The Cost of Keeping Your Home Safe

From home security systems, to fire repellents and moats, we break down the price of safety.

From home security systems, to fire repellents and moats, we break down the price of safety.
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Lighting. There are so many variations on how you can light your house at night and different pricing that it's hardly worth mentioning, but obviously, if you want to keep your home safe, you should invest some money in good lighting.

Something else to think about. That said, you may want to avoid going crazy with the lights. According to a study conducted from 1998 to 2000, called the to Chicago Alley Lighting Project, alleys that were brightly lit – approximately three times more than the average alley – actually ended up having more crime than before. It may be that too much light at night makes a house more inviting to a burglar. After all, you've just made it easier for him to see and get around. It's also worth noting that according to FBI data reports from 2004 to 2010, burglaries in the home are almost twice as likely to happen during the day – when there’s plenty of light, criminals are awake and alert, and homeowners are likely to be away at work.

Keeping a home safe from fire. Most smoke alarms cost between $6 and $40, depending on the bells and whistles, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Fire extinguishers will run anywhere from $20 to $80, as you'll see if you look at any hardware store. And if you're really concerned about a possible fire and live in a two-story home, you could get a fire escape ladder; the company Kidde makes a 13-foot ladder with anti-slip rungs that costs $65.99.

Something else to think about. There are fire-retardant gels on the market – generally expect to pay a few hundred bucks – that you can spray on your home if it's threatened by wildfires. There's no guarantee it'll work, however, especially if the fire truly consumes the house. And while you're thinking of fire protection, be sure to get a carbon monoxide detector to protect you from that invisible poisonous gas that emitted from gasoline-powered tools, heaters, cooking equipment and cars. The average price, judging from a lot of online window shopping, appears to be about $30.

Build a moat. Admit it. You've daydreamed about having one, and it does seem like the ideal way to keep out burglars, bears, wildfires and teenage boys hitting on your daughter. If you're tempted, you can rent a small bulldozer for $550 a day, at least in the Midwest, according to, which offers Caterpillar construction equipment to rent. Meanwhile, the fish store,, sells a variety of piranhas, as inexpensive as $5 and as high as several hundred dollars per fish. (What? You're going to build a moat and not fill it with a few predators?)

[Read: It's Flood Season. Are You Protected?]

Something else to think about. Check with your homeowner's association first, if you're a member of one, not to mention the merits of investigating zoning laws that may have something to say about moats and piranhas. Also, keep in mind that there is probably a good reason most houses don't have moats. As you do your big dig, you could destroy plumbing, electrical wiring and your home's foundation, especially after a heavy rain. And, besides, bears can swim.