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Should You Buy a Home Security Alarm System or Home Automation System from Your Cable Company?

by Derek June 26, 2014

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It seems like you can buy a security alarm or home automation system from just about anybody these days.

 

Your cable TV company will sell you an alarm system. They’ll even bundle it in a package with your internet, phone and TV programming.

 

Your utility company will sell you a home security system. You most likely won’t get a discount off your power bill but you will have more to read about in their monthly billing stuffers.

 

In the grab for more of your cash, cable companies and utilities companies are entering the home security burglar alarm and home automation business in record numbers. Even a search engine (Google) owns a home smoke detector company!

 

Why their interest in home security, emergency services, and automation? Two big reasons:

 

  1. Marketing research indicates that Americans are going to buy more home security, home security monitoring, and automation systems…they view it as a “growth market.”
  2. The home security and automation industry consists of many locally owned and operated companies, not large national corporations. Cable and utility companies know that most of their competitors in the home security business don’t have the multi-million dollar ad budgets like they do.

 

Now while competition in any industry usually benefits the consumer, where does it leave you?

 

Most likely, not in a position of security and safety that you need to be.

 

Security, safety and home automation is too important to leave in the hands of large corporate conglomerates.

 

You see, specialization is a good thing. Doing one thing allows people and companies to develop expertise, perspective and insights that transfer into better goods and services for you.

 

Protecting your home and family members is too important to leave it up to a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of company. You need to rely on security experts, companies that focus on security alone!

 

There’s a reason why the fire department doesn’t provide law enforcement services. The guy that bakes the world’s best cakes probably isn’t qualified to serve a five course meal and just because you have a successful baseball team doesn’t mean you’ll win at soccer.

 

Think about this for a minute. If someone is trying to break into your home, who do you want protecting it…people that specialize in protection or a company known for long wait times for customer service?

 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, published by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, condemns the services of big cable companies. The average security company scores in the high 70s on the index while the average of the cable companies was just 65! Internet companies (many of which also provide cable) scored a paltry 63! It gets worse…customer satisfaction with these subscription TV providers fell 4.4% in the past year alone. The scores are amongst the lowest on the entire Index!

 

Most of the cable and utility companies offer a highly limited selection of home security systems and home automation systems. Most won’t work for larger homes. And there is nothing unique about the security technology and automation services that they do offer – you can get the same exact things from companies that specialize in the industry, not just from those that dabble in it.

 

When you need to rely on an alarm system service provider for your family’s safety, go to the specialists in your local community. That makes sense for car repairs, it makes sense for home repairs and it makes sense for home security and home automation. Click here for more information.

15 Top Tips for Preparing Your Home for Summer

by Derek June 19, 2014

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After the winter we’ve all gone through, most of us are ready for summer.

 

Here are our top 15 tips of things you can do to get your home ready for this summer:

 

1. Clean your dryer vents. Clogged vents cause warm air to circulate back into your home. Simple cleaning of the vents prevents this from happening.

 

2. Clean, inspect and repair your window screens. You’ll want to enjoy the summer breezes without dust and bugs, so make sure your window screens are ready.

 

3. Trim back trees and bushes. Before summer is in full swing and foliage growth fills in, prune back any trees or shrubs that might obstruct the view from a window or become a good hiding spot for someone looking to check out whose home.

4. Check the fridge. You’ll want plenty of frosty cool beverages this summer so now’s a good time to clean the condensing coils and to make sure the refrigerator is working properly.

 

5. Inspect the roof. Check the flashing, caulking and shingles so your home can withstand the summer storms. Check for continuity on the plane of the roof and on the ridges. Make sure everything is tight and sealed. One of the best ways to identify potential back ups is to go out during a heavy rain and look at the water flow through the gutters.

 

6. Organize the garage. If you are like us, lawn chairs, games, coolers, floatation devices and more summer fun stuff is in the garage. Now’s a great time to organize the garage so things are handy when you are ready for fun!

