If securing your home is a top priority for you and you’re not afraid of a little DIY, you’re at the right place. When it comes to home security, most people think the only real way to improve it is to install a home surveillance system and other expensive stuff. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
As it turns out, securing your home is not necessarily complicated or expensive. There’s a lot you can do, even if you’re on a budget. There are many highly effective security hacks that you can do on the cheap.
In fact, most tips in this article cost less than $20, that’s a fraction of the monthly price of a home security system! There are quite a few solutions out there that are pretty affordable for most people. Let’s see them, one by one.
If you’re in a hurry, here are some of the most popular DIY home security hacks and tips:
- Replace your old deadbolt strike plate with a heavy-duty one.
- Protect your front door with a keyless reinforcement lock.
- Use a door barricade.
- Sleep with your car key on the nightstand.
- Replace the screws of the hinges with new ones that are at least 2 1/2 inches long (it’s one of my favorite DIY security hacks).
- Deter crooks with a dummy home security camera.
- Install secure window locks.
- Use timer switches when you’re away.
- Install motion sensor lights.
Continue reading for the complete list.
DIY Home Security Hacks for Under $25
1. Install a Heavy-Duty Deadbolt Strike Box Plate
A strike plate is one of the two parts of a deadbolt locking system that’s attached to the jamb. It holds the bolt that extends into it when the lock is closed.
Usually, it’s a good idea to replace the strike plate that comes with the deadbolt because that’s often not the most secure one. If your strike plate doesn’t have a metal box (that should hold the bolt) and it’s attached to the jamb with only two short screws, it’s time to replace it. If you have an outward opening door, check out this guide.
A heavy-duty strike box plate attached with four long anchor screws to the jamb will make your door much more resistant to kick-ins and other types of forced entries.
I recommend this durable model. You can get it on Amazon for only a few bucks.
2. Use a Door Stop Alarm
A door stop alarm can be a great choice if you want to avoid break-ins while you’re at home. It’s a very simple wedge-shaped device that you have to slide underneath the door. When someone tries to open the door from the outside, the alarm gets activated and makes a loud noise continuously. At the same time, the wedge shape, to some extent, prevents the door from opening (of course, it won’t withstand full force attacks).
A door stop alarm has three main functions:
- Deterring burglars.
- Warning you about the possible danger.
- Making it harder for crooks to get into your home.
Door stop alarms require no installation and most of them run on batteries.
3. Use a Strike Plate Lock Instead of a Normal Door Chain
Many people use a door chain to improve front door security. However, most door chains break easily when force is applied to the door, so they are too weak to keep burglars out.
A strike plate lock is a pretty durable security device that has a similar function to a normal door chain, however, it provides much greater security. It can withstand over 50 kicks while most standard door chains give up after only a few attempts.
A strike plate lock is very easy to install: you have to fix it to the jamb using two long screws that come with the item. That’s it. It works on both round and lever door knobs, so you can easily secure most doors without much hassle.
Pro Tip: Use it in combination with a door stop alarm to further improve front door security from the inside and get instantly notified when invaders try to get into your home.
There’s a lot you can do to prevent your front door from being kicked in. Here you will find a whole article I’ve written about the best methods.
4. Install a Dummy Security Camera
Prevention is the best protection. Intruders usually prefer easy targets. So if they see that your home is more secure than the surrounding ones, they’re more likely to move on.
If you want to successfully deter burglars, you have to make them believe that your home is simply not worth the risk to break in.
A dummy security camera is a simple yet effective device you can use to decrease the chance of an intrusion. You can get one for only a few bucks (like this one on Amazon). Dummy cameras run on batteries so you don’t have to mess with wires, therefore installation is pretty straightforward: you can fix the device to the wall using two or three screws. It’s usually a few minutes of work.
Pro Tip: Experienced burglars may recognize popular dummy security cameras, so choose one of the least popular models or place a unique security sticker on the device to alter its appearance.
5. Use a Fake Home Security System Sign
It’s another cheap way to deter criminals. There are many kinds of fake security signs and stickers on the market and they usually do a great job. You can use them in combination with any other security hack to make your home more burglar-proof.
If you know how to use graphic design software (such as Photoshop or Illustrator), you can also create your own unique security sticker at home. Make sure you don’t use any fictional company name because burglars may Google it and realize that it’s just a fake one. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend copying the material of an existing company either because it might result in copyright infringement issues.
