Lights, Action: How To Set Up A Smart Lighting System That Changes Your Home

Smart lighting is not only a way to make your home more secure, it also makes everyday living easier: from working to entertaining to relaxing.

If your home has an internet connection, you can install smart lights easily – swapping out your bulbs or by replacing entire fittings – and interact with them via apps on your phone, or with voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Home.

Then, you can able to switch lights on or off, change the colour or temperature of the light, and automate a schedule without ever touching the switch.

Before you buy, there are various things to consider when choosing smart lights.

First, identify your goal

The smart lights you purchase will ultimately depend on what you want to accomplish in your home. With so many options available on the market, this could mean anything from making your home more secure while you’re on holiday to creating a sci-fi home of the future.

When identifying your goal, also take into consideration smart accessories you might purchase in the future.

For example, if your goal is to wake up refreshed and well rested and you want a smart light that simulates a sunrise, you might want to pick one that integrates easily with those more expensive smart blinds you might buy down the line.

But if you’re just looking for a porch light that you can switch on remotely for security and access, you can pare things back a little.

Choose the kind of bulbs you need

Will you need strip lights or spotlights? Bulbs or lamps? Smart lights can be installed in existing fixtures, but may not be compatible with older ones.

Like normal bulbs, most smart lights now come with screw and Edison (bayonet) caps, so double-check before you buy.

It’s also worth noting that because smart lights are modern LED’s and can be dimmed via the app, they do not work with traditional dimmer switches and you may hear a slight buzzing from your switch if you install a bulb and don’t set the dimmer to maximum.

This is not harmful, but can be a little annoying, so you might want to swap out the switch.

Start small – go big later

If you’re just starting out with smart lights, it’s a good idea to purchase one bulb from a well-known company, and see how you go.

This is down to a few reasons, including expense. If your goal is a smart home, you don’t want to invest a lot of money in one system only for it to go wrong later on. You might hate the app, or it might not work with the accessories or voice assistants you want.

There are many low-cost smart lights available from smaller companies on marketplaces like eBay or Amazon. These are tempting, but are often far lower quality and you run the risk of having less support.

Decide on a hub – or no hub

Some smart lighting systems, such as Philips Hue and IKEA, work via a central wireless hub. The app or your voice assistant talks to the hub, which then controls all the lights.

This is usually a less expensive option, as most of the smart technology is contained within the hub, but it does mean there are more devices to set up at the outset.

You can also purchase bulbs that, while more expensive, don’t require you to install an additional hub. This means the light itself is connected to your internet, and talks to the app as well as functioning as a light.

This may be dictated by your long-term ambitions – if you’re just installing one or two bulbs, the latter technology is fine. But if you’re building out a fully integrated smart home, it’s best to invest in the hub as the cost of expansion will be minimal.

Install your smart lights

Your lights should come with comprehensive instructions, but if you’re not tech-savvy or need a bird’s eye view it can be helpful to know the broad steps involved.

Before you begin, make sure your internet is on and you have your smartphone and your wifi password handy.

Bear in mind many smart devices connect to 2.4GHz networks, which may have a different username and password to the one you use for phone and internet. These can usually be found on the bottom of your router.

If you’ve chosen smart lighting with a hub, this is normally installed first: plug it in and switch it on, then download any necessary apps to your phone.

Finding the hub on your phone is usually done either via Bluetooth or your wifi, so you may be asked to enter your password.

Once your hub is up and running, install your lights. This should be just like swapping out a normal bulb. Switch it on, and follow the instructions to let your hub or smartphone find the lights.

Once your app has confirmed the light is working, you’ll be able to control it. Setting up your smart light with your voice assistant should be straightforward, so look to these services for more information.

Finally: a note on accessibility for your loved ones

Smart lights are changing the world for many people. If you have elderly relatives or loved ones who find flipping a physical switch difficult because of visual and/or motor delays, turning the lights on with their voice might help save trips and falls, giving them dignity and independence as well as safety.

Apps have improved in recent years, but still may not be a feasible way of turning on the lights for some people. In this case, it might be a good idea to purchase a separate voice assistant such as Google Home or Alexa, and ensure the smart lights are compatible.

Smart lights are a great solution which can improve everyone’s lives, but finding the right one for you isn’t always easy with so many options on the market. Which one you go for will depend on what you want to do with it, and how much you’re willing to spend.


Talk to the team with any of your House Insurance questions.

One of the key benefits of using a broker for your home insurance is that you can call us with any of your queries and  get immediate expert advice from independent trained professionals. So, if you have any queries regarding your home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.

You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the insurance market to get you the right cover for your individual requirements.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Your Heating System Can Affect Your Home Insurance Premium – Here’s How

Depending on where you live and what this winter has been like, your radiators are probably now switched on – and maybe have been for the last couple of months.

Heating keeps you, your family, your pets and your plants comfortable, and you may be aware that having the heating on at least a little will help the overall health of your home when it comes to preventing mould and burst pipes.