 

7. Use compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. Not only do these bulbs use less energy, they give off less heat than other bulbs. Using CFL bulbs will help keep rooms cooler. Now that the sun is shining a brighter light bulb is less necessary.

 

8. Reverse the ceiling fan. Summer months mean that you want the ceiling fan to blow air down to give the room a breeze to make it feel cooler. This is the opposite direction of winter. Make sure the direction of the blades blow air down.

 

9. Use the exhaust fan when taking a shower. The purpose of your air conditioning unit is to replace warm, muggy air with cool air. A steamy shower can create muggy conditions that spill out of the bathroom into other areas of your home. The exhaust fan can remove those steamy, muggy conditions while saving on your air conditioning costs.

 

10. Put shade by the air conditioning units. Plant a tree or place some shade over your air conditioning units to help them run more efficiently.

 

11. Put a vent or fan in the attic. Attic vents or fans help pull hot air off your ceilings, keeping your house cooler (and making it more tolerable to go in the attic!).

 

12. Get ready to barbeque. Most homeowners enjoy cooking outside in the summer. Get the grill and all of your supplies in good order for lots of summer fun.

 

13. Check the caulking around openings to your home. Doors, windows, vents, and other openings can slightly separate from the frame of your home. Seal them to keep the cool air in and the warm air out.

 

14. Replace the HVAC filters regularly. Blocked air filters reduce the ability of your air conditioning system to push and pull air through the registers. Allergens are higher in the summer months as well. Change your filters every 30 days or as recommended by the maker of your air conditioner.

 

15. Insulate. Proper insulation around doors and windows keeps warm air out. Make sure weather stripping is intact and providing a good seal around the door.

 

And here’s a bonus tip. Now’s a great time to check your home security system. My Alarm Center Alarm Company has technicians in your local community that can come and inspect your security system to make sure things are working properly. Call us toll-free at 855-334-6562 to schedule an appointment.

Small Business Owner Benefits from Security Camera System

by Amy June 17, 2014

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Scottsdale small business owner Dave West couldn’t believe what was happening before his own eyes.

 

West, owner of a Scottsdale health club called Koko FitClub, watched two members abuse the exercise equipment at his business.

 

Right in the middle of the day, right in the middle of the club, right in front of his face.

 

“I was stunned,” said West.

 

Although all of this was happening right before his own eyes, West was NOT at his health club at the time. He was observing this abuse in real-time right from his smartphone.

 

“I contacted my manager on duty and he stopped the problem before it got out of hand,” says West. “I saved my equipment.”

 

West is typical of many small business owners who have found security camera systems ideal for their business.

 

West uses his security camera system viewed through his smartphone to:

 

  • Determine if an alarm system activation is real or a false alarm.
  • See what’s happening at his club through live video at anytime from anywhere.
  • Determine staffing levels at various times of the day/week.
  • Observe employee behaviors, especially how they interact with each other and customers.
  • Slash theft.

 

“I’ve even looked in on my club when hiking at the Grand Canyon,” said West.

 

If you’d like to bring this level of security and flexibility to your small local businesses operations, contact the small business security experts here at My Alarm Center. Call us at 855-334-6562

Two Home Security Service Scams to Be Aware of This Summer

by Cassie June 12, 2014

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There are two common home security company scams home burglars are currently using to gain access to your home.

 

In the first, burglars pose as animal control officers. They’ll come to your door and ask to inspect your backyard for snakes.

 

While one of them distracts you in the backyard, the other goes inside your home to steal.

 

Keep in mind, it’s very uncommon for city workers to show up unannounced. If this happens to you, be sure to ask the workers to identify their supervisor and call the city office right away to verify the visit. Don’t let anyone enter your home or property without first verifying their need to be there.

 

The second scam to be aware of comes via your telephone.

 

Burglars pose as telemarketers representing a home security company. They call you to ask questions about your home security to find out if you are vulnerable.

 

If you get a call like this, tell them you have a monitored home security system connected to a monitoring center and security camera system. Thank them for their call and promptly hang up.

