Home Security Top Tips: House Alarms, Lights...

a house with a big key

Did you know that having good home security can lower your home insurance premium while also protecting your house and its contents from burglars? From smart home security systems and house alarms to outdoor lights and approved door locks, there are lots of ways you can help prevent a burglary. To keep your home safe from breaks in, ensure your home insurance stays valid if you do have a home intruder, and potentially lower your premium, follow our top home security tips listed below.

1. Home security systems

Fitting a complete home security system is the obvious way to keep your house safe. They are a very effective way of preventing home intruders from getting into your home by securing all entry points (windows, doors…) with sensors. These sensors are connected to the main control panel that will sound your home alarm if one (or more) of them is activated, and will also contact your alarm monitoring company so someone is made aware of the breach.

Home security systems typically include the following:

  • A control panel.

  • Sensors for doors and windows.

  • A high-decibel or silent alarm - if activated, a high-decibel alarm loud enough for your neighbours to hear (and possibly scare the burglar away) will sound; a silent alarm will simply send a notification to your alarm monitoring company.

  • Motion sensors - these can be installed inside and outside your home to detect any movement.

  • Security cameras.

Smart home security

A smart home security system is a type of security system that lets you keep track of your home when you are out. It is basically the same as the home security system described above but with the added bonus of being able to manage everything on your mobile phone.

a woman relaxing in an arm chair

Quite simply, if one of your sensors is activated or a camera picks up something suspicious, you will receive an alert on your app, allowing you to always know what is going on and react in real-time if you need to.

Some smart home security systems will even work with Amazon’s Alexa making it even easier to manage your home security.

These systems sound like are super expensive but don’t worry if you are on a budget. While the very comprehensive home security systems are a bit pricey, there are starter and more basic kits that work just as well and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can even set up a lot of them yourself, saving you installation costs.


2. Get a house alarm and set it

If a complete home security system with smart technology and security cameras isn’t for you, the age-old house alarm could be the answer. A basic house alarm system features sensors at entry points and motion detectors in your home. If someone enters your home, your alarm will be activated and your monitoring company will be notified.

Having a house alarm installed can reduce the price of your home insurance premium. In fact, when getting a home insurance quote, most providers will ask you if you have a house alarm.

It’s all well and good having a house alarm but you must remember to set it when you leave (and probably when you go to bed at night). If you have an alarm and it was not set during a burglary, there is a high chance your home insurance provider will refuse your claim.

Can’t remember to set your house alarm? Leave yourself reminders e.g. a note on the front door so you see it before you leave, or a note on the bathroom mirror so you remember when you are brushing your teeth before bed. If you leave the house at a similar time every day, you could even set a reminder on your phone.


3. Light it up: indoor and outdoor lights

One thing that deters a burglar is lights: not only do they make it more likely that they will be seen, but they also indicate that someone might be home.

Installing outdoor lights in areas of low visibility, such as the path to your back garden, is a simple yet effective way to improve your home security. Motion sensing outdoor lights are a great option as they do not use loads of energy by being on all the time, and their activation can alert you and your neighbours of unexpected movement.

What about keeping a light on in the house when you are not there? This is also an effective deterrent as it gives the impression that someone is at home. If you are worried about energy usage and your energy bills, you can install low-energy light bulbs or other smart gadgets and even use an automated system (like Amazon’s Alexa) to turn lights on randomly or at set intervals.


4. Are your door locks up to date?

Did you know that there are certain door locks that can reduce your home insurance premium? Not only that, these approved locks are very hard for burglars to crack, keeping your home and its contents safe and sound. For top home security, they should be fitted on all external doors in your home e.g. your front door, back door and any patio doors.

a protective shield lock

Like everyone, burglars like to keep with the times and find ways to crack locks that are very commonly used or have been around for a long time. As a result, approved locks are often updated and made increasingly more secure. They must also be installed by a professional locksmith to ensure they are fitted correctly. Find out more about approved locks for home insurance in our guide on the subject (coming soon).

As obvious as it may sound, doors are the first point of entry for burglars so no matter what locks you have, make sure you actually use them. In other words, lock your door(s) at night and when you are not there.