But did you know your heating system can affect your home insurance policy? Read on to find out how, and what you can do to reduce the likelihood of making a claim – and, consequently, keep your premium in check.

Why does my home insurance company care about my heating system?

Your home insurance looks at how you heat your home to help measure the risk of insuring your property. Depending on what heating system you have, the type of fuel used can increase the frequency or severity of a claim.

For example, with oil-based heating systems there is the chance of an oil leak – which is extremely costly to clean up and disastrous to your garden, especially if the oil leaks into your water and soil.

Why could the heating system I use increase my home insurance premiums?

Put simply, faulty or mismanaged heating systems are one of the leading causes of house fires.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that this can have an effect on your home insurance rates, especially if you have an outdated system.

Not only that, but ineffective heating could cause pipes to freeze during winter, which leads to cracks, bursts and leaks which may cause terrible damage to your home and possessions.

Solid fuel can be a lot more dangerous than electricity or gas, and wood stoves, fireplaces, and even oil based heating systems could increase your exposure to fire risk and may cause you to pay more on your home insurance premiums.

Get it solved – the big solution

The best, but most expensive, way of solving this problem is – unsurprisingly – replacing your entire heating system from the boiler to the radiators, and everything in between.

Of course, this isn’t something you’re going to do simply to reduce your premiums; you’ll do it to save money, achieve a better BER rating (which could increase the value of your home), enjoy a more comfortable home and to be more environmentally friendly.

But if you were to do all this, well, the lower home insurance premiums would certainly serve as icing on the cake – and would be one of many ways through which you’d recoup your investment.

Always tell your insurance company about any changes you plan to make to your home, and it’s a great idea to ask them if they have any recommendations or advice to keep home insurance premiums to a minimum.

Other things to do

If swapping out your entire heating system is a no-go for now, there are other smaller, but no less important tasks you can get done to ensure your heating system is efficient and safe.

  1. Clean your chimneys. Cosy fireplace or wood burning stove? Soot and debris can catch fire easily. Get in a professional chimney sweep to do the job, and also check your chimney for birds and small animals escaping the cold.
  2. Insulate pipes. Water expands when it freezes, and if ice bursts your pipes, this can cause leaks and water damage to your property. Insulate outdoor taps and store hosepipes and sprinkler systems; clad interior pipes and turn on taps a little – just a steady drip, and only during cold snaps – to keep water flowing.
  3. Update windows and insulation. Keeping your attic snug and stopping heat escaping from windows by investing in double glazing or insulated curtains will stop you turning up the heat as much – which will lessen the risk of fire or flood, and lower your bills.

Basic home heating safety

Of course keeping home insurance premiums down is always good, but even the most up-to-date heating systems can be dangerous if used improperly. Always observe basic safety to ensure you never have to make a claim – or, worse, to keep your home and family safe.

Keep flammable items at least three feet away from heating equipment like furnaces, fireplaces or portable space heaters and put up guards for pets and kids around open fires. Never use your oven to heat your home, and plug only one heater into an individual socket at a time.

Always turn off space heaters and blow out candles when leaving any room, and test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms monthly.

If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, make sure ashes are cool before putting them into a covered, metal container – and ashes should never be put into a plastic container. Keep the containers a safe distance from your home (or use the ash in the garden as a natural fertiliser, provided you’re sufficiently far from the back door!).

Never forget heating your home is an essential part of property safety and maintenance, so keeping it in good working order should always be a priority.

Heating systems can affect your home insurance policy more than you think – but more important than keeping costs low is keeping you, your property and your family safe this winter.

Talk to us in with any of your home insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding your home insurance or if you have queries around your current or potentially new heating systems please feel free to call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the right cover for your specific needs.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Picking Up The Phone Could Get You A Better Deal On Your Home Insurance – Here’s How

We don’t take it personally – not everyone likes picking up the phone. But when it comes to renewing your home insurance policy, taking the plunge and talking to a real live human could get you money off, valuable advice, and more.

In this article, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  • Should I buy home insurance online or over the phone?
  • What are the benefits of buying insurance over the phone?
  • Buying insurance over the phone vs online – which is best?

In the old days, there were fewer options for buying insurance. Now, with the internet, smartphone apps, and better postal systems, it’s easier to buy without talking to a person. But face-to-face can still bring rewards: here’s why.

You’ll get our Home Insurance expertise – free

Give us a call and you’ll be talking to a qualified home insurance advisor, who has been trained to handle your queries. Not only can they advise you on the best deal, they can answer most of your questions.

You may think you have two options when you want to know more about how insurance works: Google it, or pay an hourly rate for an expert consultation. But there’s a third option – pick up the phone! We won’t sell you anything you’re not happy with, and you may come away with valuable insight.

Spot the difference

Even if you can compare two or more policies online, these comparison tables are often biased, hidden behind a paywall, or don’t tell the full story.

Ring up our advisors and they can tell you about the differences in cover between the various policies and tailor all advice to your individual circumstances. Maybe you have a houseboat or your neighbour fell foul of an insurance loophole and you want to check you’ll be okay.

