dave-mittlemanYou might not need that fancy security system to keep your home safe. While we do live in a society that is increasingly obsessed with technology and the benefits that it can provide, we probably spend too much money on home security. For example, Americans spent $28.2 billion on electronic security systems in 2009 alone—up from $25.9 billion in 2006. On average, a home-security package costs about $1400 for installation and equipment with an additional $23 per month for the actual surveillance service. Although it may seem tempting to purchase one of the new systems, you can actually keep your family a lot safer with a few simple techniques, especially during this time of economic downturn where you probably can’t afford the extra expense.

According to Frank Santamorena, the founder of Security Experts a security services company based in New York, there are many proactive and inexpensive ways to burglar-proof your home. Here are a few methods that Santamorena suggests:

  1. Use lighting—keeping the boundaries of your home well lit, including using motion-sensor lights, will do wonders to keep robbers away.
  2. Keep hedges trimmed low to minimize hiding space around the house.
  3. Make sure there is a good, strong lock on every door of the house.
  4. Don’t put your name on your mailbox—a burglar can find out your whole name and phone number and immediately find out if you’re home or not with a simple phone call.

If you aren’t convinced by the simple moves you can make to protect your home without the use of a home security system, there are also other reasons why you might want to re-consider purchasing a home security system. Specifically:

  1. The cops might not be able to hear your alarm—security system alarms don’t necessarily ring into the central police station. Instead, they could ring anywhere from a basement boiler room to a concrete bunker in another state.
  2. The system is more trouble than it’s worth—many folks might not actually use the system very often after it’s installed and instead only utilize it when they will be away for days at a time.
  3. The local police might start to hate you—the truth of the matter is that security systems can be triggered by false alarms. Police know this and have actually started to charge homeowners a fine that have continual false alarms at their residences.
  4. The home security company might try to sell you gadgets that you don’t really need—according to smartmoney.com, “perimeter alarms might have magnetic or plunger contacts; foiling, vibration, or shock detectors; and window screens that hold concealed alarm wire for perimeter alarms. And interior alarms might involve pressure mats, photoelectric beams that cast infrared light, heat sensors, and motion detectors.” But do you really need all these gizmos and gadgets? That really depends on the size of your home, as well as other factors such as the vulnerability of your home to a break-in.
  5. Our rent-a-cops are very low rent—some home security companies offer their own guard service along with the security system. However, standards for training are uneven and some companies don’t even screen their employees for criminal conduct.
  6. Getting past the alarm system is hard, unless you have a pair of scissors—in an attempt to disable alarm systems, burglars in nearly a dozen homes near the Dallas, TX area cut power and telephone lines before forcing their way inside the homes and stealing hundreds of dollars worth of goods.
  7. We may use unethical sales tactics—be wary of sales people that come to your door trying to sell home security systems. The Better Business Bureau received nearly 3,000 complaints about burglar alarm companies that used high- pressure tactics and made promises that didn’t make it into the actual contract.
  8. You’re stuck with us—a common complaint from homeowners is that their alarm contracts automatically renew. This is definitely true since most home security systems will automatically renew your contract for up to five years if you don’t call with a specific reason and cancel your service.
  9. If you have a pet, we might be less effective—while some alarms claim to be “pet-immune” many cannot distinguish between human bodies and pets coming into the line of detection. In fact, as recently as 2009 up to 27% of false alarms were attributable to pets, according to Security Sales & Integration.