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What Is Smart Or Connected Home Automation Services?

by Tammy February 11, 2015

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You know the feeling. You leave for work, get halfway to the office, and wonder, “Did I lock the door?” Then, you contemplate your options. You could head back home to check the door or drive to work risking that the door might be unlocked and an intruder could get inside, steal everything you own, and you wind up coming home to an empty entertainment center, gutted house, and a missing dog. That is, unless you have a smart, or connected, home with smart home devices.

The connected home with smart home devices is becoming more common as technology evolves and changes how we live our everyday lives. A connected home is one that quiets all those little worries you have when you walk out the door. Are the doors locked? Did I turn out all the lights? Is the air conditioner still running?

Simply put, a connected home is one that uses the technology of the Internet of Things (IoT) and has home appliances and accessories that are connected to the Internet.

This year at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the connected home showcase occupied a sizeable amount of show floor real estate. Although this category made its big splash last year, this year it evolved from its preliminary conceptual stages and moved deeper into implementation by featuring products that homeowners could consider and add to their homes right away (in other words, the uses became more applicable and prices more affordable).

From automated sweepers to smart locks and smart thermostats, the gadgets at CES impressed and overwhelmed. Through the featured products, we discovered that almost anything electric – lights, heat, locks – can be connected to a home automation system, allowing the devices to communicate and be controlled remotely by any array of digital devices (e.g., smart phones, tablets, etc.).

Here are a few categories that are now a part of the expanding world of the IoT and the associated products and smart home devices that are making their way through our front doors.

Appliances. When it comes to appliances, there are refrigerators connected to the Internet and even dog food bowls that can be controlled through a couple taps within a mobile app. Other appliances include microwaves, ovens, and interestingly enough, slow cookers.

Lighting. A connected home can absolutely help you save money and conserve electricity by utilizing the features of smart lighting. With smart light bulbs and corresponding mobile apps, a lighting schedule can be planned so the lights are turned on and off, avoiding wasted energy. The bonus is that you can even create a lighting schedule so you don’t have to install multiple timers into your electrical outlets just to appear as if you’re home while you’re out for the evening or enjoying a vacation.

Temperature Control. And back to saving money, temperature controls with a smart thermostat can help you save by controlling and regulating your home temperature, even from afar. By pre-setting temperatures and monitoring any fluctuations, you can easily change the temperature through an app, even if you’re across the country.

Smart Locks. To protect your loved ones (and all your new smart home gadgets), smart locks will keep your home locked while allowing you to set specific codes for anyone entering your home. By activating this sort of locking system, you will always know who walked through your front door, what time he/she entered, and through which door he/she exited.

A smart home devices connected home is a smart home and one that can actually help save money, provide protection, and offer peace of mind. And while we may not have Rosie from the Jetsons (yet) to help us with our chores, with all the new home automation solutions and gadgets helping our homes operate on their own, a real life Rosie could be on the horizon.

The Benefits of Home Automation Services [GUIDE]

by Cassie February 3, 2015

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Walk into any home improvement store and chances are, you will see a display with an array of product offerings and ways to sync everyday home activities and smart home devices with your smartphone to make your home “smarter.”

With our on-the-go lifestyles, the growing interest in home security companies, and concerns about protection, having a smart home and access to home automation capabilities are becoming top of mind for most homeowners. Homes using home automation hit 1.8 million installations last year and that number is expected to grow to 12 million systems by 2016. With all these new shiny bells and whistles, it makes sense to take some time and understand what the smart home and home automation can do for you and/or your family.

With home automation services, you can control your home remotely with just a few smartphone screen taps. You can remotely control your security system, interior and exterior lighting, internal temperature, and more. So not only does home automation give you peace of mind with the benefit of home security, but it also can save you money and be a convenient way to monitor your home so you never feel you are too far away to protect it.

Here are some highlights of the benefits of home automation services.

Save money. Automating your home can save energy (read: money) by controlling lighting, with smart lights, and heat settings, with smart thermostats. A single bulb can last 2.28 years when dimmed at 50 percent, which is 20 times longer than the average light bulb lifespan – so less energy consumption equals longer use. With 56 percent of energy payments accounting for heating and cooling, the total savings accrued by being able to change settings from afar can really add up. Overall, those who invest in a home automation system will save an average of 15 percent on energy bills and 20 percent on home insurance.

Enjoy convenience. When leaving your home for work or vacation, there is always that funny feeling something was forgotten. With home automation services, you can put your mind at ease by being able to check on your home and control your garage doors, lock and unlock doors, and check up on the family pet if he/she didn’t join you on vacation. There’s also the convenience of being able to control the lighting, temperature, and doors for the times neighbors may be stopping by to check in or when “housesitters” spend the night.

