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Home security systems have been around for decades, but home automation has begun to be more commonplace with the introduction of smartphones. With the exception of a few companies, home automation features don't come standard with most home security systems. So with the extra money you'll be paying out of pocket every month, are the extra features really worth it? Allow us to explain what home automation is, what to expect, and if it's really worth it. What is home automation? Before we talk about home automation, we need to lay the foundation for understanding home security systems. If you've already signed a contract for a professionally-monitored home security system, you're paying a monthly fee for features like door and window sensors. Once mounted, these door and window sensors communicate to a central station in your home. From this base station, you can arm or disarm your system. When your system is armed and a door or window opens, the corresponding sensor will send a signal to the base station, triggering an alarm and notifying authorities. Systems can cost as little as $19.99/month and will have basic features like door and window sensors, and may include extras like window stickers and a yard sign. Sometimes, these are enough to deter crooks. While it's nice to have a home that's professionally monitored against burglars, carbon monoxide, and fires, what if you want something that's on the cutting edge of technology? The home of the future probably sounds pretty appealing. This is essentially what home automation is, and luckily, home automation features are more approachable than you think. More and more companies are adopting home automation through tools like smartphones and voice-controlled devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. When you pair your system with one of these tools, it's almost like your home has a built-in super computer. Typically, your home automation system will function off an app that can be installed to your Android, iOS, or Windows device. This way, you can manage all sorts of home features from your phone or tablet even if you're halfway across the world. All you need is internet access. Here are some of the more common features for home automation: Locks — Doors with specially-equipped locks can communicate wirelessly with your smartphone. Lock your doors after you pull in to work if you forgot before you left the house. Thermostat — Adjust your home's temperature from your phone. Sometimes, you can set it to a particular schedule. Lights — Turn lights on and off through your phone. Like the thermostat, this can sometimes be automated. This is particularly useful if you're on vacation and you want your house to look lived in. Cameras — This is extremely common among DIY home security systems, but has become one of the most common home automation features. It's a great tool to keep an eye on your pets. You can even get alerts if a camera senses movement. Garage Doors — Open and close your garage door without a special garage door remote. Appliances — This is rarer, but not unheard of. Imagine preheating the oven before you come home to cook your family's prized chicken recipe before your guests show up. Essentially, your smartphone app, Amazon Echo, or Google Home becomes an automation hub for all of these tools. You can adjust your thermostat, turn lights on and off, monitor security cameras, and more. Depending on the package, you can even set timers and schedules for your thermostat, lights, and other features. Make sure to consult with a professional home security representative from top companies so you know exactly what features you're paying for. How much will it cost? This depends on the provider. With some top companies, it can be as little as $12-22/month extra. With other companies, it can be difficult to say because they won't post the pricing information outright on their website. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, though. When you go directly to a company and ask for a quote based on the needs of your home, they can give you personalized feedback on what package will best suit your needs. But let's grab a number for the sake of comparison. Home automation can cost as much as $144-$288 per year. This is as much as two dozen movie tickets or a month's worth of groceries. For some, that might be just a bit out of their range because they can barely afford the payments on their standalone security system. For others, that's chump change. To be clear, almost every home security company these days will over some basic home automation feature standard. Usually, this is in the form of a smartphone app that can arm and disarm your home security system remotely. But when it comes to features such as remote lights, locks, and garage doors, that's going to vary depending on the provider. Is it worth it for you? By this point, you've probably already answered this question. Is it important to you to have these tools remotely available to you no matter where you are? Is this added peace of mind worth it? If you're still on the fence, here are a few questions you might want to consider: Are you a generally forgetful person when it comes to lights and door locks? Are you trying to save energy? Do you want to impress your friends, family, or neighbors? Do you have enough expendable income to justify the upgrade? If you answered yes to the majority of those, home automation is probably a good option for you. But before you reach for the phone to call your home security company, make sure they have the features you're looking for. Top companies have different home automation packages, so you might find the features you're looking for in a different company. It pays to do your due diligence before you sign on the dotted line.
