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Keep your home safe during summer vacation

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Summer vacation is a time to relax and enjoy the sunshine outdoors, but unfortunately it is also a prime time for home burglaries. According to a U.S. Department of Justice study, crime rates increase more than 10 percent in the summer months. June, July and August are prime months as thieves watch for signs that home owners are away on vacation. Everyone needs a vacation, so how do you maintain your home and keep it safe even when you aren't there?

Thanks to technology, more security options are available than ever before. Consumers no longer have to rely on home security companies that charge expensive monthly fees to monitor and protect their homes. Smart thermostats, for example, allow users to remotely manage home temperature to save money and stay comfortable in changeable weather conditions. Wi-Fi-enabled smoke and carbon monoxide alarms alert you to emergencies even if you're not home to hear the alarm.

However you choose to control your environment and maintain its safety, more people are managing their homes remotely. In fact, a recent U.S. Cellular survey found 45 percent of smartphone users have used connected home devices in the past month, and 29 percent use this technology daily. With the advent of new technology and features, you can create personalized smart home management based on where you are and what you're doing. Your smartphones GPS feature can track you on your drive home and automatically turn on lighting and appliances. You can also be alerted if someone gets home and disarms a security system.

We all want a sense of security for our homes even when we are away on vacation. Knowing what is happening at home when you're not there can not only save you money but provide peace of mind.

Whether you purchase tablets, like the iPad Air, or use smartphones, like the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy s6, U.S. Cellular recommends the following products and apps to keep you informed:

Nest: (iOS, Android) This family of Wi-Fi-enabled devices and apps lets you maintain comfortable and efficient temperatures and monitor the safety of your home wherever you are. Smart devices enable you to manage air temperature so you come home to a warm house. You'll be alerted if the carbon monoxide level builds up, so you can take steps to keep your loved ones safe. The 'Works with Nest' feature connects cars and appliances to your mobile device, so you can have dry laundry when you need it. Personalized comfort is always on without requiring your direct attention.

WeMo: (iOS, Android) Belkin's WeMo home automation products give you the ability to control your home electronics from anywhere with your smartphone. An la carte system, Belkin products let you buy just what you need, whether you just want to control interior and exterior lighting, appliances or install cameras. Plug-and-play simplicity means no tools are required for installation. Using IFTTT (If This Then That) features lets you get creative with the tracking function on Twitter, Facebook and Google Drive. As your smartphone tracks your progress home, your lights can be on before you get there.

Manything: (iOS) Using your smartphone, Manything lets you remotely record and monitor motion in your home. IFTTT (If This Then That) compatibility lets you personalize remote home management to your own habits. Program your HVAC system to keep you comfortable when you're home and save you money when you're away. Peace of mind does not have to be a luxury.

Salient Eye: (Android) Similar to Manything, Salient Eye turns your android phone into a home security device. You can track motion, record video and opt in to alerts that let you know what is happening at home.

Home is where you need to feel secure. The latest technology can provide you with peace of mind for your family whether at home or away.

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