Inexpensive ways you can still trust to protect your home.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
When you’re wondering how to protect your home for less, try some of these free and budget-friendly security hacks.
Free home security ideas
Lock the locks you got
Whatever locks you have on your doors and windows, use them. The same goes for alarm systems. Turn them on if you expect them to protect you and your home.
Keep your yard clean
By not leaving out big-ticket items – grills, tools, bicycles – you’re removing the temptation for theft. Put things away in your garage or shed so people don’t just walk off with them. Unless you need extra organization or a padlock for your garden shed, this home security hack shouldn’t cost you a dime.
Maintain your landscaping
Overgrown bushes can be an intruder’s best friend in that they provide a cozy hiding spot. Simply trimming your bushes and trees to keep sightlines open is probably a free update. If you don’t have the tools you need, you can rent them inexpensively or maybe even borrow trimmers from a neighbor.
Speaking of your neighbors, get to know them so that you can keep an eye on each other’s homes. If they know your family, they’ll be able to tell if the person hanging around your yard is your own teen or someone who doesn’t need to be there. Your neighbors can also be a great resource if you need someone to pick up your mail or check on pets while you’re on vacation. Plus, if you trust them, you can ask them to hang on to a spare key instead of hiding it under a fake rock. That rock isn’t fooling anyone, by the way.
Do a home inventory
This step doesn’t so much prevent crime as much as it makes it easier for you to recover after a home break-in. When you have an up-to-date home inventory, you are better able to tell what was stolen and process insurance claims quicker. Some of the most common ways to do a home inventory include making a video recording of your belongings as you walk from room to room – simply use your smart phone – or writing a list of valuables in a notebook.
Home security hacks under $50
Install a new deadbolt
Replacing a mechanical deadbolt with one that is high quality and made with premium materials is a good way to improve your front door’s security. Schlage locks are certified highest in Security, Durability and Finish by the BHMA – look for the AAA rating on the package to see for yourself. This means our deadbolts were built and tested to stand up to attacks like picking, prying and impact as well as the natural elements.
Put the screws to intruders
High-quality locks aren’t the only door hardware that can help secure your home. Your door hinges should be installed on your home’s interior to prevent tampering. Install longer screws to secure the hinges to the door frame more firmly.
You can also use extra-long screws on your strikeplate. (Check out our guide to door hardware terms if you aren’t sure which is the strikeplate.) Screws that are 2-1/2” to 3-1/2” can secure the plate more firmly to the doorjamb. That, in turn, provides extra reinforcement for the bolt to hold if someone tries to kick or hammer at the door.
A few special notes here, though. If you have a sidelight, you may not be able to install the longer screws without breaking the glass. Also, if your doorjamb is weak or damaged, extra reinforcement from your hardware and stronger locks can only do so much. Make sure the door itself and your frame are in good condition.
Let Alexa be your guard
Alexa Guard Plus is a service that uses a compatible Echo device (or a few of them placed throughout your home) to alert you to potential emergencies and make it easier for you to contact an Emergency Helpline. While you’re away from home, Alexa can listen for sounds like footsteps, breaking glass or a closing door, then send you an alert and sound a siren through your Echo. You can also use it to say, “Alexa, call for help” to contact the police, fire department or an ambulance. Try it out for free for one month, after which it’s $4.99 per month or $49 for the whole year on their annual plan.
Protect your windows
Windows and glass doors are often some of the weakest points of your home security. To deter intruders from breaking the glass to get in, install devices like this four-pack of GE Personal Security Window Alarms for about $20. How window alarms work depends on the exact device you choose. Some work via motion sensors while others can detect impact and sound to alert you to broken glass.
Slide into home safely
Of all the doors in your house, a sliding patio door is often the most susceptible to break-ins. This is partly because they tend to be glass, but also because they don’t use traditional deadbolts like other exterior doors. To address the locking concern, install a security bar in the track. Most on Amazon cost around $25. A piece of PVC pipe can also do the trick and is even more inexpensive at only a few dollars per foot.
Replace your lightbulbs
Even fancy long-lasting bulbs are relatively inexpensive. When lightbulbs on your front porch, walkway or over your garage burn out, replace them sooner rather than later. Like maintaining your landscaping, a dark and shadowy entryway can give intruders a place to lurk out of sight.
While you’re replacing the bulbs, take a minute to clean the fixtures. Outdoor lighting accumulates all kinds of dirt and bugs that can make the light seem dull.