There's no way around it; having your house broken into is jarring and emotionally taxing. Your home is supposed to be your safe haven, a place to rest and be with your loved ones, so when an intruder with dark motives breaks through to steal your valuables, the feeling of violation can be overwhelming. What do you do when this happens? Here are a few things you need to do right away to ensure the process is done properly and to prevent future incidents from happening: Don't touch anything! Seriously, hands off. Instead, cancel whatever else you have going on and whip out your camera. Take as many pictures as possible and save them somewhere where they won't likely get deleted. Don't move anything. Take pictures of damage done by the burglars, things you've lost, or anything else that looks out of place or missing. These pictures will be useful when you contact the police and your insurance agency. If you've got a security system, consult the footage from the break-in. If you or your installers placed the cameras correctly, you should have footage of the perpetrators' faces, which will make them easier to identify and prosecute. Do what you can to access and save the footage so you can use it as evidence in the future. File a victim's report Now that you've taken pictures, call the police immediately. The sooner you call, the more likely you'll be able to get your stuff back and find the burglars. When the police arrive, they'll be able to survey your home and might even be able to figure out how the burglars got in. More importantly, they'll help you get a victim's report filled out, which will put the incident on file. Your police officer should give you details on your reporting options. The police might be willing to take a file of the security footage, but if not, make sure you record the sex, approximate age, race, and clothing of the burglar(s). If you were outside your house while the burglary occurred and you happened to see the burglars, don't intervene, but do record where they went. File an insurance claim Take a copy of your police report to your renter's or homeowner's insurance company immediately after you contact the police. You'll need an itemized list of everything that was stolen. Record as much as you can remember. Also, keep a tally of everything that was broken during the burglary, including windows, doors, furniture, and anything else you can think of. After you report all this to your insurance agency (including whatever else they request), they should send a claims adjuster to your home to investigate in person. When the adjuster comes to your home, be prepared to explain the situation of the break-in and your income and provide as much proof as you can. It's not a bad idea to stay in a hotel or with a friend or family member until the adjuster shows up. Do as little as you can to tamper with the scene because there might be important evidence that could still be found. Get to know your neighbors If you haven't already, get to know your neighbors. Talk to them and explain that you experienced a break-in, and you could help them prevent the same situation. They might also volunteer to keep an eye out if they notice anyone suspicious in the neighborhood. In future incidents, your neighbors could be useful in helping your home look lived in while you're away. Set up a mutual relationship with them where you do yard work or take out the trash occasionally when the other is gone. Do some research to see if your neighborhood includes a watch program. This will provide a great network of other individuals who will help keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Rebuild and repair This can be the hardest part. Having your home broken into can be a traumatizing experience, and moving on from that is no simple task. It's natural to feel distracted or hazy during the days and weeks following the event. Seek the support of family and friends. Clean up the mess left by the burglars, and do your best to bring your home back to normal. It can be difficult overcoming the feelings of shock and disbelief, but over time your house can feel like a home again. Also, check local classifieds, including Craigslist or pawn shops, to see if any of your stolen items have turned up. This would be helpful information to turn over to the police, and you might even have the opportunity to get your items back. You can replace things like TVs and jewelry, but it's comforting when you can get your original items returned and the burglars one step closer to prosecution. Consider a home security system This is a great precaution if you don't already have one. Some top-rated home security companies offer systems for as little as $20 per month, which is about the same price as a pizza delivery. These systems come armed with door sensors, window sensors, and video cameras to keep tabs on important entry ways in your home, and can record surveillance footage to a cloud storage system for later reference. Home security systems can even decrease your homeowner's insurance cost by almost 20 percent per month. When you install one of these systems, your home is monitored by a team of professionally certified security experts that will keep tabs on your home 24/7, even on holidays. If a sensor is triggered, an alarm will sound and you can have notifications sent immediately to your smartphone. Sometimes, this is enough to send burglars off running, and you can avoid experiencing the hassle of calling the police, filing reports, and replacing stolen goods. Take a look at the best companies in the home security industry and see what options best suit your needs.
