How a smart security system can do more than just protect your home

Diana Bocco
How a smart security system can do more than just protect your home

A home security system can give you 'remote control' when you're away. | Photo: Thinkstock

Thanks to technological advances, a security system can do more than just keep burglars away.

In fact, some security systems can control the temperature of your home, monitor your children's whereabouts, and even let the babysitter in when you're away from home.

To make this happen, "applications are enabled using simple Z-Wave automation devices like motion detectors, door and window sensors, and lighting and door lock controls," according to Mark Walters, chairman of Z-Wave, a company that unifies different home electronics into an integrated wireless network.

Keep reading to learn more about how a home security system can benefit your lifestyle.

Benefit #1: Reduce Your Energy Bill

Sounds a little crazy, but yes, a security system can indeed help save energy and reduce your electricity bill.

For example, by using sensors installed throughout your home, your security system can detect whether or not someone is home and save electricity by turning lights off when the house is empty.

"Similarly, you don't have to worry if you forgot to turn off the air conditioning or heater," says Scott Harkins, president and general manager of Honeywell Security Products Americas. Instead, you can use your home security system to control the heating and cooling system right from your smartphone - potentially saving hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs, adds Harkins.

In fact, some alarm systems will even account for extreme temperatures, according to Jay Kenny, home security technology expert and vice president of marketing at

"With this feature, the system will automatically adjust thermostats when extremely hot or cold weather is forecasted in order to reduce energy costs," says Kenny.

[Think you can benefit from a security system? Click to find a home security provider now.]

Benefit #2: Save Money on Home Insurance

The safer you and your home are, the cheaper your home insurance will be.

In fact, the Insurance Information Institute's (III) website notes that you can often receive discounts of at least 5 percent if your home is equipped with a smoke detector or burglar alarm. However, a company could lower your premium by 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated system that combines the two and rings at the police, fire, or other monitoring stations, III adds.

Why is so much stock put into these sophisticated alarm systems? Because stand-alone smoke detectors are often very limited and don't always wake people up, according to Don Privitera, president and chief technology officer of Advance Warning Security.

On the other hand, a security system with a built-in smoke detector could signal the fire department with the exact address of the fire, Privitera says. This added protection is something that home insurance companies prefer, and will thus reward homeowners with a lower bill.

[Want to save on your home insurance bill? Click to find a home security provider now.]

Benefit #3: Monitor Children's Whereabouts and Actions

If you're worried about the safety of your kids and what they're up to when you're not home, you don't have to worry much longer.

 "Systems can be programmed to send a text message or email with a video attachment to parents/caregivers when kids arrive home," Kothari explains.

Even better, the same system also allows you to figure out what time your kid came home. How? By giving each person a different PIN number. This way, you can log who enters or leaves the house and at what time, Walters explains.

If you need even more peace of mind, some systems have a capability called "No Show Alerts." According to Kenny, this feature sends an alert to a parent's mobile device if a child has not disabled an alarm system by a specified time. "That way you can be instantly alerted if your kids have not come home by a certain time," Kenny adds.

Parents can also monitor electronics usage, according to Kothari, who notes that sensors can track what time your child turned on the TV or when they entered the living room. With this capability, "parents can be notified when teens who are expected to complete homework settle in to relax in front of the TV instead," Kothari says.

[Think you can benefit from a security system? Click to find a home security provider now.]

Benefit #4: Prevent Water Damage

A broken water heater or leaking faucet left unnoticed can create devastating damage to a home, according to Kothari. Aside from ruining walls and flooring, it can also destroy valuable furniture or valuables.

And while you may not expect it, a security system has the ability to prevent this type of water damage. In fact, you can add a flood sensor notification alarm to your security system to notify you if there's a leak or unexpected water flow, Kothari says.

But that's not all. "Some models can be programmed to shut valves off in order to prevent or minimize water damage," Kothari adds.

What's more, these water and flood sensors can be installed in any area where flooding is possible, according to Kothari. This includes basements, areas underneath sinks, or behind washing machines.

[Want to protect your home? Click to compare rates from multiple home security providers now.]

Benefit #5: Lock/Unlock Doors via Smartphone or Tablet

You're half way to work and then it hits you: You're not sure if you locked the front door. If you know this absent-minded feeling well, then you're in luck. There are many alarm systems that allow you to lock and unlock your door remotely, using a Smartphone or tablet.

Yep, you read that correctly. With this capability, you don't have to leave an extra key for the babysitter or worry about rushing home to let guests into your home.

Instead of distributing keys or hiding one under the mat, advanced home security systems allow you to control door locks through Z-Wave technology, according to Amy Kothari, president and CEO at alarm Capital Alliance. This means that situations like giving workmen access to your home doesn't have to be an event that disrupts the day.

Once you know somebody is at the door, you can click something on your Smartphone and the door 'magically' opens, Kothari explains.

[Think it's time to install an alarm system? Click to compare rates from multiple companies now.]

Benefit #6: Allow Senior Citizens to Maintain their Independence

Some senior citizens prefer to live on their own and if that's the case for a loved one in your family, you'll be happy to know that certain home security systems can help ensure their safety.

For example, using motion detectors, you could program a system to notify you (through the security system's app on your Smartphone or tablet) if a person is in the bathroom longer than a set amount of time, Walters explains. This will help alert you of any suspicious activity.

And if you're concerned about an elderly person who's likely to forget to turn off the lights or adjust the thermostat, you could set your alarm to do it automatically.

Walters explains, for example, that you could have a number of functions tied to setting the alarm. "Performing that 'trigger' event automatically takes care of the locks, lights, window shades, and thermostat," Walters says.