Home automation has never been easier to have or more affordable thanks to z-wave technology. The reason for this is the “open platform” nature of the technology. Z-wave uses 900mhz radio frequency to communicate. This is the same frequency used by early cordless phones and baby monitors. The frequency was abandoned due to range issues where you could not get more than 40 or 50 feet from your base station without losing your signal. That issue has been addressed by making every z-wave devise act as a repeater. With this feature you can have z-wave devices hundreds of feet away from your control panel as long as no two devices are more than about 40 feet apart from each other.
Currently Z-Wave technology is available for light switches, lamp control, appliance control, thermostats, door locks, and garage door openers, with many other applications under development. For each of these applications there are several manufacturers completing for your business, which drives the prices down. Previously home automation involved choosing one of three proprietary systems where once you decided on a provider you could only purchase their equipment at VERY high prices, and you would need to hire a trained technician for the installation driving the whole purchase price into tens of thousands of dollars. With Z-Wave technology the user simply pushes the learn button on their device, and the learn button on the control panel. No special skills are needed.
So, I encourage you to ask your Security System provider what it would take to upgrade your system to add z-wave technology and take advantage of all of these devices that can improve your lifestyle and save money on your utility bill.