You want to safeguard your home a little more, but do you know the best way to go about doing it. A home security system with sensors and cameras is the more traditional home security model, but it isn't the only way. Many Americans have decided to own a guard dog as a home security measure. But the question is, is this effective? Ask yourself the following questions before you start relying solely on a dog as your home security measure: A regular barker isn't a great alarm If Fido tends to be very vocal, you might be thinking that he is just as good as a security system. Not exactly. If your dog barks frequently, then you and your neighbors are probably already used to all the noise. If someone breaks into your home while you're away and your dog starts barking up a storm, your neighbors may just ignore it because that's what your dog always does. Special training is expensive Your dog isn't going to make a very effective guard dog without special training. Sometimes, guard dog training can cost up to $40,000 and can take years. Guard dog trainer Leighton Oosthuisen has said the 95 percent of dogs will not protect their homes or home owners unless they're trained, regardless of whether they own an "aggressive" dog breed such as a pit bull or rottweiler. Considering the required investment of time and money, your efforts may be better spent elsewhere. Dogs are hit-or-miss deterrents This doesn't mean that dogs are totally useless when it comes to home security. As a matter of fact, some professional burglars will turn away completely from a home with a dog because it raises too many variables. If they see a dog, they won't want to take the risk of breaking in because the dog might not be friendly to strangers. It's wiser to just move on to the next house. On the other hand, some burglars know how to react to dogs. One Reddit AMA involved a burglar who claims he was very good with animals and knew how to calm them down in just a matter of minutes. On rare occasions, experienced burglars will have some steak or tranquilizers with them to neutralize the dog if they react too aggressively. For the most part, though, dogs are an effective deterrent and will cause burglars to pursue the next target. Dogs are great companions Nigel Barber Ph.D. made an astute observation in Psychology Today that dogs behave very similarly to humans in their social behavior, which makes them great companions. Humans and dogs are similar in that: They are territorial They hunt cooperatively They bond emotionally with pack members They greet each other enthusiastically after they've been separated About 40 percent of owners identify their dog as a member of the family. In the same article, Colin Groves of the Australian National University said "the dog-human relationship amounts to a very long lasting symbiosis. Dogs acted as human's alarm systems, trackers, hunting aides, garbage disposal facilities, hot water bottles, and children's guardians and playmates. Humans provided dogs with food and security. . . Humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans." Dogs require upkeep This will vary depending on the size and breed of your dog, but owning a dog is no small responsibility. Dogs must be fed, be walked regularly, and should have regular medical exams along with spaying/neutering and shots. According to a study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you could be spending well over $1,000 off the bat to own and care for a dog. This includes spaying/neutering, medical exams, a carrying crate, and a collar or leash. The annual expense of dog ownership is about $700. This includes food, the aforementioned medical exams, toys, treats, pet health insurance, and a license. Consider having a stash of $1,000 to $2,000 saved in case of a vet emergency, as well. Make sure all of these elements are factored into your monthly budget when considering adopting a dog. The verdict Ultimately, dogs shouldn't be relied on as the sole source of security for your home. Unless your dog has received special guard dog training, it's probably not ready to guard your home from potential intruders. The upkeep of owning a dog can also be expensive if you're not already used to the price tag. In essence, dogs can be a great addition that will help deter burglars from your home and are a wonderful addition to many families, but it'd be best to rely on a traditional home security system as a primary source of security. Some top rated home security systems can cost as little as $20 per month and feature licensed professionals that will remotely monitor your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For an extra cost, home automation features are also available such as thermostat regulation, remote lights, and remote door locks that can be activated from a smartphone. Compatibility with devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are also becoming more popular. When you consider the cost, home security is also much more affordable, especially if you're considering guard dog training. Depending on the home security company, a $25 per month plan will only cost half as much as the annual upkeep of owning and caring for a dog. Be aware that some companies will charge higher monthly fees along with high initial start-up costs, but the best companies in the industry are doing away with these. It would pay to do some research before deciding what options are best for you.
