10 Free and Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security

If the cost of a high-tech security system is beyond your means, consider these options to help keep your home safe from intruders.

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Unfortunately, burglaries and break-ins are all too common. The latest figures from research experts Statista tell us that in 2022 there were over 6.5 million property crimes in the United States. Many homes have no kind of protection at all, and although there are plenty of outdoor security cameras and increasingly popular solar-powered counterparts available, they aren’t always the most budget-friendly option.

Luckily, we looked at alternatives that can improve your home security while keeping a close eye on costs. Here are our top tips.

1. Check Your Locks

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Check Your Locks
Photo: amazon.com

You’ve probably seen TV shows where a burglar gets in through the front door using only a credit card. Fortunately, you can prevent this with the addition of deadbolt locks, which ensure that your primary entryways are not a weak spot.

The Kwikset 660 deadbolt lock was featured as the best bang for the buck in our door locks review. It’s a complete, inexpensive kit that is pick-resistant, and it meets the BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) Grade 3 standard for protection from brute-force attacks.

Get the Kwikset 660 Deadbolt Lock at Amazon for $18.79.

2. Lights On, Lights Off

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Lights On, Lights Off
Photo: amazon.com

A house with all its lights off can be a sign that the property is unattended. It can also be an open invitation for burglars.

A timer like the high-quality BN-Link 7-Day Digital Timer allows you to set natural patterns for lighting that make it look like someone’s at home. It offers plenty of programming versatility, has two outlets, and also features battery backup so it will remember its settings if there’s a power outage.

Get the BN-Link digital timer at Amazon for $12.99.

3. Guard Garages and Sheds

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Guard Garages and Sheds
Photo: amazon.com

We often store expensive machinery and equipment in our garages and sheds, but security can be overlooked. A simple hasp and a shackle lock will deter all but the most determined thief.

In our recent best padlock review, the Desired Tools 4-Digit Combination Lock came in first for value. It’s made from tough weatherproof zinc alloy, providing easy-to-use keyless security for under $10.

Get the Desired Tools combination lock at Amazon for $8.97.

4. Under the Spotlight

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Under the Spotlight
Photo: amazon.com

Outdoor lighting that’s always off or always on can be another clear sign of an unoccupied property. Motion sensor spotlights are a relatively low cost-solution. This budget-friendly four-pack of Urpower Motion Sensor Security Solar Flood Lights allows you to cover both the front and back of your property. It also comes with the added benefit of using sunlight to power the rechargeable batteries so no wiring is necessary.

Get the Urpower security lights at Amazon for $35.99.

5. Hidden From Prying Eyes

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Hidden From Prying Eyes
Photo: wayfair.com

Blinds or shades are an attractive and convenient decorative element that can also help improve home security. They make it difficult for passersby to see what’s inside or determine whether anyone is home. We looked at several options in our best blinds review, including those that offer light filtration so that by day interiors benefit from natural daylight but furnishings are protected from UV damage.

Get blinds and shades at Wayfair to suit all budgets.

6. No Hiding Place

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security No Hiding Place
Photo: amazon.com

Think about the plants in your yard or garden. Are there overgrown shrubs that provide concealment for burglars while they try to break in through doors or windows? Taking a few minutes to trim them down with a good pair of shears like these Colwelt Hedge Clippers can leave thieves with one less hiding place. You could also plant thorny shrubs like firethorn, barberry, or hawthorn under windows to create a decorative but almost impenetrable barrier.

Get the Colwelt hedge clippers at Amazon for $24.99.

7. Constant Monitoring

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Constant Monitoring
Photo: amazon.com

A full security camera system might be expensive, but this four-pack of BNT Dummy Security Cameras can give the impression your property is protected—and for under $25. These realistic, battery-operated units don’t need any wiring; simply fit them to an outside wall with the screws provided. Each has a photoelectric sensor that illuminates a red LED at nightfall so potential burglars could be fooled into thinking 24/7 surveillance is in operation.

Get the BNT dummy security camera 4-pack at Amazon for $21.99.

8. Bad Habits

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Bad Habits
Photo: amazon.com

How many of us have put a spare key under a mat or a flowerpot, or above the porch? The secure, low-cost way to make keys available is to install a lock box. We found plenty of good options when we put together our comprehensive lock box review.

It’s hard to beat the Rudy Run Wall Mount Lock Box for affordability. It is weatherproof, heat-resistant, and can withstand prying, sawing, and hammering. It also offers 9,999 possible combinations so it’s unlikely a thief would ever guess your secret code.

Get the Rudy Run lock box at Amazon for $23.98.

9. Bark Worse Than Its Bite

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Bark Worse Than Its Bite
Photo: amazon.com

Another low-cost way to stop opportunistic criminals from wandering onto your property is to prominently display “Beware of Dog” signs. The threat of a dangerous animal (even if you don’t own one) can be enough to deter many a criminal. The two-pack Hisvision Beware of Dog signs are aluminum, so they won’t rust. They also feature UV lamination to prevent fading, scuffing, and scratching.

If your budget stretches further, you may want to consider adding a barking dog alarm. The STI Rex Plus Electronic Watchdog was our top pick in our review of barking dog alarms. It increases the barking sound the closer an intruder gets to a home and decreases it as an intruder backs off.

Get the Hisvision beware of dog signs 2-pack at Amazon for $8.99 and the STI barking dog alarm at Amazon for $87.46.

10. Don’t Forget the Car

Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security Don’t Forget the Car
Photo: amazon.com

According to a report from Vivint, the FBI estimates that 41 percent of vehicles are stolen from the owner’s residence. Driveway alarms are a relatively low-cost way to deter thieves, and they can also warn of intruders approaching the house. The 4Vwin Driveway Alarm system comes with two sensors, each with a range of 25 feet, and a receiver/alarm unit that can be fitted up to 350 feet away. The volume is adjustable, and setup takes just minutes.

It’s important not to leave valuables on display, even when the vehicle is in your driveway. A smash-and-grab takes just moments.

Get the 4Vwin driveway alarm at Amazon for $25.99.