Home Security Systems: Investing in Protection
Is a home security system a good investment? Even if you don’t think of math as your strongest subject, you should have little or no trouble analyzing some of the objective evidence.
So tell your inner accountant to blow the dust off the old ledger, because it’s time to talk numbers.
What home security costs should you expect?
When looking at the following figures, think of two distinct categories: one-time costs and recurring costs.
When you first become a customer of a particular company, you will almost certainly incur a few start-up expenses. Some (but not all) home security companies require you to buy the equipment that makes up your alarm system. Another initial expense you may encounter is a charge for professional installation. Finally, you may have to pay some state or local sales tax or a permit fee.
Remember, though, that you’ll have to pay these costs only once during the time you stay with a particular provider. Also, bear in mind that some companies offer incentives that help offset the start-up costs, such as:
- Free or discounted equipment
- Installation deals and promotions
- Rebates or rewards credit cards
Now we move from one-time costs to recurring costs. Security companies that provide alarm monitoring quite naturally charge a fee for this service. Although rates vary, a September 2013 article from usnews.com estimated the typical monthly monitoring fee at $30. Once you’ve covered the start-up expenses, the monthly monitoring should be the only recurring cost.
Potential money-saving benefits of security systems
Let’s begin with two words: insurance premiums.
Statistically, homes equipped with security systems are safer than other homes. When it comes to burglary, for instance, FBI research has concluded that a home security system can reduce the likelihood of a break-in by nearly three times. If you lower your risk profile by installing protective devices like home alarms and smoke detectors, your insurance company may respond by giving you a discount.
Policies and providers vary, of course, but industry experts agree that this type of discount can go as high as 20 percent.
What would that kind of discount mean to you? According to recent figures from HomeInsurance.com, the nationwide average for homeowner’s insurance costs is around $820 per year. Let’s say you’re a typical policyholder with an average home insurance bill – a discount of even 10 percent would mean saving about $80 a year.
Speaking of nationwide averages, the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report estimates that the typical burglary involves a total financial loss of $2,230. By reducing the risk of burglary, an alarm system could help you avoid paying for repairs and replacing stolen property.
Don’t forget about the money-saving potential of security and home automation systems either. Automating your thermostat to use energy more efficiently, especially during peak demand times, can lead to significant savings in its own right.
The final tally
Unfortunately, the serious subject of home security offers few, if any, easy answers. For that reason, industry experts and reputable companies very rarely talk of absolutes. What you can count on is the weight of the evidence pointing to the value of home security systems.
In 2011, the Consumer Reports National Research center surveyed homeowners with alarm systems. Nearly 80 percent of them credited their systems with providing effective protection. You’d have a hard time finding very many products or services with that level of approval.
Consider the various factors and decide for yourself.