The first home security system was invented in 1966, and household burglaries have decreased dramatically since. As industry leaders continue to innovate and make systems more affordable, the frequency of burglaries decreases. As a matter of fact, burglaries in the United States have decreased by 56 percent between 1994 and 2011. Now Google is stepping into the market to continue driving that innovation. Google acquired Nest Labs back in 2014 and has since then acquired Dropcam, a startup that specializes in automatically recording security cameras, which has made its place in the home automation market. Now it looks like Nest is taking another step onto the home security stage. The Nest Secure system is Nest's attempt to make a splash in the home security industry. Is it worth it, and will the splash really be that big? Here's the breakdown. Nest Secure features One of Nest Secure's biggest selling points is the price tag of $499. This is pretty impressive considering some of the more well-known home security companies will charge a hefty installation fee along with a large monthly monitoring fee. However, some of the other leading companies will offer services like free installation and a monthly monitoring fee as low as $20 per month. This equates to nearly two years of service for the same upfront cost of the Nest Secure system. The biggest attention grabber is the Nest Secure's sleek design. Many home security companies haven't upgraded the design of their systems for several years, so they can occasionally look like an eyesore. Nest Secure also operates using entirely wireless and cellular signals, which enables you to communicate with it using a mobile device. Basic packages for home security systems usually operate using landline connections that don't feature smartphone connectivity. Nest Secure's sensors also function as motion detectors, and you can arm and disarm them with just a push of a button on the sensors themselves. For standard home security systems, arming and disarming your system involves turning all of your sensors off at once. Nest Secure has taken a forward-thinking approach that will surely be more convenient for consumers. How does it compare? How do these features really measure up with other top-rated home security systems and their features? To give an adequate comparison, here are Nest Secure's basic features ($499 upfront) and Protect America's basic features ($20 per month). Nest Secure Wireless/cellular communication The Nest Guard brain unit Nest App functionality Two Nest Detect Sensors Also function as motion sensors and can be disarmed individually "Pathlight" function activates a small light, allowing you to see in the dark Two Nest Tags (key chain fobs to turn the system on and off) Protect America Landline communication Standard control panel Three door/window sensors Motion detector Yard sign Professional monthly monitoring As you can see, there are important differences in the features that each basic system offers. The Nest Detect Sensors are impressive, but you only get two of them when you order a basic $500 system. With Protect America's most basic package, you get three sensors for your doors/windows, but they can't be individually disarmed. The Nest Tags are convenient tools to arm and disarm your system without punching in a numerical code, but you don't get a yard sign for your home. And, believe it or not, yard signs can be enough to ward off burglars. The biggest difference of all is the professional monthly monitoring. Nest has yet to announce what the price tag will be for professional monthly monitoring. Until the company announces what its pricing plans are, it'll be difficult to make an accurate comparison. The fact that the company didn't announce this with the system hitting store shelves next month means it may not be as low as consumers want. Some competing systems like Ring's Protect system have promised monitoring plans for as little as $10 per month, which is unheard of, so Nest has some stiff competition. Contract Most home security companies operate on contracts that span multiple years. It's incredibly rare to find a home security company that lets you use your system on a month-to-month agreement, and even then, that company probably charges a high installation fee. It's fairly standard for a home security company to lock you into a 3 to 5-year contract. Take Protect America, for example. If you purchase the company's basic $20/month package, you're locked into a contract for three years. In essence, this product is going to cost you at least $720 in the long run, which is much more than Nest Secure's initial cost of $499. If you want to get out of this contract, you usually have to buy out of it, so you need to be absolutely sure it's what you want for the next three years. This is also one of the most reasonable contracts in the industry. To put things in perspective, companies like Vivint operate on 5-year contracts and charge at least $40/month, so expect to pay at least $2,400 over the long term. Currently, Nest Secure hasn't said anything about a monthly contract. More details should become clear as its monthly monitoring costs become public. Warranty According to Nest Secure's specs, the system comes with a 2-year limited warranty. This is adequate; however, companies like Guardian Protection, Vivint, and Protect America offer lifetime warranties on their equipment. Maybe after two years, your college student visits home and drops a bunch of textbooks on your Nest Guard brain unit. Then what? You're out to buy another one. If you were with one of the aforementioned companies, they would send you new equipment with minimum hassle. The takeaway The Nest Secure is really cool. It's sleek and stylish, which is something most home security systems don't have going for them. Despite its numerous strengths, the biggest potential weakness of the system is still under wraps. If it turns out that Nest Secure's monthly monitoring price isn't much different than a typical home security system, you might as well go with a traditional company that won't charge you the upfront cost of equipment. Maybe monthly monitoring isn't a big deal to you. If that's the case, the Nest Secure is seriously worth considering. But if you want to be absolutely sure your home is secure even when you miss a notification, Nest Secure probably isn't for you. Take a look at the best home security companies to see if another system fits your needs.
