Good home security will give you peace of mind and save you money

It’s nearly summer holiday time. Brilliant if you’re looking forward to taking the shortest route possible to the nearest beach; not so good if you’re fretting about leaving your house unattended, writes Gráinne McGuinness.

If you are concerned about your home while away, or anxious about burglary rates, maybe it’s time to review your home security.

First choice for many is a monitored alarm system, which involves installing telephone or mobile lines, sensors and and other software. The monitoring company call the appropriate authorities in the event an alarm signal is received.

Probably the best known of these in Ireland is PhoneWatch. Their Home Safety System is priced at €699, but is frequently reduced to €499 on special offer.

There are many other companies around Ireland offering similar packages so it is worth shopping around to get the best value. For peace of mind, always check that the provider you choose is licensed by the The Private Security Authority at www.psa.gov.ie.

Customers also pay a fixed monthly charge for the monitoring service. One thing to be aware of is that homeowners are free to decide who monitors the house — they do not have to stay with whoever installed it. Like mobile phone arrangements, after the contract period expires, they can switch to whichever provider offers the best value and most peace of mind. So shop around. A few phone calls could save significant amounts in monitoring charges.

I spoke to Colm Daly, CEO of Irish company Homesecure. They monitor more than 6,000 households in Munster and Leinster, and Mr Daly promises their rates could save homeowners €120 in the first year alone if they switch.

Alarms are not the only form of defence against burglary. If, for price or other reasons, a monitored alarm system is not for you, there are a number of ways to make your home more secure. Key areas to consider here are doors, windows and locks. If you go online there are any number of videos available showing how easy it is to break into standard external doors.

Standard pin locks and euro-cylinders offer little resistance to burglars and can be disengaged in well under a minute. An upgrade to anti-bump, anti-snap locks is an inexpensive way to improve security.

You should also consider whether the external doors themselves are strong enough to withstand attack. Security doors can be expensive, running into thousands for steel reinforced doors in steel frames. But there are cheaper options — a Burglarybuster Nightlock Pull-Up Security Bar can be purchased for €69. This bar can be laid across external doors at night. It reinforces the lower part of the door and means efforts to knock it in will create far more noise — always effective in deterring burglars. Windows should be fitted with locks. For ease of use, you can arrange for all locks fitted to be opened with a single key. If you go to www.burglarybusters.ie, there is a home security audit checklist on the site to help you identify potential weak areas in your security and offer solutions.

Sensor lights, patio bolts, door eye-viewers, and door chains are all inexpensive ways to make your home less attractive to intruders.

There are ways to defray security costs. After making any upgrade you should contact your home insurer and let them know. Depending on the company, you may be entitled to a reduction of between 5-15%. If you’re not happy with the discount offered, and/or you have with the same insurer for years, now is the time to switch for a better deal.

Purchasing and fitting an alarm system counts as qualifying work for the Home Renovation Incentive. The minimum spend to qualify for tax relief under this scheme is €4,405, so a standard alarm system purchase is not enough to qualify. However, if you are doing additional work on your home, the money spent on security can be included in the total. Any number of jobs carried out and paid for from October 2013 to December 2016 by homeowners can be added together to qualify.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

If you or someone you love is keen on outdoor activities, the Full HD Action Camcorder from Aldi sounds like a terrific bargain.

The lightweight National Geographic action camcorder is designed to fit on helmets, surfboards, bikes and more to capture and share your adventures on the move. At €44.99 it is a fraction of the cost of better known brands that promise the same functions.

The design is intended to be versatile and tough, while still small and lightweight enough to be easily portable. It offers multiple video recording formats and resolution — 1080p, 720p, WVGA. HDMI.

The camcorder is waterproof, with a 170° wide-angle lens and includes a four GB micro SD memory card. The bundle includes a waterproof case (up to 30m), bracket, clip and bike blip, cleaning cloth, adaptor and USB cable.

It is part of Aldi’s Father’s Day offers. The day itself is on Sunday June 19 - the camocorder and a range of other gifts are available in-store from Thursday June 9.


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