Was your electric bill higher than ever this month? Try this.

5 smart home devices that can save you money on energy

No matter the season, energy bills are hard to keep under control. Luckily, automated homes can help us switch on, switch off, and schedule the energy-sucking appliances that help us live more comfortably. Our team of tech experts pulled together this list of smart home products that can help you outsmart your energy bills.

Smart thermostat for better control over your home’s temperature 

Smart thermostats are a great way to save money on energy. Smart thermostats such as Nest can “learn” your preferred temperature settings and automatically raise or lower temperatures at certain times of day. A smart thermostat can be controlled remotely from your smartphone, which means you can cut down the heat or air conditioning when you’re traveling, or turn it on when you’re on your way home.

According to Nest, their thermostat saved 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Based on typical energy costs, we’ve estimated that a smart thermostat could save you $131 to $145 a year.

Smart light bulbs to automate your home’s lighting 

You can automate your home lights using apps such as Hue, which connect the light bulbs to your Amazon Echo or Google Home. These bulbs can also connect these lights to a smart motion sensor system so lights will turn on and off whenever they sense motion.

Smart light bulbs can be expensive, but they last for 40,000 hours. Most smart light bulbs only need to be replaced every five years!

Bonus: most smart light bulbs are ENERGY STAR rated, which can save you around $75 per year.

Smart plugs to control your appliances and lights from anywhere

Smart plugs can help turn your regular appliances into smart devices. Once plugged into a smart plug, an appliance can be controlled from anywhere. This works for pretty much anything, including lights, coffee makers, and fans. Turn appliances on and off with your smartphone and schedule when they should be turned on or off.

Smart motion sensor system to automatically control thermostats, speakers, lights, and more

A smart motion sensor such as Phillip motion sensor system will automatically turn on and off lights when motion is detected (or not). This saves energy by detecting when rooms are empty and can connect to a smart thermostat or smart speakers.

Smart speakers to control your smart energy-saving devices

Voice-activated personal assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo make it easier to control your energy-saving smart home gadgets, without leaving the couch.

Want more guidance on smart home devices? Soluto is the easiest way to get more from your tech. More than tech support, Soluto is easy, instant access to a tech expert, to solve any technology issue you could ever have with almost any device you’ll ever own.

Cracked screen? Texting on a date? You’re being judged.

Is your cracked screen cramping your style?

Beware of the Cracked Screen Critic! Some say a person’s harshest critic is themselves, but when it comes to our phones, the judgiest ones could be sitting just across the table from us on a romantic first date.

A new Asurion survey dipped into the dating scene and uncovered an ever-observant minority. Apparently, 22% of respondents think that a person with a cracked screen is clumsy. 24% think someone with a cracked screen is not financially responsible. Ouch. 10% wouldn’t consider a second date after discovering a cracked screen. Yowza!

Millennials can be old fashioned, too.

Despite their heavy use of dating apps and social media, the majority of Millennials prefer an old school approach to a traditional date: No phones at the table. According to a recent Asurion survey, over half of Millennial respondents said they think it’s rude when their date whips out a phone for some mindless scrolling and texting. When the generation that lives and breathes for its phones says it’s not cool to use your phone on a date, it’s not cool to use your phone on a date.

Another thing that would make their grandmothers beam with pride? Millennials are 30% more likely than Generation X-ers to rule out someone who asks them out via text, as opposed to a phone call. Looking to secure a second date? Pick up that portable alarm clock/texting/newsfeed machine and make a phone call!

Asurion is committed to helping customers enhance their lives through technology. Our Soluto tech experts are here to help. 

Asurion earns Great Place to Work certification

Asurion was awarded a coveted national certification as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work®. The nationwide workplace credential is based on ratings provided by employees in anonymous surveys, in which 88 percent noted Asurion as a great place to work.

What employees said

91 percent said: There are great challenges at Asurion.

95 percent said: Asurion has a great atmosphere.

92 percent said: Asurion offers great rewards.

96 percent said: We feel great pride.

94 percent said: Asurion offers great communication.

93 percent said: Asurion has great bosses.

What makes Asurion a Great Place to Work

Extending support into our communities: We want to help foster the volunteer spirit among our employees. Many of our teams volunteer together as one team, from building Habitat for Humanity houses to adopting parks for cleanup. One of our more popular community events is Volunteer Week, where employees volunteer with one of several organizations. In 2016, 200 employees participated, donating 226 hours to six local non-profits. In addition, our corporate headquarters organizes weekly tutoring sessions and school events in partnership with Teach for America and KIPP Academy.