Nearly 2 million burglaries are reported in the United States every year and only 17 percent of homeowners have a home security system. Experts highly recommended that you pick up a home security system in order to monitor your home for potential break-ins, but there are several things you can do to add an extra level of protection to your home. Here are just five simple things you can do to make your home less susceptible to burglaries. 1. Lock Your Doors and Windows This is the simplest and most effective method, and hopefully, you're doing this out of habit. High-quality door locks can be purchased at any home improvement store for about the same price as a night out to the movies. If you have a deadbolt lock, that's excellent. Aluminum window sills are dangerous because they can be easy to break into, so consider replacing those. Make sure to test your windows to be sure the locks are solid before leaving the house or going to bed. Some home security companies have developed tools that allow you to lock your doors remotely. All you need is a mobile device with a special app and the corresponding electronic locks. If you leave for work or to go on vacation and you've forgotten to lock your doors, all you need to do is open up your app and tap a few buttons. It's that simple. As long as you have internet access, you're secure. 2. Make Your House Look Lived In The key to making your house looking lived in is to be realistic. If a burglar stalking your home notices that the living room light is still on at 3:00 in the morning, that may look a little suspicious. Keep a porch light on at both the front and back of your home during the night. Also, keep your blinds open or closed according to your usual habits. If you normally keep them open, but then you close them, this is a sign that you're not home. Home automation can make this job easier as well. Some advanced home security systems will have functions that allow you to turn lights on or off remotely or even set them on a timer if you're away. This is especially helpful if you're away for an extended period of time, such as a vacation. 3. Install a Stronger Back Door Many houses come with a strong, attractive front door. Homeowners may think this would be ideal for protecting against burglars and predators. Well, that's not exactly the case. Burglars are actually much more likely to break in through your back door, and if you have a weak door made of cheap wood with an old, inexpensive lock, a burglar can have access to your home with one well-placed kick. It would be smart to get that replaced sooner rather than later. Go to your local home improvement store and consult with an expert about what doors are best. Make sure to take the measurements of your door before you go. Most doors have standard sizes, but you don't want to buy a door only to take it home and discover it's the wrong size. Also, be sure to get a tough deadbolt lock to match. It won't cost much more. 4. Get a Dog Dogs aren't a sure-fire way to ward off burglars, but it's enough to make them think twice. Burglars want to get in and out quickly and dealing with a dog introduces too many variables: "Are they going to bark a lot and alert the sleeping family or neighbors? Are they friendly? If not, do I want to risk getting bitten? How will I distract the dog?" Most burglars will pass up a home with a dog to pursue an easier target. If you already have a dog, consider getting a "beware of dog" sign and put it somewhere obvious that prowlers will be sure to see. 5. Put Things in front of Windows Make life as difficult as possible for burglars if they decide to climb through a window. Put objects in front of a window like tables and desks with plants or pictures. If a burglar pulls open a window and tries to climb through, they will have an array of noisy obstacles to overcome before they can get inside. Most burglars will spend less than two minutes trying to ransack a house, so if they have to spend longer than this just getting inside, they'll usually move along. The Extra Mile These steps are simple, but getting a dog or replacing a door might still cost a penny or two. If you're planning on spending a few bucks to beef up your personal security habits, don't rule out researching home security systems. Some systems cost much less than you may think, and many of these home automation features mentioned earlier are becoming more affordable. Take a look at top companies to see if any of their pricing plans fit your budget and needs.
Different home security companies will have different approaches to producing, distributing, installing, and monitoring their systems. For the sake of this comparison, Best Company took two well-known home security companies that have different approaches and compared their services according to our criteria. Here's what you need to know: Professional Installation vs. DIY Installation Vivint is well-known for teams of orange-clad representatives canvassing neighborhoods, pitching potential clients on security systems that will protect their homes while offering robust smart home features. When you sign a Vivint contract, the representative will set an appointment to have a professional installer come to your home. From that point on, your home is professionally monitored 24/7 for burglars, fires, floods, and carbon monoxide. On the other hand, Protect America doesn't have any of these door-to-door representatives or in-person professional installers. Instead, you select a package from the company's website and the company