Heat Pump vs Furnace

Heat Pump vs Furnace

If you’re in the market for home heating, you have two main choices: a heat pump or a furnace. At one time, this was a fairly simple decision based on climate. If you lived in a region with mild weather, a heat pump was a better choice, while those living in colder areas needed a furnace. Today, though, many heat pumps are designed to work in temperatures well below freezing. Here’s what you should know about heat pumps and furnaces, and how to choose between them.

Heat Pump and AC on side of house

GSPhotography / Shuttershock

Heat pumps

Heat pumps work by moving heat around, much like an air conditioner with a reverse cycle. During the hot summer, the heat pump removes warm air from your home, cooling it down. In the winter, the heat pump sends warm air into your home to heat it.

All heat pumps have two energy efficiency ratings: the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and the HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor). These numbers are found by dividing the cooling or heating output of the unit, respectively, by how much electrical energy it consumes. Higher numbers indicate better energy efficiency.

Types of heat pumps

Heat pumps are available in a few different types. A conventional, or split-system, heat pump has both indoor and outdoor components. It uses a series of ducts to force air through your home.

A package unit is often a better solution for those without much interior space. All the components are housed in a single outdoor unit, which may be mounted on a concrete pad outside your home or even on the roof.

If your home lacks ductwork, or you want to heat and cool a new addition, a ductless mini split may be the least expensive and most practical choice.

Heat pump benefits

Heat pumps have several advantages. One of the biggest is that they provide both heating and cooling, eliminating the need to invest in a separate air conditioner. They are also more energy efficient than furnaces since they don’t actually create heat, and they are more environmentally friendly since they consume no fossil fuels and give off no emissions. In addition, if you live in a temperate climate, you may experience a significant reduction in your monthly energy bills when switching to a heat pump.

Heat pumps are generally easy to maintain with regular cleaning and filter changes. Once a year, have your heat pump professionally serviced.

Heat pump costs

Heat pump pricing varies widely, from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the size, type, and features. On average, you can expect to pay a few thousand for a whole-home heat pump system. Installation charges are extra and depend on such factors as your geographic region, the size of your home, and how difficult the installation process is. Contact a local HVAC professional for the most accurate pricing based on an in-home assessment. You will also need to factor in the cost of electricity to run the heat pump, though these prices are generally low compared to the cost of fuel for a furnace.


A furnace generates heat by burning a fuel source (gas or oil) and then forcing it throughout your home via a series of ducts. A furnace typically shares interior cabinet space, ductwork and a thermostat with a conventional air conditioner, but you can have a furnace installed even if you don’t have air conditioning.

All furnaces have an energy efficiency rating known as the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). This is a percentage that shows how much of the energy consumed by the furnace becomes heat rather than escaping as energy loss. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the furnace is.

Types of furnaces

Furnaces come in two basic types: gas and oil. There are many similarities, but each type has its own unique features, as well as pros and cons for different homes.

Natural gas furnaces are environmentally friendlier and more energy efficient than oil furnaces. Natural gas also costs less than oil. However, you will pay more up front for a natural gas furnace. In addition, there must be a supply of natural gas in your area for this type of furnace to be installed.

Oil furnaces are less expensive up front than natural gas, but your fuel costs will depend on the highly volatile oil market. Oil is also less eco-friendly than gas, and you must regularly clean your furnace to avoid a buildup of soot and debris. In addition, you must schedule oil deliveries throughout the heating season. However, oil furnaces can be installed in areas where there is no natural gas. If you live in a very cold climate, it is important to note that oil furnaces provide more heat per BTU (British thermal unit) than gas.

Furnace benefits

One of the biggest benefits of a furnace is its reliability. Though modern heat pumps work pretty well in temperatures that dip below freezing, they still have to source heat from somewhere. If your region experiences long, cold winters, it’s generally best to choose a furnace, which generates its own heat.

Another benefit is that furnaces tend to last longer than heat pumps. Since they are used only during the heating season, they generally require less maintenance and sustain less wear and tear. While the average useful life of a heat pump is just 10 to 15 years, both gas and oil furnaces can easily last 20 to 30 years with proper care.

Furnace costs

Gas furnaces typically cost $1,000 to $3,000 or more, depending on size and features. Residential size oil furnaces are generally priced around $2,000 or less, depending on features and size. Installation charges are additional. These costs vary based on such factors as your geographic location, the difficulty of the installation, and the size of your home. A local HVAC professional can provide a comprehensive estimate based on an assessment of your home. When calculating the total costs associated with your furnace, don’t forget to include the price of fuel as well as maintenance, especially if you select an oil furnace.

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How I Installed SimpliSafe In My Apartment – Reader Story

Did you update your bathroom? Revamp your kitchen? Install new flooring? We would love to share your project, big or small! Send us what you did and our editorial team will consider it for our “My Fresh Home” series, which will be published every Thursday. Check out our submission instructions at the bottom of the page.

Today we want to share a story from Freshome reader Paige, who installed SimpliSafe in her apartment after a break in:

A few months ago, I got a great job opportunity that required me to move several states away from my family and friends. It certainly wasn’t easy, but it was an opportunity to move to a great city, and I’m not afraid of being alone. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Thanks to my amazing luck, and a splash of irony, I soon found out an answer to that question. Someone broke into my apartment. Don’t worry. I called the police and got everything squared away, and my dad jumped on the next flight out to help me out. 

Choosing SimpliSafe

The day after it happened, I went to work while my dad installed chain locks on the front and back doors of my apartment. I took some time during lunch to research what kind of system would work for me. Even before I moved, I knew that I wanted a security system, but I dreaded having to do the research, and I honestly didn’t expect someone would break into my place less than two weeks after I moved in.

I came across a survey on Safety.com that would match me with the best system for my needs. I’m a renter, in a one-bedroom apartment, and I wanted to install it myself. It recommended SimpliSafe, which, looking back, was the best decision for me.


You can order a SimpliSafe system online, but I wanted to get it put together before my dad had to go back to work, so we picked it up at BestBuy that evening. The kit I bought came with a keypad and “brain” (I don’t remember exactly what it’s called but it’s the piece that communicates with all of the sensors/keypad), a motion sensor, four door/window sensors, two window stickers and a lawn sign.

Set Up

The set up guide was extremely user-friendly, and anyone who’s confident in their ability to use command strips can put up the sensors. You also have the option to install them with screws, but because I’m a renter, I decided to stick (ha, get it?) with the adhesive strips.

The window/door sensors are magnetic, so you can install them at an angle, which was great for my outward-swinging back door.

The system can function without a contract or subscription of any kind, but if you’re interested in having 24/7 monitoring and having automatic police dispatch in case of an emergency (I was), there’s two different plans you can sign up for. I went with the premium plan because there’s so much more that I can monitor remotely through my phone, which is important to me because I travel. 

One of the things I really like about this system is that connecting sensors is a breeze, and it can be completely customized to your space and security needs. Through the keypad you can recognize, name, and activate/deactivate devices whenever you want. Also, you can shop on simplisafe for additional devices, such as cameras, window-shatter detectors, key-fobs, and more. 

