Exterior Home Security

10 Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security

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

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Window Shades


Install window and door shades that make it difficult to see if someone is home. Consider treatments that offer some light filtration so that by day, interiors benefit from natural daylight, and by night, the house looks occupied. Available on Houzz.com; from $85.54.

Lock It


Upgrade locks on all doors and windows—and use them! For exterior doors, enhance your security by choosing a locking solution that includes a Grade 1 (highest-grade security certificate) deadbolt, such as this one from Schlage. Available on Amazon; $34.95.

Lights On, Lights Off


Put interior lights, TVs, and radios on timers so that you can create the illusion that someone is home when they’re not. Modern digital light timers like this one offer a key benefit over traditional models by having lights cycle on and off randomly. Available on Amazon; $24.99.

Motion Sensors


There is nothing more suspicious than a porch light left on from dusk to dawn over a long period of time. Install motion- or infrared-controlled outdoor lighting. Motion detector lighting is inexpensive and easy to install. Available on Amazon; $15.99.

A Little Landscaping


Prune or replace large foundation plantings; that way, intruders cannot hide behind shrubs while prying open a window or door. Low thorny bushes are also a deterrent.

Neighborhood Watch


Form or join a neighborhood watch group. Such groups are effective crime deterrents, because they encourage residents to be vigilant and to call the police whenever they see something amiss. They also provide information about crime in your neighborhood and work with police to improve response times.

Guard Your Garage


Don’t forget about garages and sheds. Always keep garage doors closed, even while at home, so thieves are not able to spot items they may want to steal later. Lock valuable items, such as expensive bicycles and grills, with a chain and pad lock. Install a hasp and padlock on shed doors. Available on Amazon; $6.12.

All in the Answering Machine


When changing your status on social media don’t indicate whether you are away or not. Be careful when location tagging images on Instagram or checking in at out-of-town tourist spots. If you’re not sure whether or not you should type that post, wait until you’re back in town to share your vacation highlights. 

Cautious Car Owners


Keep car doors locked and windows closed. Never leave valuables, especially electronics or money, in the car. Or if you must, put them out of sight. Use a locking device on your steering wheel in high-crime areas.

Don't Leave That Ladder


When engaged in a home improvement project, do not leave ladders in sight. They are an invitation to burglars. Similarly, don’t leave tools lying about that might be useful to an intruder, such as a hammer or pry bar.