mails the system directly to your door. From that point, you're free to install the system yourself or call a customer service representative to walk you through the process. Protect America systems also feature the same professional 24/7 monitoring as Vivint. Clearly, these companies have different approaches to distribution and installation, but what about everything else? Monthly Price Vivint prefers to quote you a monthly price, but the company website does indicate that monthly fees start at $39.99. However, this is a little high compared to some of the top-ranked companies in the industry. When you want to add home automation features, it'll cost you extra. Protect America features packages that start at $19.99 per month for any consumer—one of the lowest price tags in the industry. This package is the most basic of systems with just a few door/window sensors and a landline connection, but this may be acceptable for consumers who just want the basics. Upfront Fees Neither Vivint nor Protect America feature any installation or activation fees. This is encouraging, considering that many home security companies will charge hundreds of dollars in activation and installation fees. Contract Length Vivint features a 60-month contract, so make sure you've read every inch of the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. If you need to move your system within the contract length, Vivint also charges a hefty move fee. On the other hand, Protect America works on a 36-month contract. If you want to cancel your services before the expiration date on the contract, you must pay the remaining balance upfront with both companies. Monitoring Options For any reputable home security company, your system will be monitored day and night by certified staff through a landline, broadband, or cellular connection. However, not all companies offer all of these options. Vivint only operates based on a wireless/broadband connection. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if the internet goes down at your house, so does your home security system. If you're considering installing a security system at your remote cabin in the woods, Vivint might not be your best option. Protect America features packages in all three of these monitoring options. The landline packages are the least expensive, but broadband and cellular options are available at about $20/month extra, and these are the plans that feature home automation options. Depending on whether you want just the bare basics or the extra goodies, you'll pay a different fee. Equipment/Tech Vivint Features: SkyControl Panel Vivint Sky App Monthly Professional Monitoring Smoke Detectors Motion Detectors Window/Door Sensors Doorbell Camera (extra cost) Element Thermostat (extra cost) Kwikset Smart Locks (extra cost) Amazon Echo Compatability (extra cost) Vivint Ping Camera (extra cost) Linear Garage Door Control (extra cost) Light Controls (extra cost) Protect America Features: Touchscreen Control Panel Mobile App Monthly Professional Monitoring Smoke Detectors (extra cost) Motion Detector Window/Door Sensors Smart Locks (extra cost) HD Wireless Video Camera (extra cost) Amazon Echo Compatability (extra cost) Light Controls (extra cost) As you can see, the biggest difference is that Vivint's features are arguably more robust, but Protect America features very similar applications at a slightly lower price tag. Vivint will definitely win in this category, but that's only if you decide you want all the bells and whistles and not just the bells. Customer Feedback Unfortunately, Vivint customer feedback is plagued with dissatisfaction. Most customer reviews reflect experiences involving pushy sales reps and lackluster customer service, especially when it comes to canceling services or relocating your system. There are plenty of reviews that speak highly of the customer service and the quality of the systems, so it appears as though positive experiences with Vivint Home Security are hit-and-miss depending on the representative you work with. As of the time this article is being written, Vivint has a customer score of 3.7 out of 10 based on 87 customer reviews. On the other hand, Protect America's customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Based on over 700 reviews, the company has an overall score of 8.8 out of 10. Many customers comment on the easily-installed system, low prices, and helpful customer representatives. Overall The Vivint Breakdown: Leading home automation features Professional installation Lackluster customer experiences Slightly higher prices The Protect America Breakdown: Low, upfront pricing plans DIY installation with step-by-step help Exceptional customer experiences Competitive home automation features The deciding factors in this comparison are prices, customer service, installation, and home automation features. Protect America clearly has the upper hand when it comes to pricing; its basic system costs half the price of Vivint's basic system and still features professional monitoring. However, Vivint has a slightly wider array of home automation features, if you're willing to pay the difference. Protect America's installation is do-it-yourself and features helpful customer reps to help you through the process, but Vivint will take care of the entire installation process for you. Lastly, Protect America's customer service experiences are noticeably better than Vivint's, even if service is hardly ever in person. For a list of the best home security companies operating in your state, click here.
