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Cheap and Easy Home Security

A raccoon or some other nighttime creature scared the bejeezus out of me a couple of weeks ago.  I was the only one up at 3am when the rustling near the back door started.  I turned on the back patio lights and whatever it was ran off.  But for a second, I imagined someone fiddling with the door handle.  And that’s when I started looking up cheap and easy home security tips and products.

Home Security

Super Cheap Home Security

Most of these seem like common sense, but based on half a dozen tip sites that I’ve found, these are the ways to prevent most robberies.

  • Locking ALL doors and windows at all times.  Thankfully, we already did this, but I checked every single window just in case last week.  A few tips online also suggest checking regularly since some thieves will make an excuse to get into your home and unlock a single window for them to use later.
  • Close your garage door immediately after coming or going.  Remember to close it before you get out of your car when you are parking so that no one can walk up on you unnoticed.  Our garage door is down unless it’s being used, but I have to practice waiting in my car until it is down fully.
  • Make sure your home doesn’t look vacant.  Pick up your newspapers, keep your lot somewhat maintained, and turn on lights in different rooms at night.  There are some switches that you can buy online that will take care of the lights for you.
  • Keep your front and back patio lights on at night.  You can also install solar-switches pretty cheaply ($10 or less for the switch at a home renovation store).  We’re just switching the lights on and off ourselves until Mr. BFS is motivated enough to add the solar switches or motion-activated lighting.
  • Make sure home alarm system decals and signs are obvious in the front yard and at every main entry point.  I made sure to add the decals from the company that we use for cell monitoring.
  • Post a “Beware of Dog” sign or two on your fence.  This will also let utility people know to be careful not to let out your pets.  You can find these signs for $1 at Walmart.  I have placed two.
  • Make sure your house address is visible day and night from the street.  If not, you may want to have your home address added in reflective paint to your curb.  You can get that kit for $20-$25 or see if a service in your area is available.  I found one that visits somewhat regularly that had $10-$50 options depending on the design.  I liked a $12 design myself.
  • If you aren’t willing to spend much, you can buy and place fake security cameras around the perimeter of your home for $7-$20 per fake camera.  Some of them are even motion-activated like the real things.

Less Cheap, But Affordable Home Security

  • You can get several types of actual security cameras for $10-$30 each that will activate based on motion or record constantly.  I’ve bought one for the front and one for the back of our house.
  • If you can’t afford or rather avoid a monitored alarm system, there are several systems that cost around $100-$300 that you can install yourself that will make a racket and notify your cell phone if someone enters your home and doesn’t input the correct code.  Our home was built with the sensors, so we just added the necessary extras for a cell-monitored system and run it ourselves.
  • Motion-activated lighting is $50-$100 on average.  Would-be thieves don’t like to be obvious.
  • Stun guns, baseballs bats, and other in-home security weapons are generally affordable at $20-$50.

Comparably Expensive Home Security

  • Monitored alarms.  Although several tip sheets outright say that the non-monitored systems work just as well.  Most thieves are in and out under 10 minutes (the pros take 5 minutes or less), so the noise factor is way more important to them than the emergency crew that will be at your home in 20-30 minutes.
  • State-of-the-art or large security camera systems can run from $500 to thousands.
  • Guns can cost $200-thousands of dollars.  Then you have to practice with them which means bullets and shooting range time.  And then you have to take the time to maintain them well.  We do have a hand gun in our home that is easily accessible by all of us.  We are also thinking about buying a hunting rifle for target practice in the country.  But this is Texas, it would be weird not to have a gun of some sort laying around, right?  ;-)

Overall, home security doesn’t need to cost a fortune.  Just use common sense and flavor the extras to taste.  We were already doing pretty well, but I do feel a little better now that I’ve added some monitoring, signs, and am having our address added to the curb.  The trick is simply not make your home an easy target.

How do you handle home security?

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5 comments to Cheap and Easy Home Security

  • We have been thinking about adding a sign to our house that says an alarm – I heard that really does work.

    Other than that, we always leave a light on, lock our doors and garage door, and we have two dogs that bark at anything that comes close to the house :)

  • Great tips! Though I will admit that we turn the porch lifts off at night in an effort to conserve electricity. Our electricity bill is on the high side since it has been unusually cold for our area this winter.

  • @Michelle, sounds like you have a good system.

    @Caitlin, ah yes, I forget that up north, your electricity bills get high in the winter while ours skyrocket in the summer…

  • You can get hardened locks that are difficult to drill and next to impossible to pick or bump — brand names are Medeco and Shlage. They’re expensive. You have to get them through a real locksmith (not HD or Lowe’s), who should install them. They can be installed on security doors, which also add to one’s peace of mind.

    There’s an inexpensive (but not wired to call your cell phone) battery-run window alarm that you glue to the frame and window with double-sided tape. They’re called “squealers.” Not much use if no one’s home, but personally, I don’t care whether the perp comes calling when I’m not here — he can take whatever he wants and good luck to the poor schmuck. I just don’t want some creep breaking in when I’m here — these little gadgets make it easy for you to dodge out a door or barricade yourself into a safe room if someone tries to get in.

    Motion-activated lights cost lots less than $100. LOL! Just be sure not to put one on the side of the house near a tree that will blow in the breeze! You can buy attractive coach lights, motion-activated, at the Depot for $60, give or take. The spotlight variety is also generally in that ball park.

    In the blunderbuss department, I’d take a shotgun over a rifle any day. Doesn’t require you to aim so accurately…something that could be problematic if you were panicky. But then, if you’re the panicky type you sure shouldn’t have a gun in the house. :-D

    Common-sense vigilance, as you effectively point out, is the best deterrent.

  • @Funny, nice lock suggestions! And thanks about the $60 motion-activated coach lights.