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Explainer Smart Home

Alexa can tell you if someone breaks into your house

How to set up the Echo's free home security feature.

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Ian Knighton/CNET

When it comes to home security, most of us aren't looking to renovate panic rooms or build high-end home monitoring systems. We just want a little extra peace of mind. Turns out, one of the cheapest options for exactly this purpose is a $20 Amazon Echo Dot ($50 at Amazon). Using Alexa Guard -- a recently added, totally free feature for every available Echo device -- your smart speaker will listen using far-field microphones for window-breaks and alarms. In addition, the device can turn any connected smart lights on and off to simulate someone walking around the house, and it can send any notifications to ADT and Ring security services if you use them.

So if you're heading out of the country for a few weeks, or just to the store for a few minutes, your Echo can help monitor the house. Here's how it works: 

Step 1: Open the Alexa app and tap the hamburger menu (the three-line icon in the upper left corner).

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The Guard screen can be accessed from the Settings menu.

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Step 2: Tap Settings, and scroll to the bottom.

Step 3: Tap Guard and follow the prompts to set up. If you want to use the smart lighting feature, you'll need to confirm your zip code.

Step 4: From now on, saying, "Alexa, I'm leaving" will activate Guard Mode.

Note: If Alexa hears glass breaking or an alarm sounding, she will record the sound and send you a snippet. If you want, you may then Drop In on your Echo device to listen for other sounds, such as an intruder moving around the house.

Step 5: To adjust Guard settings, return to the Guard screen from the settings menu.

Step 6: Tap the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen. From here, you may adjust which Guard features you'd like to enable or disable, including connecting to an ADT or Ring security service.

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Amazon Echo Dot (third-generation, Charcoal)
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