How to Submit User Stories

1: Include “My Fresh Home Project” in the subject line. Then, in the body of the email, please provide an explanation of why you chose to do the project, an outline of steps you took to get it done, and any advice for readers considering similar projects. Make sure to include your name and any before/after images you have! 

2: Email your story to [email protected].

And that’s it! Easy, right? If selected, your story will be shared as an article on Freshome!

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Everything You Need to Know About Vivint Home Security System

Everything You Need to Know About Vivint Home Security System

Home security has become an essential part of designing and equipping your home. From simple security cameras to fully-integrated smart home security systems, your options are seemingly endless. One of the major players in the home security space is Vivint. Here’s a look at what you need to know about Vivint home security, including reviews and pricing information.

What is Vivint?

Founded in 1999 as APX Alarm, Vivint changed its name in 2011 when the company expanded beyond basic home security solutions into the smart home arena. Vivint was acquired by Blackstone Group in 2012 and has continued to expand both its customer base and its technological offerings since then. Today, Vivint home security has more than 1.4 million active customers in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. U.S. News & World Report named Vivint Smart Home the Best Full-Service Home Security and Automation Solution for 2020.

The Vivint home security model is simple. The basic Vivint Starter Kit provides a touchscreen control panel, two entry sensors, a water sensor, and a motion sensor. It also includes your choice of additional sensors valued at up to $100 total. You can then select add-ons from an extensive list of home security and smart home equipment on an à la carte basis.

Vivint offers financing at 0% interest if you sign up for a monitoring contract. When your equipment is paid off, or if you pay for it upfront, monitoring is available on a month-to-month, no-contract basis. Both basic and advanced security monitoring are available. All Vivint systems require professional installation.

Vivint notable features

  • Vivint Smart Home App: Control not only your home security features but also your entire smart home, with custom actions and full remote access.
  • Seamless Integration: Vivint home security integrates fully with a variety of popular smart home products and controllers
  • Customization Options: Cameras? No problem. Do you prefer outdoor, doorbell, or motion-triggered indoor styles? Maybe you need smart locks, carbon monoxide detectors, or remote garage door control. Vivint lets you purchase what you need while skipping the things you don’t want.
  • Cancellation Policy: If you need to cancel your service due to extenuating circumstances, just call the company. Especially generous policies apply to those in the military. Several options are also available in the event of a move.
  • Look and Feel: The look and feel of Vivint’s home security equipment reflect the company’s status as a major player in smart home technology. Each piece of equipment is thoughtfully designed, elegantly sleek, and relatively unobtrusive.

Vivint packages and prices

Vivint pricing is straightforward. You build your equipment package (the Starter Kit costs $599) and then decide whether to pay for it upfront or finance it for 60 months at 0% interest. Then you simply pay your monthly monitoring fee, plus the monthly cost of any financed equipment.

Monitoring plans offered by Vivint:

Vivint Smart Security Service

  • $29.99/mo.
  • This basic package includes the SkyControl Panel and Vivint’s app, plus additional customized equipment options.
  • Includes 24/7 professional monitoring
  • No contract if you pay for equipment upfront, 60-month contract if financing equipment

Vivint Smart Home Service

  • $39.99/mo. plus $5/mo. per camera
  • This package includes the SkyControl Panel and Vivint’s app, plus additional customized equipment options.
  • Includes 24/7 professional monitoring, along with video surveillance and local video storage
  • No contract if you pay for equipment upfront, 60-month contract if financing equipment

*Prices as of 1/20/2019

Understanding Vivint pricing

Vivint pricing includes two components: equipment cost and monitoring fees. For a full quote, you’ll need an in-home assessment from a Vivint professional. According to U.S. News & World Report, the basic Vivint Starter Kit costs $599, while add-on equipment is available à la carte. U.S. News notes that add-on prices range from $50 for a smart sensor to $299 for an outdoor camera.  The average Vivint customer spends about $1,500 on equipment, which can be financed at zero interest for 60 months, according to U.S. News. 

Monitoring fees are $29.99 to $39.99 per month and are completely separate from equipment charges.

Vivint equipment

Customer ratings at Consumer Affairs and Trustpilot give Vivint high marks for advanced equipment and integration. According to reviews, the company’s products are high-tech yet user-friendly and integrate seamlessly into your existing smart home. Customers comment that the mobile app is robust and the equipment has a sleek, modern feel. High-tech HD cameras offer infrared night vision, and the system is highly customizable. Quality plays an important role in U.S. News & World Report’s decision to name Vivint Smart Home the Best Full-Service Home Security and Automation Solution for 2020.

Vivint home security system installation

All Vivint home security systems require professional installation. The installation fee is a one-time charge of $49 to $99, depending on exactly which equipment components you choose. A major advantage is that a Vivint home security expert will provide a free in-home consultation to help you design your system.

Vivint reviews

A 2018 J.D. Power study ranked Vivint Smart Home third in customer satisfaction among home security brands. Vivint got an 839 out of 1,000 customer satisfaction index rating, trailing closely behind Brinks Home Security (852) and AT&T Digital Life (847). 

Vivint has a 4-star rating across more than 14,000 Trustpilot reviews and a 4-star rating across more than 2,000 recent Consumer Affairs reviews. In Vivint reviews, customers consistently comment on the friendly and helpful customer service, breadth of customization options, and quality of the equipment. Some customers have noted that the cancellation process is difficult and sometimes requires more than one phone call. Also, depending on the issue, some Vivint reviews report being charged for service calls even when the Vivint equipment is faulty.

Outdoor home security graphic

metamorworks / Shuttershock

Pros and cons of Vivint

Advantages of Vivint home security include package customization, technology, equipment financing, and customer service. Disadvantages include equipment pricing, lack of DIY installation ability, and difficulty canceling contracts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does Vivint cost?

A starter equipment package costs $599, with add-ons increasing the average equipment bill to around $1,500. Financing is available at 0% interest. Monitoring plans starting at $29.99/mo. are sold separately.

2. Can you get professional monitoring with Vivint?

All Vivint home security systems have professional monitoring. There is no option to purchase the equipment without a monitoring package.

3. How much does professional monitoring with Vivint cost?

The monthly monitoring fee is $29.99 to $39.99, plus $5 per camera.

4. Is DIY installation available?

All Vivint home security systems require professional installation.

5. How much does professional installation cost?

According to U.S. News & World Report, Vivint professional installation is a one-time fee of $49 to $99, depending on equipment.

6. Does Vivint require a contract?

No monthly contract is required if you pay for your equipment upfront. If your equipment is financed, you must sign a 60-month contract.