Bundles of joy, not stress: Asurion families rest easy during pregnancy with the help of our Maternity Concierge, an HR adviser who guides expecting parents through pregnancy by creating custom resources tailored to the family’s exact healthcare benefits. Asurion’s Healthy Pregnancy program gives expecting moms around-the-clock access to nurses and education resources as they prepare for their new arrival. After delivery, new moms can enjoy up to 12 weeks of paid time off, and dads get two weeks of paid paternity leave. Employees who grow their family through adoption can get up to $10,000 in adoption assistance and four weeks of paid leave.

A commUnity for all: commUnity, Asurion’s diversity and inclusion initiative, is committed to ensuring that all employees feel valued and have a genuine opportunity to thrive and excel within the company. At the heart of commUnity is our four Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which unify Asurion employees with common interests for networking, mentorship, problem-solving, and volunteerism. Our ERGs are a reflection of the diverse Asurion commUnity, help us stay attuned to the pulse of the company’s culture, and assist us in connecting with the broader external communities we serve. Asurion recognizes that attracting, developing, and retaining diverse talent is crucial to the success of the company and its employees.

Ace Points: Recognition is a meaningful part of our culture. Did a colleague go above and beyond for you? Did a team roll out an amazing new initiative before deadline? Give them ACE points! Our ACE social newsfeed is designed to celebrate achievements and recognize hard work. Points can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, travel, and more. It’s always nice to say thank you, but saying thanks with points that can be used for airfare is even better.

Good ideas from everyone: At Asurion, we believe good ideas come from everywhere, not just the corner office. That’s why we host multiple company-wide Hackathons a year, where employees of all levels collaborate to come up with innovative ideas to improve our customer and employee experience. Ideas are pitched to a panel of judges and the winning concepts are set into motion and turned into reality. Over 47 teams have participated in the past two years, with several winning ideas in implementation. Winners are able to select their choice of tech gadgets, such as Go-Pros, tablets, connected thermostats, and more.

Helping our people grow: Our people are our greatest assets and we believe in putting them in the driver’s seat to advance their career and professional development. That’s why we provide the tools – including a library of over 6,000 on-demand learning options, job shadowing programs, and career coaching – for employees to define their own development goals and career plans with support from their leader. If an employee wants to further their academic education, we support them through an attractive tuition assistance program.

Take time for you: Workplace flexibility: The positive side of “Adulting.” We empower team members to manage their work-life balance with a flexible approach to time in the office. As an adult, they can choose when to work offsite (from home, other office locations, or even the corner coffee shop) to get work done or when they should be in the office for collaboration. Bottom line: We value good work, not how many hours you spend strapped to your desk. In addition, Asurion has a “no policy” time off policy, meaning that exempt employees are not limited in paid time off and simply work with their leader for time off.

Living your best life: We want to help our team members live their best lives. Our wellbeing program goes a step beyond most and provides team members with free access to personal health AND financial coaches. Our Wellness programs do everything from providing team members with step-by-step, private financial guidance around major life events (like buying a home or preparing for retirement) to serving up a dose of healthy choices competitions.

Culture champions: Asurion employs over a dozen People Service Coordinators (PSCs a.k.a “Culture Champions”) – full-time employees who are solely dedicated to motivating and celebrating their colleagues. By organizing frequent morale-boosting events and being present in the every day, PSCs keep a pulse on Asurion employees’ happiness. No birthday, work anniversary, or accomplishment goes unnoticed with PSCs at the helm. They are a testament to the value Asurion places on every employee’s satisfaction.

The fund for employees, by employees: The Compassion Forward Employee Fund enables employees to help each other when life gets complicated. Every penny donated by employees goes directly to helping fellow employees get back on their feet financially when unforeseen events strike. The Fund is designed to meet critical needs fast.

Want to make Asurion your next Great Place to Work? Asurion has over 16,000 employees in 53 locations around the world, with our global headquarters in Nashville, TN. Click here for career opportunities.

Empowering Women at Asurion

The Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) at Asurion is one of several Employee Resource Groups (ERG) dedicated to improving the lives of the women who work at Asurion through several channels, including:

  • Education
  • Inspiration
  • Issue awareness

commUnity, Asurion’s diversity and inclusion initiative, is committed to ensuring that all employees feel valued and have a genuine opportunity to thrive and excel within the company. At the heart of commUnity is our four ERGs, which unify Asurion employees with common interests for networking, mentorship, problem solving, and volunteerism.

