How to Secure Your Windows
The benefits of securing your windows include increased safety for you and your family, increased security for your possessions, and greater peace of mind for you. If you’re worried about your windows as potential weak points in your home’s security, we’ve gathered some of the best devices and methods for ensuring that your windows keep unwanted visitors out. Read on to learn about how you can secure your windows, and determine if it is the best home security solution for you.
5 Ways to Improve Window Security
Below are just a few ways to improve window security and protect your home.
1. Lock Your Windows
This might sound obvious, but when was the last time you checked the condition of your window locks? Over time and with changing weather, the wood in a window frame can expand and warp, pushing the glass slightly out of the frame and rendering the traditional crescent-shaped sash locks on single- and double-hung windows useless.
To make your windows more secure, start by replacing any old or broken locks and ensuring that they remain locked when the window is closed. Even if the locks are functioning properly, there are plenty of inexpensive, aftermarket locks you can add to further secure your windows. Pin locks will prevent intruders from lifting a window sash, and hinged wedge locks can prevent double-hung windows from being opened in either direction.
2. Install Window Bars
Physical barriers like bars, grates, or mesh prevent entry even if the window is smashed. Check your local fire code before installing window security bars—you may need to keep the window available as a potential fire exit. If you do, many companies make sets of bars that sit on the inside of the window and feature a quick-release mechanism for easy exit.
3. Improve Your Outdoor Lighting
Oftentimes, a few well-placed outdoor lighting fixtures can deter potential intruders. Simple floodlights can ensure that someone attempting to enter through a window has nowhere to hide if caught. If you’ll be bothered by bright lights outside your home all night, consider a motion-activated security light. If you don’t mind spending a little more, you can invest in a smart motion sensor light that sends an alert to your phone when activated.
4. Use DIY Home Security Devices
You don’t need an entire smart home security suite to give your windows a little extra protection. You can install your own window sensors using DIY home security devices to make sure that you and anyone near your home will be alerted to any break-in attempts. Even without professional monitoring, you can set up a security alarm to trigger when your windows are disturbed. In the next section, we’ll go over some of these sensors and identify which work best for different types of windows.
5. Choose a Professionally-Monitored Security System
Some people may find that all the DIY solutions in the world don’t provide the same peace of mind as a professionally installed and monitored home alarm system. The good news is that many home security companies offer varying levels of protection, from basic door and window sensors to smart HD security cameras with facial recognition.
Best Home Security Systems to Protect Your Windows
Here’s a detailed look at some of the best security solutions we’ve found that will help your windows stay protected from intruders.
ADT Home Security
If you want to protect your windows as part of an overall home security system, many companies will install state-of-the-art security equipment and provide 24/7 professional monitoring for a monthly fee. Most of these systems integrate easily with other smart home products, meaning that you can often control the entire system from your mobile device.
Vivint Home Security
Vivint also has an excellent home security package, and it adds a bit more customizability in terms of the equipment you want. The company designs its own hardware in-house and is often on the forefront when it comes to introducing new security features. Vivint equipment tends to cost a little more upfront, but Vivint gives you the option of month-to-month professional monitoring without having to sign a contract.
Best for Traditional Windows: Entry Sensors
Entry sensors are basic detectors that protect doors or windows with the use of a magnetic switch. The sensor consists of two parts: one on the door or window and one on the frame. When those two parts move away from each other (i.e., when the window is opened), the switch triggers an alert.
These reliable sensors form the backbone of most home security systems. They’re easy to install, and most wireless entry sensors now have batteries that last for many years. For traditional single- and double-hung, awning, and casement windows, an entry sensor is enough to ensure that the window can’t be opened without alerting anyone inside.
Best for Non-Opening Windows: Glass Break Sensors
Of course, not all intruders take the time to open a window. If you’re worried about smashed windows, particularly with large picture windows that don’t open or transom windows near a door, you can opt for a sensor that detects the breaking of glass. There are two types of glass break sensors: those that sense vibration and those that sense the actual sound of breaking window glass.
Vibration sensors are less expensive, but they also tend to give off more false alarms. Loud sounds and strong weather can cause windows to vibrate enough to fool the sensor. Audio glass break sensors are more sophisticated and contain a microphone that can pick up the specific frequency of shattering glass, so false alerts are minimal. They’re more expensive, but a single sensor is usually enough to cover an entire room.
Best for High-Tech Security: Outdoor Cameras
Here are just a few features and capabilities that many outdoor security cameras now have:
- Motion activation
- Night vision
- Live streaming to your mobile device
- HD 1080p video
- Cloud storage and video playback
- Two-way audio
- Person and facial detection
Additional Ways to Improve Window Security
Dedicated security equipment isn’t the only way to improve window security. Consider some of these other environmental changes to discourage break-ins.
- Make sure your most vulnerable windows contain the right type of glass. Tempered glass is stronger than annealed glass, laminated glass keeps broken pieces together, plexiglas is an acrylic that’s lighter but 10 times stronger than regular glass, and polycarbonate is expensive but nearly unbreakable.
- Apply window film to make the glass shatter-resistant.
- Plant thorny shrubs underneath windows.
- Keep bushes and other plants pruned so that neighbors can spot potential intruders.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you protect windows from burglars?
You can protect your windows by making sure they’re locked, installing hard-to-break glass, using entry and glass break sensors, and employing landscaping to make standing next to windows difficult.
What is the best form of window security?
The best form of window security depends on the type of window and its location. Sash locks are usually plenty for upper-story windows, but a ground floor window near the street may need more sophisticated locks, barriers, or sensors to remain secure.
How much does it cost to install window security film?
Window protective film is typically inexpensive, particularly if you install it yourself. The cost usually comes out between $6 and $8 per square foot of glass.
How do I secure my windows from the inside?
Solid, functioning locks are your first line of defense, and there are plenty that you can add on top of your existing locks to make a window harder to open. Both entry and glass break sensors are excellent ways to ensure that you’ll be alerted if anyone tampers with your windows. For extreme security needs, you can install bars that keep intruders out but open quickly from the inside in case of emergencies.
What are the best plants to deter burglars?
The best plants to deter burglars will vary based on the climate where you live, but some common types of plants that are used as forms of burglar-proof landscaping include prickly hedges, dense evergreens, evergreen shrubs, and thorny climbers.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our home security recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. Our research includes analyzing product specifications, reviewing service and plan information, speaking with customer service representatives, and analyzing customer reviews. We then score the provider against our review standards for system options, special features, installation options, connectivity and smart-home automation features, pricing, contract terms, warranty, usability, availability of a trial period, and trustworthiness to arrive at a final score out of 100.
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