If it’s not obvious online or anywhere else, our experts can help you pick the right policy, every time.

Save a ton of cash

Insurance companies want your loyalty – for the simple reason that it costs them more to win new customers than keep existing ones.

So it doesn’t make sense to charge through the roof for policies that you’re going to need long-term – they’d much rather have your loyalty. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s interest to get you the best deal possible.

You can’t always do this online, and if you can, you might miss it. Over the phone, we can go through every deal we have on the books. We’ll make sure to apply all the discounts you’re qualified for.

It may even be that a special deal is about to happen in a couple of days. We could advise you to put it off until then and save money, depending on your circumstances. You’ll never know if you don’t phone.

Keep it accurate

How many times has your name been misspelled on an envelope? It’s frustrating, and often a hassle. Mistakes like that rarely happen over the phone.

A common misconception is that if you have a name that’s hard to spell, it’s more likely to be misheard over the phone. But, when you’re talking to a real person, you can spell it out and double-check to make sure. The advisor can also ask clarifying questions.

This also means we can correctly match your address. For instance, Axa will not quote if they can’t find you – so if you live somewhere where addresses are an issue this is a headache you can easily avoid.

All in all, when you ring up and talk to us in real life, you’ll be treated as a person. The conversation will flow. You may think of questions you need to ask, or get advice from our experts you wouldn’t have thought would matter. We can explain things to you more thoroughly, and give you peace of mind about your insurance.

Everybody loves a good natter – so why not call today?

Talk to us in with any of your home insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding your home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the right cover for you.  We look forward to hearing from you.

The Best Smart Doorbells To Make Your Home Safe And Secure

Modern smart doorbell systems keep your home secure by alerting you to visitors on your property, showing you pictures and videos of who’s at your door, and making your home appear occupied.

You may find systems with bells and whistles which seem like they make your home safer, but which might prove a sunk cost if you just need the basics.

There are many options on the market, so finding the doorbell you need will ultimately depend on your budget, as well as the goal you have in mind.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

The Ring is one of the most well-known video doorbells on the market. Amazon acquired Ring in 2018, so it now works perfectly with Alexa.

Ring can alert you to motion and noise, record audio and video, and let you have two-way conversations with your visitors. The doorbell camera is a high resolution 1080p, and can run from a wired mains connection or a rechargeable battery, letting you position it wherever it looks best.

Optional extras include a musical chime, and the ability to store your videos in the cloud for £25 a year. If you don’t purchase this option you’ll only get to watch them live, which is fine for most cases but may prove unfortunate if you happen to record a crime.

Perfect for: people with Alexa

Price: €199

Where to buy:

Nest Hello

Nest is one of Google’s most recent acquisitions, so this video doorbell works best with Google Home.

With 1080p video, night vision and a 160-degree field of view this doorbell is already a great investment, but it also comes superpowered with Google’s motion detection intelligence: basically, it’s better at telling apart a person from an animal or a moving tree branch, for example.

The Nest Hello is also equipped with facial recognition, so it can send tailored notifications when friends or family are at the door. Like Ring, you’ll need to pay if you want your video recordings stored in the cloud.

Perfect for: people who want to know exactly who’s at the door

Price: €279

Where to buy:

Byron Wifi Video Doorbell

Byron is a heritage name in doorbells, so it’s exciting to see its first development into smart doorbells is such a solid contender.

Key functionality such as two-way audio (to say hello to your visitors or appear that you’re home when you’re not) and 1080p video is all here, and the Byron even features motion detection.

The wireless version is easier to install but the video is only 720p – meaning the resolution is lower, so the clarity is slightly less than you’d get from other models – and there is no subscription service available. You can back up your video to the included memory card, or save them to cloud services like Dropbox.

Perfect for: beginners looking for a cheap solution

Price: €150

Where to buy:–23112uk

The Ring Door View Cam

Are you renting? If so, this is the wireless doorbell for you. It’s wireless, with battery-only installation, and it fits over your existing peephole with no drilling required.

As with other products from Ring you’ve got 1080p video and two-way audio, as well as the trusted Ring app which works with Alexa. It has built-in night vision and knock detection, and it’s also possible to set privacy zones that the doorbell will not record. This is great if you have close neighbours with kids, or don’t want too much identifying information on your vehicle or property stored in the cloud.

Perfect for: people who rent their home

Price: €199

Where to buy:

Arlo Audio Doorbell

If you have impaired vision or simply aren’t bothered about having video capability, the Arlo audio-only doorbell is a cost-effective option. It lets you have two-way conversations with your visitors, get alerts to your phone when someone is outside, and set up answer machine-like customised replies.

Rolling 7-day cloud storage is included in the price, and you also have the option to pair it with an Arlo security camera for extra safety and functionality.

Perfect for: audio only, no bells and whistles

Price: €94.99

Where to buy:

August Cam Pro

This smart doorbell has a light that switches on when motion is detected, which deters would-be  burglars as well as allowing the camera to record colour video at night.

