When Things Go Beep In The Night

Here's how to safeguard your most important investment-your home

all sorts of extras, from additional motion sensors to gadgets that turn on your crockpot at a certain time,” says McGoey. Escorts and vacation maintenance (collecting the mail and newspaper) are two options security firms may provide customers. These additional services typically cost an extra dollar per month as part of your monitoring package. You can also consider the new high-tech motion sensors. “They’re not only infrared but ultrasonic, meaning there needs to be a change in temperature and movement to [trigger the] alarm. Other alarms are triggered if just one of these is detected. You can have an alarm go off if, say, a leaf falls off a plant. These new motion detectors will result in fewer false alarms,” adds McGoey. Also, some companies randomly patrol neighborhoods where they have a large number of clients and may offer this service for free.

There are also security systems that do more than safeguard your home from burglars. They protect you from other turmoil. New systems on the market can monitor smoke, carbon monoxide and moisture detectors (devices that alert home owners of basement flooding). And if you’re the parent of latchkey kids, there are even security systems that will alert you when your children aren’t home on time. The Honeywell PC Managed Home Security plus TotalHome Control is one such system. It connects to your PC and allows you to establish and change the schedules and patterns of your alarm system’s control unit as well as monitor when your children arrive home. Here’s how it works: the child is given a special code to enter when arriving home from school. If the code
isn’t input by a certain time, the security company contacts the parent.

For Jones, who found that the three companies she met with offered similar services and prices, it was the company representative who sealed the deal for Brinks Home Security. “He explained everything thoroughly and was the most professional, something I want from a security company,” she says.

With so many things to consider, it’s best to research all options before selecting an electronic alarm system. First, find out if you qualify for a home owners’ insurance discount. According to National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), insurance companies offer up to 30% off. Your insurance agent can tell you what type of system entitles you to the highest discount. Then examine your home to determine which areas you want to protect and how much protection you’ll need, advises McGoey. Next, shop around, says NBFAA spokesperson Kara Rupard. In addition to getting referrals from friends, family and neighbors, she advises you to obtain at least three bids from security companies. When getting bids, have the selected companies do a walk-through of your home and then get any recommendations and quotes in writing. Also, ask them to compare the perks of leasing versus buying a system. Leasing may be best if you’re renting. Use a checklist to compare different packages and prices. And thoroughly examine the contracts to

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