Imagine coming home from a night out only to find smashed windows. As you survey the damage, you realize your laptop and brand-new smart TV are missing. A closer inspection reveals everything of value is gone, including your late grandparents’ wedding rings.
The financial damage of a burglary can easily be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. And that’s not to mention the emotional distress and nagging fear that your home isn’t safe anymore. You find yourself wishing you had a home security system.
Unfortunately, many systems are expensive and require professional installation. But you don’t need to take out a home improvement loan to afford a home security system. There are numerous ways to save money on home security so you can rest easy without spending a fortune.
How to Save Money on a Home Security System
According to the FBI, there were nearly 7 million property-related crimes in 2019. That’s why it’s crucial to take preemptive measures to protect your property from intruders.
And you don’t have to be a professional or spend a load of cash to make your home more secure. You just need to take action.
1. Implement Free or Cheap Home Security Measures
Some of the most beneficial home security improvements don’t cost a penny. They often involve simple, free habit changes. The more you implement, the less you have to rely on an expensive home security system.
These are simple tips on paper, but they improve home security without costing anything.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
If your neighbors know who lives with or regularly visits your home, they’re more likely to take notice of strangers poking around your property.
Plus, it’s helpful to have someone keep an eye on your house when you’re out of town. That’s especially true if there’s a major disaster while you’re gone. A neighbor can check for damages like leaks or burst pipes.
Add Dog Warning & Security Signs
You can also use signs to scare off burglars. Put up beware-of-dog or home security signs where people can easily see them.
And you don’t need a dog or home security system for this trick. Sometimes, a sign is enough to deter burglars from snooping around your home.
Improve Perimeter Security
Common burglary entry points include your front and back door and ground floor windows. So anything you can do to secure these entry points deters burglars.
For starters, ensure you lock windows and doors when no one is home. If you’re prone to forget, you can buy smart locks that automatically lock your doors for you. You can get them for around $150, depending on the model you choose, but they’re much cheaper than a break-in.
You should also close curtains or blinds when your house is empty so it’s harder to tell no one’s home from the outside.
If you have a sliding back door, place a wooden dowel between the wall and the doorframe to prevent someone from forcing it open. Or buy sliding door handles with locks for approximately $30.
Don’t Announce Travel Plans
An often ignored vacation planning mistake is making it obvious you’re out of town. When burglars scout a neighborhood, they pick up on hints like piles of mail on your porch or a long-empty driveway.
Ask your neighbor to collect your mail, and leave a car parked outside if possible. You can take another form of transportation to the airport if necessary (which also saves on airport parking).
Additionally, refrain from announcing travel plans on social media or posting photos of your trip until you’re back home. And never change your voicemail to inform people you’re out of town.
2. Make DIY Home Security Improvements
Window and door alarms can help you create a simple DIY home security system. Amazon has plenty of affordable options, many of which don’t require any wiring, mounting hardware, or professional installation.
For example, you can buy packs of DIY door and window sensors for $20 to $50, depending on how many you need. They’re magnetic and battery-powered, so you can secure your home in minutes with zero tools.
Another affordable trick is to add a reinforcement lock to your doors to help prevent forced entry. Amazon also sells this DIY upgrade for around $15. Considering that a burglary can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in stolen goods and damages, spending $15 on a simple home security upgrade is a wise investment.
Nothing deters burglars more than making it appear as if someone is home. If you go on vacation, light timers can give that appearance. Schedule your inside lights to stay off during the day when you usually wouldn’t need them, come on in the evening, and shut off once again before bed, when the outdoor lights should come on before going off again in the morning.
You can pick up a programmable light switch for $15 to $40 or so, depending on the brand.
Finally, most burglars don’t like to risk being seen, so install lights with motion detectors outside your home, especially alongside windows and doors. You can find solar-powered motion sensor lights for as low as $5 each. As long as these lights receive some sunlight during the day, they should have power at night.
3. Use Free Home Security Apps
Some home security systems cost hundreds of dollars in hardware and push expensive monthly monitoring fees. If you want a DIY home security solution that’s more budget-friendly, you can monitor your home yourself using free home security apps.
Several home security apps that let you turn an old smartphone into a security camera include:
- Alfred Camera offers motion alerts and live-stream access. You can also activate a siren to scare intruders and talk through your smartphone. The premium plan costs $3.99 per month for longer recordings, HD quality, and a motion detection schedule.
