Your home is your castle. It’s not enough for it to look pretty: it’s got to protect your family from rain, cold, heat, and wind, and it also has to protect you from those who might try to break in and hurt someone. As such, knowing how to make your home safer is an important part of being a homeowner or parent.
To help you figure out how to make your home safer in a way that works for you, we’ve compiled some tips and best practices below. Keep reading to learn how to make your home safer.
Install Security Systems
Having a home security system shouldn’t be seen as a “maybe” feature, or an exclusive luxury. The technology for home security systems is so affordable and accessible today that there’s simply no excuse not to use it to increase the safety of your home.
But there are different types of home security systems available, and they’re not all created equal. For the first part of our article on how to make your home safer, let’s talk about the different systems available, as well as their pros and cons.
A local alarm system is the simplest, most basic type of security system you can have. A full system will consist of multiple individual sensors with built-in alarms, which can be set up on windows and doors. There are also motion-sensing local alarms available. Unlike most security systems, local alarms aren’t interconnected through a control panel, and they aren’t monitored from one, either.
The way local alarms work is as simple as their design: when the circuit is broken by a door or window being opened, or when someone triggers the motion sensor, the individual unit sets off an alarm. Each unit is battery-powered.
The main advantage of local alarms is that they’re typically much cheaper than other security systems. In fact, you can probably find a set of these individual units for less than $100 at your local department store. Unfortunately, that’s their only real advantage. With no monitoring or interconnectedness, local alarms don’t add that much in the way of security. They’re relatively easy to disable, in part because triggering one sensor only sets off the alarm that’s built-in to the sensor itself. There’re no cameras to monitor, and no automatic signal to local police. If you want best-in-class security for your home and office safes, local alarm systems probably aren’t for you.
Wired Alarm Systems
Wired security systems are the most traditional option, but that doesn’t necessarily make them old-fashioned. Unlike local alarms, wired alarm systems are interconnected through a control panel, and they can include camera monitors as well as sensors. Because it’s a wired system, you never have to worry about replacing batteries. Wired alarms are often installed as part of a full-service monitoring company, who can contact you or local law enforcement directly if sensors get tripped or they see something suspicious through the cameras.
Wired alarm systems might be the most dependable option available, and they’re a significant step up from local alarms. They’re also usually cheaper than wireless alarm systems, which we’ll be discussing next. The main drawback of wired alarm systems is just that: they have wires, so instead of setting them up around the house and being done with them, you have to drill holes in the walls and run the wires through. Technically you can do this yourself, but it’s best to entrust the process to a professional, which can sadly negate the money you might have saved by avoiding wireless systems. And if you ever move into a new home, taking your wired security system with you is a serious chore (although simply leaving it could increase your home’s value).
If you’re building a new house from the ground up, simply having your home builders install a wired security system may be your best bet, as it can be integrated with the rest of the house more effectively that way.
Wireless Alarm Systems
If you want to know how to make your home safer in the simplest way possible, buying and setting up a wireless alarm system might be it. A wireless alarm system can have the exact same features of a wired system, with the only difference being that you must remember to replace or recharge the batteries when they get low.
Unless you simply prefer wired systems or you’re worried about forgetting the batteries, a wireless security system will be seen as the most ideal option for most families. Because there are no wires, it’s relatively easy to install, with no drilling necessary.
Home security systems vary widely in cost and features, but overall they’re highly affordable, and usually easy to set up. As a responsible homeowner who wants to know how to make their home safer, investing in a security system is one of the best places to start.
Set Up Automated Smart Home Devices
Vintage houses and new construction homes alike are getting the ultimate treatment in modernism: smart home devices. A smart home system is made up of electronics that connect your doors, appliances, and more to your home network, offering dozens of convenient, futuristic features.
Besides being undeniably cool, home automation introduce new options for how to make your home safer. However, smart homes also introduce a new way for hackers to compromise your security and privacy. Here we’ll discuss the implications of smart technology for making your home safer, while also pointing out how you can ensure your connected home doesn’t become another vulnerability.
Smart Home Devices and Options
Most people who invest in smart home technology are less interested in security than they are in the exciting, catalog-worthy upgrades they can expect. For example, devices that automatically control the lighting levels in your house, and let you turn on and off the lights remotely from an app on your phone, are among the most popular options. Smart thermostats are a step up from familiar automatic thermostats, since they can not only adjust the temperature throughout the day, but also let you control your home’s temperature from your phone, no matter where you are.
Entertainment is a natural and obvious aspect of home automation, with smart hubs like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s HomePod doubling as whole-home speaker systems, as well as virtual assistants. Appliances, from refrigerators to coffee makers, can also be connected to a smart home system, displaying the fridge’s interior temperature on your phone or making a cup of coffee automatically when you first wake up each day.
Every smart home needs a central hub, like a control panel, to connect to. Different companies offer different systems with different types of control panels, but the most well-known systems are Apple HomeKit, Google Nest, and Amazon Alexa. These systems provide the software and connectivity between different smart devices, such as the thermostat or door locks. Rather than being individual devices themselves, they’re more like interfaces which can be accessed and controlled using technology you already have, such as an Apple TV, Android smartphone, or Amazon Alexa device. Once you have a smart hub and an internet network, you can connect smart appliances and products that are compatible with your system.
