.  Set rules with Total Connect to automatically record when children are supposed to arrive.

Need the peace of mind that your kids are home and safe, without having your kids think you always worry or don’t trust you?  Login to your total connect here:  http://northstaralarm.com/customer_login.php and set rules and notifications by clicking on your camera.  You can set your camera to record automatically and send notifications directly to your phone each time a motion detector detects motion, the system is armed/disarmed or to record with previously set timers.

2. Move the camera to the baby’s room for an easy way to monitor your baby while they are sleeping.

Cameras can use your WIFI and be moved anywhere within range.  Remember, you can trigger your camera to send notifications to your phone with movement.  This makes for an easy way to have peace of mind without needing to get out of bed when you think you hear something.

3. Check in on the kids and the babysitter when you’re away.

Want to know if the babysitter is sleeping on the job?  Ensure your camera is in a primary area so that you can easily check in on the babysitter to make sure she is treating your kids right!  If there is a disagreement with what happened with a babysitter and your child, simply go back in the footage!

4.  Put the camera in a no-no zone

Have a certain closet with presents from Santa, a wine cellar, or a gun closet that you don’t want the kids or anyone else to enter?  Put a camera in a hidden area and set notifications for motion.  Catch them in the act before it’s too late!

5.  Check on your pets!

Out of town or just out for the night and want to make sure your dog is ok?  Get live feed from any of your smart devices at anytime to make sure your dogs are being fed and walked when you are gone.

There ya go, five easy ways to utilize your camera NOW.  Don’t let your camera just sit there and go to waste!  Here are a couple more quick ideas:

  • Check in on your kids while they are on dates
  • Look back on kids fights and confirm who really “started it”
  • Point it outside and see who is at the do
    or without looking out the window or peephole
  • Check on an elderly or disabled relative
  • Check on the nanny to make sure he/she isn’t cutting any corners

 Honeywell IP CAM BLACK

 

 

 

Real NorthStar Stories

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This past week has been an eventful one with the Olympics in full swing, love day celebrations, and glimpses of the coming of spring!

Amidst all of the happenings, we have received both false and real alarm signals from our NorthStar customers. We want share two real alarm stories that happened this week. We are grateful that these customers had their systems armed and that emergency personnel was able to get to both scenes quickly.  We are proud to say that both of these situations were under control and damage or serious problems were averted due to NorthStar Alarm systems.

Smoke Detector

Smoke Detector Story - On February 19 around 1:00 p.m., we received an actual fire alarm signal from a hallway smoke detector in Wanda G.’s home.  Our Rapid Response monitoring team spoke with Wanda, who was on site, through the 2-way voice feature on her panel and dispatched the fire department when a fire in the home was confirmed.  The fire department arrived on the scene quickly and was able to put it out in no time.  We are grateful that Wanda was able to get the help she needed.  Her sales representative, JD Meacham  feels great satisfaction knowing that he was able to keep Wanda and her home safe.

What’s the difference between a monitored smoke detector and a standard smoke detector?

One of the questions we get asked all of the time is about our  smoke detectors.  What makes them different then the current smoke detector installed on my wall?  The difference is that NorthStar’s smoke detectors are monitored, meaning thy are being monitored 24/7 in case smoke is detected.  The majority of homes that we see have good working smoke detectors – however, they aren’t monitored.  If there was ever a fire in one of these homes while the occupants weren’t home, the fire department wouldn’t be dispatched until it’s too late.  Most of the time, the department isn’t called until there is a substantial amount of smoke billowing out of the home and a significant amount of damage has already happened.  That’s the difference in a standard smoke detector and a monitored smoke detector!  A monitored detector is a great fit for any home – especially if the home is often left attended due to traveling or anything else.

iphonetcapp2CROPPED

Door Sensor Story – During the last week of January, we received an exit error alarm signal from the front door of Raul J.’s home.  It is believed that the suspects attempted to kick in the door, which was likely just enough for the front door sensor to be triggered. Raul received a call notifying him that his alarm was going off.  Our monitoring station dispatched the police and they arrived in minutes – taking in the two suspects on his property for questioning.  Raul said that he armed his system before he left for work  that morning with the  Total Connect 2.0 app, which he uses often from his cell phone.

What’s does “arming your system” mean?

Arming your system means that you turn on your system to protect your home.  There are two options to do this: “arm stay” and “arm away.”  In Raul’s situation, he pressed “arm away,” meaning he was leaving his home and wanted the exterior and interior of his home protected.  If you are going to sleep for the night or planning to stay in, you would select “arm stay,” meaning that you are staying in the home but want the perimeter protected.

We can’t stress the importance of arming your system! Make sure you get in the habit – a quick click of the button will keep your home and family safe.

 

NorthStar Customer Reviews

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2014-02-17_1151Since February is the month of relationships, we wanted to take a minute to connect with our customers and say thank you for your business and trust!  We take great pride in serving you and keeping your family safe and connected. Thank you for choosing us and allowing us to serve you.

As you may know, we have been collecting feedback from you (our customers) this month.  We are always looking for ways we can improve and provide you with even better service, so this month has been extremely valuable for us.  Thank you for taking the time to send feedback our way!  If you haven’t done so already, please leave us an honest evaluation on our Facebook page under the “reviews” tab here.  Just by doing so, you will be entered in to win a FREE month of monitoring.  We thought we might share some of the great experiences that some of you have shared with us and tell you thank you again for providing us with honest feedback.  We look forward to continually serving you.

I have nothing but great things to say about NorthStar Alarm. I’ve been with them over two years now and have never had any issues. I appreciate their exxcellent customer service and quick responses to any questions or concerns I’ve ever had. Keep up the good work! – Kris G

I’ve used Northstar for my alarm service for 3+ years and I couldn’t be happier. If I have a problem, which is hardly ever, the people I have dealt with at Northstar have been very nice and are very eager to get my problem resolved. I’ve recommended them to three other families and I believe that they are also very satisfied with Northstar. – Teri S.

The sales rep Brandon and installer Chase set me up last night and though I’m new to the service, I’m not new to alarms or customer service. The two guys were super cool, answered all my questions, and made me feel confident in my decision. Glad to have made the switch from Guardian. – Keith W.

I been with NorthStar Alarm for 8 or 9 month now and I love every thing about it .im glad my cuz Keith Wilhoite told me about them I feel safe my wife feels safe you guys are on your a game thank you Northstar alarm . – Mike W.

Our family loves Northstar!!! Customer service is beyond great! When someone was trying to break into my house, Northstar saved me the hassle of having to call the police myself by just pressing the panic button and they were super helpful on the 2 way. I am so amazed with how everything was handled, I really have so many nice things to say. I referred several friends and they are very pleased as well! :) – Natalie Mehling

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