6. Install Sash Jammers
Sash jammers are simple devices that can improve both door and window security (note that most available models are for UPVC doors and windows). They come at a very reasonable price and installing them is pretty straightforward, even beginners can do it without much hassle. You can fix them to the door or window frame using two screws. In the case of windows, they can also serve as a deterrent because they’re visible from the outside.
Do not buy models that are made of plastic because they can’t withstand any substantial force, so they’re practically useless. Instead, opt for metal ones. Those are much more durable.
As an alternative, you can install a door reinforcement lock, such as this one. For doors, it’s usually a more secure solution than a sash jammer as it can withstand hundreds of pounds of force.
FYI – If you need to secure a door without a lock, click here to find some really useful tried-and-tested methods.
7. Sleep with Your Car Key On the Nightstand
I know it’s not a usual home security tip, however, it costs no money and it can really help you out in case of a burglary.
All you have to do is keep your car key close to you while you’re sleeping (you can place it on the nightstand). If you wake up to strange noises in the middle of the night and suspect someone has broken into your home, just press the alarm button (also known as the panic button) on the car’s keychain. More often than not, burglars will take to their heels because of the unexpected alarm sound.
Quick Tip: If you have a safe or a small strongbox, never hide it in the master bedroom. Instead, choose one of these uncommon secret hiding spots.
8. Pretend You Have a Guard Dog (or Keep One)
Dogs are extremely effective burglar deterrents, however, it’s not always an option to keep one. Actually, in most cases pretending that you own a dog is just enough to spook crooks.
How can you do that?
Get a big muzzle and a leash and leave them in plain sight in your yard. Also, place a large dog bowl in a clearly visible place. And finally, get a warning sign and mount it on the entrance.
Of course, if you love dogs and you can afford to keep one, go for it. It’s one of the best solutions to protect your property. However, if you’re not a big fan of dogs, you can get really far with a simple “Beware of the dog” sign.
Deterring burglars is a powerful way of protecting your home. We have a whole article full of creative tips on how you can spook criminals effectively here.
9. Use Timer Switches When You’re Away to Deceive Crooks
Burglars don’t want to be caught so they usually choose the least risky targets. Those houses whose owners are away are always at a higher risk (especially if there’s no sign of any security system or dog). Therefore, you want to prevent burglars from becoming aware that you’re away from home.
One of the easiest ways to spot an empty house is to observe it in the evening: if the lights are turned off all night, the chances are great that the house is vacant. You can easily avoid that situation by using programmable timer switches.
Plug-in timers are inexpensive items and require no installation. One of their major drawbacks is that they can’t be integrated with the main lighting system of the house, however, you can still connect both table and floor lamps to them. You will find many models on Amazon, this one is pretty affordable and does a great job.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can opt for in-wall programmable timers that turn your standard wall light switch into a timer. Their drawbacks are the higher price and the installation process they require.
10. Install a Secure Window Lock
Windows are often weak points of your home. Fortunately, you can easily reinforce them on the cheap with a reliable lock.
A keyed lock is one of your best bets if you want to secure your windows. It usually works on both sliding and double-hung windows and can be installed on aluminum, vinyl, and wood windows as well. It has a child-proof design and can be unlocked only with a key. I highly recommend installing keyed locks as they can significantly improve window security.
Vinyl window security locks are pretty popular for sliding windows as they’re affordable and effective. They require no tools for installation, you just have to place them on the rail and tighten them. They’re easily removable from the inside if you want to fully open your window.
Find more useful tips on window locks and window security in our article here.
11. Install a Window Alarm
According to statistics, most burglars enter homes through the first or the back door. However, don’t think that they don’t check the windows. Of course, if the front door is not locked (it happens many times), they’ll simply walk in. But if your doors are secure, they’ll move on to the windows.
You’ll find many types of window alarms in the stores. Magnetic ones are probably the most popular models. They usually consist of two parts: you have to fix the magnet to the jamb and the main part to the sash. When someone tries to open the window the two parts are getting farther away from each other and the alarm gets activated.
Magnetic window alarms are battery-powered, inexpensive (usually cost less than $10/piece), and easy to use. I think a reliable lock can do more for your security but window alarms are still worth installing because as a deterrent they can be very effective.
Check out this model on Amazon.
