Alarmingly Handy: Our Home Security System

When we moved into our house, one of the first things we did was install an alarm system.  At that time, the hubby was traveling a lot for work so I thought the alarm would give me peace of mind when I came home alone at night (fortunately those days are over!).  We didn't know our neighbors yet, but we knew the neighborhood was not a high crime area.  It was more about our peace of mind.  I clearly remember an older neighbor asking me why were having it installed because he had never heard of any break-ins on our street for the past 20 years that he has lived here.  I just told him it was for my own peace of mind and that I fully understood that it was a nice neighborhood or we would not have moved here

Our house as it looked in 2002 when we bought it.

Fast forward 7 years later and we were renovating our house.  We call our alarm company, Brinks, which we had been loyal to for the past 7 years and faithfully paying the $30 per month or whatever it was.  We tell them we want to expand the system and include fire/carbon monoxide detection and water bugs (sensors that detect water on the floor) in the basement.  They then quoted us $1500 (!) to expand the system and then told us that our monthly rate would go up to $35!  Ummm....let me think about that....NO.

So, we asked around and got some recommendations for other companies.  We called Slomins Shield and they could rewire our entire house, including two key pads, glass break sensors, door sensors, water bugs near our sump pump in the basement, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for about $600 (the cost of the supplies).  And the monthly fee was about $26 and was guaranteed to NEVER go up.  Score!  Bonus was that they could come the next day which was great since the drywall was going up in about 3 days.  Bye-bye Brinks!

Although I think the burglar alarm is a useful thing, the same deterrence factor could likely be achieved with some well-placed faux alarm company window stickers, the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the water bugs are probably even more valuable.  The water bug sensor has already prevented one malfunctioning sump pump from flooding our basement. 

Although we did not opt for this feature, many companies also offer low temperature alarms.  If you live in an area with frequent long stretches of below freezing temps, this feature could save your house.  If your furnace breaks down in below freezing temperatures, you are likely to come home to frozen pipes and a huge mess in your house.  If you have the low temperature sensor, the alarm company is notified if the temperature in your house (or at the sensor) drops below a designated temperature. 

Another bonus is that most insurance companies offer discounts on your home owners insurance for alarm systems, particularly those with smoke detectors.  Be sure to ask your agent when you are installing the system.

If you are thinking about buying an alarm system, think beyond the anti-burglary benefits and consider what other features you would provide you peace of mind when you are both away from home or snug in your own bed.