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Home Security 101: How to Protect Your Home and Your Loved Ones

Understanding The Value of Home Security

If you’re a homeowner, you’re probably proud of where you live. After all, you have made a big investment to be there. You put the time, care, and effort into decorating each room. You have made beautiful memories with the people you love inside that house! It’s only natural that you’d want to protect your home with a security system.

However, the reality is that home security is less common than you might think. In 2019, only 38% of Americans had a home security system. There are many reasons why a family may not install security in their home, from budget restrictions to simple confusion about security systems and products.

Don’t let confusion keep you away from the world of home security! Let’s talk about home security systems so you know exactly what’s out there – and what you need to keep your family safe from harm, by addressing the following: 

Home security 101, the tips, mistakes and determining if it is worth it
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What kind of home security systems are out there?

For many years now, two types of home security systems have dominated the industry: monitored and unmonitored systems.

Monitored systems are typically installed by a security company, who then have a professional “guarding” the house remotely at all times. When a burglar or other intruder triggers the alarm, your security company will call your home and ask for a password before they shut off the siren.

Unmonitored systems use the same basic principle – an intruder entering the house triggers a siren-style alarm. However, because there is no one monitoring the home, there is no phone call to turn off the alarm. This means that, if you’re not home, the alarm will sound until you arrive (or your neighbors call the police).

Additionally, there are newer home security systems designed to work with your smartphone. These systems are connected to smart devices like Google Home or Ring, and usually connect to an app on your phone so you can see exactly what’s happening at your home in real-time.

How much does a security system cost?

How much will home security cost you and your family? The answer depends on the type of service you get.

  • Monitored security tends to cost a $100-250 installation fee, plus a monthly service fee of $15-35. Conversely, they can provide the equipment for free and then charge higher monthly fees. This practice is standard with industry leader ADT.
  • Unmonitored security cost anywhere from $150-$230 – but if you hire a professional to install the system, it may cost more.
  • Smart home systems vary in cost, even within product lines (for example, the ring doorbell security system ranges from $80 to $160, depending on the features you want).

How much does a security system lower home insurance payments?

You may have heard that installing a security system can reduce the cost of your homeowner’s insurance. That’s true… but is it enough to warrant buying a system? That depends on the system you have.

It’s important to note that most insurance companies will only reduce your premiums if you buy a monitored security system. Given the 20% reduction in your insurance rates, you can factor that in to whether or not a monitored system is worth it.

Keep in mind that in the eye of insurance companies, your Ring doorbell system or iSentry app won’t cut it. However, even if these systems don’t lower your insurance cost, they can still be worth installing for safety and peace of mind.

Is home security tax deductible? 

Unfortunately, security system expenses cannot be used as a tax deduction in most scenarios. However, if you have a home business or operate your business out of a home office, you are able to allocate a certain percentage of your home security to that business and therefore deduct that portion. As always for tax strategies, it is best to speak with your accountant. 

How do security systems work?

Most security systems have a variety of deterrents and monitors that protect you from would-be intruders. Some of them are simple scare tactics (like those signs on people’s lawns warning people that the house is secured), while others are more effective at alerting you – and in some cases, the police – when someone enters your home uninvited.

A security system usually has sensors installed at major entry points (i.e. doors and windows) or at remote spots on your property (i.e. a detached garage or shed). Some sensors are motion-activated, while others are designed to create a complete circuit that breaks – and sounds an alarm – if a door or window is opened. The alarm that follows is LOUD, and it will drive off any intruders as well as warn you of the potential break-in.

Is a security system important?

While determining whether or not a security system is important is very individualistic, it can prevent a violating and sentimentally and financially negative experience from happening. At a minimum, it is worth it to evaluate your options and understand how it could be incorporated into your life. 

Biggest home security mistakes

Whether or not you install a security system in your home, it’s important to take the right steps to protect your family and your property. This means avoiding pitfalls – the type of everyday behaviors that make you an easy target for burglars.

Make sure you never make these mistakes:

  • Leaving a key under the mat: This is so common that random passersby just might check under your mat for a key. Once they have it, they have free access to all your stuff!
  • Announcing your whereabouts on social media: Going to Hawaii for a week? Great, have fun – but don’t post about it online. All that will do is tell strangers that your home is empty for several days.
  • Using fake security equipment: around 60% of would-be robbers have admitted that they look for homes without security systems. If someone wants to break into your home, they’re going to scrutinize your security – and trust me, they can tell the difference between real cameras and plastic dummies.
  • Not maintaining your security system: You need to check your security system at least once a year to make sure it’s in good working order. Call out a professional to have them run some tests, or else your investment might not be worth it!

Top home security tips

  • Your front door and windows are the most common entry points for burglars. Make sure these are fully secure!
  • Make your home look occupied while you’re away. Leave some lights on; if your lights are connected to a smart device or app, put them on a timer to simulate regular use.
  • Trim bushes and shrubs around your windows to keep them small. Large bushes make excellent hiding places.
  • Light the exterior of your home well. Plenty of lights outside will keep burglars from approaching.

Is a security system worth it?

For some people, a security system may seem excessive; they live in a quiet, nice neighborhood and they don’t want to spend extra money on “needless” security. For others, home security systems are like insurance: they may not always need them, but they could be a real lifesaver.

In our opinion, a security system is definitely worth the cost. Studies have shown that security systems are a sufficient deterrent for about 60% of burglars, which means that your security system could literally be the difference between a peaceful night at home and a terrifying break-in. 

Let’s put some numbers behind why you may want to do it. Let’s say that you have $25,000 worth of stuff that can readily be taken by a burglar. And, let’s assume that there is a 5% chance each year that someone in your area gets burglarized. You now can an expected loss of $1,250 ($25,000 x 5%) any given year. If the presence of your security system deters 60% of burglars, then just the presence has saved you $750 ($1,250 x 60%). 

Also keep in mind the money that a monitored system saves you on your insurance premium, on average $240 per year. Now, in this example, we have a combined savings of $990 per year.  As long as your security system costs less than $990, it is a worthwhile investment.

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