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RCN Internet: Reviews, Pricing, & Performance

About RCN Internet

Launching in 1993, RCN Internet has grown to become a top provider of internet plans, digital TV and phone services. The company is currently serving Boston, Chicago, Lehigh Valley, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Their internet services are ideal for internet home networking, streaming, watching TV online and Wi-Fi. Their internet speeds are up to 155 Mbps. RCN Internet offers customers equipment, including modems and Wi-Fi gateway and a Wi-Fi router. Customers also find access to annual subscriptions to security services, including McAfee Internet Security and RCN’s Service Protection Plan.

family watching netflix on laptop

Image: pikselstock/Shuttershock

RCN Internet: What you need to know

Selecting RCN Internet services means you’re working with certified technicians who receive their certifications through the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.

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RCN Internet products Internet, digital TV, and phone services
RCN Internet speeds Up to 940 Mbps
RCN Internet price Plans starting at $29.99 per month
RCN Internet availability Six service areas
Contract? N

*As of 01/20/2020

RCN Internet packages

100 Mbps Internet

Does your family love to stream music and movies? Do you have a gamer who enjoys multiplayer games and chat? If so, the 100 Mbps RCN Internet package is an excellent option. Not only does it feature exceptional pricing, but you’ll also stay connected on social media or surf the web without any issues.

Keep your entire family connected with speeds that deliver the results they need. Connect between one and two devices to post pictures and videos, chat, stream movies and music and game. Packages start at $29.99 per month with no contract.

250 Mbps Internet

When you need a little extra speed and want to connect several devices, this internet package features up to 250 Mbps. You and your family can stream movies and music seamlessly. You can also participate in live chats and watch your favorite shows without any trouble.

This package’s affordable pricing starts at $44.99 per month. There’s no contract required so that you can switch plans at any time. There’s also free McAfee installation with this package, thus allowing you to surf and download without worries.

500 Mbps Internet

If you and your family need to connect more than five devices, this 500 Mbps Internet package is the way to go. These devices can include gaming consoles, laptops, smartphones, tablets and more. Surf the web, check email, engage in social media posts, watch videos, watch live-streaming videos, play online multiplayer games and more.

You’ll receive all of these benefits from a faster internet speed that’s priced affordably at $49.99 per month. There’s no contract, and, as a bonus, RCN Internet will install McAfee for free.

Gig Internet

When selecting this RCN Wi-Fi package, you’ll receive up to 1,000 gigs at ultra-high speeds. That means download speeds are 1,000 gigabytes per second. This plan’s incredibly fast speeds gives you and your family the best entertainment performance. Connect multiple devices to stream, game, check email, chat and play music without any lag.

Compared to RCN Internet’s other packages, which include between 100 and 500 Mbps, a gig is an exponential increase. At this speed, uploading videos takes much less time. The extra bandwidth means you can watch streaming services, like Netflix, for example, or game online without lag.

This pricing isn’t bad for all of these benefits and is $59.99 per month with no contract. Your entire home’s devices will receive outstanding connectivity, and, for those who have security concerns, RCN Internet will hook up McAfee at no additional cost.

RCN Internet features

  • High-Speed: Featuring an incredible price, RCN Internet plans offer consumers the highest speeds for what they need. The company prides itself on providing a broad range of speeds according to the consumer’s needs.
  • RCN Webmail: Every customer receives access to a webmail account with tons of features. These features include 5 GB of storage, calendar functions and web applications.
  • 24/7 Customer Support: RCN pledges to put all customers first. Every US-based customer has access to customer service 24/7.

RCN Internet availability

Consumers must consider that some internet providers are available only in certain areas. The company is currently servicing six locations with RCN Internet plans, including:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Lehigh Valley
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.

Pros & cons of RCN Internet



  • The service area is small
  • All internet speeds aren’t available in every service area
  • Slower speeds with lower-priced packages

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much is RCN Internet?

RCN Internet pricing starts at $29.99 and goes up to $59.99. Pricing differs depending on location. 

  • Is RCN Internet available where I live?

Service areas are limited to six locations. You can find out if you have internet in your area by checking your address.

  • What are eeros?

When you sign up for one of RCN Internet’s Whole Home Wi-Fi packages, it receives its power by eeros. This system allows you to connect to multiple points throughout your home without having to rely on one router.

  • How can I contact RCN Internet?

There is a broad range of contact methods for contacting RCN Internet, including sending them a tweet, “liking” them on Facebook, or calling them anytime (24/7 for U.S.-based customers) at 1-800-746-4726 (1-800-RING-RCN). Live chat is also available Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 10 PM EST, Saturday to Sunday between 10 AM and 8 PM EST and holidays between 10 AM and 6 PM EST.

  • How can I upgrade my RCN Internet package?

You can upgrade your internet package anytime by calling RCN Internet with your request. They’ll talk to you about the higher-tiered internet packages, and which might be best for your needs. The best time to optimize your Wi-Fi network is when it’s not performing at the speeds you want.

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How Incorporating Safety into Bedtime Routine Can Help Ease Your Child’s Anxiety

Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images

These days, parents have a variety of tech and tools to help with bedtime routines. From sound machines and meditation recordings to aromatherapy and story time, these gadgets can help parents with children get their little ones to sleep. 

But for some children consumed by worry and anxiety, those options aren’t quite good enough to get to help them get to sleep and stay asleep. Studies show that 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years of age (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety. For those children plagued with concerns about the welfare of themselves and their families, feeling safe and secure can make a big difference. 

Our experts put together tips to weave elements of safety and security into your daily nighttime routine as a way to ease causes of bedtime anxiety, so you and your child get the best night’s sleep possible. 

Children need to feel safe and secure before going to bed 

Lack of sleep causes children to feel cranky, irritable, and can even lead to depression.  Sleepless nights can also contribute to physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches. We all want good sleep for our children, so what’s getting in the way?

According to the Alaska Sleep Education Center, there are many sources of anxiety that prevent children from falling or staying asleep. Experts say that many of those symptoms revolve around the child’s developmental stage. 

“Toddlers and preschoolers haven’t yet learned the difference between reality and make-believe,” writes Julia Higginson of the Alaska Sleep Education Center. This explains why smaller children will describe their fear of monsters and mythical creatures as a reason why they can’t sleep; they believe them to be real. 

School-aged children who know the difference still struggle because of their imaginations. Often, fears movies, books, and other media can spawn their fears. Those inputs can create scenarios where fiction becomes reality. That, coupled with the fact that school-aged children are beginning to learn that scary things happen in the world, means they recognize those things can happen to them or their family members while sleeping. 

Managing anxiety with children: How to create a positive bedtime routine

If these are some of the reasons for your child’s fears at bedtime, there’s good news. The bedtime routine you create for your child helps them know they are safe and secure — and thereby reduces the causes of bedtime anxiety. When children share control over their feeling of security in their surrounding environment and have a consistent routine to promote their safety, they develop a sense of calm necessary for sleep. They also develop the feeling of security that helps them return to sleep if it’s disrupted. 

How to design security into your child’s bedtime routine 

Let your child know the value of taking safety and security measures in the home

Help your child understand it’s a good thing to take safety and security measures. Let them see you map out a security plan for when unexpected things happen. It will make them feel reassured when you acknowledge there are precautions in place if something goes wrong. You’re sending the message that they’re safe, because, as the adult, you have already done the work both to secure the home and prevent unexpected dangers. This preparation helps the child recognize the parent is the first buffer to their worry. 

