If you ever question whether alarm systems have evolved over the past few years, there are plenty of indicators that the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
For one thing, the “new entrants” to the alarm industry – cable and telco providers like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and AT&T – are trumpeting bundled offers that include these new advanced services. Of course, it’s yet not clear that those companies can support the new technology and provide real peace of mind!
But the fact remains that these newcomers, along with smart existing alarm companies, are focused on home alarm technology that does much more than traditional intrusion detection.
We’ve already covered several aspects of interactive services. Perhaps the best way to describe what’s happened to alarm system technology is that today, you can feel not only protected, but also connected. And the big reason for that change is interactive monitoring services. This post will provide an overview of what interactive monitoring means.
Interactive Monitoring Features – in a Nutshell
Remember this short version of how alarm technology has changed for the better:
- The ability to remotely arm and disarm your system from a PC, tablet, or even a smart phone using an app. (We covered that in a previous post).
- The ability to receive text and/or email messages from your alarm system on multiple events happening in the home, such as doors opening, motions sensors being activated, loss of power, etc. (We covered, that, too).
- Intelligent home video services: real-time viewing, plus motion activated clips sent to you and stored remotely. (And we even covered that).
- Home automation functions, such as the ability to remotely control your lights, lots, and thermostats – todays topic!
The most recent expansion of interactive monitoring involves home automation services, meaning the remote control of items such as lights, locks, and thermostats. Lots of homeowners find this development very exciting, since this where your home really feels “connected” in addition to “protected” – assuming you have the right system! You’ll feel more secure, save energy, and enjoy greater peace of mind.
Where Some of your Money Goes
According to ENERGY STAR, the average annual energy bill for a typical single family home is approximately $2,200, – 58 percent of which is dedicated to heating, cooling and lighting. The good news for homeowners seeking to reduce this significant expense is that a home automation and energy management solution is easier and more convenient than ever to integrate with an interactive home security system.
Not only can consumers control lights, locks and thermostats remotely from a computer or smartphone, they can also set up schedules to make their homes smarter and even conserve energy at the same time.
How it Works
With advanced triggers and rules features, consumers can define custom settings that connect their security system to their locks, lights, and other automation devices. Here are three key ways consumers can utilize their home energy controls and leave planning anxiety behind:
See the Light
By integrating home automation with a security system, it’s simple to manage lights from afar or have a home control the lights itself. Set up custom rules and schedules based on other activity at home like alarms, arming events or sensor activity.
For example, when a family member comes home and disarms the security system, the light in the front hallway can be set to turn on automatically adding a layer of security and comfort to the nightly routine of entering a home. Or if activity is detected by motion sensors upstairs, the upstairs lights can be set to turn on automatically as well.
For additional protection on top of a security system, consumers can automate the lights to turn on and stay on for thirty minutes if a security alarm is triggered.
Lock it Up
Home automation solutions can also assist in locking and unlocking doors in a home. One useful application is setting a security system to disarm automatically if the front door is unlocked. For extra supervision, a user can customize these settings even further by specifying the applicable times of day and the days of the week.
For example, a security system can disarm whenever the front door lock is unlocked between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on weekdays. If you know when a guest or the contractor will be stopping by, set up unique lock codes for them and have the security system disarm only if those specific codes are used to unlock a door. Plus, users can be notified via text message or email of this activity. Finally, for added peace of mind, lock one door lock and have that action trigger the rest of the door locks in a home to lock simultaneously.
Know What’s Cool
You can integrate not just lights and locks into security system settings, but also thermostats. What’s really cool is that with just one click to arm the security system from an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry device, all the lights in a home can turn off, the thermostat can cool the house down, and all the doors can lock. Just like that: 1, 2, 3, 4 steps in one click.
Versatile home automation schedules and powerful security rules can do more than make life easy; they can help you stay secure and stay connected while running a home more efficiently and simplifying daily routines. While out and about on your day-to-day activities, your home will be busy making automated choices of its own. Smarter energy decisions and convenient, customizable control of lights, locks and thermostats are here – and affordable.
Interactive Monitoring Alone is Not Enough
And once again, I’ll remind you that the best systems today offer these interactive monitoring features in addition to the 24/7 “real” monitoring services offered by a dedicated response center. You want to know that there is someone being dispatched to your home – police, fire, or medical – when the need is there. And the best way to insure that level of response is with a professionally monitored system.
That completes out coverage of the interactive features available in today’s most advanced alarm systems. You can actually get these services from a number of providers, so just make sure you shop hard, and read all the reviews that you can find on the companies themselves – like FrontPoint.
Remember to ask plenty of questions once you’ve made the important decision to protect your home and family. Whether you’re a first-time home security shopper, or you’re an old hand upgrading to the new interactive technology, the more you know, the better. See you next Monday!