Safety Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune

Long time readers know that about six months ago my family moved into a new house. Ever since then I have been dodging calls from sales consultants and throwing away the constant barrage of mailings that advertise home security systems.

Don’t get me wrong I am all in favor of better securing my home. First Alert and Home Security systems reports that a burglary occurs every 14 seconds in the U.S.  I don’t live in a gated neighborhood with rent-a-cops patrolling the streets in golf carts, so the concept of extra protection is appealing to me. However the thought of paying for it every month is not.

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ADT wants me to pay $33.99 a month plus a slew of activation fees. Over the course of a three year contract that would cost my family more than $1300. No thank you.

So in typical Nancy Patterson fashion, I did a little research of my own and came up with a number of cheaper alternatives for home security.

One option is to install an alarm system that is not tied to any professional security company. Traditional security companies require customers pay a monthly monitoring fee and hundreds of dollars in activation and communication fees. They install sensors that alert the security company when a problem is detected.

Self-installed alarm systems are priced considerably less. You can find good ones priced between $80 and $140. Plus they are usually completely wireless and come with motion detectors and sirens, all things you get with traditional alarm systems. The main difference is self-installed alarms alert the homeowner when they detect a problem via their cell phone. This not only eliminates the costly monthly monitoring fee, it also improves police response time. The false alarm rate with traditional security companies is extremely high which in turn has put responding to these alerts low on their priority list. The police are more inclined to respond promptly to calls directly from homeowners, instead of alarm companies.

Another problem with traditional security companies is that they will continually try to get you to add on more security services to enhance protection of your home. Their sales pitches work so well because they appeal to our biggest emotional button-wanting to take care of our families. Not many people have the heart to say no when it comes to added protection for our loved ones. In turn they convince you to sign up for additional features like video monitoring and charge you a higher monthly fee.

The good thing is that you don’t need to pay a professional security company if you want this feature. A camera really raises the stakes for a home burglar, raising the possibility that, even if he makes it in and out safely, he will be caught and identified on video in the future. High quality, digital security cameras with nigh vision capabilities can be bought for around $400. Like video monitoring services by professional security companies, you can set them to record images constantly or only when motion is detected. They can even send the images to your cell phone or computer.

Not all traditional security companies charge high monthly monitoring dues and big activation fees. There are companies that will professionally monitor your alarm system for much less if you buy and install it yourself. Check out Alarm Relay, Inc. They charge just $8.95 per month and only a $35 activation fee. That’s less than $150 a year. Compare that to other professional alarm companies that can easily run you over $400 a year.

Though, part of the battle in securing your home is convincing burglars they shouldn’t even bother trying to break into your dwelling. Burglars tend to look for the easiest opportunity when deciding which homes to target. You can easily and cheaply create the illusion that your home is impenetrable and not worth an intruders effort.

Motion activated floodlights are one of the cheapest ways to deter burglars at night. Burglars want to remain undetected and out of sight, light is their natural enemy. Mount them in areas around the house that could provide a natural hiding place like around the garage, shed, sides of your home and garden area. High quality solar powered LED floodlights will run you about $80. They are more expensive than traditional floodlights but don’t require you to hire an electrician to wire them to your current electrical system. Although there are cheaper alternatives widely available avoid them because the light they produce can be too narrow and dim.

You could also leave the lights on and TV running to trick burglars into believing your home when you’re not. However that is a major waste of energy. An alternative is a fake TV. These emit low powered flickering lights that emulate the changing screen of a television. You can set them on a timer so they only come on when it gets darks outside. The ones I found online ran about $30 and guaranteed that they consumed much less electricity than running an actual television for the same amount of time.

One of my favorite ideas is simply purchasing the decals of professional alarm companies.  This is not something you’ll often see publicized but for less than $30 you can purchase yard signs and window decals on eBay. Even though the signs aren’t backed by a real alarm system they act as a powerful deterrent. Remember robbers and burglars look for the easiest home on the block, not ones that are possibly protected by 24-hour monitoring services.

You do not have to break the bank to protect your home and loved ones from intruders.  A professional home alarm system can go a long way towards cutting your risk of a home invasion and robbery. Just remember there are many simple, cheap and effective alternatives out there as well.

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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

2 Responses

  1. Marilyn Broomer

    Hi Nancy,

    I definitely agree with you on the alarm fees! I live in Canada and 15 years ago, we were robbed! We lived in the country at the time and did not have very close neighbors!
    So when we arrived home from work to find our home messed up and items taken, we called the police, and they advised us to get a Security system. We did, but the fees at that time were $39.00 a month! A few years later after my children married we decided to move into the city suburbs,
    we actually built our own home and when it came to the Security system, we put one in, but did not have it monitored, because on one side of our home we are only about 10 feet next to our neighbor, the horns themselves, if they go off, would wake anyone up…it happened to us with our neighbor, but was not a problem it was their cat that set it off, but they were charged by the police for the call! So 10 years later we are happy we made that decision and saved a lot of money!

  2. Eleanor DeVoe

    Thank you for the helpful information.


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