And of course, while saving money and having the convenience of control at your fingertips are important, no one can put a price on the safety of you, your home, and/or your family members. Depending on the amount of home security monitoring needed, home automation systems can offer everything from remotely locking your exterior doors, to door and window monitoring, and even advanced motion detectors, cameras, and sensors that detect when something is wrong – even alerting you at the sound of breaking glass.

While we know uncertainties are a part of life – from that unexpected flat tire in the midst of a thunderstorm to a potential robbery – the goal is be prepared. And in the 21st century, that means using the technology we have at our fingertips to make life easier and safer.

Consider home automation services as part of your security strategy. For more information, review the popular Guide to Home Automation that provides more information about each of these aspects of this technology.

10 New Year Resolutions to Make Your Home Safe

by Cassie January 6, 2015

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With the New Year upon us we thought we’d share 10 resolutions you can make to improve your home security. Sometimes a few easy steps are all it takes to keep you safe and secure.

  1. Remove all flyers from your doorstep right away.

Some burglars will case a home by placing a flyer on the door to see if someone picks it up. Don’t let them build up to dangerous levels on your doorstep and arrange for a neighbor to pick them up if you are away.

  1. Use timers for indoor and outdoor lights.

Automatic timers on lights make your home look occupied and can even be part of your home automation system. Use energy efficient bulbs to keep your energy costs down.

  1. Don’t leave electronics boxes out on the curb or visible to others.

These boxes are like an advertisement to thieves that you have new goodies in your home. Take these boxes to a recycling center or cut them up in small pieces so they fit securely inside a trash receptacle.

  1. Don’t post on social media that you’ll be away from your home.

You’d be amazed at the number of home break-ins that happen from trip announcements on social media. Share with your friends and family members all the news about your good time AFTER you get back home.

  1. Reinforce your door jams if you have weak door frames.

More than 70% of home break-ins come by someone kicking in a door. Watch this video to see how to reinforce your entry doors for under $10.00.

  1. Secure the sliding glass doors and windows.

Put a wooden dowel or metal rod in the door or window track so they can’t easily be pried open by thieves.

  1. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Protect your home and family members from death by smoke, heat or poisonous gas. Monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors keep your family safe while summoning the fire department for assistance.

  1. Get a home security system installed that allows you to control and monitor your home with your smartphone.

Home security monitoring systems are an effective deterrent to crime.  Get one that allows you to control home security and home automation functions right from your smartphone and make sure it’s monitored by a reputable alarm monitoring center.

  1. Make a secret hiding place for your valuables.

Check out this list of 22 do-it-yourself hiding places to keep your stuff.

  1. Make your security measures known to the bad guys.

Display protective window stickers and yard signs throughout your property so the bad guys know you are secure. Many will simply choose to go to a home they feel is unprotected.

At My Alarm Center, we want 2015 to be a safe and secure year for you and your loved ones. Keep reading this blog for more information and contact us if we can help you.

 

The Internet of Things and Home Automation Services

by Cassie July 15, 2014

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There is a big debate taking place among technology and home security companies today.

These big conglomerates are developing technologies to use the internet to network and connect everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data.

The technology is being referred to as “the internet of things” (IoT).

It all sounds kind of cool – everyday devices like coffee pots, thermostats, lights, TVs, hot tubs and just about anything you can think of could communicate and interact with one another using the internet. They could even work in conjunction with each other, and send useful data to users.

Experts argue that the internet of things would allow you to track and measure virtually everything. This will reduce waste, costs and loss. You’ll know when things need replacing, repairing or recalling, and if devices are past their prime.

You’ll also be able to control all these devices and access their information from your smartphone, tablet, or any web enabled device through home automation services.

There are a couple of hazards with the internet of things as well.

The big one is security. If your home automation system gets compromised, people have access to your “things” and home. And in this era of data breeches (remember the credit card hackers that attacked Target?) that’s a huge risk.

The other big concern is personal privacy.

Many of the technology companies behind the internet of things also sell online advertising and other ad products. The more data they have about your behavior (from when you drink your coffee to when you flush your toilet), the more information they have to sell to advertisers. This potential invasion of personal privacy is also a real concern.

This technology is in its infancy and developments with it are happening regularly. Keep reading the My Alarm Center Security Company blog for trends and developments.

What do you think about the Internet of Things? Do you think you would use this technology? Leave us your comments in the space below.

What Can You Do With Home Automation Services?

by Amy July 8, 2014

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Home automation services are quite popular these days. Most of us have seen the television commercials of people locking their doors, turning on the air conditioning and observing their home security cameras through their smart phone.

 

Between convenience, savings, tablet and smartphone connectivity, and lowering prices, these home automation services are an attractive option to homeowners. They allow you to automate and/or control home, housework, or household activity.

