As Mark Twain, Stephen King and songwriter Peter Allen remind us, “Everything old is new again.” That’s certainly true for home phones, which are experiencing a comeback of sorts. This past April, Ooma held a National Telephone Day contest where more than 10,000 entrants tried to win their favorite retro phone.
Do you still have a home phone? If not, here are nine reasons to plug one in and go back to curling that cord around your finger.
- Make it easy for first responders to find you. If you call 911 from a home phone, emergency medical service providers and fire fighters on an Enhanced 911 system will see your home address pop up on their display, which may not always be the case with mobile phones. E911 is useful if you’re unable to speak or if a child dials 911 to get help for a caregiver. If you have a VoIP home phone, make sure your phone service provider has your current home address. And remind your kids that 911 is only for life-threatening emergencies, not to turn in a sibling who stole the last cookie.
- Give yourself and your mobile phones a rest. Being connected to electronic devices 24/7 can negatively affect your mental health and your quality of sleep. Take control and turn off your mobile phones at a set time every day, like between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. And keep them out of your bedroom. Inform family, friends and employers that they can always call your home phone if they have an emergency. Chances are they’ll think twice before waking the entire household.
- Teach your kids about phone etiquette. Start by encouraging them to pick up the phone within three rings. Next, instruct them to answer with a polite greeting, like “Hello. You’ve reached the home of the Simpson family, Lisa speaking.”
- Give your abode its very own phone number. Your place already has its own address—it deserves its own phone number, too. It’s the number visitors can use if they happen to be in the area and want to pop in. It’s also handy to give out a home number for general maintenance appointments and deliveries. Be clear when you record your voicemail greeting so callers know they’re reaching your home, vacation cabin or she shed, not an individual. Dub it something fun, like Casa de Cupertino, the Schneider Schloss, or La Maison de la Montagne.
- Experience the joy of hanging up. While admittedly rude and against all phone etiquette rules, slamming the phone receiver into its cradle is much more satisfying than tapping a screen to end an annoying conversation. Anyone have the number of a good anger management therapist?
- Boil your phone numbers down to one. We all know someone—a beloved relative or dear family friend—who has trouble keeping track of all the digits for you and your family. Give them your home phone number so they can enter just one number in that dog-eared address book with the embroidered kitten on the cover.
- Find your mobile phone. Ever misplace your mobile phone? I’ve called my mobile number from my home phone many times. Tip: Turn off your mobile phone’s silent mode. It’s harder to find if it’s only vibrating.
- Receive heart-warming (or heart-breaking) news. Sometimes friends and family urgently want to speak to someone in the family who will delight in their joy or offer words of comfort and advice. The caller doesn’t want to call a mobile number because they don’t know if you’re driving or in the middle of a grocery store. It’s far better to receive these calls in the privacy of your own home where you can:
- Give the caller your undivided attention
- React freely with a resounding hooray or a quiet sob
- Switch to speaker phone so everyone at home can hear the details at the same time
- Find a comfy spot to sit if the news knocks you off your feet
- Pass the phone to another family member
- Calm your nerves. Feeling a little anxious about going back into the office and not being home to keep an eye on your kids? It’s handy to have a home phone to call periodically to check on who is home, remind them to do their homework, and maybe even ask them to get dinner started. Home phones are also a great way to stay in touch with your teens if they lose their mobile phone privileges.
If you got rid of your home phone because you were tired of paying high service bills, give internet home phone service a try. Ooma has a basic plan with crystal-clear calling for free. You’ll need to buy an Ooma base station for about $100 to connect to your internet. Then, all you pay are the applicable monthly taxes and fees, which vary depending on where you live. Use the calculator to find out your taxes and fees.