Anyone who has purchased a New Home knows that once the final documents are signed, that’s when the hard work really starts.
There are dozens of obvious tasks: things like figuring out the actual logistics of moving furniture, stopping and starting utilities, getting kids enrolled in school, and (of course) weeding out your old stuff and getting cool new stuff to take its place.
But your “to-do” move-in list should also include keeping your new home as secure as possible. Here are seven things you should do to get off to the best start.
1. Make it a priority
With so much going on during the move, it’s easy to let home security slip and become a secondary concern. But whether you choose professionally installed security or a DIY home alarm system, your commitment to protect your new home should start from Day 1.
This is especially true if you’re formerly a renter. A new home is a special, rewarding experience that requires a different level of protection than an apartment. Get off on the right foot and keep home security at the top of your to-do list.
2. Secure your wireless network
Since 84 percent of U.S. households have broadband internet service, it’s likely that you’ll follow that trend. It’s more than just internet access; a secure Wi-Fi network is the foundation for any wireless home security system.
Once your Wi-Fi network is set up, however, some adjustments can make it much harder to hack.
For example, customize the name of your home network.
Each router comes with a default network name that can make it easy for hackers who know the ropes. Change the network name to something that makes it difficult to identify your network or your home.
Then change the default password. One way is to use a phrase that’s easy to remember, substituting numbers for letters. For example, il0vech0c0late! (with zeroes instead of “O’s”) is easy to remember and a lot harder to hack. Above all, don’t use a ridiculously simple password like “12345” or “password.”
There are other valuable resources online. But since your router is the front door to your wireless network, setting it up properly can make a wireless home security system difficult to hack. Whether you’re doing it yourself or leaving it to a pro, make sure it’s secure.
3. Know your home inside and out
Before you select your home security, get to know your new home. Take an inventory of entry points where you might be vulnerable.
- Check all your doors and windows. Do they fit tightly, with little chance of being forced open? Do sliding doors rest firmly in place?
- Are there clear sight lines from the street or sidewalk to all points of entry? Passers-by are often an excellent burglary deterrent.
- Is your outdoor lighting adequate? There should be no room for burglars to operate in areas that aren’t well lit.
4. Get a dog
That’s not as silly as it might sound, since we all know it’s not unusual toadd a new canine family member once you’re in a new home with a backyard. But it’s often useful from a security standpoint.
A dog is never a replacement for effective home security, but it can often be an extra layer of protection as long as you’ve got a pet-friendly alarm system.
If it’s a small dog, burglars hate noise. If it’s a big dog, burglars hate to be bitten. But no matter how smart dogs are, they can’t alert authorities like professionally monitored home security.
It’s easy to find a pet-friendly alarm system with motion detectors that can be adjusted to not be triggered by a small- to medium-sized dog. That eliminates one potential cause of false alarms.
Let’s not forget about your feline friends. A pet-friendly alarm system also accommodates cats, giving them the run of the house without setting off an alarm.
5. Shop carefully for a wireless home security system
Now that you’ve got the groundwork out of the way, you’re ready to go shopping. Here are five basic questions you should answer when you start your search:
- What’s your budget?The price you’ll see is often for a basic system. You most likely will have to add additional equipment to fit your home, plus smart-home devices to enhance your lifestyle.
- Do you want professional installation or DIY? You don’t have to be a technical wizard to install most top-rated DIY home alarm systems – most are peel-and-stick with easy setup – but you may be more comfortable with a professionally installed system.
- Do you trust the brand? When you’re doing your research, you’ll see myriad offerings from dozens of companies. Check online, although beware of review sites that are surreptitiously run by an alarm company to build positive (but bogus) reviews. Look at a wide range of review sites, and the best names will continually bubble to the surface.
- Do you want professional monitoring? Most systems offer DIY monitoring, which lets you track activity from your smartphone or mobile device. But professional monitoring offers quick alarm response by trained professionals who know what to do during an emergency. Self-monitoring might seem attractive, but weighing those options should be part of your homework.
- How expandable is the system? Make sure it’s easy to add smart-home devices to a wireless home security system at any point after installation. As time goes on, video cameras, video doorbells, locks, lights, and thermostats will be attractive add-ons.
6. Check outpost-installation savings
By this point in the process, you have decided on a system and may already have installed it. But don’t forget to check with your insurance company to see if you can get a break on your homeowner’s insurance.
Many providers offer discounts of as much as 10 to 20 percent for a professionally monitored system. Other companies add discounts for devices like leak or freeze sensors. That can really add up over the course of a year, helping your monthly monitoring pay for itself.
7. Make sure everyone knows how to use it
User error is responsible for the majority of false home security alarms. The final step in securing your home should be to ensure that everyone:
- Understands how the system works.
- Memorizes passcodes that are needed to arm or disarm the system.
- Knows how to cancel a false alarm, including memorizing code words that may be required by monitoring professionals.
Family members also need to understand the importance of arming the system if they’re last to leave the home. An unarmed wireless home security system is nothing more than a wall decoration if it’s not set to protect your home.