 

So what can you control with home automation services? Here are some of the most popular items:

 

  • Control Door Locks – activate door locks at set times or from a web enabled device and check on door lock activity.
  • Security Alarm System – Remotely arm and disarm your system and trigger actions and notifications based upon your needs.
  • Control Appliances –Water pumps, hot tubs, dishwashers and much more.
  • Lighting – Control light intensity and control which lights are on or off.
  • Irrigation System – Program your system to never exceed municipal maximum allowable water use allowance or to operate under just about any condition you can think of. Animals eating your plants? Configure the system to activate when movement is detected on your lawn.
  • Blu-Ray Players, Stereos, TVs and Digital Cable Boxes – Select the inputs and outputs for centralized and remote control.
  • Garage Door – Access your home automation from your smartphone to open and close your garage door.
  • Smart Thermostats – Operate your home heating and cooling from virtually anywhere. Adjust temperatures from your car on your way home from work.
  • Phones – Direct your phone to only answer for certain numbers.

 

If you are interested in learning more about home automation services, please contact the experts at My Alarm Center. Call 855-334-6562 for more information.

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.

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.

Why Home Alarm System Owners Should Always Answer Their Telephones

by Amy March 4, 2014

 

Preventing false alarms and capturing burglars may be a challenge in itself, but when homeowners won’t answer their telephones, security experts say there is a whole new set of problems.

In the event of a home alarm activation, most home alarm monitoring companies attempt to verify the alarm to determine if it is a real or false alarm. Depending upon the type of home security system and alarm response purchased by the alarm user, this verification process usually takes place in the form of a telephone call from the alarm monitoring center to the alarm user, or a security guard or police respond to the alarm.

If the homeowner does not answer the phone call from the alarm monitoring company, response is delayed and the home security system system user may face large fines in the event of a false alarm.

So why don’t homeowner’s answer their phones? The problem stems from Caller ID and telemarketers.

The telephone numbers for most alarm monitoring centers aren’t displayed as Caller ID on smartphones and other phones. The primary reason these phone numbers don’t display has to do with personal safety issues for the homeowner. You don’t want an intruder to know the alarm company is calling.

Alarm users mistake this lack of Caller ID on their phones as telemarketers or calls from someone they don’t want to talk to. Thus, they don’t answer the phone call from the alarm company, which sets off a non-productive chain of events.

The problem becomes larger when you consider that most home alarm companies have different telephone numbers for their business office and alarm monitoring center. Many customers know the business office number of the home security company, but have no recollection of the alarm monitoring center telephone number.

Here are some tips for homeowners:

·         Always answer your telephone. You can easily dismiss unwanted calls while being available in emergency situations.

·         Memorize the telephone number of your alarm monitoring center. Many alarm companies monitor home alarm systems via third party providers. Many use different telephone numbers for their business office and their monitoring center. Make sure you know the telephone number of the alarm monitoring center.

·         Know your password. When you interact with the alarm monitoring company, you’ll need your password to identify yourself as authorized for interaction with the monitoring center.

·         Keep your contact information current, especially for people authorized to act on your behalf in your absence.

Not all calls without Caller ID are from telemarketers. Answer your telephone to improve your wireless home security.

5 Safety Tips for Senior Citizens

by Amy February 28, 2014

 

There’s little doubt that America is getting older. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Department on Aging expects the number of citizens over age 65 to double by 2030.

With an aging America comes an increasing risk of injuries. To help keep people safe in their homes, we offer these five safety tips for senior citizens:

Conduct a Safety Inspection

Many senior citizens live in older homes. That’s why it’s important to conduct a home safety inspection. Get a licensed home inspector to look at plumbing, wiring, heating, cooling and other parts of the home that could cause safety concerns. Make sure stairways and handrails are secure. Inspect outside lighting so that it operates properly.

Install No Slip Surfaces

Falling is a big issue in our later years. More than half of all seniors over age 80 fall each year, according to LearnNotToFall.com. Protect against falls by installing no slip surfaces in the home, especially in bathrooms, stairways, kitchens, and hallways.

Get a Home Security System

These systems protect against burglary, fire and life threatening emergencies. Many seniors install a personal emergency response system. These systems are always on and allow a senior to summon medical assistance or help with a simple push of a button on a pendent. They can also bring help if the person does not check in with the monitoring center at regular intervals. You can even hook up cameras to your home automation service so a loved one can easily check in on you.

Have a Visitor

It’s important to the well-being of senior citizens to have regular interactions with others. A phone call or visits several times a week not only ensures their safety, it also allows for deeper, more meaningful relationships. Try it.

Help With Household Tasks

Reduce the possibilities of injuries by helping seniors with normal household maintenance and tasks. Clean the gutters, change the light bulbs and air filters, do the yard work, shovel the snow and help with heavy lifting. Keep seniors off ladders and away from tasks that strain their bodies or balance.

These five basic tips help keep seniors safe. For more ideas on senior safety, keep reading this blog.

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