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  1. Your smart-home devices could be easy to hack. Here’s how to protect yourself.

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    So your holiday gift was a new smart-home device. It could be Amazon's Echo, often called "Alexa," or Google Home using "Siri," which provide music, news updates and other information features; iRobot Roomba to clean your floors; the Ring doorbell, or a smart TV for voice-command video.

    Maybe you're thrilled with your gift, or maybe you're a bit wary, given recent reports of cyberhacking of some devices. Internet-oriented devices ...
  2. How much does interior painting cost?

    A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in transforming your space – and what better time to start than heading into a new year? Here's what you need to know to set your budget and complete a job well done.

    Getting started

    Painting the interior of a 2,000-square-foot house costs between $1,900 and $7,800. Wall height, designer paint and regional differences all play into the final price point, so be sure to communicate with your painting pro about your budget.
    ...
  3. How can I boost productivity in my home office?

    Working remotely has its perks, but it can also present unique challenges to stay on task and move full steam ahead. If you feel held back from reaching your potential on the job, consider upgrading hidden components of your home office to increase productivity and put your best foot forward.

    Plants

    Fresh foliage does more than brighten things up in your workspace. In addition to oxygenating the air, multiple studies have found that natural additions to a room positively ...
  4. How can I prevent a fire during the holidays?

    Twinkling lights, a crackling fireplace, home-cooked meals with your favorite family and friends – there’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving and the holiday season. There are also precautions to take and necessary maintenance needed to keep you and your home safe, whether you’re playing host or spending some time away.

    Careful cooking

    The kitchen is the heart of the house. It’s also where home fires are most likely to start, according to the American Red Cross. There are ...
  5. How can I protect my electronics from surges?

    Every day, power surges wipe out TVs, video games, phones, appliances and other electronic devices. Power surges have been around as long as electricity in homes, but they've become more of a concern in recent years, thanks to our increased use of electronics. Low-power devices with sensitive circuit boards, such as tablets or smartphones, are more vulnerable to a power surge than larger devices such as appliances. Here's how you can protect your electronics:

    WHAT IS A SURGE?
    ...
  6. What options can improve my HVAC system?

    September is an excellent time to take stock of your HVAC system before the cool season begins in earnest. If nothing else, you should change your filters and hire a pro to inspect and tune up your system, at a cost of around $80 to $100, before turning your heater on.

    However, if you're ready to make a big investment, this is also a good time to think about upgrading your system with zoned, multistage or smart systems. These improvements make a big difference in energy efficiency and ...
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    HVAC
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