DIY Home Security Tips

Don't have the budget for a professional home security system? Try these inexpensive, do-it-yourself solutions that will make your home safer.

Affordable Home Security Technology 02:30

Carley shows you how to use the latest technology to keep your home secure.

Professionally installed system, big-bill subscriptions – home security can be daunting, especially if you’re a renter or on a budget. In fact, if you’ve already maxed out your monthly expenses on living space and insurance, adding another fee can feel impossible. No wonder lots of us avoid the security issue altogether – until the unthinkable happens, and a break-in makes the cost of avoiding one seem so much less expensive.

Fortunately, there are other things you can do besides shelling out the big bucks, putting up a giant fence or adopting a scary dog. I’ve found some DIY home security tech that can make your home safer, and don’t require a food bowl or daily walks.

8 DIY Home Security Devices

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Piper

No need to buy separate cameras and alarms: This hub has an integrated, 180-degree HD video camera, microphone with two-way audio, and a siren. It also monitors temperature and humidity, and for extra security, you can add door and window sensors. If there’s trouble, Piper can message, text, email and call you.

Lowe’s Iris

Iris is a hub that works with smart devices, letting you control them from your phone. The Safe & Secure kit includes a motion sensor and two door/window/cabinet sensors; you can optionally add more sensors, cameras and even smart locks. The app will alert you if any are triggered.

Photo By: Lowe’s

Dropcam

A small but powerful HD camera with two-way audio, Dropcam works with an app to let you see what’s happening in your house via your smart devices or computer. It sends emails or notifications when it detects movement. Crystal visuals plus night vision make this a great choice for monitoring pets and babies, too.

Photo By: Nest

Belkin WeMo

A series of products intended to make it easy to automate your home, WeMo lets you control everything via app — from cameras to motion sensors to lights. Schedule your house to light up at a certain time, lock or unlock, check cameras or even switch on the stereo, so it’s like you’re home even when you’re not.

Photo By: Belkin

August Smart Lock

Safer than leaving keys under a mat (or getting your key reproduced or stolen), this smart keyless lock only lets in those who have a digital key assigned to them. You can even control when people have access to your house (so the housekeeper can’t let herself in while you’re on vacation).

Photo By: August

Brinno PeepHole Viewer

Looking through an ordinary peephole gives only a miniature, limited view (not to mention visions of horror movies). The PeepHole expands that view to a 2.7” LCD screen, so you never need to guess what you’re seeing.

Photo By: BrinnoUSA

SkyBell Video Doorbell

Who’s ringing the bell? Find out by seeing live video feed on your cell phone — then communicate via two-way audio. It’s like installing a call box with video, plus a motion sensor, night vision and accessibility across multiple devices — so you can even see who’s there when you’re out of the house.

Photo By: Gennia Cui

STI Rex Plus II Electronic Watchdog

Rex uses radar to detect movement through walls and glass, and starts barking. When an intruder gets closer, he barks more frequently, and can even growl. If you prefer a siren or a human voice, Rex can do that, too. Good boy.

There’s a device for your front door that keeps strangers out, but lets in whomever you choose, and you’ll never need to copy a key or leave one under the mat. And how about a peephole with video and night vision, so there’s no more guessing who’s at the door? Finally, there’s a home security system that includes a camera, motion sensors and even noise detection — you can see what’s going on, and it will alert you when things don’t seem right. Best of all, they all can be controlled from your phone wherever you are, and none of them come with a monthly fee.

12 Easy Ways to Improve Your Home's Security

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You’ve Got (a lot of) Mail

An overfilled mailbox is a signal that you’re away. Ask a friend to empty your box and keep your porch clear of mail and fliers.

Decal Decoy

Thieves look for an easy mark; making your home look tough to crack will encourage them to move on. You can easily put up security system decals — a clear deterrent — even if you don't have a system.

Photo By: iStockphoto.com/AnthonyRosenberg

Home Automation Tricks

Putting some smart light bulbs in street-facing lamps or installing smart curtains lets you control them all via app while you’re away. DIY home automation is affordable and easy to install. Put them on a random schedule to make it look like someone's always home.

Give Shrubs a Trim

Overgrown foliage tells thieves they’ll have less chance of being seen while they work, and also that you may not frequently be around. Cut back those branches so it’s not so easy for burglars to hide.

Light Things Up

Exterior motion sensor lights make it hard for a crook to avoid being spotted. Plus, when the lights suddenly come on, they may think someone is watching — and skedaddle.

Lock Down

Often a crook isn’t even breaking in, just taking advantage of a door left unlocked. Smart locks that automatically lock behind themselves, mean that’s never an option.

Keep an Eye on Things

Thanks to relatively inexpensive DIY systems, you can install a security camera outside (or inside) that lets burglars know you’re watching their every move.

Don’t Advertise

Tempting as it is to broadcast your vacation to Hawaii in real time, that’s also a sure way to tell the world (or anyone who’s planning a break-in) you’re away from home. Resist, and post about the trip once you’ve returned.

Install Window Stops

These prevent windows from being opened more than six inches — perfect for ventilation, but not for a criminal who wants to slip inside.

Get to Know Your Neighbors

They can look out for your house and make sure nothing appears awry while you're away.

Photo By: iStockphoto.com/IS_ImageSource

Fill Your Trash

Thieves have been known to watch on trash days, to see which houses aren’t putting anything out (because it means the occupants are likely away). Asking a neighbor to occasionally put out your trash ensures that no one will notice the garbage has been missing.

Get a Fake Fido

A "Beware of Dog" sign or a bowl and chain by your back door can be enough to scare off the bad (even if you don't really have a pooch).

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Photo By: iStockphoto.com/plasticsteak1

Every one of these will help you feel more secure. And your peace of mind might be the most valuable thing you’ll protect.

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