With summer vacation itineraries firming up, you might be surprised to find something that isn't: Northwesterners' plans for using a security system to keep their homes safe while they're away.
In a recent PEMCO Poll, 47% of respondents said they have no home security system, and of those who did, a quarter admitted they use it "sometimes or less."
Which might lead you to wonder: Is it worth it to install a home security system?
We think the answer is yes – beginning with the obvious benefit of discouraging burglars. In a University of North Carolina study of 422 incarcerated burglars, 60% said they'd move on if they noticed an alarm system before entering, and half said they'd bolt if they became aware of one after they were inside. In a separate Temple University study, that "bolt" effect seemed to reduce overall losses in alarmed versus non-alarmed homes ($3,266 versus $5,343) as the crooks quickly grabbed what they could and got out.
But even if worries about a break-in don't keep you awake at night, consider that today's security systems might more accurately be called "home management" rather than "alarm" systems. Virtually all security providers, from the big names you recognize to relatively new players, can offer capabilities like:
- Viewing real-time video inside your home to keep an eye on pets, elderly relatives in your care, housekeepers, and repair persons
- Changing your furnace or air conditioner settings
- Locking or unlocking doors (a plus if out-of-town guests show up for an unexpected visit or you've locked yourself out of the house)
- Turning lights on or off
- Detecting water leaks
- Receiving email and text alerts about events happening at home.
An online search will turn up ratings for security companies and systems available in your area, as well as comments from homeowners on topics like ease of use, contracts, help when something goes wrong, and price.
Whatever system you choose, make sure you've discussed options to add fire and carbon-monoxide monitoring. Cost is minimal, and if the alarm sounds, your monitoring service will call the local fire department for you.
Take your time
If you're seriously considering a security system, get several bids, then let them cool off for a few days as you think it over. It's easy to get caught up in a "But wait, there's more!" sales pitch, only to find yourself with an expensive monitoring contract and complicated features you realize you're unlikely to use. You'll also need to factor in how long you plan to stay in your home. While some systems may be portable, you'll leave behind any hard-wired components (along with a potentially sizeable investment) when you move.
If you do add a security system, be sure to let us know. You'll receive an additional discount on your PEMCO homeowners insurance.
You can check out the complete results of our security system poll here.