Holiday Travelers Can Keep an Eye on Home

homesecurityThanks to new security system technology, including live video feed, you can monitor everything from the front door to the sump pump from hundreds of miles away.

“You can see anything that’s going on from anywhere in the world,” said Jay Park of Park Place Installations in Buffalo, N.Y. Homeowners can set the new alarm systems to send text messages or e-mails when something goes wrong at home.

Eric Harper, marketing director of the Lexington, Ky.-based Elan Home Systems, said a customer was on vacation recently when he got a message that his front door was open. He confirmed it by going online and pulling up feed from a camera by that door. A neighbor followed up, discovering that the pet sitter had not pulled the door firmly shut and it blew open in a storm.

New York City resident Eli Karp said he uses his cell phone to check his house about 10 times a day. His HomeLogic alarm system offers live video feed from inside the house, and Karp also can disarm the security system by phone to let in workers or delivery people.

“It’s a time saver,” he said. “It’s extra peace of mind.”

Homeowners can monitor the weather, as well as heating and cooling units and other household systems while traveling, said Richard Ginsburg, president of Protection One, based in Lawrence, Kan. Cameras show whether it’s snowing or raining on the driveway, so you can decide whether to call a plowing service, he said.

Other homeowners set their systems to alert them if the sump pump or furnace stops working, developments that could lead to water damage from flooding or frozen pipes.

Installation costs for the new technology range from $150 to $600 depending on whether the residence has an existing security system. Monthly monitoring fees are between $15 and $40.

Do-it-yourself systems also are available, said Julie Strietelmeier, editor of The-gadgeteer.com, a Web site that reviews high-tech products. Prices vary depending on the number of cameras installed, she said. A startup kit would cost around $330 plus monthly monitoring fees.

Such systems — professional and DIY — have a lot of advantages, she said.

“I think it’s useful if you’re working during the day and you want to see what’s going on at your house,” said Strietelmeier from her home office in Columbus, Ind. “There’s some really hardcore systems. You can do almost anything.”

Homeowners with alarm systems usually recoup some of the costs with discounts on their insurance premiums, according to insurance professionals.

During the holidays, many clients use the system to receive packages, Harper said. Homeowners will leave a note asking the delivery person to phone them; when they receive the call, they can use the security cameras to verify that the caller is a delivery person, and remotely open the garage door or unlock the front door.

The security system also can send an alert upon the arrival of a handyman or cleaning person. The homeowner can keep track of what rooms the person enters and how long they are in the home.

Parents can use the system to keep track of the comings and goings of children, and can arrange to be alerted if someone opens the liquor cupboard or medicine cabinet.

The systems also can be programmed to turn on lights when you arrive home, or adjust the home’s temperature before your arrival.

Customers who use the systems to control heating, cooling and lights may see savings in their energy bills, said Don Boerema, chief marketing officer of ADT Security Services in West Palm Beach, Fla.


Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Amazon is helping police in Jersey City to catch thieves who steal delivered packages from outside people's homes. Within just minutes of the operation's launch this week, cops nabbed their first porch pirate.
Smart Home

Porch pirate problems? Keep them away with these tips and tricks

The holiday season is fast approaching and the packages are arriving on our doorsteps. Are you worried about porch pirates stealing your gifts this holiday season? Here are some tips to help protect your purchases.
Deals

Best deals on home security cameras to save you from package thieves

Home security camera systems can help keep your home and your family safe. Amazon's deals on Blink security cameras and Ring Video Doorbells also help you save money on devices you can access regardless of your current location.
Deals

You don't want to sleep on these red-hot bedding deals

We've rounded up some of the best discounts and sales happening right now, so you can buy yourself (or your loved ones) new bedding without breaking your budget. Trust us when we say these are deals worth losing sleep over.
Deals

Best deals for smart home plugs that control your lights and appliances

Smart hubs and speakers play central communication and management roles in your home, but smart plugs let you add lights and appliances to your system. Any smart plug you buy must support one feature or anything you plug in stays dumb.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.
Smart Home

Knock, knock. Who's there? With a video doorbell, you'll never have to guess

When it comes to knowing who's at your door before you actually open it, there's nothing better than a video doorbell. Plus, you can "answer" the door even if you're not home. Here are some of our favorites.
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.
Smart Home

These wireless security cameras are a wire-free way to protect your home

Home security cameras can give you piece of mind, but if they have wires, are limited in where you can put them. We've rounded up the best battery-operated home security cameras to give you flexibility along with your security.
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Smart Home

With a simple command, Alexa can arm all your security devices

Alexa customers can query status plus arm or disarm home security systems several companies. New Alexa Guard skills set your home to away mode, send alerts when alarms or sensors go off, and contact home security monitoring services.
Smart Home

Voice assistant-enabled Deebot N79S robot vacuum now deeply discounted

The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is more powerful and quieter than its predecessor and adds Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. Ready to make cleaning easier than ever, this voice-enabled bot will vacuum your home on spoken command.
Smart Home

Facebook Portal and Portal+ video-calling devices gain new content and features

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.