Consider explaining general safety to your child. Discuss things like the fastest path out of the house from their bedrooms, how to get outside through their bedroom windows, and the importance of defining a meet-up place in case of an emergency. 

The goal is to offer control and confidence, not layer on fear, so maintain an upbeat tone when speaking with your child. Frequently remind your child that even with these precautions, the chances of dangerous things to happen while they’re sleeping are markedly low. 

Tips and tricks to incorporate safety in your child’s bedroom routine

Make sleep a family priority and stay consistent

Talk often with your child about how important sleep is for the family, both for the adults and the children. Explain to them that, with their help, your family will be making bedtime rituals a part of each evening without waiver. All children — especially children with anxiety — operate optimally when they know their routine. The steps you take leading to bed can provide a smooth path to sleep. 

Children model what they see from their parents, so conducting the bedtime routine with them is helpful. 

Be mindful of every part of your child’s bedtime routine. Schedule out your shared nightly ritual to include time for both the home security measures and other needs — like grooming (baths, brushing teeth, combing hair) and calming tactics (reading, singing, tickling). 

Talk to your child about what safety means to them

When parents are tired and ready for their child’s day to be over, it can be easy to listen to their fears with only a portion of attention, then disregard the fear with, “That will never happen. Don’t be silly. Go back to bed.” 

The truth is, most kids don’t want to lay awake; they simply cannot get to sleep with unsettling thoughts about their safety. 

Try not to rush your child away from their fears or hastily guess what they might be. Instead, listen to them, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Depending upon your child’s age, level of imagination, and exposure to news events, they could be experiencing some fears at bedtime that a talk about security can help. Help your child identify which fears are real threats and which are made up.

Displaying patience and empathy will allow your child to name their safety worries specifically. This will help when it is time to introduce conversations around the security measures your family is taking. The important thing is not to be afraid to talk openly with your anxious child

Dr. Mona Potter is the medical director of the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program and McLean Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services. She says one of the techniques she often uses in cognitive behavior therapy is, “to practice ‘detective-thinking’ to catch, check, and change anxious thoughts.”

She says she also encourages children “to approach, rather than avoid, anxiety-provoking triggers.” 

This means children are having anxious thoughts in the first place, requiring open conversations between parents and children about their fears.

Create a routine with your home security system to make your child feel secure

As part of the bedtime routine, provide a security walk-through for your child. Have them follow your own nightly routine involving locking all windows and doors, activating the home security system, securing any automated systems like the Nest Smart Home, a camera system, or a doorbell camera, and leaving the outdoor security floodlight on. Even let them do the locking/arming systems themselves, so they get the feel of it. 

It is a good idea to have a conversation about the importance of the alarm system and how it does its job. Be sure to include that keeping the alarm system’s code private is crucial and that it’s not to be shared with anyone outside the family.

You may also want to let your child suggest what they want to do to help secure the home. If they have an additional ritual or two to add to the nightly security walk-through, it will be helpful for them to offer their contributions.

The walk-through, which shows your child how secure and prepared your home is, is meant to give children with anxiety a sense of control and understanding over their circumstances, not ignite more fear. If you sense increased anxiety from your child during the security walk-through, redirect and try other ways to acknowledge and manage fears.

Provide a safe and calming bedroom space

Ensure the bedroom you’ve chosen for your child is a calming place. 

Make sure your child’s room is clear of external stimuli that could disrupt their sleep. A motion-activated flood light near the window, for instance, would invite more anxiety if it’s triggered in the night by a neighbor’s cat. 

Some ideas that can help extinguish bedtime fears are to incorporate silliness and playfulness in your discussion with your child. You can use dramatic play, draw and talk about the irrational fear, and imagine the perceived threat with outlandish features, like roller skates or a pink unicorn horn. Try not to make it a habit to check under the bed or in the closet frequently, as this can feed into ongoing paranoia. 

Another idea is to externalize the worry by “giving it away.” In Guatemala, there’s a tradition of instructing children to give their worries to little dolls called “worry dolls: or “trouble dolls.” According to Childrens MD, parents teach children to have a conversation with their dolls before bedtime, telling the dolls their worries, then they tuck them beneath their pillow. The dolls are supposed to then worry for the child while the child sleeps peacefully. Perhaps teach your child to “give away” their worries to an inanimate object, such as a stuffed animal or a doll you already own.

Books can also help children to process their concerns, so consider finding books to read at bedtime that have themes around comfort and security. Also, consider putting a night light in their bedroom that will stay on through the night.  

Finally, remind the child how close the parent’s room is if there’s an urgent need.

Regardless of what kind of home security system you use, general safety and security is a must

Be sure to check the locks on your windows and doors. Be aware of where your fire and carbon monoxide alarms are, and keep them operational. If you don’t have a security system, making this investment could be an added benefit. 

The advantage of a routine

A child’s sense of ownership is important

[Responsibility] is about an attitude, the idea of taking action and being proud of doing it, not just always having your mom and dad do it for you,” says Alex Barzi, a licensed clinical psychologist and co-host of the talk show “About Our Kids” on Sirius Doctor Radio. 

A child’s sense of ownership, responsibility, and control over the home’s safety and security will give them an attitude of confidence, thereby reducing nighttime anxiety. Allowing the child to perform the bedtime security walk-through and inviting them to add input in the routine helps instill this confidence. 

In giving the child a sense of ownership, you will also eliminate the nightly power struggles that are apt to occur when a child has no say. When a child has ownership and a role in the bedtime routine, they’re less likely to buck at the system they helped to create.

Routines help parents create a positive connection to their child

Children learn to look forward to the things they enjoy, and they will know that the bedtime routine is enjoyable, since they’re part of it. You’ll also find that since the bedtime routine is consistent each night, there will be more time for caring, natural interactions because all the guesswork is removed.

It’s helpful to create a healthy idea of what “secure” means

Now that you’ve opened up the lines of communication about fears and introduced the topic of home security to your child, you’ve developed an easy habit of talking about tough things. You’ve addressed each of their concerns with an open mind and an empathetic attitude, and this will serve your family well. 

Get to sleep, and stay asleep

Sleep is essential to the entire family unit, and your child will experience greater success in getting to sleep and staying asleep when they know their home is safe and secure.

Speak openly to your child about fear and help them separate the irrational fears from the rational ones. Develop a consistent bedtime routine complete with a security component, and decrease anxiety before bedtime. 

Having a security walk-through included in your nightly bedtime routine gives your children with anxiety a sense of control over their safety. This both teaches them the skills they will eventually need to know and helps them take a role in overcoming their anxiety in the present.

The post How Incorporating Safety into Bedtime Routine Can Help Ease Your Child’s Anxiety appeared first on Freshome.com.

How I Extended My Driveway – Reader Story

Did you update your bathroom? Revamp your kitchen? Install new flooring? We would love to share your project, big or small! Send us what you did and our editorial team will consider it for our “My Fresh Home” series, which will be published every Thursday. Check out our submission instructions at the bottom of the page.

Today we want to share a story from Freshome reader Nathan, who extended his driveway to better fit two cars:

This is my house on Google images. Look at how the cars are squeezed together… and on the grass. It’s not pretty.

Single driveways can be a real pain when there are multiple drivers in a household. We had this kind of driveway for over three years, and in order to park side-by-side, we had to squeeze our cars in together at the end, on top of grass and tree roots. I tried laying down some gravel, but it wasn’t the solution we needed. All we wanted was to be able to park two cars side by side and keep the street clear of our vehicles – we decided to pull the trigger and extend our driveway.

Step 1: Find Company

The first thing I had to do was figure out what types of companies would do this work. I called a contractor buddy of mine, and he told me that anyone who does cement would likely be able to help with my driveway (and for once, he was right). Then, I did what most people do these days – I went online. I filled out a few leads on sites like HomeAdvisor, but I was never contacted. I was only ever contacted by local businesses, which I found on Google.

Step 2: Get Quotes

The next step was to have the companies come to my house and give me an estimate. Because I work full time, the guys called me during the process, instead of having me physically be there. I explained what I wanted, and they were able to provide quotes. 

I received two quotes – one for $4,500, and one for $5,375. Both were higher than I was looking to pay. Then, while driving home from work soon after, I ended up being behind a truck with a big sign that said “Torres Cement – Driveways, etc., etc.” with a phone number. I thought, “what the heck”, and gave the guy a call. Long story short, they gave me an estimate for $2,500, and we had a deal. 

Step 3: Finalize Plans

These companies are typically booked out pretty far in advance, however, it was the holidays and we weren’t in a rush, so we decided to start the first week of January. But before anything could begin, I had to talk to my neighbor, because he had a tree with roots growing into my yard and under my driveway. In order to extend the driveway, those roots were going to have to go. Thankfully, he wasn’t worried about it, so we had the green light to get started. The grading and other prep work for the driveway extension only took one day.

Roots that came up

After Day 1

When I got home from work that first day, my neighbor, who used to work in grading, was worried that because of how his yard is sloped, we were going to have to put in a retaining wall. The contractor and I tried to convince him that the issue could be resolved with another foot or so of slope, but he was convinced otherwise. 


I made the call (after consulting the boss – my wife) to put in the wall, which cost another $1,000. You can see in the next image what I’m talking about. While I wish I would have known about this before we started, neither of the other quotes had mentioned a wall either, and Cruz, the cement guy, was helpful in figuring out a solution.

We chose grey bricks for the wall. The cement was poured, the wall was constructed, and the project was completed by the end of day two. The only downside was that we couldn’t drive on the new pavement for three days.

All things considered, we’re really happy with how the project turned out. My wife and I can park side by side, and no one has to park in the grass (which often turned to mud) and roots. 

Cars parked easily!

How to Submit User Stories

1: Include “My Fresh Home Project” in the subject line. Then, in the body of the email, please provide an explanation of why you chose to do the project, an outline of steps you took to get it done, and any advice for readers considering similar projects. Make sure to include your name and any before/after images you have! 

2: Email your story to [email protected].

And that’s it! Easy, right? If selected, your story will be shared as an article on Freshome!

The post How I Extended My Driveway – Reader Story appeared first on Freshome.com.

Wifi vs Walls: Why Historic Homes Have Terrible Connections and How to Fix It



If you live in an old or historic home, you may have noticed it can be difficult to get a WiFi signal, or certain rooms have almost no signal at all. This may be true in rooms located far away from your WiFi router, but in some historic homes, it’s often difficult getting a signal just down the hall.

If you’ve ensured your router is in working order — and your internet isn’t otherwise down — the culprit may not be your internet connection at all; it could be your home itself. The reality is, old and historic homes tend to have poor internet connections due to the materials that were used to build the walls.

While every material can block a WiFi signal to some extent, homes built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are built from much sturdier (and less economical) materials than today’s homes. Modern homes are also designed with wiring in mind, which makes it easier to install home internet connections like cable internet or even fiber-optic internet.

If you’re fed up with your poor WiFi connection in your older home, you don’t have to sell it to solve the problem. Luckily, there are a few solutions you can implement to fix the problem.

What’s in your home’s walls and why it’s disrupting your WiFi signal

Certain types of materials used in the construction of older homes are particularly non-conducive to WiFi signals.  While many homeowners know that there will be issues with buying homes built in the 1800s, not everyone is aware of the effects that building materials have on WiFi signals.

For example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Board of Fire Underwriters led a campaign in the 1900s and 1910s that “encouraged development of new materials and products treated or made with asphalt, metal, gypsum, plastic and asbestos.” In the 1920s and 1930s, “New products included batt insulation (some with aluminum or copper reflective faces), advanced plastics, perforated acoustical tiles, and Plexiglas.”

Unfortunately, many of these types of materials have had the added effect of disrupting WiFi signals. If you don’t know what materials were used to build your home, reach out to the previous homeowners or the realtor who sold you the home to learn more.

Here are some of the most common materials found in an older home that disrupt WiFi signals — and why.

Metal Plaster Lath

Metal lath is a type of mesh formed by expanding a perforated metal sheet (sometimes chicken wire is used in its place). In older homes and in some modern ones, it was used in plaster to support and act as a framework for interior walls. It was also sometimes used to pour concrete ceilings and floors.

Unfortunately, this metal lath acts almost like a shield, disrupting high-frequency radio signals (WiFi). If your interior walls include this material, you may have trouble finding a WiFi signal in rooms that are separated from your WiFi router.

As we will see, metal is perhaps the most disruptive home building material for WiFi. Metal conducts electricity and magnetism, and it absorbs radio waves.

Metal Stucco Lath

Stucco systems are often used for exterior walls, and the same metal lath system might be used as a framework or support. Like the metal wiring used in plaster lath, the metal wiring in stucco lath can also block wireless signals.

Foil Insulation

Foil can make a good insulator because of its reflective properties. This is part of the reason why NASA uses so much foil on its spacecraft. But as an insulator, foil has fallen out of favor for more affordable options like fiberglass, cellulose and foam.

Along with its reflective properties, foil can also disrupt a wireless signal. Foil could be your problem if you’re having trouble getting online in your historic home.

Steel Girders

Steel girders are most often used to build large structures like bridges and skyscrapers. They may also be present in old apartment buildings and condos. Nonetheless, they are also used in residential properties as support beams, and some mid-century modern (MCM) buildings incorporate them into their design aesthetic.

Like other types of metal, steel girders and beams can disrupt WiFi signals.

Metal Ductwork

Metal ductwork is used in HVAC applications. That is, they are a permanent solution for transferring hot and cold air from one place to another. They may also be used for exhaust purposes, such as if a property has a wood stove.

Metal ductwork can interfere with WiFi, just like other metals. Furthermore, air conditioners and other motored appliances can interfere with a WiFi signal as well.

