Best Home Security Tips That Won't Break the Bank
It used to be that if you couldn't afford a home security system and constant monitoring you'd put a security company sign in the window and hope for the best. These days there's no need to rely on chance when it comes to the safety of your family and property. In fact, a lot of security can be linked to the technology that's already coming into your home. Here are five ways to make sure your home is more secure without breaking the bank.
Install a Home Security System
Today's home security systems don't require professional installation or a long-term contract for monitoring. Some systems, like those from companies like Ring, Canary and iSmartAlarm, rely on cloud computing to give you peace of mind. Motion sensors, security cameras and the ability to monitor your front door with a video doorbell allow you to see what's happening on your property at any time and from any location where you have access to your cell phone. These self-monitored systems alert you to issues but rely on your own vigilance to call in potential threats. The video feed that's kept in the cloud means that even if someone breaks into your home, you'll have the video showing the perpetrators and making it easier for police to find the culprits.
These companies send out the equipment and guide you through a simple setup that you complete yourself. The same people who make the equipment usually offer external monitoring if you want the added benefits of having someone monitoring your system around the clock. Unlike traditional security systems that barely worked if you didn't enter a long-term contract, these systems work no matter what and you can choose to add monitoring, often without a contract and often for less than $20 a month.
Change Your Locks
The next one is a basic step that many people forget. When was the last time you replaced the locks on your home? If you bought a newly built home and haven't changed the locks you don't know what construction people and realtors have keys to your home. If you have an older home you've lived in for years, it's hard to know where all the keys are. You may have lent keys to friends who have then lost them. Kids let their friends borrow the keys. Keys get lost. For security, locksmiths recommend changing your home locks every seven years or so. Even if you know where every key to your home is, locks experience the same wear and tear of all physical objects and as the mechanism wears down it becomes more prone to being easily picked.
As long as you're replacing your locks, consider upgrading to smart locks. These internet-enabled locks come with a variety of features that allow you to access your home without a key. Some are keyed to your fingerprint or your voice and most will unlock with a link to your smartphone. Some locks also integrate with video, allowing you to see who is at the door and remotely allow entry. It's a handy feature if you left town and need the neighbor to turn off your oven or your housekeeper needs it while you're at work. Smart locks also lock your door automatically and create codes that only work during certain days and hours. Smart locks and their installation cost about the same as a regular door lock replacement.
Secure Your Outdoor Areas
It's not only the inside of your house where you need security. Think about all of the parts of your home that are on the outside and the landscaping that could give burglars convenient cover from prying eyes. Start by looking at your landscaping and exterior lighting. Keep landscaping tidy and don't let overgrown bushes and thick trees block the view from the street. Make sure your lighting illuminates dark corners and potential hiding places. Pathway lights are always a nice option to make the front of the home welcoming to friends and unwelcoming to intruders. You can use motion sensor lights, or smart lights that come on as the sun goes down or as you control them from your home or phone app.
Also, consider the outside equipment that's at risk. With the sky-high price of copper, thieves are happily stripping down air conditioning units. If your air unit is on the ground you can use corner braces to keep it secured. Sheds are full of equipment that's easily converted to cash. Protect your tools with tamper-proof screws and smart locks. Another part of your house you may not have considered is your breaker box. Without a lock, thieves shut down power to your house and wait to see if someone responds. When no one comes out, the thieves walk in. Put a lock on your breaker box.
Some steps don't require adding anything. Being vigilant is a great way to protect yourself and your neighbors. There are common behaviors in which thieves engage when casing a neighborhood. Look for people you don't know strolling slowly through the neighborhood, or cars that drive the area slowly and repeatedly. Watch for people who are taking pictures of homes in the area. If you notice that fliers are building up on a neighbor's house, talk to them about removing them, or if the house is vacant, remove them yourself. Don't allow utility workers or salespeople into your home without verifying their credentials first. Work with your neighbors to stay aware of potential threats.
Ask the Police
Finally, give your local police station a call. Most police departments will assess your property for free and offer you low-cost solutions for upgrading your security. Beyond the assessment, it's never a bad idea to build a relationship with the police that are working in your neighborhood regularly. Most street police still work a beat, but because they are in their cars, you may never meet them face-to-face. Take the initiative and when you have concerns you'll feel more comfortable asking for help.
Some of these take an investment of money but many more are simply a matter of time. Take the time to protect yourself and your family by protecting your home.