12. Join a Local Neighborhood Watch
A neighborhood watch can, indeed, decrease the number of burglaries and other crimes within a neighborhood. It’s a great way to prevent crime and build an active community at the same time. Did I mention it’s free? You can find more info on neighborhood watch here.
Home Security Hacks for Under $50
13. Install an ANSI Grade 1 Deadbolt
When it comes to home security, a reliable locking system is essential. It usually costs more than $20 but it’s one of the most important items on our list. If your door has only a weak lock, burglars will spot and easily break it. On the other hand, a secure locking system will often make them scratch their head and prevent many intrusions. Long story short, you should definitely install a reliable deadbolt.
How do you know if a deadbolt is secure?
Fortunately, the grading system of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) gives you reliable assessments of the durability and quality of locks. ANSI grading ranges from one to three. Grade 1 means the highest level of security. Note that not every lock has an ANSI grading.
I recommend installing an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt (there’s not much difference in price between Grade 1 and Grade 2 deadbolts). A Grade 1 deadbolt can also serve as a deterrent because that’s a warning sign for burglars and most of them will know that security is important for you.
There’s a large selection of deadbolts. I haven’t tried each of them but I had great experiences with this model from Kwikset.
14. Use a Door Barricade or a Security Bar to Reinforce Your Door from the Inside
If you want to prevent burglars from getting into your house while you’re at home, you should definitely have a closer look at door barricades and security bars. These devices are meant to reinforce your door from the inside and they keep crooks out even if they manage to break your lock.
A door barricade is a simple device that consists of two main parts: the base plate and the barrier itself. You have to fix the base plate to the floor and then you can easily slide the barrier in to secure your door. This one on Amazon is a reliable model.
A security bar has the same main function as a door barricade, however, it requires no installation and can be used to secure sliding glass doors as well. To reinforce your front door, you just have to place the yoke of the bar under the doorknob while the other end sits on the floor. Its height is adjustable, so it fits most doors.
Check out current pricing on Amazon.
15. Install Outdoor Motion Sensor Spotlights
While it’s true that most burglaries occur during the daytime, some crooks prefer “working” at night in the dark. By installing a few outdoor motion sensor lights you can make their life much harder and as a result, they often give up and simply move on. Note that this hack usually won’t work in a very quiet neighborhood and if criminals know for sure that the house is empty.
This waterproof model with a solar panel can be a good choice to deter burglars.
Pro Tip: Make sure you install the lights at least 10 feet high so that burglars can’t reach and damage them.
Home Security Tips for Over $50
16. Install a Video Doorbell
If you want to keep your eyes on your house when you’re away and make crooks believe that you’re at home, installing a video doorbell is a handy solution.
For this to work, you’ll need a model that has a live video feature and sends you an instant alert when someone approaches your house. Then you can check the situation in real-time on your smartphone and send suspicious figures away. The best of all is that you can do that even from thousands of miles away and they’ll believe that you’re talking to them from the house.
If you want to see how does it work in real life, watch the first two minutes of this video:
This one is one of the most expensive items on the list and if you’re on a budget, you will be better off securing your doors and windows instead. Installing a video doorbell shouldn’t be the first thing to do to improve security. However, if being aware of what’s going on around your house while you’re away is important for you, it can really give you peace of mind.
Both Nest and Ring have some nice models, it’s worth checking them out. This is my personal favorite model.
FYI – We made a helpful comparison of the different Ring Video Doorbell models and Peephole Cam in this article. Don’t forget to check it out before making a decision!
17. Use Security Window Film
If you’ve already got a reliable window lock, you can make your windows even more burglar-proof by installing security film on them. Being hardly visible, they’re a very discrete solution.
Security window films make it really hard to break the glass because they prevent it from shattering. Their biggest advantage is that they make your windows more secure without having to install unsightly bars.
Don’t be scammed by poor-quality security films that you can get for only a few bucks. Those are practically worthless. Fortunately, there are many reliable and good quality window security films on the market, such as 3M products. If you’re a beginner, I would recommend that you ask for professional help when installing because sometimes that can be pretty tricky.
18. Opt for a Door with a Solid Core
Hollow core doors are not secure, to put it mildly. They’re very easy to break through, no matter how secure your locking system is. While it’s true that hollow core doors are inexpensive, they are weak, so make sure you only use them as interior doors.
Solid core doors are far more secure and resistant to kicks and other types of attacks than hollow core ones. They’re filled with wood or wood byproducts that make them harder to break through so they provide more security.