- IP Webcam lets you monitor your home, sends motion alerts, has audio streaming capabilities, and lets you save and upload videos to Dropbox and email.
- AtHome Camera is similar to Alfred Camera, with 24/7 monitoring, motion detection alerts, two-way talk, and enhanced night vision.
If you only have one extra smartphone, position it downstairs in an area covering the front door and as many windows as possible.
Both the monitoring and receiving devices require a stable Internet connection to transmit. So if you frequently lose reception and Internet with your personal smartphone, free home security apps aren’t nearly as useful.
4. Get A DIY Home Security System
According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, homes without a security system are 300% more likely to suffer from a burglary. But that doesn’t mean you need the most expensive system on the market. The very presence of cameras significantly reduces the chances of a burglary.
There are several affordable DIY home security systems on the market. Typically, security systems range from $25 for a single camera to $200 or more for a complete DIY system.
How much you spend largely depends on how many cameras you need to monitor your home and all major entry points. Some home security systems also have flashier features than others, like a smart home assistant, such as Alexa or Siri.
You typically monitor camera feeds with a smartphone app. These apps send you notifications if your cameras detect movement and may automatically record footage to capture potential burglars in the act. Some systems even let you talk through your security cameras.
Most also let you set up smartphone security alerts, view and record live footage, and activate or disarm your home security system from your phone. If you buy a monitoring service, the company calls emergency services if warranted.
Some leading home security companies include:
And these are just several leading brands. Amazon has security cameras and various smart home devices for under $50. Just read reviews for any product you buy, whether it’s a popular brand or lesser-known company.
When placing cameras inside your home, cover the main entry points. Outside, you install cameras to monitor main entrances like your front door and a patio door and any potential lower-level entry points, such as windows or even your garage door.
Don’t be afraid to make these cameras obvious. If burglars see cameras, they’re less likely to break in.
5. Buy Used Home Security Equipment (the Right Way)
Another way to save money on home security equipment costs is to buy used hardware.
There are many ways to find used equipment online. Amazon lets you add a used filter when shopping. And you can find plenty of new and used security cameras on eBay. Or check Facebook Marketplace.
If you meet a seller in person, don’t hand over your cash until you test that cameras work and footage and alerts properly transmit. Online, buy from a reputable seller with solid reviews to decrease the chances of purchasing defective equipment.
6. Shop Online to Earn Cash-Back Rewards
Another way to find savings is to shop online rather than in-store for potential cash-back rewards.
For example, Rakuten partners with thousands of merchants and pays you cash back for shopping through its portal. Home security companies and retailers that partner with Rakuten include:
- Ace Hardware
- Best Buy
- Frontpoint Security
Rakuten also has occasional coupons and rebates for products like Google Nest security cameras and smart home automation hubs, Office Depot security safes, and video doorbells from Ring.
It automatically applies coupon codes when you shop online, so it can score instant savings for your everyday online purchases. Plus, Capital One Shopping also lets you use coupons and earn points for shopping with specific partners, including security companies like:
- Cox Homelife Smart Home Security
- Frontpoint Security
If you’re spending a few hundred dollars on home security cameras, earning 2% cash back or finding a 5% off coupon is a fast, simple way to lower costs.
7. Look for Homeowners Insurance Discounts
A home security system can help pay for itself over time through homeowners insurance discounts. You can qualify for homeowners insurance discounts with safety enhancements like:
- Adding deadbolts to your door
- Having a fire extinguisher
- Having smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Having a sprinkler system
- Having a fire alarm
- Installing a burglar alarm system
- Living in a gated community
Many insurance companies say you can save around 15% on your homeowners insurance by installing a security system. So contact your insurance provider and review your policy before purchasing anything to find out what could lower your premiums.
When it comes to home security, don’t skimp if it jeopardizes your safety.
But beware of the many home security scams when shopping around. Unfortunately, some sales representatives use shady tactics to get homeowners to purchase systems. That could include trying to scare you into signing a contract or, in more extreme cases, posing as your existing home security company or lying about who they work for.
To avoid potential scams, take time and do your due diligence. Call any home security provider you’re considering directly rather than buying from someone who knocks on your door. And check them out on consumer watchdog and review sites like the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot.