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by Frank Taglienti

Finding the right location and the best mounting device for a TV is easy if you know a few tricks to use. 

If you're a single homeowner, you can probably do it yourself if you stick to a 50-inch or smaller flat screen, says Lauren Theobald, marketing communication manager for SANUS, a Denver-based wall mount company.

Your TV's location determines which type of mount will work best. There are three types:

Fixed mounts hold your TV in a fixed position and work well when you're viewing the screen from one place, like a couch.

Tilt mounts move up and down and work best in rooms with lots of windows or lights. A tilt mount lets you move the TV to avoid glare. They also work well for TVs mounted above your viewing level, like on a bedroom wall or above a fireplace.

Full motion mounts pull the TV out from the wall and swivel it to the right or left. These work great for TVs viewed from more than one room, say when you want to watch your TV from the great room sofa or from the counter in your open-concept kitchen.

Full motion mounts also work great in rooms where shelving, furniture or windows block the wall where you'd like to watch TV. Put the TV on a full motion mount in the corner of the room, pull it out to watch then tuck it away when you're done.

Tools You'll Need

Before you head out to buy your mount, make sure you have appropriate tools for the job: a stud finder, a drill and drill bits and a level. 

If you think you'll be challenged to do it yourself, look for a mount manufacturer that offers customer support. SANUS, for example, posts videos on  showing how to install its mounts.

If You Can't Do A Pull Up

Installing a flat-panel TV doesn't require as much upper body strength as it used to. Initially, when flat panel TVs came out they were very heavy and thick and most people couldn't handle one by themselves.

Today's TVs are significantly lighter. "I'm 5 feet tall and I can carry a 50-inch TV by myself," Theobald said. "Over 50 inches, you need a buddy to help you hang it on the wall plate because of the size."

Cables And Wires

If your new TV isn't wireless, think about what you're going to do about the cables and power cords. Power Bridge makes an on-the-wall cable tunnel that you can paint and trim and an in-wall solution, too. You get a component that hides behind your TV and you don't have to dig in your walls or hire an electrician to install a new outlet. 



by Frank Taglienti

Third in a five-part series on home automation.

The best new home gadgets and appliances unveiled at the recent consumer electronics show in las vegas do your chores, keep a remote eye on family members and let you start dinner while you're at the office. here are our six favorites:

1. Winbot window washing robot $400

Tired of washing the windows? The Winbot window cleaning robot washes not just your windows, but also your glass doors, railings and show stalls.

This nifty device has a cleaning pad that washes, a built-in squeegee for wiping and a second cleaning pad for drying. It's like the floor cleaning robots currently on the market, except it uses a vacuum pump to seal itself to the window and then zips around washing it.

Winbot isn't totally self-sufficient. You do have to add the fluid to the pad and attach the winbot to your window.

2. Piper $239

This quick and easy-to-use security system lets you see and hear what's going on in your home when you're not there. Piper has a motion detector, video camera, microphone and siren and you tell piper when to use each of them. 

If you're on vacation, you can tell Piper to sound a siren, record a video and text you if it detects any motion. Other options include having Piper call or text you or your friends or family members.

There's no monthly fee because Piper isn't hooked up to a security company. You won't get any false alarm calls made to emergency responders, which sometimes happens with security systems connected to a monitoring center. But, Piper won't call the police if someone breaks into your house at 3 a.m. either.

Piper works with Z-Wave home automation accessories, so you can add sensors to tell you when doors or windows open, or have it turn on the lights when you open the front door.

 3. Remote appliances

You can do the laundry and start dinner while you're still at the office, as long as you've done the preparation in advance. 

LG ThinQ refrigerators tell you what's inside, alert you when your food is about to expire and can let you know what you need to buy on your way home to complete a recipe. LG's Home Chat appliances will even respond to your voice or text commands, so you can turn on the washing machine when you're not home.

Belkin's Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker enabled by WeMo ($99.99) takes online commands via the WeMo Automation Electric Outlet ($49). The catch is that you have to put dinner in the crock-pot and the clothes in your washing machine before you leave home. 

4. August Smart Lock $199

This electronic door lock recognizes your smartphone location and unlocks the door for you automatically when you get home. 

If you have visitors or a housekeeper coming over, you can send them virtual keys to unlock your door, too.

An online log tells you who's gone into and out of your home. If you lose your phone, you can go online to unlock your door, or use your traditional key to get in.

5. Withings Aura wake-up light ($299)

The passion for fitness monitoring has spread to the night shift in the Withings Aura wake-up light and sleep monitoring system. 

Withings Aura collects data from a sensor pad slipped under your mattress to measure and record your body movements, breathing cycles and heart rate. A bedside device measures your bedroom environment (noise, room temperature and light levels).

Based on the measurements, the system comes up with light and sound programs to relax you to sleep or stimulate you to wake up.

6. Kid trackers

Companies at the show offered some neat tracking devices to help parents know where their children are after they leave the house. 

The Filip wristband ($199 plus $10 a month) contains a SIM card so you can load in five phone numbers. In an emergency, the wrist band calls those numbers until someone answers, sends out a location beacon and records sounds. 

You can also set SafeZones, triggering a notification if your child enters or leaves the designated area. AT&T is promoting the device for use by 5- to 11-year-olds.

Tracking older children, requires more discretion. Delphi's Connect ($99-$199) plugs into your car's in-dash diagnostics port and then sends position and vehicle data to your smartphone. The higher-priced version also creates a Wi-Fi hotspot, giving everyone in your car Internet access.

You'll know your car's speed and location and can set an alert to notify you if your teen drives your car out of or into preset areas or goes above the speed limit. 

It's handy for grownups, too. Connect can locate your car when you don't remember where you parked and remotely unlock the car door when you can't find your keys.


by Frank Taglienti

Homeowner Resolutions

Summary: The start of a new year is a great time to make changes in your finances and the way you maintain your home.

If saving money is one of your New Year's resolutions, we've got four smart ways for you to do just that:


If you haven't yet refinanced your mortgage or home equity loan to take advantage of today's low interest rates, there's still time to lock in a great deal. Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, expects mortgage rates to rise above 5 percent in 2014 and to 5.5 percent by the end of 2015.

If your current mortgages exceed your home's value, you may still be able to refinance using one of the federal government's Home Affordable Refinance Program.

Change Your Furnace Filters

New Year's resolutions don't get much easier than vowing to change your HVAC filter once a month in 2014 to increase your furnace's life span.

To make this task easy, buy 12 filters and store them in the furnace room so they're at hand when you need them. Put a reminder on your calendar or tie this chore to another monthly chore, like paying your household bills, so you remember to do it each month.

Seal The Air Leaks In Your Home

Sealing the air leaks in your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut your utility bills. Check to make sure your winders are caulked around the outside of the trim on the inside and outside of your home. Use foam to fill large gaps where the plumbing, electric or cable comes in the house.

Shop Your Insurance Policies

Yes, it's a bother to shop for insurance, but if you haven't checked what's out there lately, you may be overpaying. The easiest way to get this chore done is to delegate.

Copy the declarations pages from your current home, auto, life and umbrella policies and ask an independent insurance agent to look for a better overall deal for you. You can also visit your current agent or call your insurance company and ask for an annual review to make sure you've got the right coverage and are getting all the discounts for which you qualify.

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Frank Taglienti
Berkshire Hathaway PenFed REALTORS®
565 Benfield Road, Suite 100
Severna Park MD 21146

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