 

If either of these things happen to you, it’s wise to report the situation to your local authorities.

7 Safety Tips When Your Home Is For Sale

by Amy June 5, 2014

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Did you know that when you put your home up for sale it becomes more vulnerable to burglaries? That’s why you need burglar detector alarms even in empty homes.

 

Listing a home for sale means lots of strangers in your house, everyone from real estate agents, prospective buyers, neighbors and others. It’s easier for thieves to find out what is in your home and when it might be vacant for them to do their dirty work.

 

Here are some things you can do to keep your home safe from harm while it is on the market :

 

1. Take an inventory | Digitally record the possessions in your home prior to placing the home on the market. Do a room by room inventory of all items so you know what you have. This digital record will be very useful in the event of theft or emergency.

2. Contact your security company | Let your home security company know that you’ll be selling your home. This is a perfect time to verify your contact information should you or your representative need to be reached in the event of emergency. Your security company can also review your options concerning the sale of your home and the home security system.

 

3. Train your realtor | Give your realtor their own code to use the alarm system. That way you can track when they’ve been there and for how long. This code can also be easily deleted when it is no longer needed. Make sure your realtor knows how to properly arm and disarm the system. Your realtor also needs to know how to cancel an alarm with your alarm monitoring center.

 

4. Work in pairs | Some people sell their home without using a realtor. In these instances it is always wise to work in pairs. Don’t show your home alone. This gives strangers a chance to take advantage of you. Always have someone with you when showing your home. To avoid the risk of being attacked from behind, allow visitors to enter rooms before you do.

 

5. Keep a log| Insist that your realtor keep a log of all people that enter your home, especially during open house showings. It’s wise to have your realtor ask to see a photo ID for all who enter during an open house. Don’t allow people to wander unattended through your home.

 

6. Protect the valuables | Portable electronics, jewelry, spare keys, wallets, etc. are all valuables that need to be protected when showing your home. Keep these things in drawers or closets so they don’t become easy targets for dishonest people.

 

7. Inspect your home after each showing | Criminals may use your open house or visit to your home to plan for future crimes. They’ll get to know the home, they’ll check out what you have, and they may unlock door locks or windows for use in their return visit. Check your home after each showing. Make sure nothing appears out of order. Check to make sure all doors and window are locked, and that no security system motion sensors have been blocked by something to reduce their coverage range.

 

 

 

Selling your home can be hectic enough without having to deal with criminal activity. Don’t allow your home to be an easy target. Follow these tips for better protection with home security companies.

How to Answer Your Door with Home Security in Mind

by Amy April 15, 2014

 

Many of us have taught our kids to never open the door for a stranger. How many adults take those same safety precautions before answering the door?

Sure, we all want to be friendly and courteous. Yet not everyone coming to your door may have the same good intentions. In today’s society, you can’t trust that the person on the other side of the door is a friendly visitor.

Here’s what you should do when you hear a knock at your door:

·         Use a security camera system to see who is at the door. Make the camera visible. A camera could deter someone with devious intentions. The camera itself will allow you to see who is at the door.

·         Interact with the visitor using an intercom. This is an effective and affordable way to talk with a stranger without actually answering the door.

·         Look out a window. If you don’t have a home security camera system watching the area outside your door, look out a window adjacent to the door. You can see who is there without them knowing you are home. Based upon what you see, you can make a decision about how to proceed.

·         Talk through the door. Ask the visitor who they are and what they want behind the closed and locked door. Ask for identification. A legitimate visitor will understand and be happy to share ID with you.

·         Use a door chain. A chain lock provides some security while allowing you to open the door enough to get the visitor’s identification for review. You can also use the chain lock to accept a small package or special delivery envelope.

·         Send them home. If an unwanted visitor calls, or someone visits claiming to have an appointment you can’t verify, send them home. Tell them you’ll call to schedule their visit for another time.

