I would feel more comfortable with better home security, but I don’t want higher electric bills from using floodlights. Also, I cannot afford a complete monitored system. Are there any other good options?—Charles L.
Home security has become a high priority for many families. While a well-lighted yard provides a good deterrent against break-ins, outdoor lighting can be expensive to install and operate.
Install light fixtures only where you feel security could be a problem. Motion-sensor lighting usually makes the most economic sense, and solar-powered units can cut electric bills even further.
However, don’t immediately write off a fully monitored home security system as being too expensive. Most security companies install equipment for a low cost or even for free.
Many monitored systems also include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. When smoke is detected, they alert your fire department immediately—an advantage if you’re not home since a small fire can be extinguished before major damage occurs.
If you cannot afford monitoring, an X10 dialer can be attached to most home systems. When someone tries to break in and the alarm goes off, it automatically calls the telephone number of a friend or neighbor who can alert the police. This dialer option may have to be professionally installed.
Other security options include outdoor wireless video cameras. Prices on these are very reasonable. In addition, affordable sensors can be mounted on windows and doors. Although they aren’t monitored, a burglar might not know this when the alarm goes off.
If you don’t have one of the most time-proven protection systems—a dog—barking dog devices sensitive to vibration can be hung on the inside of doorknobs.
Sometimes simple improvements are quite effective. Putting good deadbolt locks on doors and keeping window locks tightly closed are two of the best ways to keep intruders out—and are much less expensive than operating floodlights.
With deadbolt locks, you generally get what you pay for. For starters, select a bump-resistant deadbolt. Otherwise, with a bumping key, a thief can open most pin tumbler locks in seconds. Master Lock’s Night Watch technology lets a deadbolt be set so even a key can’t open it from outside.
More tricks for foiling burglars
Burglars want to get inside quickly, so create layers of obstacles, such as planting thorny rose or barberry bushes outside windows. Consider extra locks on windows and put large furniture in front of easy-to-access locations.
Strengthen framing around the latch area on outside doors. Many doorframes have only a 1-inch thick pine board supporting the latch. Attach a reinforcing steel strip under door trim and install longer screws that reach deep into wall framing.