Steel Reinforced Concrete

To reinforce concrete, a steel skeleton is laid down before the concrete is poured, so the two materials act together in resisting forces. Because of its durability, steel-reinforced concrete is most often used in the construction of bridges and large buildings, but they may be present in some homes or apartment buildings.

The steel skeletons used to reinforce the concrete can disrupt WiFi signals, just like metal lath.

Water or Other Liquids

Not many walls are made of water (unless you have a particularly large fish tank in your home), but water running through pipes can sometimes interrupt WiFi signals as well. Other water features, like swimming pools, may also prove troublesome to your WiFi signal, depending on where they are located.

How does the era of the home impact your internet signal?

You don’t need to take a sledgehammer to your walls to find out what’s inside of them. Contacting your realtor or a previous homeowner is a good idea, but you can also estimate which materials were used based on the era in which your home was built.

Homes from the Antebellum and Victorian Eras may not include many metal components — unless they’ve been retrofitted with them. But during and after the Edwardian Era, you can expect more homes to be outfitted with wiring and other metal mesh products.

The Antebellum Era

1815 – 1861

In America, the Antebellum Era was a period before the start of the American Civil War in 1861. According to the Chicago Tribune, Antebellum homes “were built with walls that were four to six inches thick, offering substantial insulation.” Palatial plantations of this period were often built with wood and brick, adding to the thickness of the walls. The brick and thickness of the walls could significantly impact WiFi signals.

The Victorian Era

1837 – 1901

Victorian-style homes were most often built with brick and mortar and included plank or slate roofing.  While thick brick walls can drastically reduce a WiFi signal, so can lath, which was used extensively during this time. Victoria-era homes were often constructed using lath made from wood and chicken wire, a metal material that can also interfere with a signal.

The Edwardian Era

1901 – 1910 (or 1914)

Although the Edwardian Era was short, it led to some significant changes in homebuilding. This was the era in which new buildings in urban areas began to be outfitted with electric wiring and plumbing. This meant more metal components were being used in Edwardian homes, in addition to traditional materials like brick, mortar and cut timber.

The Modernist Era

1918 – mid-20th century

Modernist building materials are similar to the ones you might expect to find in a home today. Concrete, glass, steel, and aluminum were all characteristic of this period. Unfortunately, many homes built during this period contain materials that can disrupt the WiFi signal. During the 1950s and 1960s, foil-wrapped insulation was used frequently when building homes. The heavy use of foil can drastically affect the strength of a WiFi signal.

Options for extending your WiFi signal

Placing your router to get a better signal

If you don’t want to rip apart your home, you can try moving your router to a better spot.

Some people don’t realize that where they place their router plays a big role in the strength of their WiFi signal. Your router broadcasts the signal in a radius of about 100 feet or more. The further away you are from it, the weaker the signal will be.

If possible, place your router in the room where you are most likely to use the internet. If you use your WiFi signal in multiple rooms, try to place your router in a central location — like a foyer — so the signal reaches every room equally.

One strategy you could try is to place the router in your basement, so it only needs to penetrate wooden floors. However, according to CNET, “routers tend to spread signal downward, so it’s best to mount the router as high as possible to maximize coverage.” You could, therefore, place your router on a wooden bookshelf or cabinet, away from any metal objects, to get the best signal.

Research your router to determine just how far it can broadcast. You should also look at documentation about your internet service provider and your internet package.

If your internet is slow, it may be related to the type of internet you have and the package you’ve purchased. Satellite, wireless and DSL internet are typically much slower than cable and fiber-optic internet, and cheaper plans usually come with slower speeds. If your internet services aren’t meeting your needs, it may be time to switch to a new provider with a reputation for fast speed and reliability.

Other options for extending your WiFi signal

If moving your router doesn’t suffice and you don’t want to renovate your home, invest in technologies that enhance or extend your WiFi signal. Here are a few of the tools you should consider:

Wireless Repeaters

Wireless repeaters rebroadcast an existing WiFi signal to a small area with the same level of quality. They’re perfect if you just want to extend your WiFi network to a single room. However, they tend to increase the time it takes for your WiFi network to respond to a request (latency).

Wireless Range Extenders

A range extender works similarly to a repeater. However, it broadcasts on a different wireless channel than your router, essentially creating a new WiFi network. Some extenders work with electrical sockets, sending your internet signal over your home’s own electric wiring, from the router to plugged-in extender.

Wireless Network Extenders

An extender is the most reliable type of WiFi booster. Instead of using a signal or your home’s wiring system, it plugs directly into your router to carry your WiFi signal to a different location. Unfortunately, this also means you may have an unsightly wire extending through your home.

Hiding Your Technology

Some of these devices are unsightly, but there are a few tricks to keep them hidden. Small devices like repeaters can be hidden in cabinets, under desks, or on top of bookshelves. You could even place your router inside fake books to keep it hidden. Otherwise, consider concealing your technology with houseplants or furniture.

What to consider when renovating

If you’re considering a renovation of your home, you may have an opportunity to remove or replace some of the materials that are blocking your WiFi signal. You may be tempted to do the renovation yourself if you have the skills. Before you start, there are a few things to consider.

First, a large-scale and structural renovation — including taking a sledgehammer to your wall — may require an inspection of your home before and afterward to ensure it’s safe. You’ll also need to comply with local laws and ordinances, or even zoning laws if you intend to make additions to your home.

When handling wiring, fiberglass insulation or other dangerous materials in your home, it’s best to work with a professional. It may even be required by law in some cases.

Minor renovations, like removing superficial objects like cabinets or railings, can typically be done by anyone. But if you’re attempting to boost your WiFi signal in an old home, you’ll likely need to go into your walls.

Wiring your old house for WiFi

Just because you live in an old house, doesn’t mean you have to settle for a poor WiFi signal. While renovations and re-wiring may not always be realistic, you can boost your WiFi signal by implementing some of these tips and tricks. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to contact a contractor to help you optimize your home for WiFi.

The post Wifi vs Walls: Why Historic Homes Have Terrible Connections and How to Fix It appeared first on Freshome.com.

Goodman Heating and Cooling

air conditioner - ducts

Your return grills, or the covers on your vents, could be to blame for your A/C issues. Image: Mile Atanasov/Shutterstock

Goodman Heating and Cooling

Since 1982, Goodman Heating and Cooling has produced quality, American-built home comfort technology, selling reliable air conditioners, heat pumps, and gas furnaces. In 2012, the Daikin Group purchased Goodman to add to their suite of products.

Goodman products

Expanding from air conditioners and heat pumps, Goodman’s products now run the gamut of heating and cooling machinery, including home accessories and temperature-monitoring tools.

Gas Furnaces

Goodman’s gas furnaces fall into two categories: those that are rated 90% AFUE and above and those that are rated 80% AFUE. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency; the higher the rating, the more efficient the system.

Systems in the top-rated category include the GMVM97, rated 98% AFUE, and the popular GCVVC96, which boasts 96% AFUE.