·         Use your phone or system camera. Take a picture of the visitor and email it to a friend. Call the company the visitor claims to represent to make sure things are legitimate.

·         Trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, then don’t open the door.

It only takes a second for a criminal to seize an opportunity to bring you harm. Be cautious. Be safe

Four Wireless Home Security Tips for Your Second Home

by Amy April 10, 2014

 

The start of spring brings the high season for second homes. It also poses a dilemma for second home owners.

When you are not at your second home, how do you keep it safe? Not only are there threats to the home from humans (vandalism, burglary), there are also natural disasters and plumbing emergencies. Second homes by their very nature are often several hours from first homes and the greater the distance, the greater the wireless home security system complexities.

With popular vacation home rental sites like Flipkey.com, Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner, many homeowners recoup some second home costs by renting to vacationers. These rentals pose even more home security risks: how do you deliver and retrieve keys and how do you make sure renters haven’t trashed your place?

To simplify the home security and protection of your second home, we offer these tips.

Install a Complete Home Security Alarm System

Advances in technology make home security systems an attractive protection option for second homes. Cellular technology has eliminated the need for traditional phone lines for alarm system monitoring. Protect doors and windows, plus make sure to include interior motion detectors, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detection. Your best protection against burglar and vandalism at your second home is with a monitored security system.

Include Security Camera Systems

Security camera systems are highly affordable, and they allow you to look in on your second home from your smartphone or any other web-enabled device. This means you can check in on your home from anywhere at any time. You can also record activity, which is highly useful if you need to prosecute any criminal activity. Want to see if you place has been trashed by vandals? Simply look on your phone and check! Security cameras outside your home are a must. Inside cameras are great even if you don’t rent your place to others.

Add Home Automation Features

Home automation features can integrate with your second home security system. You can remotely control and monitor temperature settings, which can help keep pipes from freezing without wasting energy. You can lock and unlock doors, turn on and off interior lighting, and a variety of other convenient options for second home owners. Set it up to run automatically or control it through any web-enabled device.

Maintain a Lived-In Look

Keep things up-to-date while you are away. Hire a service to periodically check on your home. Use your home automation system services to turn on and off lights at designated times. Have your service or neighbors pick up any flyers or newsletters left on your property. Have a service keep the property in good repair while you are away. And make sure to use a yard sign and window stickers from your home security company so criminals know that your property is protected.

Security Alarm Monitoring Services 101: No Landline? No Problem!

by Amy April 8, 2014

 

With cellular technology and smartphones, many of us no longer have a traditional landline telephone in our homes. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of Americans don’t have a landline phone and that number is growing.

Many prospective home security system owners are concerned. They believe that a landline is necessary to monitor a home security system and, because they don’t have one, they’re worried about their protection.

There’s no need to worry.

Home security systems can be monitored using the same cellular signaling technology used for your smartphone. It’s effective and secure and eliminates the need for traditional landlines.

Cellular monitoring services involves placing a cellular module into the alarm system control panel. This module acts as a communicator between the alarm system and the alarm monitoring center. Signals are sent through the data portions of cellular towers, which make sure they arrive quickly and efficiently to the monitoring center.

Cellular alarm monitoring services also makes remote control (through your smartphone, tablet or any web enabled device) faster and easier to use.

Not all home security companies offer cellular alarm monitoring services. We do at My Alarm Center and we’d be happy to answer your questions and protect your home. Call us at 855-334-6562 or send us an email for more information.

How Does an Alarm Monitoring Services Center Work? Take a glimpse inside the operation of a U.L. Certified Central Station

by Amy April 3, 2014

 

The most important part of a wireless home security system is who responds and the time of the response.

After all, what good is a wireless security system if no one is watching it to take action when needed?

The alarm monitoring services center (often called a “Central Station”) is the place where home alarm systems are monitored for burglary, fire, carbon monoxide and other supervisory conditions. These centers should be in highly secure, well-constructed buildings. They are staffed with central station operators who review and respond to alarm system signals and alarm events.