Our ERGs are a reflection of the diverse Asurion commUnity, help us stay attuned to the pulse of the company’s culture, and assist us in connecting with the broader external communities we serve. Asurion recognizes that attracting, developing, and retaining diverse talent is crucial to the success of the company and its employees

View the video below to hear what being a woman in the Asurion workforce means to a few of our outstanding leaders:

Asurion receives customer excellence honors

For the fourth consecutive year, Asurion was named a winner of the Confirmit ACE (Achievement in Customer Excellence) Awards, an honor that recognizes outstanding achievement in customer experience. This year, we received the coveted Judges’ Choice and Overall Business Impact awards for the outstanding work done for the Retail Solution Hub in 2016.

The Hub is one-stop-shop for retail customers. Users can access the web portal to register products, file claims and check their statuses, and, after each interaction, customers can fill out a survey and share their experiences.

“Capturing and incorporating customer input has been invaluable, and has driven many of the enhancements which have positively impacted our Hub experience,” said Abbie Taylor, Asurion vice president of Customer Experience.

These enhancements are just another part of our commitment to continuous innovation that improves the customer experience. We will continue to surprise and delight, thanks to our customers’ feedback.

Asurion is committed to helping customers enhance their lives through technology. Learn more about Asurion at www.Asurion.com.

Culture of ideas at Asurion

At Asurion, we believe that good ideas come from everywhere, not just the corner office. Often described as a “20-year-old startup,” Asurion is no stranger to rapid growth. In the last four years alone, Asurion has increased revenue and boasts 16,000 employees working in 53 offices across the globe. Luckily, this growth exists because of – not at the price of – a company culture focused on ideas.

Hackathons

Asurion hosts multiple company-wide Hackathons a year, where employees of all levels collaborate on innovative ideas to improve our customer and employee experience. Ideas are pitched to a panel of judges and the winning concepts are set into motion. Over 47 teams have participated in the past two years, with several winning ideas in implementation.

Who can participate? Anyone! This September, we had over 80 participants from across all functions. While hackathons are often considered technical events, there are plenty of seats at the table for non-development team members from HR, communications, marketing, and customer solutions. The top three teams this year were made up of “new” employees who had started working at Asurion within the past year.

Asurion Hackathons are hosted in every region of the company with the primary goal of finding ways to accelerate digital transformation, improving our current products or services, and finding new and better ways to work together. Most importantly, Asurion Hackathons foster engagement and excitement as employees are given time away from their regular jobs to work together to develop inventions and innovations.

Ideabox

Asurion believes the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. So we created a portal where employees can quickly and easily submit any idea they have to improve our customer or employee experience. Once posted, coworkers can see the idea and vote on the concept with a simple thumbs up or thumbs down. Ideas with the most positive votes are evaluated by a dedicated team who works to implement the best concepts. In the first few months of Ideabox’s existence, we’ve already seen impressive engagement from employees. As a result, we’ve made improvements to customer apps that will drive more engagement, spun up portals that house resources in a central location for easy collaboration and transparency, and even delivered workplace enhancements such as making break room computers handicap accessible and bringing food trucks to locations with limited lunch options.

 

Asurion is building the products, platforms, and systems that help support our partners and deliver an exceptional customer experience. www.Asurion.com

How to keep social apps from draining your battery

It’s a dilemma we can all relate to: After a bout of swiping, liking, scrolling, and LOL-ing, your phone’s battery is dangerously close to the Red Zone. Since deleting a beloved social app isn’t always an option, our Soluto tech expert Erica offers tips on how best to stop (or stifle) the battery drain.

Which apps are draining my phone’s battery?

Luckily, the culprits are easy to find. You can identify the social apps that use the most battery by going to to Settings > Battery. The offending apps will appear under “battery usage.” (Hint: It’s usually Facebook.)

But I don’t even spend that much time on social media!

Social media apps drain your phone’s battery even when not used. You may not think you use an app very often, but due to ever-expanding features, the app may demand more resources than it did, say, a week ago. Consider Instagram and Facebook Messenger – formerly flat, basic platforms that are now integrated with captivating (and battery-sucking) media and capabilities.

Tips to extend your smartphone’s battery life:

  1. Turn off Background Data in your phone’s settings
  2. Keep screen brightness low
  3. Limit app use
  4. Turn off location services
  5. Limit app usage to one app at a time
  6. Disconnect your social media. (Nope, this doesn’t mean disconnect from social media). For example, having Tinder connected to Facebook is mandatory to sign up, but you don’t need it connected to Instagram or Spotify. Having these apps constantly interacting can cause background data use – and poses a security risk.