Another interesting feature is that it adds buffers to video recordings: this means an extra few seconds of video before it detects motion or a button press.

Motion detection is via infrared, meaning it’s less sensitive to passing vehicles or trees in the wind, and August also offers free video storage in the cloud for 24 hours – but it does need to be hardwired.

When it comes to video doorbells, these gadgets keep your home safe as well as providing you a handy way to get the delivery driver to hold on for two more minutes while you get out of the shower.

While you can’t go wrong with extra bells and whistles, it may be possible to save some money if you don’t need extra functionality.

Perfect for: extra night-time security

Price: $199

Where to buy:

Talk to us in with any of your house insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding home insurance or any questions regarding smart doorbell or security systems and if and how they may impact your insurance, please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our house Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to helping you find the best insurance cover for your needs.

Here’s The Information We Need To Quote For Home Insurance – And Why We Ask For It

When we’re putting together a home insurance quote for you, we only ever ask for the information we need. Even if our questions might seem a bit odd on first glance, we need every single one to put together your quote.

If you click to get a home insurance quote through, you might be wondering:

  • Why does my insurance company need to know how long I’ve lived at my property?
  • Why does it matter for insurance if I live in a Neighbourhood Watch area?
  • How does the number of smoke alarms at my property affect my insurance?

You wouldn’t tell a stranger intimate details about your property, but when it comes to home insurance these details are key to keeping you, your loved ones and your possessions safe.

Your details

This is the first thing you see when you request a quote. Put simply: we need to get in touch with you! We also ask for your date of birth because some insurers give a discount for proposers aged 50 or over. Generally speaking, most people settle down by this age. Any kids will tend to be older, so there’s less chance of accidental damage (your twentysomething son coming back at the weekend and raiding your fridge is not, we have to tell you, an insurable risk).

Your age is also a possible indicator of daytime occupancy – which in turn is why we need to know your employment status and occupation.

If you’ll definitely be out at 6.15pm on a Tuesday – or if you work night shifts – this could make your property more vulnerable.

Are you a first-time buyer? Mortgage lenders require you to buy buildings insurance to protect their investment. Knowing if this is your first house helps us get you the best product.

House Insurance details

Next, we ask what kind of home insurance you need. We need to know the start date to make sure there are no gaps in your cover and your insurance won’t run out. Your property type determines the kind of insurance you get. Terraced houses tend to be a bit safer than isolated rural properties because you have closer neighbours, for example.

Deciding your cover isn’t complicated.

Most people need “owner-occupied” – this is your standard house, occupied most of the time. Got a holiday let or log cabin? We need to know if you rent it out. This is because irregular guests may not have your best interests in mind, bring unwanted friends, forget to shut the gate or leave the taps running before they pack up and leave.

Your property

We need your address to send your home insurance paperwork to you – but most importantly knowing where you live can also be an indicator of risk level in terms of theft and flood.

The age of your home is important because it may affect break-ins. According to MoneySuperMarket, the claim rate for thefts at older properties is higher per 1,000 than for newer houses. Art Deco houses have the most claims of theft, with 31.3 instances per 1,000 houses.

Why? Well, older houses are more vulnerable. Homes with glass panels in the doors like those on Art Deco houses are easy targets, while protected or listed structures may have single-glazed windows out of necessity.

And if you have a fancy old house, thieves might believe there could be valuables inside – even if that’s not the case.

The number of bedrooms and bathrooms lets us know the general size of your house, and how much you might need to protect.

And by the way, a felt or flat roof isn’t going to mean good news for your home insurance: these kinds of roofs are easier for burglars to navigate and find ways into your property.

Previous house insurance

Asking for your previous house insurance gives us a rough guideline of what you’re looking for. It also gives us an insight as to what may have changed in your circumstances.

We also need to make sure there are no gaps in your cover throughout the switching process. Getting caught without home insurance is just tempting fate!

Buildings and contents

We need to know how much it would cost to replace all the items in your household if the worst should happen. This is the “contents” part of your home insurance.

Please be honest here: it helps us do our job to know exactly what’s in your home, and realistic costs, so we can get you back on your feet as soon as possible. We can’t reimburse you for the Picasso if you never had it in the first place – and while inflating the cost of your partner’s engagement ring might impress them, it won’t cut mustard with us.

Buildings cover is essential for disasters like burst pipes and fire. A lot of people only think about the impact on their loved ones and possessions when something bad happens, but fixing smoke damage and replacing floors, windows and ceilings will add up to a hefty cost if you aren’t insured properly.

Don’t worry if these amounts look intimidating – it’s more important that you give us accurate information than try and skimp on cover to lower price of your quote. We will always give you the best price, guaranteed.

Accidental Damage is also good to have if you have children or pets who may knock over your TV or damage the carpets, for example.

Additional details

Finally, to wrap it up, we just need you to let us know what safety measures you have in place to protect your house. Having a Neighbourhood Watch in your area can drive insurance discounts of 5%! These are common in residential areas, where thieves can’t operate easily in secret.