The GMVM97 is an upflow horizontal modulating gas model at 60,000-120,000BTU/H, equipped with a heat exchanger constructed with life-tough tubular aluminized steel. This model has CoolCloud capabilities, allowing technicians to diagnose problems and configure systems electronically through an app. It also features ComfortBridge technology, which continuously monitors system performance. The cabinet is fully insulated to minimize noise and air leakage. This unit runs about $2,500.

The GCVC96 is a mid-range model with a downflow horizontal configuration that also features CoolCloud and ComfortBridge technologies. It’s capable of 40,000-120,000BTU/H. It has a two-stage gas valve for efficiency and quiet performance and costs about $2,100.

In the 80% AFUE category, Goodman offers the GMES80-U. This single-stage gas furnace puts out 40,000-80,000 BTU/H and comes with a multi-speed blower motor. It’s compliant with Ultra-Low NOx emissions to minimize a home’s environmental footprint and costs about $1,200.

Goodman Air Conditioners

Just like furnaces, air conditioners are categorized based on output and efficiency, but rather than AFUE, AC units are rated in terms of SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER rating system tops out at 21 SEER, with a rating of 14.5 SEER or higher necessary to qualify for an ENERGY STAR rating.

At the top end of Goodman air conditioners is the GSXC18. Offering up to 19 SEER, this model is capable of 24,000-60,000 BTU/H. It features Smart Speed technology, which amps up the power for extremely hot days but runs at lower speeds at other times to maximize energy savings. A heavy-gauge, galvanized steel enclosure cabinet protects the unit from the elements, while a sound blanket reduces noise. The unit costs around $3,200.

With a slightly smaller capacity, the 18,000-60,000BTU/H GSX14 offers up 15 SEER. It runs with a single-speed condenser fan motor for consistent and quiet airflow and maximizes temperature transfer with premium copper tubing and aluminum fin condenser coils. This unit costs about $1,600.

Goodman Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can heat and cool homes by extracting warm air from one area and transferring it to another. Goodman’s heat pumps feature louvered coil guards that protect the outside unit from the elements and factory-installed filter drivers that minimize contaminants.

Goodman offers heat pump models that achieve up to 19 SEER, like the GSZC18, which can heat up to 59,500 BTU/H and cool up to 56,500 BTU/H. Equipped with a high-density foam sound blanket on the compressor, the unit is quiet and costs around $3,200.

The GSZ14 offers up to 15 SEER and comes with a single-speed condenser motor and SmartShift technology. It provides heating and cooling capacities up to 60,000 BTU/H and costs around $1,600.

Goodman Packaged Systems

Goodman offers some packaged units, meaning the whole unit is placed outside the home, such as air conditioners. GPC14H, 14M, and GPC15H packaged air conditioners reach 14-15 SEER ratings and offer both horizontal and multi-position installation. They can reach 57,500 BTU/H and range from 2-5 tons, costing around $2,000.

Efficient electric heating can come in a package, too. Goodman’s GPH16M and 16H packaged heat pumps boast ENERGY STAR certification and up to 58,000 BTU/H. Two-stage scroll compressors and multi-speed blower motors provide plenty of power in a compact unit. Prices vary, but the 2-ton GPH1624M41 is available for $3,200.

In climates where both heating and cooling are required, gas-electric furnace/air conditioner packaged units are beneficial. Combining the efficiency and affordability of gas heat with electric cooling power, the $4,400 GPG16M offers up to 16 SEER and 81% AFUE. It’s capable of 58,500 BTU/H cooling and 140,000 BTU/H heating with a downflow or horizontal application.

The GPD14 is a dual-fuel packaged unit that offers efficiency by using gas or electric heating power, depending on what’s most economical. It provides up to 14.5 SEER and 81% AFUE and has multi-position installation capability, all for $3,100.

Goodman Warranties

The length and breadth of Goodman’s warranties vary by unit. For example, the GPG16M comes with a 20-year limited warranty and 10-year parts warranty, while the GPC14H is covered only by a 10-year parts warranty.

The GMVM97 comes with a limited lifetime warranty for the original, registered homeowner. If the heat exchanger gives up within 10 years, Goodman will replace the whole unit. The GMES80-U gas model is also backed by a replacement warranty; if the heat exchanger fails within 10 years, Goodman will cover its replacement.

Goodman Reviews

Reviews offer valuable insight into specific aspects of Goodman’s units. You can find reviews on Goodman’s website at the bottom of each product page, as well as on various online sites selling Goodman products. Reviews offer information on issues like customer support, product longevity, quietness, and effectiveness, helping you make the best choice for your needs.

Goodman’s customers often rave about great warranties, product effectiveness, and longevity, though reviews are mixed when it comes to unit noise.

The post Goodman Heating and Cooling appeared first on Freshome.com.

Mediacom Internet: Reviews, Pricing, & Performance

Man searching best home internet

GaudiLab / Shutterstock

Mediacom Internet

Mediacom is one of the prominent Midwest and Southeastern internet service providers, available in 21 states and serving well over six million customers. Providing high-speed broadband internet through a cable network, Mediacom offers six internet packages along with digital cable TV and phone services.

If you live in the Midwest or South, Mediacom may provide internet connectivity to your area where other providers don’t, making them the obvious choice. With a range of internet packages from low speed to high, the company allows its customers to choose the plan that suits them best. Furthermore, customers who live in an area covered by Mediacom’s Xtream Hotspots can also get connected outside their homes.

Mediacom internet packages

Mediacom’s internet plans vary in four key areas:

  • Download speed
  • Upload speed
  • Usage allowance, also known as a data cap
  • Price

Uploads and downloads are measured in Megabits per second, or Mbps, representing how fast data can transfer from the internet to your computer or vice versa. Usage allowance is the maximum amount of data you are allowed to transfer each month, usually measured in Gigabytes, or GB.

Access 60

  • Designed for light internet usage
  • Downloads up to 60 Mbps
  • Uploads up to 5 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 60 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 60

  • Designed for 2-3 simultaneous devices
  • Downloads up to 60 Mbps
  • Uploads up to 5 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 400 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 100

  • Designed for 3-6 simultaneous devices
  • Downloads up to 100 Mbps
  • Uploads up to 10 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 1,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 200

  • Designed for 6-12 simultaneous devices
  • Maximum download: 200 Mbps
  • Maximum upload: 20 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 2,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 500

  • Designed for 12-20 simultaneous devices
  • Maximum download: 500 Mbps
  • Maximum upload: up to 30 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 4,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 1 GIG

  • Designed for more than 20 simultaneous devices
  • Maximum download: 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)
  • Maximum upload: up to 50 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 6,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Mediacom availability

Mediacom offers internet plans in many Midwest and Southern states, as well as select states in the West. The states that Mediacom serves are listed below:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Mediacom also offers WiFi connectivity through Xtream Hotspots available in seven markets:

  • Alabama – Gulf Shores
  • Arizona – Apache Junction
  • Georgia – Valdosta
  • Illinois – Quad Cities, Galena
  • Iowa – Des Moines, Dubuque
  • Minnesota – Savage
  • Missouri – Columbia, Jefferson City

Mediacom features

Besides basic connectivity to the internet, Mediacom packages include other features. Some are included free and others are available at an extra charge.