 

Asurion is committed to helping customers enhance their lives through technology. Our Soluto tech experts are here to help. Click here to learn more about Soluto.

New features to the iOS 11 update may confuse users

Asurion tech experts have been testing iOS 11 beta versions all summer. While the update includes a bevy of exciting new features, there’ll be a few less obvious changes that may take some getting used to. Our experts have found three changes that iPhone users should be aware of if they update to the iOS 11 after September 12:

 

The auto-brightness feature switch has been moved.

Whether you’re looking to dim your phone in a movie theater or brighten it up for beach reading, know where to find the switch! It used to be located at Settings > Display & Brightness. Now we have to follow this path: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations.

Auto-Brightness affects battery life and screen visibility. Asurion tech experts encourage users to keep this setting on whenever possible.

 

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons in the Control Panel will no longer turn off Wi-Fi/Bluetooth when they are deselected.

Instead, these buttons disconnect your phone from the network or Bluetooth device(s) you’re currently connected to. When the Wi-Fi button is toggled off in Control Panel, auto-join of the network is turned off and the following message appears in Wi-Fi settings:

New Wi-Fi network connections have been turned off from Control Center.

When the Bluetooth button in Control Center is turned off, a button saying “Allow New Connections” will appear in the Bluetooth settings page along with this message:

New Bluetooth connections have been turned off from the Control Center.

 

“Do Not Disturb While Driving” setting is a new feature

This is one of the new and most exciting (and potentially life-saving) features of iOS 11. It’s unclear at this time what its default activate setting will be, but we suspect there will be three options:

  • It will be automatically enabled when the phone detects a high speed of motion indicating that you’re likely in a car
  • When connected to car Bluetooth
  • Manually enabled if you add the function to the Control Center and select it

Depending on what the default activate setting is, the feature could be extremely inconvenient or users who want to use it may not know how to do so.

User can change the default setting by going to:

Settings > Do Not Disturb > Do Not Disturb While Driving

From there, you can select one of the following options:

  • Automatically
  • Connected to Car Bluetooth
  • Manually

When DNDWD activates, you will be prompted with the message “You will not receive Notifications while you are driving.” Once activated, if you attempt to perform any action on your phone, you’ll be prompted to select either “I’m not Driving” to bypass the setting, or select “Cancel” to continue with the do not disturb function.

We hope everyone enjoys the new iOS 11 update!

Asurion is committed to helping customers enhance their lives through technology. Our Soluto tech experts are here to help. Click here to learn more about Soluto.

How to prepare your phone for the iOS 11 update

The iOS 11 update is almost here! While we’re excited about all the new features (updated control center! Do not disturb while driving! Screen recording!), it’s important to make sure your phone can handle the update in the first place.

Soluto Tech expert Bree offers the following advice for a seamless and frustration-free iOS update in September:

 

  1. Update your phone to the latest version of iOS now.
    Being on an outdated version of iOS could prevent your phone from finding, downloading, and installing the iOS 11 update successfully.
  2. Get iTunes.
    We recommend everyone use iTunes to back up their phones and install iOS 11. Updating Over the Air (OTA) can lead to extremely slow download times, and every year we see dozens of complaints that customers’ devices have entered Recovery Mode. The only way to fix a Recovery Mode error is by connecting the iPhone to iTunes and attempting to update (or, in extreme cases, Factory Reset) the device through iTunes.

Using iTunes for the iOS 11 update process is the best way to avoid installation headaches.

  1. Back it up.
    It’s rare, but we see reports with every previous iOS update that users’ phones have been wiped, bricked, or put into Recovery Mode. If this happens to you, your data could be lost forever. Back up your phone!
  2. Make space.
    If you have to back up OTA, the iOS 11 installation is going to needa lot of space. After installation, much of that space will free up again. If possible, migrate all of your photos and videos to a computer or a Cloud app and then delete the photos/videos from your phone. Music, books, and 3rd Party Apps can also be uninstalled to free up some space (if you uninstall Music, make sure you have it in iCloud or your iTunes library so you can redownload it later).
  3. Know what to expect.
    iPhones that came before the iPhone 5S will not be able to update to iOS 11. There are some big redesigns coming to the App Store, Command Center, and iCloud Drive. It’s okay to wait a few days to see what other people are saying about iOS 11 before updating. Just don’t wait too long, or your phone could be left vulnerable to security exploits.

Asurion is committed to helping customers enhance their lives through technology. Our Soluto tech experts are here to help. Click here to learn more about Soluto.