Heating systems are one of the leading causes of fires and water damage: letting us know if your system is old or outdated can affect how much you pay for home insurance. Solid fuel, for example, is pretty dangerous and is likely to up the cost.

Smoke alarms, cigarettes and security locks also raise or lower your risk of break-ins or fire damage. But be careful: some insurers insist you turn on your alarm whenever your house is vacant – even if you are just popping down to the shop for five minutes. This is fine if you remember to do so, but your spouse or your kids might not be so careful.

If you haven’t thought about it already, consider investing in better locks, more smoke alarms – and even a Quit Smoking programme – before you buy insurance.

In summary, we need to know all these things about you and your property to keep you safe and get you the best insurance quote for your needs.

Thing is, if your home insurance isn’t right, a headache can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Talk to us in with any of your house insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to hearing from you.

How To Decide On The Boiler System That’s Right For Your Home

Replacing a boiler is one of those big, messy jobs you never want to start – but a more efficient heating system can really make a difference to your home, and your wallet.

There are a lot of boiler systems on the market: combi, heat pump, or conventional tank included. Which one you choose is determined by a number of factors you need to take into consideration before you start shopping around for the latest model.

How large is your house?

Not only do you need to factor in how much space you have available, but you also need to think about how much hot water you are likely to use in the future. Big homes often come with big families, so you’ll need a boiler that can cope with the extra demand.

If you have very young babies you may need to keep the house warmer, but if you have older children they may take more showers or baths.

Combi-boilers take up the least space, so are the most practical solution for most households. An average house with one bath and one shower will be comfortable with a combi-boiler of between 24-30 kW. If you have an additional en-suite bathroom, a 30-35 kW boiler might be a better choice.

Do you have efficient insulation?

Back in the day, it was common practice to “oversize”: that is, choose a much bigger boiler than needed to compensate for heat loss, or how much heat escapes your home when it’s cold.

An expert can calculate your home’s heat loss by taking into account your floor area and number of radiators, as well as insulation, window glazing and other factors. They can then advise on the best boiler to compensate.

In the past, homes were a lot less efficient and most people installed boilers that were a whopping 30% bigger than needed to compensate for heat loss. Now, with more advanced technology and awareness of climate change, this isn’t necessary unless in rare cases and oversizing “just in case” will only cost you money.

As combi-boilers are sized for their hot water performance, you should be aware that this means they are typically oversized when it comes to your home’s heating demand.

How old is your heating system?

Replacing your boiler is all well and good, but if your home’s heating system is too old to use it properly, you won’t see any savings.

As daunting as it may seem, replacing your entire heating system – pipes and all – may be more efficient in the long run, especially if you have a very old property.

Your heating system, depending on the fuel you use, may consist of a boiler, pipes, radiators, water storage tanks, and heating controls.

If you change from a conventional boiler to a combi, you will no longer need a cold water tank in the attic or hot water tank in the linen cupboard, and can free up that extra space.

What fuel type do you want?

You may have a bit of a choice when it comes to fuel, but depending on your location it might be easier to go with what’s available. You should also think about renewable sources of energy for your new boiler.

Mains gas is a common fuel type, with most homes already connected to the network. With a gas boiler there is a constant supply, and is more environmentally friendly than other types of fuel.

Oil is an alternative for properties not connected to the gas network, and oil boilers tend to be non-condensing and floor standing, which means you’ll probably need more space. They also tend to offer a lower hot water flow rate.

What kind of future do you expect?

It sounds like a big, vague question, but boilers are a long-term investment and you need to think about what the next few years will hold.

Do you plan on starting or expanding your family? Are you going to spend the rest of your lives in the house? Or do you want to sell it quickly?

It’s also wise to take the environment into account, if you’re in a position to do so. Some new boilers can run on alternative energy sources such as solid fuel like wood pellets, chips and logs. You’ll need storage space and a suitable area to install a flue – and it may impact the sale of your house, since buyers may be unwilling to take on the commitment.

Gas boilers are now available which are compatible with solar energy. Oil systems can also run partially on bio-oil mixes, making them future-proof as well as environmentally friendly. How you take advantage of these systems is up to you.

Choosing a boiler isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult. It’s important to take enough time to choose the right one for your household.

Talk to us in with any of your house insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding home insurance or any specific queries regarding heating systems and boilers and how they may impact your insurance, please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Going Keyless? These Are The Most Popular ‘Smart’ Locks On The Market Right Now

Forever forgetting your keys? Or just want to secure your home in the most tech-savvy way possible?

You may want to consider a smart or keyless lock – a modern innovation that keeps your home safe from intruders and puts you ahead of the curve. And just like your alarm system, it’s always important to confirm with your Home Insurance broker that the lock you are buying is acceptable to your Home Insurer. Do this before installing – not after!

Smart locks offer a range of benefits when it comes to security, such as advanced access settings, facial recognition, monitoring activity on your doorstep while you’re away, and – most importantly of all – negating the need for a spare key in a fake rock (or even worse, under the mat).