Smart Homes Security Features
Remotely adjusting the thermostat and automatically dimming the lights may be more enticing uses of smart home technology, but it offers a host of more practical solutions, particularly regarding how to make your home safer. Security features for smart homes mirror the features offered by home security systems, only instead of being restricted to your house and maybe a home monitoring service, it can be used and monitored from anywhere. Smart home devices also do a lot more than basic sensors and cameras by themselves.
For example, by installing smart locks on your doors, you can remotely control the locks and monitor entry to your home. With a smart doorbell system, you can even see and speak to visitors through a camera intercom system, all from your phone or TV.
We mentioned smart lightbulbs and fixtures earlier, which offer automatic adjustments to lighting and also let you control the lights remotely. This itself is a security feature, since you can program the lights to turn on in the evening to make people think there’s someone home, thus deterring break-ins.
Like security systems, smart home systems can include cameras and motion detectors. Only now you can view and monitor them from any smartphone or computer that’s connected to the internet. Even your garage can get a smart upgrade, with alerts that can be sent to you if the garage door is left open, allowing you to close it remotely.
Maintaining Security for Your Smart Home
As you can see, having a smart home can do a lot to improve your home’s security. But it’s not all sunshine and roses — if you aren’t careful, your smart devices themselves can be used against you.
Thanks to clever marketing and ambitious tech companies eager to exploit new technologies, smart home devices are incredibly popular. More than $23.5 billion was spent on smart home technology in the United States in 2019, and that’s a figure that’s only going to keep growing. In fact, for homeowners looking to sell, home automation upgrades may be nearly as important to getting a sale as kitchen remodeling. However, this surge in popularity hasn’t always been accompanied by an understanding of the necessary precautions.
When everyone was buying a computer and getting online throughout the early 2000s, people learned that connecting to the internet came with a lot of risks, and they needed good antivirus software and smart web browsing habits to stay safe. Some people learned that lesson the hard way. Likewise, when you’re connecting your entire home to the internet, it’s imperative that you set things up in a way that prevents hackers from being able to access your network and compromise your safety.
Fortunately, setting up a smart home safely isn’t that difficult. You simply need to know what to expect.
Before you buy a smart device, you should research its security features and potential vulnerabilities. Look up the manufacturer’s privacy and security policies, and make sure they won’t try to sell or capitalize on your private data. You can also check websites like Consumer Reports and PC World for reviews and information on the security aspect of different smart home systems.
When you’re connecting a smart home, the best kind of network is one that uses wires. You probably have a WiFi network already, and while you can use your WiFi to set up a smart home, it’s less secure than having a wired connection. If you are relying on your WiFi network for home automation, make sure you set strong passwords for your network and each of your smart devices. Do some research to find tips for setting the safest passwords you can, and make sure your router isn’t known for any significant security problems.
Just like any other new technology, smart homes come with potential downsides if you don’t set them up wisely. But with the right precautions, smart devices can help with how to make your home safer.
Manage Home Repairs and Maintenance
You may not understand how things like window glass repair can make your home safer, but staying on top of repairs and maintenance is important for the wellbeing of your family. While you’re learning how to make your home safer, keep in mind that a big part of safety is simply having a house that’s structurally sound. Ignoring repairs when they’re needed puts yourself at risk, because it means your house will be less stable. Staying on top of maintenance tasks also protects your home itself, which is probably your biggest investment.
As our last point on how to make your home safer, we’ll discuss some important ways home maintenance keeps your family safe and healthy.
HVAC Repairs and Maintenance
Breathing is the one thing you and your family never stop doing, not even for a second. So you can imagine how important it is for the quality of the air you breathe to be high.
With that in mind, some ways to improve your family’s health are to hire duct cleaning services and install an air purifier. The air ducts in your ventilation system carry the air your family breathes, so keeping them clean is important. A good air purifier can help reduce allergens and airborne toxins. And as always, staying on top of heater and air conditioner repair is necessary for keeping your family healthy and comfortable.
Roof and Siding Repairs
The roof and walls of your home literally protect your family from the outside world, so keeping them in good repair is absolutely integral. A roof inspection should be carried out at least once per year, and repairs should be made whenever they’re needed. Ignoring a damaged or leaky roof could result in water damage, mold growth, or serious expense when you finally try to have your roof repaired.
Similarly, whether you have vinyl or steel siding, keeping it in good condition will protect your interior walls from water damage. This is important for preventing not only mold and mildew, but serious structural problems as well.
Luckily, most roofing companies have experience with repairing siding and identifying exterior home issues. If you want the most bang for your buck, look for roofing contractors that specialize in more than one aspect of home care. Whether you’re moving into a new home or simply trying to spruce up the home you currently have, relying on experienced contractors will help you encourage home safety for years to come.
There are lots of ideas for how to make your home safer. Hopefully, this list has helped inspire some of your own.