Winter Freeze Can Help Warm Up RMR by Offering Environmental Monitoring

One idea to introduce the topic of environmental monitoring to your customer base is to provide them a list of prevention tips via email or a newsletter.

(The following article first ran in January 2015 in the midst of a raging winter storm. With much of the East Coast currently being slammed by a so called “bomb cyclone,” it’s a great time to revisit opportunities with environmental monitoring.)

With a winter storm hitting much of the eastern United States this week, it’s an opportune time to raise a red flag about the risk of unprotected pipes freezing and bursting.

‘Tis the season for installing security contractors to reach out to their existing customer base and inform them about available products that can provide critical condition monitoring through the security panel using sensors and alarms. (View this photo gallery for product/sensor examples.)

It’s a topic that SSI‘s “Monitoring Matters”  contributor Peter Giacalone discussed in a column titled “Environmental Monitoring Can Open Floodgate of Opportunity.” Giacalone states the companies that proactively market monitoring events other than intrusion and fire/life-safety oftentimes achieve higher closing ratios and increased average recurring monthly revenue (RMR).

An easy way to broach the subject of environmental monitoring to your customer base is to provide them a list of prevention tips, along with an overview of products and services you can offer, via email or a newsletter. There is no shortage of such advice available online. For instance, the Pennsylvania American Water Company compiled the following tips for consumers:

Before frigid weather

  • Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
  • Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.

When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing

  • If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
  • Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze

  • Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

When you are away

  • Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
  • A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

You might even want to consider widening the discussion even further to encompass carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and monitoring. The risk is compelling enough: During winter, when residences are closed up to keep warm and appliances such as heaters and furnaces are operating, the potential for CO poisoning increases dramatically. Check out this news item for a list of related precautionary suggestions to alert your customers.

Beyond these services helping protect life and property, communicating with your customers in such a manner further solidifies your relationship as a trusted provider, not to mention can help fend off the competition.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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