Through the use of software, communications equipment and staff, Central Stations monitor alarm signals and take appropriate action when necessary, including dispatching police and fire as well as private emergency response services.

Not all Central Stations are equal, nor do all provide the same monitoring services or the same quality of service.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a leader in certifying and inspecting Central Station standards and performance capabilities. UL has rigid standards and only a select percentage of Central Stations qualify for their listing. UL conducts annual inspections of listed Central Stations to ensure compliance.

UL certified Central Stations must be able to withstand attack, operate on back-up power sources in the event of power loss and meet a whole variety of other security and operational standards.

You can generally expect higher levels of home security and better service from UL listed Central Stations. That’s because they are required to meet or exceed certain levels of performance. You’ll also find UL certified Central Stations offer more services and their fees run about the same as other quality home alarm monitoring companies (in the interests of full disclosure My Alarm Center, the owner of this blog, monitors its alarm systems at a UL certified Central Station).

Here’s how Central Station alarm monitoring services works.

Your home security alarm system is programmed to communicate with a signal receiver at a Central Station. The information provided includes your information, the type of signal, and in most instances, the zone (s), or device (s) that triggered the signal.

A Central Station operator will view the transmitted signal and take appropriate action. Actions may vary by customer, municipality and emergency condition. For most home burglar alarm systems, the operator will call the premises to verify the alarm before dispatching police (many communities require this to reduce false alarms). Alarm users can cancel alarms by using their personal identification password or number on record with the Central Station. If no one answers the operator’s call, or someone gives incorrect information, emergency authorities are dispatched at once. You can expect the Central Station to react differently to supervisory, fire and personal emergency response system conditions.

Detailed electronic records should be kept by the Central Station concerning all alarm signal transmissions and Central Station response to all signals. There should also be electronic and audio recordings of all Central Station operator interactions with you and/or responding parties, including the authorities.

So what do you need to know about alarm system monitoring services?

You need it. An alarm system is only as good as who responds and how long the response takes.

It makes no difference who installed your home security alarm system. Most alarm systems, regardless of installer or manufacturer, can be monitored by most reputable companies.

Keep your alarm monitoring services with a UL certified Central Station. They offer better performance and higher levels of security, which is why you invested in a home security system in the first place.

Train all home security system users on the proper operation of the system and make sure all know their personal identification codes so they can properly cancel and manage alarm signals with the Central Station.

Moving? Here’s What To Do With Your Home Alarm System.

by Amy April 1, 2014

 

If you have a monitored home security alarm system and are planning to move, this blog post is for you. In it, you’ll learn the exact steps you should take concerning the wireless security system in the home you intend to vacate.

Most home security companies require an agreement to monitor your home alarm system. These agreements have a term and most security companies enforce the term, even if you aren’t using the system or no longer live in the home in which it is installed.

Home security companies enforce their contracts because they often take a loss on the installation of the system, and earn their profit during the term of the monitoring contract.

The last thing you want to do is abandon the home security system without fulfilling the alarm services contract. Most security companies will begin actions to find you and collect their money, and your credit rating may be damaged in the process.

With most home security companies, you have three options for your monitored home alarm system when moving:

·         Take it with you to your new residence and resume monitoring services at the new location. This is the option selected by most people. After all, your new home needs security just like the old one did. Simply take your wireless home security system with you to your new home.

·         Get the people who are moving into your home to assume the contract term for the monitoring services of the system. With this option, you leave the security system with the home for the new homeowners. This option only works for you if the new home occupants sign monitoring contract with the alarm company. If the new home occupants don’t sign a contract for alarm monitoring, in most instances you are still obligated for the contract term with the alarm company.

·         Pay the remaining amount due for the term of the monitoring services contract. If you aren’t taking the system with you to your new home, or the new home occupants won’t assume your responsibility for the monitoring contract, then you’re left with paying the remaining term of the agreement.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you know you are moving from your home is to contact your alarm company. They’ll be happy to review your options and recommend your best course of action.

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