Here’s a few products to get you started.

August Smart Lock Pro

The Smart Lock Pro from August is a great smart lock to test the waters, but will still provide formidable security to most homes.

It works with your existing deadbolts, so it’s easy to install even for a novice. This lock provides secure entry via unlimited virtual keys, and it’s up to you who you share these keys with: friends, family, neighbours, and you can even create temporary keys for ten minutes or so to let in the delivery guy or pet sitter.

The August phone app is intuitive and easy to use, and comes with a lifesaving auto-lock feature that keeps your home safe on the go. It’s not as cheap as some of the models listed here, but the August Smart Lock Pro is a solid choice.

Schlage Sense

You may not have heard of Schlage, but this brand is a time-tested favourite in the world of smart locks.

While it doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, this lock offers a minimalist solution with exceptional security. The Schlage Sense will allow you to review who comes and goes from your property, and whether they use a PIN number or a key. It also looks really nice on your door.

There’s a physical override for emergencies, which is an important feature missing in a lot of its competitors, and its method of fuss-free keyless entry makes it perfect for those with a holiday home or who rent out their property on Airbnb.

Ultralock ULC

This is a sleek, modern smart lock which offers access to your home via smartphone app, code or fingerprint as well as a physical key for emergencies. It has a swish “knock to open” feature, which lets you tap your phone to the lock to get in.

This lock has up to 95 codes, which can be 4-7 digits long for extra protection. The fingerprint sensor is quick but not always reliable, which can be a problem in the rain or if you’re juggling a lot of shopping. It also has a very good battery life, and is painless to install.

Yale Conexis L1

The granddaddy of locks and security systems gives us a strong contender in the smart lock game with the Conexis L1. Sleek and aesthetic, it comes in five colours to suit any door, old or modern.

Installation is straightforward, but not the most intuitive on this list. You’ll get to send virtual keys to friends and family you trust, as well as time-limited keys restricted to a certain schedule, for pet-sitters or cleaners.

It’s a solid solution if you know a little more about installing smart locks than your average man on the street.

Yale Keyless

Another option from this trusted lock company is an advanced lock with a ton of options.

It looks simple, but is deceptively powerful. The Keyless comes equipped with touchscreen PIN access, as well as key card, key tag, remote fob, and app entry.

Neatly designed and easy to install with a built-in tamper alarm, incorrect pin code alert and bank level encryption, the Keyless will keep you safe as houses.

What smart lock you choose depends on your type of property and how you use it: if you have a large family who need to come and go, if maintenance needs temporary access, if you feel safe with a PIN entry or prefer fingerprints.

Talk to us in with any of your Home Insurance queries.

If you have any questions about your home insurance or if certain locks are acceptable to your insurer, please feel free to contact us any time. One of the benefits of using a home insurance broker is that you can call us with any of your questions and we can give you expert advice. So, if you have any queries call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.  Our Home Insurance team are on hand to answer all your questions.

You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Am I Still Covered If Something Happens To My Home During A Gap In Cover?

Mind the gap – because it could mean the difference between getting compensated for damage to your home and being left out of pocket.

Gaps in home insurance cover may occur if you change or renew your policy and it doesn’t take effect immediately, or if you miss an insurance payment. For example, if your old policy ends on Monday and you don’t renew or initiate a new one until Wednesday, it could be a big problem if anything happens to your house on Tuesday when you aren’t technically insured.

Read on to discover more about coverage gaps, and what you can do to avoid lapses.

When do gaps in cover happen?

Coverage gaps occur when you miss a payment (or multiple payments, depending on the terms and conditions of your contract), or when your policy expires without having a new one in place.

So in a situation where your renewal date occurred on a Friday and you forgot to renew it, you are ‘off-cover’ for the weekend. You can of course arrange a new policy on the following Monday – but the cover only commences from the time you pay the new premium.

Is it dangerous to have a cover gap?


If you don’t pay attention to when your policy expires, you’re taking a big risk because your property won’t be covered in the event it is damaged or destroyed and you may lose items of sentimental and/or monetary value.

If anything happens to your house or contents during a gap in cover, you probably won’t be able to claim and even if you can, you may incur a hefty fine for doing so. It’s always best to avoid a headache and ensure you have insurance at all times.

Will a gap in cover affect future policies?

It might. If you miss your renewal date, your old policy may be cancelled – and while a replacement policy might be available, it could be at a higher premium.

It’s important to remember that a late payment is a late payment, no matter the reason – it doesn’t matter if you expected more notification, are having financial difficulties or just forgot.

What’s worse, other insurance companies might refuse to cover you depending on the small print in their policies.

The myth of the “grace period”

Many people believe that if a gap in coverage occurs, they may still be covered by the original provider. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

The fact is, if your insurance provider accepts a late payment that does not mean you have a grace period. Just because you pay them what you owe, doesn’t mean they’re obligated to cover you after the policy ends, and paying late will most likely result in a gap in cover.