Purchasing a contract for a home security system can feel like a big step. Maybe you're currently on the fence, wondering if it's really worth the cost of installation and a recurring monitoring fee. It's obvious that a home security system helps protect your valuables, but there are many benefits of a home security system that might surprise you. In the following, we'll break down the important aspects of purchasing a home security system. But first, here's why it's important. The Facts Did you know that a burglary happens in the US approximately every thirteen seconds? That's no joke, and it's one of the main reasons why the home security industry is growing so rapidly right now. For the most part, bolting your doors and locking your windows will help you keep your home pretty safe, but sometimes it isn't enough. No one is without risk when it comes to a break-in. Here are some things you may not know: Approximately 2 million burglaries are reported in the United States every year 66% of burglaries are residential break-ins Homes without security systems are 3x as likely to be burglarized 33% of residential assaults are the product of burglaries Despite all this, only 17% of US homes have a security system You might find the numbers surprising. Thinking a little harder about joining that seventeen percent? Well, here's what a home security system can do for you if you choose to opt-in. Burglars Will Pass You By According to the Electronic Security Association, nine out of ten burglars will pass up a home if they know the home is armed with a security system. A study by Rutgers in 2009 also showed that home security systems help protect other homes in your neighborhood. That's right! If multiple homes in a neighborhood have home security systems, that neighborhood as a whole is less likely to be targeted by thieves and burglars. Some ways that burglars can tell if you have a home security system include video surveillance cameras and security company signs outside your home. Many home security companies will give you a small sign you can place in your yard to indicate that your home is monitored twenty-four seven. Cameras placed by doors and windows will also be a deterrent for nosey crooks taking a closer look at your property. Burglars want an easy target. The quicker they can get in and grab a couple thousand dollars worth of merchandise, the more likely they are to strike your property. They'll rarely attack at home that's fortified with multiple security measures. In the rare case that an intruder is brave enough to force entry into your home, alarms will sound on your security system to deter them. Within seconds, police will be notified of the break-in. This is when the would-be robbers will peel out. Reduced Homeowners Insurance Cost On average, a home security system can help you save approximately 20 percent on your homeowner's insurance because it makes you less likely to file a claim with your insurance company. Homeowner's insurance typically costs about $35/month for every $100,000 that your home is worth, so if your home is worth $300,000 you might be saving over $250/year. In some cases, that covers the cost of the home security system itself. What this means is that your home security system isn't costing you any more money than you're used to and your home is fortified against burglaries, fires, water damage, carbon monoxide poisoning, and so on. The cost of your homeowner's insurance will vary depending on your coverage, payment options, location and so on, so the above mentioned is a generalization. It's safe to infer, however, that your homeowner's insurance will decrease when you install a home security system. The best course of action is to find a home security system that you're interested in and contact your insurance agent to see what it will do to decrease your premiums. Helps You Regulate Your Home Some home security systems come equipped with features such as smart thermostats that will help you maintain steady energy use. This is done by regulating things like your home's temperature without the need of getting up to change the thermostat. When you have your home's temperature regulated, you can save up to 33% on your heating and cooling costs! This is great to know if you are trying to decrease their carbon footprint. Smart thermostats will also allow you to adjust your home's temperature remotely. Most systems will have an app you can download to your smartphone so you can control the temperature even when you're not home. This is helpful in situations such as spontaneous parties or dinners where you'll want to make the house comfortable for guests, or maybe when you forget to turn off the air conditioning before you leave on vacation. Both are just small benefits of having an automatic, remotely controlled system. Aside from temperature controls, a home security system is also great for video surveillance. Most home security companies will offer wireless video surveillance that you can access from your phone. For example, Protect America currently offers an HD wireless video camera that produces images at 720p and 30 frames per second, all accessible remotely from your smartphone. The system also includes night vision and audio. Not only is this good for monitoring your home for things like burglaries, but also for simple things like seeing if the kids are home. Lastly, home security systems are beginning to become compatible with devices such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo. With these devices, you can lock your doors, turn on lights, or arm your system with as little as a vocal command. Small Scale Deterrents There are some things you can do now to help you fortify your home against burglars, and they might be easier than you think. Install large window and door locks in plain sight. Install deadbolts on all your exterior doors. Call your local police officer and ask them to do a home security check for you. They can point out the weak spots in your home's defenses so you can improve them. More often than not, this service is free. Get motion-activated lights that turn on and off based on infrared signals. These can usually be installed anywhere outside your home and can be purchased at any major hardware store. Install thick doors. Approximately 70% of burglars enter your home through a door, so installing a door that's harder to break through will increase the security of your home. Don't forget the deadbolt lock to match. It should be noted that some of these measures will cost as much if not more than a home security system. For example, a steel entry door can cost over $300, which could cover the cost of installation and several months of monitoring. Both options are good measures to deter burglars, but home security systems definitely offer more variety and options. The Next Step There it is. You've got the basics. There are a plethora of things you can do to protect your home without subscribing to a monthly fee, but with home security systems as readily available and affordable as they are, it's likely not out of your budget. If you're serious about obtaining a home security system, there are dozens of home security companies that are ready to help. Websites like BestCompany.com have done the research in determining who are the best home security system providers on the grounds of price, equipment, and customer satisfaction. A list of the best providers in your state can be found here. Most companies offer plans for as low as $30/month, but some companies such as top-rated Protect America offer basic plans for as little as $20/month.