In-home WiFi

Routers supplied by Mediacom provide WiFi service inside your home, although coverage for larger homes may require an upgrade to the Xtream WiFi 360 package. Although there is no additional charge for the WiFi service, the modem/router fee is currently $11.50 per month. Subscribers may purchase their own modem/router as long as it is compatible with Mediacom’s system.

Xtream WiFi 360

Designed to give your home WiFi connection a boost, Xtream WiFi 360 uses extenders to amplify your WiFi signal and give fast, consistent service throughout your whole home. While there are promotions available to provide this service free of charge for a limited time, the standard rate is $5.00 per month.

Total Defense security suite

Available at no charge, Total Defense protects up to five personal devices, computers or Android mobile devices, with anti-spam, anti-spyware and anti-virus applications and personal firewall, anti-phishing and parental controls.

Xtream Hotspots

Mediacom hosts hundreds of WiFi hotspots, allowing subscribers unlimited access and users without a Mediacom internet plan free access for 30 minutes per month.

Additional usage allowance

While each Mediacom internet plan does have a data cap, users may add more capacity at a $10 charge per 50 GB.

Additional pricing information

While some new subscribers can install their modem themselves, a standard installation by Mediacom includes a $99.99 fee. Some installations require a Mediacom-approved professional. All new customers must also pay a $10 one-time activation fee.

The post Mediacom Internet: Reviews, Pricing, & Performance appeared first on Freshome.com.

Best Pella Replacement Windows

Table with windows in background for pella

S_Photo / Shuttershock

Keeping a home comfortable in all seasons and weather conditions is the goal of every homeowner. This often means installing efficient HVAC systems, like furnaces and air conditioners. But old or porous windows can render even the most high-quality HVAC system ineffective and cost you money. So before you open your wallet to replace your furnace or air conditioner, consider upgrading your windows.

That’s where Pella replacement windows come in. The company, which is headquartered in Pella, Iowa, has been selling window products since 1925. Pella has become a leader in the industry, installing millions of replacement windows. They feature several series of windows that use wood, fiberglass, and vinyl to meet a variety of household needs.

Here’s a break-down of the different replacement windows Pella has to offer:

Pella Replacement Windows Series

  • The Architect Series® (wood)

The architect series is a line of windows built to the specifications of standard architecture. These windows can vary, but they typically comply with industry norms allowing for easy replacement in homes built under these standards. These windows can comply with the spectrum of home designs, from classical homes to modern, as long as the home was built using industry standards.

  • Pella Lifestyle Series (wood)

Pella’s Lifestyle series is a wood window product and is one of the highest-ranked offerings due to energy efficiency, value, beauty, and noise-dampening features (based on published STC/OITC and U-Factor ratings). Pella Lifestyle series’ wood windows reduce heat escape up to 79%, qualifying them as an Energy Star rated product. The materials are also designed to muffle outside noise, reducing noise up to 51%, keeping your home quiet as well as comfortable. The Lifestyle series is designed to be modular to accommodate a home’s evolving need for new features, like blinds, shades and window treatments.

  • Pella Impervia (fiberglass)

The Pella Impervia series of fiberglass windows are incredibly strong, durable, and energy-efficient. Impervia is made of five layers of Duracast material which can withstand extreme weather and temperatures. The fiberglass can be molded to resemble wood grain and can be painted to match any decor.

  • Pella 350 Series (vinyl)

The Pella 350 series offers triple pane windows which provide 54% to 83% more energy efficiency than single-pane windows. The 350 series uses InsulShield Advanced Low-E glass with argon, which is designed to reduce radiant heat and ultraviolet light entering the home via sunlight. This helps to control the fluctuations of heating and cooling inside the home.

The vinyl frames offer more insulation than a standard vinyl window, which increases performance. These vinyl frames also hide the welds and beveled edges for a more aesthetic look. The vinyl frames come in a variety of colors to match or accent a home’s interior. These windows are also sturdy and designed to withstand extreme weather, and include HurricaneShield impact-resistant glass.

  • Pella 250 Series

The Pella 250 series is their vinyl option for double or triple-paned windows. The sash and corner welds are designed to be less visible than typical vinyl windows, increasing their smooth aesthetic. The 250 series comes standard with Low-E InsulShield glass, which increases energy efficiency and filters ultraviolet rays. The vinyl allows for a wide spectrum of colors to match or enhance a home’s decor. These windows are made with a multi-pane design to reduce noise. These windows are built with Autolock that latches upon closing for convenience.

  • Pella Impervia (fiberglass)

Pella’s Impervia line is made from Pella’s five-layer composite Duracast fiberglass, which both helps to resist warping and provides insulation to withstand extreme weather. Impervia window frames are powder-coated and can be painted to match a home’s decor. The Impervia series meets Energy Star standards.

  • Pella Encompass

Pella’s Encompass series is an Energy Star-rated product designed for efficiency and durability. This line is made of pre-colored vinyl so the colors don’t fade or peel. These windows are also hardened to resist dings, scratches, and dents. This line includes multi-chambered frames that allow for high-efficiency insulation, strength, and performance.

Pella Replacement Windows Cost

The cost of replacing your windows with Pella products can vary based on product type and the scope of the project. The best way to understand Pella replacement window costs is to request a quote.

Pella Replacement Windows Longevity

Pella vinyl windows last about 15-30 years, depending on series and materials. Wood frames may require periodic painting.

Pella Replacement Windows Warranty

Pella windows have a non-transferable limited lifetime warranty, which you can read about on their website.

Pella Replacement Windows Reviews

Consumer Affairs gives Pella an overall satisfaction rating of 3.5 stars (out of five). This rating is based on 465 reviews submitted in the past year. Positive reviews praised Pella’s quick and detailed installation and customer service. Some reviewers who had problems with their Pella products said the company did a great job of identifying the issues and expediting replacements. But some negative reviews cited product deterioration and unexpected costs as causes for concern.

More About Replacement Window Installation

When deciding what replacement windows are best for your house, it’s important to first understand the important considerations surrounding replacement windows. When building a new home, windows can be customized to fit the home’s specific needs. But when a window needs to be replaced, installation can be trickier. Replacement windows must be able to fit in the existing window opening.

There are two methods of fitting a replacement window into the window opening: pocket installation and full-frame installation:

Pocket Installation

Pocket installation is when the replacement window fits easily into the existing frame. This method only requires that the window sash is replaced, demanding little labor and time.

Full-Frame Installation

Full-frame replacement is more involved. Full-frame requires that the entire frame is removed, including the trim and insulation. This method allows for more flexibility. Once the trim is removed, there are more options to replace the window. This method is more costly, however, due to increased labor and material costs.

But either method can add value to a home, increase efficiency, and improve aesthetics.

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