It’s easy to renew cover

Avoid a home insurance cover gap by making sure that your policy is renewed or your new policy is in place before the expiration date. If you miss the deadline even by a day, your policy will break and you’ll have to buy a new policy instead of renewing.

If you’re having trouble with payment at renewal date, call your provider and explain the situation. Insurers are human, and will help you any way they can so you remain covered. They may be able to offer you monthly payment plans or automatic direct debits.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone

Well, with one (possible) exception.

If you have a relationship with your broker and forget to renew your policy, a phone call explaining the circumstances will often – but not always – lead to the broker giving you credit and paying on the insurer to renew the policy. If you’re insured directly with an insurance company, this would not be the case; once the renewal date passes, you are off cover

But that is the exception – not the rule.

The main thing to remember is the answer to the question at hand here: your home will not be covered during a gap in insurance.

“Grace periods” are at best an informality that can’t be replied upon – and at worst, a myth. Even if your insurer accepts a late payment this does in no way guarantee your home is covered in case of an emergency.

Gaps or breaks in your home insurance cover can turn into costly and potentially devastating mistakes.

If you can, always set your policy to auto-renew, or talk to your broker about your options in this regard.

If you’d like to switch policies make sure this happens well before your old policy expires to keep your home and possessions safe.

Talk to us in with any of your Home Insurance queries.

One of the benefits of using a home insurance broker is that you can call us with any of your questions and we can give you expert advice. So, if you have any queries regarding your home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.  Our Home Insurance team are on hand to answer all your questions.

You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the right cover for your specific requirements.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Low-Hanging Fruit: The First Changes To Make If You Move Into A House With A Low BER Rating

A BER (Buildings Energy Rating) measures how energy-efficient your house is.

According to SEAI, most houses built before 1990 in Ireland score a D rating or worse – which is bad news for the environment, as well as your pockets.

The good news is that a little bit of work goes a long way – particularly if you’re starting with a low rating – and you can vastly improve the efficiency of your home just by focusing your energy (no pun intended) on a few tweaks.

Replacing your boiler

The warm, beating heart of your home might need some serious surgery – or perhaps a transplant. Choosing the right boiler for your house is critical.

Conventional boilers are heat-only, which means you’ll normally find a cold water tank in the attic and a hot water tank in the airing cupboard. These tanks feed the boiler, which heats up the water before it reaches the tap – which isn’t a particularly efficient approach.

Combi boilers provide rapid hot water by firing up as soon as you turn the taps on, heating only what you need as it comes through the pipes, and using less fuel as a result.

These boilers are expensive upfront – usually starting at around the €1,750 mark – but a good one will save you money in the long run. They’re also often found in kitchens and can be disruptive to replace, so they’re worth looking at before you plan any other renovations.

Installing (or updating) your thermostat

Most houses have a little box with a dial on the wall that lets you decide how warm your home should be – but if not, and you’re just using your radiator TRV’s (valves) to control the heating, you could be losing money.

Thermostats let you regulate temperature, and automatically shut off radiators when your home is cosy enough. Most models also allow you to create heating schedules.

Better still, more modern ‘smart thermostats’ also come with an app that let you monitor your usage, switch off the heating if you’re away from the house unexpectedly, or stick on the heating while you’re on the way home from work.

Imagine: between your smart thermostat and your combi-boiler, you’ll forever be spared the fear of going out and leaving the immersion switched on. Isn’t the future great?

Adding attic insulation

As you’ll know if you paid attention during Junior Cert Science – or if you ever singed your eyebrows after opening an oven – heat rises.

For most houses, that means the heat from your rooms travels upwards into the attic or loft – and if this space isn’t treated, you could be pumping heat into the sky, wasting energy and money in the process.

According to SEAI, a non-optimised home loses an average 20-30% of its heat through its roof.

Attic or rafter insulation is generally one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades, and grants may be available to help you improve the insulation of your home. Typical insulation materials used are semi-rigid insulation boards as well as glass/mineral fibre; the material may depend on the depth of your joists or rafters, and it’s always best to get professional advice even if you install insulation yourself.

Of course, to hark back once more to science class, every action has an equal and opposite reaction – and while your house will get warmer, your attic will get colder.

So if you have a cold water tank, you’ll need to insulate it to prevent freezing in cold weather – another reason why it might be best to install a combi boiler and get rid of the tank altogether.

Resealing windows

Like the attic, a home can lose a lot of heat out of its windows, even with double glazing (particularly for older installations). And while a full replacement of all your windows might not be affordable, there are short-term fixes available.

If you notice condensation on an internal pane of glass, draughts from the window, or noticeable wear, tear or gaps around the seal, it’s time to freshen it up.

You might be able to feel where a draught is coming in if it’s bad enough. Plug up the gap for now, then call in the professionals, as resealing windows isn’t best attempted on your own.

Installing ‘smart’ bulbs

Lighting accounts for a good chunk of a typical household’s electricity bill, so swapping out your bulbs before you get settled is definitely a bright idea.