5. Keep your windows secure

Windows are also a common entry point for burglars so make sure you close them and even lock them when you aren’t at home. Just like your door, having locks on your windows will improve your home security and might lower your premium. Make sure that you have the correct window locks for your particular window (if the lock doesn’t fit properly it will be less effective).

Even though it is tempting when a hot spell hits, avoid leaving windows open during the night, especially ones that are downstairs and big enough for someone to get through.

Double glazed windows are much harder to break than single sheet glass and remember to keep on top of your window maintenance: old, rusty locks and broken, under-maintained frames are an open invitation to burglars.


6. Store your valuables out of sight

Don’t leave any valuables lying around. This adds to your home security in two ways. First, leaving items of value in plain view from outside acts as a temptation to burglars. Burglars are opportunistic so don’t encourage them to rob your house by showing them what you have inside!

Secondly, sensibly storing your valuables makes it harder for a burglar to find them if they do manage to break in. Burglars don’t want to stick around for long (especially if they have activated an alarm) and will grab what is easy. Simply storing valuables away from sight, in things like storage bags or boxes, and placing them in less obvious places can prevent a burglar from finding them.

It’s important you have adequate cover for the contents in your house to make sure you are fully compensated if your items are stolen, damaged or destroyed. To make sure you estimate the value of all your belongings accurately, give our contents calculator a try.


7. Don’t make it obvious that you’re on holiday

Can you imagine coming back from a holiday of a lifetime to find your house has been burgled? It sure would add to the post-holiday blues. Burglars like to target empty houses so make sure your absence is not advertised to the world when you are away.

Ask a friend or family member to pop round every now and then, spend some time in your house and collect any post that has built up. As mentioned earlier, lights are a great deterrent as they make a house look occupied. Leave a few lights on or, if you have automated bulbs, programme them to switch on when you would usually be at home, e.g. a couple of hours in the evening.

a man sunbathing on the beach

In the world of social media, you need to be even more careful with your home security while you’re away. Try not to post any holiday photos, airport check-ins or anything else that makes it obvious you are away on social media. As hard as it may be, save your photos and post them when you get home.

Obviously, when you leave for holiday, make sure your doors and windows are locked. If you have a home security system or a house alarm, ensure you activate it too.

Going on holiday? It's all good keeping your home safe but what about the items you take with you? Make sure you have travel insurance to protect you and your belongings when you are away.


8. Be smart with your keys

Insurers may not pay for home insurance claims if there is no sign of forced entry, like a smashed window or a broken lock, so you need to be careful where you leave your keys.

First things first, don’t hide your spare key outside your house e.g. under the doormat or on a window ledge: chances are a burglar will find them and, hey presto, you have given them access to your home. If you are prone to locking yourself out, give your spare key to a trusted neighbour, or a friend or family member who lives close by.

Also, never leave your keys in the inside of your door or on a table/shelf close to the door. Burglars have been known to fish keys through letter boxes when they are left within reaching distance.

If you ever lose your keys, make sure you change your door locks as soon as possible.


9. Don’t forget your outbuildings

Your outbuildings (your shed, garage, etc.) are just as important as your home, when it comes to home security, and are typically covered in buildings insurance.

A garage that is attached to your home is another entry point to your house. Plus, chances are you keep a lot of valuable items in here too. If you have a home security system, you can install a sensor on the garage door. If not, make sure you have a professionally installed lock and lock it during the night and whenever you are out. If you use a remote to open your garage door, keep it in your house rather than in your car for extra home security.

You might also store valuable belongings in sheds or other outbuildings you have. If not valuables, there might be tools that could help a burglar break into your home. Keep your outbuildings safe with appropriate door and window locks. You could even fit an alarm if you think it’s needed.

You will find that insurance providers have different conditions when it comes to home security. To find the home insurance policy that best suits your needs, compare the offers of lots of different insurance providers.


All material on this page and the selectra.co.uk website is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of financial advice. Selectra.co.uk is not responsible for any consequences that might arise from your use of the information provided.

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