11 Budget Home Security Options
Supposedly the economy is improving, but those of us who are seeing a few extra dollars in our bank account want to spend them on ice cream and cotton candy this summer. What we don’t want to do is buy an expensive alarm system for our house while we’re on vacation. For anyone who is a little uneasy about being gone for an extended period of time, here are a few low budget ideas for helping you sleep better.
Barking Dog Alarm:
There is a certain ironic elegance in scaring away someone with a fake dog. This particular one will cost you about $80, which is considerably less than a real dog. Note that I said it will scare away “someone”, remember that it doesn’t have to be a thief – perhaps an annoying neighbor, a solicitor, a mother-in-law… the possibilities are endless.
Lamp Sensors
I installed these last year and love them. They turn the lamps on at night and off during the day, so when you’re away for a few days it’s an easy way to make it look as though you’re home. I also forget to leave a light on for myself if I’m going to be home late, so these save me from stumbling blinding into an end table, cursing while trying to find the remote for my overhead lights (I know, I know, but it seemed like a cool idea at the time).
Garage Door Monitor
My neighbors were robbed recently when a thief broke into the car on their driveway, while they were home, and used the garage door opener in the car to gain access to the house. For $20 this little device will alert you if the garage is open – it’s also handy for anyone who habitually forgets to close the garage after driving in.

Motion Sensor Lights

By far one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your home a little safer. Criminals are very photosensitive, and a well-lit driveway/front door will give them pause. Motion sensor lights will also make it easier and more entertaining to catch your teenager trying to sneak out.

Skype as Remote Surveillance
It’s a bit crude, but also a bit cool – use your home computer and webcam to see what’s going on in your home when you’re away. Here’s how to set up Skype so that you can access your webcam remotely.

  1. On the home computer, the one with the webcam, go to Skype>Tools>Options>Enable Skype Video. Turn on both the ‘Enable Skype Video’ option and ‘Start my video automatically’ function.
  2. Go to Skype>Tools>Options>Advanced> Call. Activate the "Automatically answer incoming calls" function.
  3. Go to Skype>Tools>Options>Privacy. Limit the people who can call in.
  4. Now your home computer will pick up any incoming calls automatically and start the video. So be sure to point the webcam at the location you want to monitor and leave the computer on when you’re away.

I would recommend setting up a separate account for this purpose; you probably don’t want just anyone calling in and the webcam picking up.

A decent intercom can only set you back between $50-$100 (more if you have a professional install it) and it might make you more comfortable opening the front door if you can talk to whoever is ringing the bell first. They can also be installed throughout the house for extra security, and do double duty as baby monitors (or spy monitors for that pesky teen again).

Fake Security Camera

Complete with a blinking LED light. Crimes of opportunity are generally committed by people who are slow on the uptake (surely there’s a statistic somewhere) so put this in a well lit area, turn on your fake dog and hope your thief isn’t very smart.

Security Webcam

Security webcams have come a long way in both ease of use and price. The Logitech one seen here has motion sensors and a microphone, and comes in at about $300. When motion is detected it will begin recording and send you an alert email – you can also log in via a secure, dedicated website and see what it sees.

TV Timer

Finally a use for that old TV that’s been sitting in your garage. Plug it in, hook it up to a $15 timer and voila - that unmistakable TV glow coming from behind the curtain will give the house a lived-in look even when it’s empty.

Infrared Night Vision Camera
Night vision is practical, but it's also incredibly cool. This camera features a built-in web server that supports remote viewing from a web browser, you can also control the camera from the same screen while watching.

On sale now at Retrevo!

Logitech Digital Video
Security System

The website claims you can install this unit in 15 minutes, but even if it takes you twice that long, it's still faster than most. You can load the software, plug in the camera and the video is automatically transmitted to your PC via the USB Reciever. This saves having to connect it to your wireless network.

Now on sale at Retrevo!

For all your technology needs don’t forget to check out Retrevo where you’ll find reviews and manuals for all popular gear and gadgets including HDTV, laptops, cameras and more.

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