LEDs are the most efficient light bulb on the market. They are available with varying degrees of colour, brightness and temperature – from warm white to cool white – and are available in almost all fittings.

For the ultimate in energy-saving savvy, try smart bulbs. These are more expensive, so try and think what rooms would benefit most – you probably won’t need to remotely dim the light in the garage, for example, or change the colour in the front porch.

For the most part, though, smart lights will save money in the long run by being easier to switch on and off – and they’ll also provide home security while you’re out [link to security article].

These small changes might not be the cheapest in the short term, but they’re always best done just as you move in. By optimising your heating system, insulation and lighting, you’ll keep your home safe and comfy for years to come.

Potential Impact on Home Insurance

When you are undertaking any significant home renovations it’s important to talk with your home insurance provider or broker to discuss the impact that they may have on your home insurance. It also gives you peace of mind of knowing you are covered if something goes wrong. Feel free to call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the right cover for your specific requirements. We look forward to hearing from you.

7 Smart Home Gadgets That Will Make Your Home Safer, More Secure – And More Comfy

We haven’t quite managed to invent futuristic robot butlers to cater to our every need – but here in the real (not movie-version) year 2020 you can buy a range of affordable, impressive home gadgets to automate tasks and make living easier.

Most require no technical knowledge to install and no specialist equipment except your smartphone. Here’s seven clever solutions that are worth checking out.

Smart Home Alarms

Cheap to buy and easier to install than a hard-wired alarm of old, these new security systems are wireless and come with a range of features to suit every budget and property.

Choose one with motion detectors if you have windows or other entry points in vulnerable locations, or with video and imagery capability if you want pictures of possible intruders sent directly to your phone.

Although not essential for it to work, many smart alarms come with dummy boxes that you mount on the exterior of your house to deter criminals.

As an added bonus, approved (and properly maintained) alarms will get you a discount off your home insurance – ask your broker what’s on offer!

Video Doorbells

See who’s knocking at your door even while you’re out of the country with smart doorbells from Ring and Aquarius.

It will notify your phone when someone’s at the door, and some send you live video while others can alert you even if the doorbell is not pressed by using an in-built motion sensor.

Google’s smart doorbell even has facial recognition, so it can recognise friends and relatives (subject to their permission, of course! You always have to comply with GDPR).

The Nest Hello includes pre-recorded messages – like an answer machine – that mean visitors get a response even when you can’t access your phone. This provides extra security, as it will seem like someone’s at home at all times.

Smart Lights

Lightbulbs from Philips Hue, LifX and now even IKEA make it easy to control your home’s lighting on the go. You can set up groups for rooms with multiple lights, and create a romantic mood without even getting up to dim the switch.

Smart lightbulbs can also display a rainbow of colours and cycle from cool to warm light, unlike traditional bulbs. While a little pricey they will last a lot longer than traditional bulbs, and you can set up routines to make it look like someone’s in the house – or just wake up to a gentle (simulated) sunrise.

Smart Thermostat

The Netatmo thermostat is one of several smart solutions on the market that make it easy to control your heating from an app or virtual assistant. It interacts with your boiler to control when your radiators turn off and on, and can send you energy reports.

Netatmo also make smart radiator valves which display the temperature of each radiator in your home and can be controlled by the main hub, making it easier to keep your home above freezing while you’re away.

Plug-in Heaters

The Lloytron stay warm heater plug is a super little device that’s very useful for unoccupied homes during cold spells. Plug it in, and the little ceramic fan assisted heater provides instant heat and acts as a thermostat feature for maintaining a minimum ambient temperature.  This retails for only €39 – much cheaper than burst pipes!

Whether you just need a little extra heat in a cold home office or need to keep plants happy while you’re away, you can combine the heater plug with a timer plug for maximum control on the go.

Smart Plugs

Why invest in smart devices when you can make all your existing home gadgets smart with one purchase? Smart plugs plug into mains sockets, and can themselves be plugged into – letting you switch it on and off from your phone or virtual assistant.

An update of the old clock-type timer plugs, smart plugs make it possible to turn lamps on and off, or even your television or Christmas lights. Better yet, you can swap the plugs and don’t have to commit to making one device “smart”.

Motorised Blinds and Curtains

Yes, even your window fittings can now be smart – providing the ultimate in remote home security. Motorised blinds and curtains you can control with a remote have been around for a little while, but now you can find ones that work with apps as well as Google Home and Alexa.

Set up routines for morning and evening, and you’ll never have to worry if your home looks “lived in” again. And when you’re back from holiday, you’ll be able to wake up well-rested and see the sunrise with just a simple voice command, without ever leaving the duvet.

Smart home technology needn’t be intimidating, and while most solutions are geared towards modern comforts they will make your home more secure. Whether deterring burglars with voice messages or making your home appear occupied, these gadgets are a smart investment to keep your property and loved ones safe.

Talk to us in with any of your house insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding home insurance and whether using any smart appliances affects your home insurance cover feel free to call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to hearing from you.